Want a big city experience with a small town vibe? Nashville delivers on much more than just being the country music capital of the world! You will find plenty to see and do in Music City, with fun for all ages and plenty bucket list experiences while you’re at it!
Whether you are in Nashville for a short stay or an extended break, there is sure to be plenty of things on this list to help you fill your time, not to mention great eats!
So to help you plan your time better, we’ve put together a huge list of ideas for things to do in Nashville, broken down into types of activities, to make it easier for you to pick and choose the things that make your heart sing when travelling! Check out our 29 BEST things to do in Nashville Tennessee:
- 1 29 BEST THINGS TO DO IN NASHVILLE TENNESSEE
- 1.1 CULTURAL & HISTORY
- 1.2 ALL THINGS MUSIC
- 1.3 KID-FRIENDLY
- 1.4 EATS AND DRINKS
- 1.5 SPORT SCENE
- 1.6 RETAIL THERAPY
- 1.7 Where to Stay in Nashville
- 1.8 Best Nashville Tours
29 BEST THINGS TO DO IN NASHVILLE TENNESSEE
CULTURAL & HISTORY
Nashville, once known as Fort Nashborough, is rich in history and culture, from its humble beginnings to becoming the capital of the state of Tennessee. If you’re a history buff, you will find plenty to enjoy in the city, learning about days of the past and how the city blossomed into the thriving place you now see. Here are some of our top picks for historic and cultural Nashville experiences:
1 – City Walking Tour
There are heaps of walking tours available around Nashville and some of these are FREE! The best part of a walking tour is getting to see the sights up close and enjoy the great weather most of the year too! The best way to find out about the available tours when you’re visiting is to pop into the Nashville Visitor Centre or have a look on Tripadvisor. If you’re a fan of the Nashville television show, this self-guided tour kicks off with a walking tour then gives you some choose your own adventure options in different districts around town.
There is also an African American Culture walking tour that is a new tour option available for downtown Nashville. Find out more here.
2 – Tennessee State Capitol Building
If you’re interested in Nashville’s political history, you can organise a free tour of the Tennessee State Capitol via the Tennessee State Museum. They run hourly between 9 to 11AM and 1 to 3PM, where you can learn the history of the Capitol via a self-guided tour. They will also organise guided tours for large groups with some advance planning with the museum. The Capitol is closed on weekends so make sure this one is on your weekday to do list!
3 – The Parthenon
Not something you expect to see when you visit a city like Nashville, but it’s true… you can see a life size replica of the Greek Parthenon! Complete with replicated statutes and all. It’s just like you’ve stepped back into ancient Athens really. It is home to a full size 42 foot replica of Athena, but it isn’t just for show. The Parthenon also happens to be Nashville’s art museum too, so it is the perfect place to enjoy some artistic culture. It is open every day of the week except Monday and is a very affordable attraction, at just $6 for adults and $4 for kids. You can find up to date open times and event details here.
4 – Belle Meade Plantation
Experience the historic south with a visit to Belle Meade, a plantation home educational and enjoyable experience that will take you back in time. There are several tour options available, which includes complimentary wine tasting. Yes! And your opportunity to learn more about American history in a home that was once one of the biggest slaveholders in Nashville. You will have the opportunity to tour the home and the grounds, preserved to mirror days of the past and enjoy educational activities during your visit. Find out more via the Belle Meade website.
5 – Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
For another look into Nashville’s history, visit the former home of 7th US President Andrew Jackson and his family and enjoy a chance to tour the grounds and mansion he had built, learning more about his background and fate, plus the history of the Hermitage itself. The grounds are beautiful and you can walk around self guided with an audio guide, which is included with each ticket. You also have the chance to join in any of the guided tours through certain parts of the gardens and the mansion itself.
Make sure to pop over and watch the duel demonstration. It’s not how it sounds… no knights on horseback. This was a gentleman’s duel and not at all what we were expecting but an entertaining and educational experience!
ALL THINGS MUSIC
It wouldn’t be a visit to music city without a whole lotta music experiences to fill your time with! These will likely be some of the most memorable of your trip so make sure you squeeze at least a couple of them in! Don’t leave Nashville without having at least one live music experience! That’s where the magic happens and lasting memories are made!
6 – Grand Ole Opry
Of course it’s only natural we start with one of the most iconic music attractions in Nashville – The Grand Ole Opry! The Opry is one of the most well known music concert halls in the world, and not just for country music either! The Opry has been going since 1925 and has had a huge array of musicians grace its stage over this time. There are regular performances year round and if you have the time, be sure to grab yourself tickets to a show. It doesn’t need to be a big name act. It’s simply about the experience! And you never know… the act you see could very well become the next big thing!
There are also daily tours backstage of the Opry too, which you can book online or in person. They will take you behind the scenes for a glance at the opulence and tell you some of the incredible history.
7 – The Ryman Auditorium
The previous home of the Opry, The Ryman Auditorium is also a regular concert venue and hosts a couple of special Opry events throughout the year too, to celebrate it’s roots as the original home of the Nashville music scene. It is set out more like a church than an auditorium, with cushioned pew seating. You can see what concerts and events are happening, and find out tour times via their website.
8 – Honky Tonk Highway
There is no way you can visit Music City and not take a stroll down Honky Tonk Highway. Hear the live music blasting out of every door as you stroll along the bright lit street filled with neon signs, and it doesn’t even need to be dark to start hearing those tunes! In fact, the honky tonks start at 10AM and play right through to 3AM… and no cover charge! There is nothing quite like experiencing Nashville like this and it is definitely a bucketlist item for every traveller! Don’t worry if you’re not a country music fan… you will find your toe tapping along anyway!
9 – Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Of course there needs to be a museum in honour of all things country music in Nashville, so if you’re a fan, this is a must do attraction! This is the place to learn about your favourite country music stars, their beginnings and maybe discover some new ones to love! There are regular exhibits showcasing different artists plus tours to learn about the processes of making music in the studio and beyond. You can find out all the details and opening times via their website.
10 – The Bluebird Cafe
There are so many incredible bars and music venues in Nashville, however if you are a fan of the show, this is another must visit attraction on your list! The Bluebird Cafe features heavily in the show and it also happens to be a really cool place too! The seating is limited for each performance, creating an intimate vibe and unique experience. It has been known to have some pretty big name artists pop in for a surprise gig too! Bookings are almost always essential. Certain sessions are free (no cover charge) although you do need to spend $10US on food and drink. Other shows have a cost associated, but you can book via the website. Reservations for the free sessions usually open just a couple of days before so jump online as they go live to secure your seats!
If you do happen to love the Nashville show, the behind the scenes of the Nashville TV show tour will take you to all the places you recognise from the show, including the Bluebird Cafe, the homes of your favourite characters, the Ryman Auditorium and more.
11 – Music City Walk of Fame
Everyone knows about the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but Nashville has their very own dedicated to music stars, along Music Mile, which is where music stars from all genres who have had some influence and connection to Music City are honoured. You can check out the Walk of Fame anytime and even cooler is the fact that the induction ceremonies are always open to the public too! You may see one of your favourites getting inducted! Check out the updates on who’s being inducted next and when.
12 – Johnny Cash Museum
If you are a huge fan of Johnny Cash, this is a place you will want to check out! It features the largest collection of Johnny Cash memorabilia in the world and situated conveniently downtown. Find out open times and ticket info on their website. And if you are a fan of Patsy Cline, there is a specialty museum dedicated to Patsy upstairs!
13 – Line Dancing Lessons
While you’re in the heart of country music, it’s only natural you learn to dance like the locals! Country music and line dancing go together like peanut butter and jelly… well so they say in the USA. That’s totally not a thing here in Australia, but we sure did give line dancing a crack! Many of the honky tonks will offer line dancing lessons several times during the day/night, so you can just join in and have some fun with it! Trust me, we weren’t very good but we sure did laugh!
We joined a lesson at the Wildhorse Saloon, which is a massive place with live music, a big dance floor, heaps of tables and totally family friendly too! Make sure you try their moonshine cocktails too. Yum! It has hosted some massive acts over the years too… like Ringo Starr! I’m a Beatles fan so this is super cool!
Nashville may not sound like the first choice of family holiday destinations, however there is so much to do as a family in the city! Nashville may be a big city, but it has a small town vibe to it, even with the neon flashing lights and loud music cascading out every doorway. The best thing is that many of the places that would traditionally be adult only stops in other cities are aimed to be family friendly in Nashville. But music aside, there are plenty of other family travel experiences to be had while you’re there too! Here are some of our top picks!
14 – Centennial Park
Big open spaces are always popular when travelling as a family, and even if you’re kid-free, you will no doubt appreciate a bit of fresh air and greenery during your Nashville visit! Centennial Park hosts many events throughout the year, so you may get lucky enough to be in town when there is something fun going on, however there is always plenty to fill your time within the park grounds, being that it is home to the Parthenon, the Centennial Art Center, walking trails and a lake. There is also a sports centre and exercise trail in case you are ready to get active!
15 – Nashville Zoo
We love animal experiences whenever we travel and Nashville has their own zoo that is open daily which will give you the chance to see a huge range of animals up close during your visit. With creatures great and small, you’re sure to fill in a few hours or a full day at the zoo and it’s a great option to educate and entertain the kids! You can find out their opening times and ticket prices via the website.
16 – Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
If you are a fan of snapping pics with your favourite celebrities, Madame Tussauds Nashville has you covered, even if they are of the wax variety. Music stars are the main theme of this particular Madame Tussauds museum, which is only fitting for Music City. Be greeted by Taylor Swift and Johnny Cash at the entrance and find other huge country, rock, jazz, and pop stars throughout. The Nashville Tennessee wax museum is located inside the Opry Mills Shopping Centre too, so you’ve got shopping and lunch covered for your day too!
17 – Adventure Science Center
The Nashville Science Center has plenty to do with the kids, and a great way to learn some cool new science stuff too! Educational fun at it’s best! Check out the website to see the latest exhibits and events happening, and enjoy everything from the planetarium, to hands on experiments, 3D printing, virtual reality and daily live shows featuring science experiments. Fun for the whole family!
18 – Nashville Children’s Theatre
When looking for the best to do in Nashville, the Nashville Children’s Theatre offers up regular performances aimed at children and families, popular with kids and for school trips too. They also hold regular drama classes for kids who are keen to pursue their own future in the performing arts. You can find their upcoming performances on the website.
19 – Frist Art Museum
The Frist Art Museum located downtown is a family friendly gallery dedicated to presenting an ever-changing schedule of exhibitions from local, regional, national and international sources. The Frist features the award-winning Martin ArtQuest Gallery with 30 interactive art-making stations, educational programs and they even have free live music on Thursday and Friday evenings. Definitely exciting enough to keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours! Visit their website to check out the latest exhibits.
20 – Murals & Street Art
Nashville has become quite well known for some of its iconic street art over recent years, and walking the city in hunt of fun photo opportunities with the family can be a lot of fun! Sometimes there’s some pretty big line ups for some of the more well known street art, such as the gorgeous What Lifts You by Kelsey Montague in the Gulch, but you will get your turn soon enough! Check out this page for the directions to the most well known Nashville murals. Some may say that the murals are right up there near the top of the best things to do in Nashville Tennessee!
EATS AND DRINKS
When you’re short on time and want to fit everything in, sometimes the thing that you miss out on is a chance to try out all the best eats and drinks in town and Nashville has quite a few incredible offerings. One of the best ways to find out where to go is of course to ask a local. Uber drivers are so good for this! And a quick look on Tripadvisor can often point you in the right direction too! But lucky for you, because you’ve got us and we’ve put a list together for you right here!
21 – Biscuit Love
If the line up down the street doesn’t give you a good hint this place is amazing, nothing will. Biscuit love is located in The Gulch and is mega popular! They have two other stores as well, in Hillsboro Village and Franklin and they offer up breakfast, brunch and lunch on their menu. The food is made entirely from scratch and their hospitality is distinctly southern! Like the name suggests, their signature focus is on biscuits… sweet, savoury, all kinds.
22 – Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hattie B’s have several locations in Nashville and also a couple elsewhere now too and they serve up southern style chicken – with the choice to get your chicken in one of 6 levels of spiciness, from the not hot at all Southern to the Shut the Cluck Up mega hot. Like I said, Uber drivers give great tips and one of our drivers said he tried the hottest one as a teen and will never do it again! He said it BURNED! Are you brave enough for some really hot chicken?
23 – Monell’s Dining & Catering
Listed as number 1 on Tripadvisor, Monell’s offers southern food with the family at home feel! Think fried chicken, cornbread, beans, gravy and biscuits and all things southern. Best of all, you will feel like part of the family! Check out the locations and menu for Monell’s via their website.
You can also dine with a moving view on the General Jackson showboat River Cruise for lunch or dinner… this is a bonus add in I forgot from the original list so essentially it’s now a top 30!
Nashville is home to several professional sport teams and stadiums, making it a great place to catch a match of your favourite sport during season and to join in a bit of healthy competition cheering them on! Or even if you’re not a bit sport fanatic, it’s always a great thing to experience anyway because the vibe at these games can be really catching!
24 – Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are Nashville’s home-grown ice hockey team and they play home matches at the Bridgestone Arena between October and April each year. With their tagline, welcome to Smashville, you will be in for some high energy fun! Check out the game dates here.
25 – Tennessee Titans
If football is more your scene, the Titans are at home in Nashville, at Nissan Stadium. NFL is huge in the US, so it’s only natural you have the chance to see what all the hype is about for yourself! Check out the latest game dates and times here.
26 – Nashville Sounds
You would be forgiven if you thought this one was listed under the wrong heading, but in fact, Nashville Sounds is the name of Nashville’s baseball team. Quite fitting! With their season running April to September, home games are played at First Tennessee Park. You can grab tickets and check out the dates here.
27 – Nashville SC
Soccer is also a big thing in Nashville, with their soccer team Nashville SC playing also at First Tennessee Park for home games between March and October. Grab your tickets here.
If you love to shop, Nashville will have you well and truly covered with all the basics and some incredible shopping centres. Think outlets and bargains galore, and of course… boots, boots and more boots! Perfect if you want to be decked out from head to toe like a cowboy or cowgirl! We went home with a pair of boots each… Here’s some of the best shopping in Nashville:
28 – Opry Mills
If you are looking for some bargains, Opry Mills is Nashville’s largest outlet shopping complex and it is loaded with awesomeness. Not only will you find fantastic clothes, homewares and tech products for cheap, you’ll also be able to enjoy great eats and entertainment all in the one complex too. And it’s walking distance to The Grand Ole Opry!
29 – The Mall at Green Hills
If you’re looking for luxury, speciality and toy stores, The Mall at Green Hills has everything from Nordstrom to Gap, Macys to Burberry and so much more. There are so many stores that you’re sure to find what you want! Find their store listing here.
Where to Stay in Nashville
There are endless options for Nashville accommodation, depending on the type of visit you take. If you are doing an extended stay in Nashville and you have your own transport or access to public transport, AirBnb is a fantastic option. There are some beautiful private homes and apartments available in Nashville, including the one we stayed at near the Opry. Plus if you sign up to Airbnb for the first time, you will get credit towards your first stay.
Alternatively there are plenty of hotels in Nashville, both in the inner city area or on the outskirts of the city, such as the Omni Nashville Hotel which is in a great inner city location, with rooms suited to all traveller types, including kids. They even have a kids club!
Best Nashville Tours
If you are only visiting Nashville for a short stay or if you want to see the highlights while you are in town but aren’t sure where to start, a full or half day tour is a great option! And there are plenty of different tours on offer. Here are some of the best ones:
Hop on Hop off Trolley – see Nashville at your own pace with 15 stops to explore
Half Day City Tour – Fully narrated and a quick way to see the highlights
Homes of the Stars Tour – See the homes of some of your favourite country music icons like Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton
Nashville Nights and Lights Tour – See music city at night and enjoy the best of the Honky Tonk scene
We have no doubt you will find something on this list for best things to do in Nashville Tennessee for your visit, whether you are visiting for the first time or the tenth, or even if you happen to be a local and may have overlooked some of these fun things to do! Nashville is a great city for all kinds of travellers. Nashville may be a big city but it certainly has mastered the small country town vibe and is strong with southern hospitality everywhere you go! And who knows… you may even bump into some real life country celebrities!
Make sure you check out our other USA travel tips too!
Have you been to Nashville? Tell us your favourite things to do in Nashville Tennessee!