The 17 Best Things To Do in Nashville

Nashville is a must-visit city for any music lover. With spectacular live music venues, fascinating music museums and record stores, and big music festivals and events, Nashville immerses you in its rich musical heritage.

But Nashville also boasts a trove of attractions beyond its famed music scene. The city features the magnificent Tennessee Capitol building, a full-scale replica of the ancient Parthenon, and the former home of President Andrew Jackson. Nashville offers exciting nightlife, delicious hot chicken, pro sports teams, escape rooms, historic homes, cultural attractions, and beautiful parks.

No matter your interests, Nashville has something for you. Let’s dive into the best things to do in Music City!

1. Listen to Live Music

Nashville earned its “Country Music Capital of the World” reputation thanks to the city’s proliferation of country music venues, record labels, and superstars over many decades. But Nashville’s music scene goes far beyond country.

With music venues of all sizes, you can listen to rock, pop, blues, bluegrass, jazz, indie, Americana, gospel, and more live music genres. Small music clubs host up-and-coming acts, while massive arenas and outdoor amphitheaters feature major touring stars.

I recommend catching a show at the historic Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. Other top venues include Ascend Amphitheater, the Station Inn for bluegrass, the Basement for indie rock, and Marathon Music Works for major acts in an intimate setting. Discover your new favorite band and feel the thrill of the music!

2. Try an Escape Room

For some collaborative, heart-racing fun, gather your family, friends or colleagues and attempt an escape room!

The Escape Game Nashville offers 11 themed escape rooms across Nashville. With different rooms suited for kids, teens, adults, couples, corporate groups and more, you can pick the perfect theme for your occasion.

Popular escape rooms include the “Keeping up with the Joneses” suburban home, the Magician’s “Chamber of Secrets,” a Space station adventure, and a classic Bank Heist scenario. Escape Game Nashville has locations in downtown Nashville, Berry Hill, and the Opry Mills Mall area. Can you beat the clock and escape in time?

3. Take a Walking Tour

One of my favorite ways to explore Nashville is with a walking tour. You can choose to wander at your own pace with a self-guided tour or experience a guided group tour led by a knowledgeable local guide.

For DIY tours, I recommend a downtown Nashville loop hitting the Tennessee State Capitol, the Johnny Cash Museum, Honky Tonk Highway, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Or do a Music Row loop to see historic RCA Studio B and the recording studios of stars like Taylor Swift.

For guided tours, companies like Nashville Walking Tours offer themed tours like “Honky Tonks & Country Legends,” “Music City Music Tour,” and more. Tours add context and insider tips that you’d miss on your own.

4. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame

No trip to Nashville is complete without visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, country music’s official museum. See legendary artifacts like Elvis’ gold piano and Cadillac, Johnny Cash’s guitar, and Bill Monroe’s mandolin.

Interactive exhibits tell the entire history of country music from its early roots to its superstars. Located downtown, the Hall of Fame also houses the Taylor Swift Education Center and the Hatch Show Print letterpress poster shop.

Across the street lies the Music City Walk of Fame Park, with sidewalk medallions honoring icons like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, and more. Trace your country heroes’ footsteps across this star walkway!

5. Check Out the Tennessee State Capitol and Museum

Head to Nashville’s downtown core to see the magnificent Tennessee State Capitol building. This National Historic Landmark opened in 1859 and still houses the state’s legislature.

Free guided tours showcase the Capitol’s architectural grandeur and art-filled interior. The underground Tennessee State Museum displays fascinating artifacts from Tennessee’s statehood to the Civil Rights movement. Special exhibits highlight more aspects of Tennessee’s history and culture.

6. Eat Hot Chicken

You can’t leave Nashville without trying hot chicken – fried chicken coated in a fiery chili sauce. This local specialty will set your mouth ablaze!

For the best hot chicken, visit Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, which invented the dish back in the 1940s. Be warned – even the mild spice level packs a punch. Other hot spots include Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish. Grab some milk before you eat!

7. Tour a Distillery

Bourbon may reign supreme in Kentucky, but Tennessee makes its own legendary spirits. Tour the Corsair Distillery to taste inventive craft whiskey, or head to Lynchburg to tour the iconic Jack Daniel’s Distillery, home of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

At Corsair’s Nashville distillery, you can sample experimental bourbons and ryes in the tasting room. Jack Daniel’s Distillery offers guided tours of its historic grounds and facilities where every drop of Jack Daniel’s is made. The Distillery’s Tennessee Whiskey has flowed here since 1866. Cheers to that!

8. Visit the Grand Ole Opry

No musical pilgrimage to Nashville is complete without visiting the Grand Ole Opry, the show that made country music famous. Its live radio broadcast stands as the longest-running radio show in history. Catch the incredible lineup of country, bluegrass, and Americana icons who continue this cherished tradition.

The Opry offers guided backstage tours by day and live shows by night. See the circle of wood from the Opry’s original “home stage,” meticulously embedded here when the Opry moved locations. With shows and tours, experience the heart of American music.

9. Visit the Ryman Auditorium

Speaking of iconic venues, make sure to visit the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry for over three decades. This National Historic Landmark hosts Opry shows again during the winter before the Opry’s summer residency at its Grand Ole Opry House.

Take a self-guided tour by day to see the Ryman’s legendary wooden pews and learn about the greats that graced its stage. Opt for a backstage tour led by an expert Ryman historian to enjoy fascinating insider stories. Don’t miss music’s most precious venue!

10. Check Out Centennial Park

Nashville’s gorgeous Centennial Park deserves a leisurely stroll. Historic monuments and memorials dot this sprawling 132-acre green space. Stretching nearly two city blocks, a full-size replica of Greece’s ancient Parthenon stands as the centerpiece.

The Parthenon contains an art museum with a towering, 42-foot statue of the Greek goddess Athena. Outside, you’ll find duck-filled Lake Watauga, sunken botanical gardens, walking trails, and plenty of open field space to picnic and relax.

11. Visit the Belle Meade Plantation

Step back in time with a visit to Belle Meade Plantation, a museum and preserved 19th-century mansion that offers an intimate look into pre-Civil War plantation life near Nashville.

This National Historic Landmark dates back to 1807. Enjoy a guided tour of the mansion furnished with many original artifacts and heirlooms. Then sip complimentary wine in the Winery – a reconstructed carriage house using 19th-century methods. Surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful grounds, the Plantation provides a uniquely immersive historical journey.

12. Visit the Johnny Cash Museum

The Johnny Cash Museum showcases the mythic life and legacy of the Man in Black through the largest collection of Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world. Interactive exhibits and a multi-media film tell Cash’s story, from his early days picking cotton in Dyess, Arkansas to becoming a music legend.

Located downtown on 3rd Avenue, it’s easy to combine a visit to this musical tribute with other nearby attractions. Open daily, tickets cost about $20 for adults. Walk the line through Johnny Cash’s incredible history.

13. Wander Around Music Row

At the heart of Nashville’s music industry sits Music Row. Spanning several blocks, this compact neighborhood contains record labels, publishing houses, recording studios, and more that made Nashville into Music City.

See RCA’s Studio B on Music Row, where Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and the Everly Brothers recorded essential songs. Nearby recording studios bear the names of stars like Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, and Keith Urban. Grab lunch at The Row, surrounded by music history.

14. Cheer for the Home Teams

Nashville is a great sports town – we love our pro teams! Football fans can yell for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Hockey nuts cheer on the NHL’s Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Soccer fans support Nashville’s new MLS club, Nashville SC, at their 30,000-seat stadium.

For Minor League Baseball, catch the Nashville Sounds downtown at First Horizon Park. Check team websites for tickets and schedules to cheer on Nashville’s home teams!

15. Go Honky-Tonking on Broadway

The heart of Nashville’s live music and nightlife scene is Broadway, specifically the stretch known as “Honky Tonk Highway.” Lined with neon-adorned bars and live music venues, it doesn’t get more Nashville than strolling these vibrant blocks.

Pop into renowned honky-tonks like Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western World, and The Stage to sip beer, watch live bands, line dance, and experience Nashville country music culture. The live music starts by 10am and goes all night on Broadway!

16. Visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

History buffs will appreciate visiting The Hermitage, once home to U.S. President Andrew Jackson. Tour the majestic Greek Revival mansion where Jackson lived after leaving office.

Exhibits spotlight Jackson’s tenure as president, his controversial legacy, and life as a planter and enslaver on a 1,120 acre cotton plantation. The Hermitage presents an integral chapter of American history. It’s located about 20 minutes outside Nashville.

17. Visit Homes of the Stars

Nashville’s musical superstars have left their mark on the city – literally! Tour companies offer home tours of celebrity estates, allowing you to gawk at the lavish residences where today’s hits were dreamed up.

Drive past Taylor Swift’s former beachside mansion, Kid Rock’s former estate with private recording studio, Big & Rich’s former antebellum home, and mansions owned by producer Larry Butler, Texan Red Steagall, and many more! Home tours reveal how the stars live offstage.

Conclusion

From the Ryman Auditorium to the Grand Ole Opry, Music Row to Honky Tonk Highway, Nashville envelops you in musical magic. Beyond the tunes, the city offers an array of historical, culinary, sports and entertainment attractions.

The Nashville of today represents one of America’s fastest-growing and most opportunity-filled cities. I’m grateful to call it home. Whether you’re staying a weekend or a week, Nashville will win your heart. I already know my next trip will include hot chicken at Hattie B’s!

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