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See country legends perform, visit beautiful state parks, taste the best hot chicken, and more.
Nashville has a reputation for being a prime destination for partiers. It’s one of the top spots for bachelorette parties, after all! But while there are certainly many honky-tonks open until the wee hours of the morning—and bar bikes riding up and down Broadway all day long—this historic city has even more to offer that you may not know about.
Once you decide which famous hotel to stay in, there are iconic venues featuring live shows with country music legends (it’s not called Music City for nothing), museums teeming with country music history, beautiful state parks with wildlife sightings, adventure parks for kids, and shopping destinations that will leave your luggage a lot heavier than when you arrived.
And you can’t leave Nashville without going on a
Southern food tour. Whether you want a Nashville hot chicken sandwich (yes, the line at Hattie B’s is worth it), barbecue, biscuits, meatloaf, or other classic comfort foods, there’s no way you’ll leave hungry.
So make your way down Honky Tonk Highway for a quintessential Nashville experience. Or if you’d rather have a quiet night listening to live country music, wait in line for the best hot chicken sandwich (ever!), enjoy a day at a distillery or winery, go zip lining, have a peaceful day at a state park, or take in Nashville views on a hot air balloon, we’re happy to report you can do that here too.
You can’t go to Nashville without learning about country music, and one of the best places to do that is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Located on Music Row in downtown Nashville, this large museum celebrates all things about the genre.
Whether or not you’re traveling with little ones, it’s worth a trip to the Nashville Zoo. Not only are there plenty of animal exhibits, but there are also fun family-friendly experiences, like zip lining, a carousel, and animal shows. Make a day out of it by enjoying some of the dining options, including a pizza kitchen and a creamery.
Fans of Johnny Cash will not want to miss the Johnny Cash Museum, which features the world’s largest collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia. It’s one of the top attractions in the area—and right next door, you can grab something to eat at Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ.
A stop at the Nashville Farmers’ Market is a must for anyone who wants to do something low-key. The large market features artisanal food, fresh produce, restaurants, shops, and crafts. Grab some snacks or something to cook later if you need a break from eating out.
Take in incredible views of the river and downtown skyline by walking the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which is closed to car traffic. The historic bridge built from 1907-09 connects downtown Nashville to East Nashville.
If you’re looking for a way to entertain the kids, head to the Adventure Science Center, a non-profit science museum for children. There, you’ll find over 175 hands-on interactive exhibits, from climbing structures to the Sudekum Planetarium.
One of the most famous streets in Nashville, the Honky Tonk Highway (aka lower Broadway) is a stretch of honky tonk bars known for their music and atmosphere. For a more family-friendly vibe, go before 8 p.m. If you want to get a little wild, head there after dinner. You’ll find iconic spots, like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and The Second Fiddle.
If you want to get out of the city for a bit, Cumberland Park is a great spot to walk along the water and enjoy river views. You can walk The Explorer Trail if you want to see butterflies, or take the kids to the play area.
Located in Centennial Park, the Parthenon in Nashville is the world’s only exact-size and detail replica of the original in Athens, Greece. It was once created for a celebration—but it was so popular, it stuck around. Today, the building regularly hosts art exhibits.
The Nashville Flea Market at The Fairgrounds is only open during the fourth weekend of each month (with some exceptions), but if you catch it, it’s worth a visit. It features a wide variety of shopping booths—and if you’re looking for unique antiques and vintage items, it’s a great place for browsing.
The tiny Bluebird Cafe isn’t just a place to get something to eat: It’s one of the most iconic listening rooms in the world. Artists like Taylor Swift and Faith Hill have had career-defining moments there, and the place is teeming with country music history. There are two shows a night and reservations are highly recommended.
There are a lot of hotels to choose from in Nashville, but an iconic and classic option is The Hermitage Hotel—where music greats like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash have stayed. It’s located in a prime downtown Nashville spot and offers gorgeous rooms and luxury amenities.
The Grand Ole Opry, one of the biggest attractions in Nashville, is one you won’t want to miss. Catch a two-hour live show multiple nights a week, with performances by country legends and rising stars—or just take a tour. And if you need somewhere to stay, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is a popular hotel, with a spa, golf course, and water attraction.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame honors teams, coaches, athletes, and more from the state of Tennessee. Even if you don’t actively root for a Tennessee team, diehard sports fans will enjoy browsing the memorabilia and taking in sports history.
Adventure seekers will want to reserve a seat in a hot air balloon for arguably the best views of middle Tennessee.
There are tons of great restaurants to choose from in Nashville, but The Grilled Cheeserie can’t be missed. The food-truck-turned-restaurant is known for—of course—grilled cheese. Try one of the popular gourmet options, like the Buffalo South Melt, or make your own.
There’s so much to do in the city of Nashville that it’s easy to forget that there are a lot of nature-centric things too. Edwin and Percy Parks, collectively known as "The Warner Parks," create one of the largest parks in Tennessee. You’ll find these iconic Allée steps, hiking trails, golf courses, dog parks, horse trails, scenic overlooks, and more.
If you visit Nashville during the spring or summer months, wear the kids out at Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort, a waterpark (with 1 million gallons of water!), adventure course, and campground located on Percy Priest Lake—just 10 miles from downtown Nashville. You can rent a lakeside cabin, go zip lining, rent a pontoon boat, go on the water slides…the list of activities is basically endless.
There’s a lot to see at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, so plan accordingly! See instruments used by famous artists, like Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, and more—and actual studio booths used by the likes of Elvis.
Visit Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory at Vanderbilt University for tours, telescope nights, meet the astronomer evenings, and more. It’s not open all year round, so check the website for hours and ticket information.
Jessica is a freelance writer from New York who loves kale salads and hanging out with her cats.
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