15 of The Best Things To Do In Nashville, Tennessee

Steve Cummings

Things to do in Nashville

Are you looking for a fun and vibrant destination for your next vacation? Nashville, TN, could be the perfect travel spot!

Nicknamed the “Music City,” Nashville is known for its unparalleled energy and vibrancy.

Whether you'd like to sip on a delicious cocktail in one of the honky-tonks, go to a one-of-a-kind country music concert, party the night away in fantastic clubs, or indulge in some delightful home-style southern food, you'll find something you like in Nashville.

 But that's not all!

Nashville is also the hometown of famous figures, including President Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, making it the ideal holiday destination for history buffs.

And as if it wasn't enough, the laid-back and riverside city also provides visitors with stunning scenery and some natural wonders that will leave you speechless.

Here are 15 of The Best Things to Do in Nashville

Nashville is full of history, country music, Vanderbilt University, and much more. There are so many things that you could do in this incredible city. So, to help you plan the perfect trip, here are the 15 best things to do in Nashville, Tennessee.

Visit The Grand Ole Opry

A trip to Music City wouldn't be complete without exploring the legendary Grand Ole Opry.

Known for hosting the longest-running radio show in the world, the Opry radio station has broadcasted its show for over 4,600 consecutive Saturday nights. It began in 1925 as a live music show at radio station WSM.

Almost one hundred years later, the venue is often called “the home of America's music” or “country's most famous stage.” It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually who come from the four corners of the earth to enjoy incredible live shows featuring iconic country artists like Dolly Parton or Carrie Underwood.

If you're a country music fan and want to make the most of your visit, a guided backstage tour is the best way! The tour includes catching the artists' dressing rooms and walking the famous stage.

And if you've got some time and are up for a night of live entertainment with country music icons, why not book your ticket for one of the shows?

Enjoy Live Music On The Honky-Tonk Highway

You might not be familiar with the term honky-tonk, but you'll quickly get familiar with it if you go to Nashville! The Honky-Tonk Highway is one of the best things to do in Nashville.

A honky-tonk is an affordable bar or dance hall that plays country music, and Nashville is full of them. The city has created an entire row of honky-tonks running through Lower Broadway in the downtown area of Nashville, where tourists and locals alike can enjoy live music pumped throughout the streets from 10 am to 3 am.

And because music is so vital in Nashville, walking down the honky-tonk highway is free, and you won't be charged any cover for entering one of the many venues along the way.

Here's a list of must-visit honky-tonks in Nashville:

●    Famous Nashville: the venue features one of the tallest rooftops in town, offering sweeping views across the city while Nashville's best artists play their top tracks. If you're hungry, try the hot chicken sandwich. You won't regret it!

●    Tootsies Orchid Lounge: this historic Nashville landmark is a music institution in the city and is one of the most famous honky-tonks worldwide. It's located across the iconic Ryman Auditorium, another historic arts venue that has seen internationally renowned artists perform all music genres from country and hip hop to jazz and soul. The oldest honky-tonk in the state features a trendy rooftop bar and three floors, each with different welcoming bands and music genres. And this makes it the perfect spot to quench your thirst after a show.

● Luke's 32 Bridge: if you're after mouthwatering burgers or home-style southern food, delightful cocktails, and fantastic entertainment, Luke's 32 Bridge is a no-brainer. In fact, with its eight bars and four stages, you'll be spoilt for choice in the 30,000-square-foot multi-level bar. And if you're looking for menu recommendations, the chicken and waffle with smoked bacon and the Dirt Road Diary cocktail will leave you wanting more.

You'll find more information about the honky-tonk highway on the city's website.

The Blue Bird Cafe

The Blue Bird Cafe is an iconic landmark that has featured many songwriters and country musicians and even was featured in the TV show Nashville. 

The 90-person small venue hosts several country music songwriters as people line up to get a seat inside the door to enjoy the beautiful words written and songs you may have heard from artists like the Rascal Flats or Carrie Underwood. 

If you are in Nashville and want to hear some of the best country music around, head to the Blue Bird Cafe. Even if you have never heard of it, you will enjoy the atmosphere of this tiny little Nashville club. It will not disappoint. 

Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Hall of Fame in Nashville

If you are visiting Nashville, TN, chances are that you will want to find out why this place is called “Music City.” Places like the Grand Ole Opry, the Johnny Cash Museum, The BlueBird Cafe, and many more places to reminisce about the music. 

Located in the heart of Nashville's arts and entertainment section downtown, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the largest repository of Country Music artifacts. 

Started in 1964, the Country Music Hall of Fame holds over 2.5 million pieces of country music. It contains 200,000 records, 500,000 photographs, 30,000 moving images, costumes, instruments, and so much more. The Country Music Hall of Fame is a place you can get lost in seeing Elvis Presley's Cadillac and Jerry Reed's Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit II. 

Country music is brought alive by the many decades of musicians that have come and gone, and many artists still creating music. 

Come and get lost in the music and enjoy a great visit to this beautiful stop in Music City.

Johnny Cash Museum

The Johnny Cash Museum is a place that holds the most artifacts and memorabilia from the “Man in Black.” 

The 18,000-square-foot museum is located off of South Broadway. It features everything from the early years of his life until his death. It even houses a stone wall from his estate in Hendersonville, Tennessee. 

There are souvenirs, collectibles, a coffee shop, a cafe, and a wide range of events. 

Numerous items from his life are on exhibit, as in 8 tracks, costumes, amps, handwritten letters, and even Airforce memorabilia from when he served in the Airforce. 

If you like Johnny Cash or even want to visit to see all the history, then stop by the Johnny Cash Museum. 

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

You have not seen a hotel and convention center like this before. The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is more of an experience than anything else. 

Many people will venture out late at night to the numerous restaurants and bars the resort is full of. They are decorated with pools, fountains, and greenery that everyone can check out. There is a gym and a golf course. 

On top of that, there are many great banquet halls for special events. There is even a spa on site for time to relax and enjoy. 

If you are looking for one of the best things to do in Nashville, booking a room for a weekend or a week at the Gaylord Opryland Resort will be a treat. 

Belle Meade Plantation

If you are looking for a short trip out of the city going back in time, then Belle Meade Plantation may be a spot to visit. 

Take a day to venture over to one of the best things to do in Nashville by visiting Belle Meade Plantation. Victorian-style carriages were stored in the carriage house and an education center where you could learn about the enslaved people that lived on the plantation. It takes you back to a time when things were less modern. 

If that does not interest you enough, there is a beautiful winery that you can visit. You can take some of the sights in a while sipping on some red. 

Take a short trip south of Nashville, and visit Belle Meade Plantation. It is a sight you may not want to miss. 

Visit The Parthenon

Parthenon in Nashville

If there's something visitors certainly don't expect to see in the middle of Tennessee, it's a replica of the Parthenon from Athens. Yet, this is exactly what you'll see when visiting Nashville!

Located in the lush Centennial Park, The Parthenon was originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition as a tribute to classical Greek architecture. Nicknamed “the Athens of the South” for years due to its number of universities and dedication to higher education, the city took advantage of its nickname during the exposition organized to celebrate its 100th year of statehood by building a full-scale replica.

Inside the Parthenon stands a replica of Athena's 42-foot statue gilded with eight pounds of gold leaf. As a side note, it was featured in the movie “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”

Besides its beautiful architecture and towering statue, the Parthenon hosts rotating exhibitions educating visitors about the influence of ancient Greece on the American civilization. 

The cherry on the top of the cake, you ask?

If you plan your trip well in advance, you'll be able to see one of the local theater troupes performing Greek plays or listen to beautiful live chamber music performances.

Don't Miss President Andrew Jackson's Hermitage.

Located just 16 miles outside of Nashville lies a spectacular mansion named Hermitage. Now, the Hermitage is not just any typical southern-style mansion. It used to be home to one of America's most famous presidents, Andrew Jackson, between 1804 and 1845.

The home is a superb example of plantation-style architecture. What makes it so unique is how carefully it has been preserved by Alfred, one of Andrew Jackson's slaves, and later by the Ladies Hermitage Association, allowing visitors to witness how wealthy Nashville residents lived during that period. They turned into a museum in 1889, and the property brims with precious relics belonging to the People's president.

Not only will you be able to explore the beautiful mansion and learn more about Jackson's life and legacy once on the grounds (including how he got his face on the twenty-dollar bill), but the property also features a spectacular garden, along with Andrew Jackon's tomb. And once you're there, we'd highly recommend the “Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm” exhibition.

Take A Trip To The Arrington Vineyards

If you're a wine enthusiast, Arrington vineyards are Nashville's gift to you.

Located 35 minutes south of the city, the family-owned operation provides visitors with award-winning tastings and spectacular vistas. The best time to visit is in the afternoon, right before sunset, to indulge in sprawling hills and meadow views with a glass of delicious wine in hand. The sky will take on orange and yellow hues as the sun sets, leaving you speechless.

The venue features picnic tables, but we recommend you bring a blanket just in case, as this is a popular sunset spot. Also, the vineyard hosts live music events called “music in the vines” on weekends from April through November so visitors can indulge in local music while tasting the delicious wines produced on the grounds.

Whether you want to try some of the wines, enjoy a food and wine pairing experience, or organize a private wine tasting with your friends or family, the venue can cater to your needs.

One of the best-selling wines, the Stag's white, is delightful. The wine is a blend of Vidal Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Traminette, and Muscat Blanc.

Explore the Lost Sea

How would you like to embark on a glass-bottom boat tour and explore the largest underground lake in America?

Located in Sweetwater, 180 miles east of Nashville, this natural wonder is worth the detour.

The Lost Sea is an underground lake, part of an extensive cave system called the Craighead Caverns, and located underneath Sweetwater and Madisonville in Tennessee.

After entering, your descent towards the lake will start. And as you walk down the path and explore the different rooms, you'll be able to admire rare millennia-old formations, including the authorities (also referred to as cave flowers). After a few minutes, the caves will open into a spacious dark room illuminated by underwater lights; you'll have arrived at the famous lake.

Be prepared to be in awe.

That's because there's truly something magical about the turquoise crystal clear waters of the lake contrasting with the dark cavernous walls surrounding it.

While you can visit on your own, a guided tour is the best way to truly connect with this unique place as it will allow you to learn more about the site's history, including stories about the Indian artifacts you'll see in the caves.

And you'll also hear a lot of surprising anecdotes, such as the one regarding the bones of the famous prehistoric Pleistocene Jaguar archaeologists found deep inside the cave after following its 20,000-year-old tracks! The bones are now displayed in the museum of natural history in New York.

Note that the cave is located 140 feet below the surface, so walking back up can prove a bit difficult if you have mobility issues.

Try Nashville's Speciality: Hot Chicken

Besides country music, Nashville is famous for its hot chicken. What makes Nashville's spicy pan-fried hot chicken so unique is the secret spices local chefs add to it and the fact that it's served with pickle chips and white bread.

The spicy dish would have been first invented at Prince's Hot Chicken almost 100 years ago. Since then, the place has become a favorite heat slinger with tourists and locals alike. Not only does it arguably have the best hot chicken in town, but it also has the best story!

The story goes like this; one night, Thorton Prince, the founder of Prince's Hot Chicken, came home late to a disgruntled lover. She expressed her anger by cooking fried chicken with a twist; a lot of spices to make the chicken fiery, matching her fury. And guess what? Thorton loved it and decided to open a store to sell hot chicken to customers.

If you spend a few days in Nashville and want to try other places, some of the other iconic chicken joints include Hattie B's Hot Chicken and Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish. Both venues have crafted their menus around family recipes passed down through generations, and if you love spicy food, their hot delicacies will delight your taste buds.

Crunchy and juicy deliciousness with a kick guaranteed!

Cumberland Park

Cumberland Park Nashville

Located right off the Cumberland River in Cumberland Park. It is a new innovative park to create green space and active activities for children and families to enjoy. 

It is a 6.5-acre park with an amphitheater, bounce pad, rock climbing wall, splash pad, green maze, and an Explorer trail full of groves and greenery. 

Cumberland Park is great to take the family on a warm day. Many activities can keep children and parents active. 

If you want to get outdoors within the city limits, visit Cumberland Park. 

Visit Nashville Zoo

Did you know that Nashville Zoo was the 9th biggest zoo in the US?

Located 6 miles south of Nashville, Nashville Zoo is the perfect adventure for nature and wildlife lovers.

Standing on former farmland given to the city by the Croft family in the 90s, the zoo is now home to over 3000 animals and 350 species.

And what we love most about this vibrant zoo is that events like the « sunset safari » or the “Zzzofari Slumber,” an overnight camping event, are regularly organized to allow visitors to enjoy a truly immersive experience.

From alpacas, Andean bears, and red kangaroos to poison arrow frogs and cougars, the number of species you'll be able to see at the zoo is incredible. So, make sure to plan a half-day trip to truly enjoy the magic of this animal kingdom just a few minutes from downtown Nashville.

Because the place is so popular, we'd recommend buying your tickets online before going, especially if you're planning to visit on the weekend.

Final Thoughts

There are many charming cities in the southern part of the U.S. like Asheville, Greenville, Charleston, and Savannah, but there is something different about the Music City.

As the city of music, storytellers, and dreamers, Nashville is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. From old-world charm to southern style, cultural sites to natural wonders, fine dining to hot chicken and honky-tonks, few other cities can rival Nashville's eclectic offer.

So, pack your bags, find some cheap flights, and explore this fantastic US region. We promise you'll love it.

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