When visiting Nashville, there are a multitude of must-see attractions that will leave you captivated by the city’s vibrant culture and rich history. From exploring the iconic music scene on Broadway to experiencing the grandeur of the Parthenon, Nashville offers a wide range of activities for every traveler. Whether you’re a country music enthusiast or a history buff, this article will guide you through the top 15 things you absolutely cannot miss during your visit to Music City. So grab your cowboy boots and get ready to be immersed in the charm and excitement that Nashville has to offer!
Historic Buildings and Landmarks
One of the most iconic and impressive landmarks in Nashville is The Parthenon. Built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, this full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece, is a captivating sight to behold. With its grand columns, intricate sculptures, and massive bronze doors, stepping inside The Parthenon is like stepping back in time. The interior houses a stunning 42-foot-tall statue of the goddess Athena, as well as a museum that displays an impressive collection of art and artifacts. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate architectural wonders, The Parthenon is a must-see when visiting Nashville.
Known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” Ryman Auditorium is a historic venue that has played a significant role in shaping Nashville’s music scene. Built in 1892 as a tabernacle, this venue later became the home of the famous Grand Ole Opry radio show, propelling country music into the mainstream. Many legendary musicians have graced the stage of Ryman Auditorium, including Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of this iconic building, learn about its history, and even catch a live performance. The Ryman Auditorium is a testament to the rich musical heritage of Nashville and should not be missed.
Step back in time and explore the historic home of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, at The Hermitage. Located just outside of Nashville, this beautifully preserved estate offers a glimpse into the life and times of one of America’s most influential leaders. Take a guided tour of the mansion and learn about Jackson’s accomplishments and controversies, stroll through the lush gardens, and visit the museum to see artifacts from the Jackson era. The Hermitage provides a fascinating insight into both the personal life and political career of Andrew Jackson, making it a must-visit attraction for history buffs.
Belle Meade Plantation
For a taste of Nashville’s rich history and Southern charm, a visit to Belle Meade Plantation is a must. This historic mansion, once a thriving thoroughbred horse farm, offers a glimpse into the life of plantation owners and the enslaved people who worked there. Take a guided tour of the Greek Revival mansion, walk through the beautifully landscaped grounds, and learn about the plantation’s role in the Civil War and the development of the Tennessee walking horse breed. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful surroundings, Belle Meade Plantation is a true gem in Nashville’s historic landscape.
Museums and Galleries
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of country music at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. This iconic institution showcases the legends, artifacts, and stories that have shaped the genre over the years. Explore the extensive collection of memorabilia, including costumes, instruments, and handwritten lyrics, as you learn about the evolution of country music from its roots to modern-day hits. The interactive exhibits and immersive experiences make this museum a must-visit for music lovers of all ages.
Johnny Cash Museum and Cafe
Step into the world of one of country music’s most iconic figures at the Johnny Cash Museum and Cafe. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, this museum is a tribute to the life and music of the “Man in Black.” Explore the exhibits that feature personal items, stage costumes, and rare photographs from Cash’s legendary career. Learn about his humble beginnings, his struggles, and his lasting impact on the music industry. After soaking in the history, grab a bite to eat at the on-site cafe, which serves up delicious Southern comfort food with a side of country music ambiance.
Frist Art Museum
For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Frist Art Museum is a must during your time in Nashville. Housed in a stunning Art Deco building that was formerly a post office, this museum offers a diverse range of exhibitions and collections. From traditional paintings and sculptures to contemporary installations and multimedia displays, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The Frist Art Museum prides itself on showcasing works from both local and international artists, providing a unique and enriching cultural experience.
Tennessee State Museum
Explore the history, culture, and art of Tennessee at the Tennessee State Museum. This comprehensive museum offers a fascinating journey through the state’s past, from the prehistoric era to the present day. See artifacts from Native American tribes, learn about the Civil War’s impact on the region, and discover the stories of influential Tennesseans. Interactive exhibits and multimedia displays engage visitors of all ages, making the Tennessee State Museum an educational and entertaining destination.
Live Music and Entertainment
Grand Ole Opry
No visit to Nashville would be complete without experiencing the magic of the Grand Ole Opry. The longest-running radio show in American history, the Opry has been showcasing country music’s biggest names for over 95 years. Take a tour of the iconic venue, learn about its rich history, and even catch a live performance featuring both legendary artists and up-and-coming talent. The Grand Ole Opry offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the authentic sounds and vibrant energy of country music.
The Bluebird Cafe
For an intimate and unforgettable musical experience, head to The Bluebird Cafe. This iconic listening room has become synonymous with Nashville’s singer-songwriter scene. The Bluebird Cafe has launched the careers of many world-renowned artists, who often perform in the cozy, 90-seat venue. Sit back, relax, and let the melodic tunes of talented singers and songwriters fill the air. The intimate setting and incredible talent make The Bluebird Cafe a must-visit for music lovers craving an authentic Nashville experience.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
Step into a piece of Nashville’s musical history at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, this legendary honky-tonk bar has been a staple of the city’s music scene since 1960. Countless country music legends, including Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, have graced the stage of Tootsie’s. Grab a cold beer, listen to live music, and soak up the energetic atmosphere that has made Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge an iconic institution in Nashville.
Honky Tonk Highway
For an unforgettable night out, take a stroll down Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway. This stretch of bars and live music venues on Lower Broadway is notorious for its lively ambiance and constant stream of talented musicians. From neon-lit honky-tonks to rooftop bars offering stunning views of the city skyline, Honky Tonk Highway has something for everyone. Grab a drink, let the music wash over you, and dance the night away in true Nashville style.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and unwind in the tranquil beauty of Centennial Park. Located just west of downtown Nashville, this expansive green space offers a peaceful retreat filled with lush gardens and picturesque walking paths. The park’s centerpiece is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, which serves as an art museum and a popular spot for photos. Pack a picnic, rent a bike, or simply enjoy the serenity of the park’s natural surroundings.
Percy Warner Park
For outdoor enthusiasts, Percy Warner Park is a must-visit destination. This sprawling park offers over 3,000 acres of pristine nature trails, scenic picnic spots, and breathtaking views. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the winding trails that meander through wooded areas and across rolling hills. The park is also home to the Historic Belle Meade Mansion, where visitors can learn about the area’s rich history. Whether you choose to hike, cycle, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll, Percy Warner Park is a nature lover’s paradise.
Radnor Lake State Park
Spend a day immersed in the beauty of nature at Radnor Lake State Park. Located just a short drive from downtown Nashville, this 1,332-acre park offers a peaceful retreat away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Explore the park’s tranquil trails, which wind through lush forests and provide ample opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. Keep an eye out for the park’s resident deer, owls, and herons. With its serene atmosphere and stunning natural scenery, Radnor Lake State Park is a true gem for outdoor enthusiasts.
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
Step into a world of horticultural beauty and artistic inspiration at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. This 55-acre estate, once the private residence of the Cheek family, now serves as a public art museum and botanical garden. Explore the vast gardens, which showcase a range of plant species and offer stunning views of the surrounding hills. Inside the mansion, admire the impressive art collection and rotating exhibitions. Cheekwood Estate and Gardens seamlessly blends art, nature, and history, making it a must-see attraction in Nashville.
Food and Drinks
No visit to Nashville is complete without indulging in the city’s most famous culinary delight: hot chicken. This fiery and flavorful dish consists of fried chicken coated in a mouthwatering blend of spices, typically served with pickles and white bread. From local institutions like Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack to trendy eateries like Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, there are plenty of places to experience the spicy goodness of hot chicken. Don’t forget to cool down with a refreshing beverage and prepare for a taste sensation unlike any other.
Biscuits and Gravy
Start your day off right with a hearty Southern breakfast staple: biscuits and gravy. This comforting dish features fresh-baked biscuits smothered in rich, creamy gravy made from sausage drippings and seasoned with a hint of black pepper. The combination of flaky biscuits and savory gravy is the perfect fuel for exploring Nashville. Many local restaurants and diners serve up their own variations of this classic dish, ensuring that you’ll never run out of options to satisfy your breakfast cravings.
Goo Goo Cluster
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a taste of Nashville’s beloved candy treat, the Goo Goo Cluster. Created in 1912, this iconic chocolate candy bar is a delightful combination of milk chocolate, caramel, peanuts, and marshmallow nougat. Experience the nostalgic charm of this century-old treat by visiting the Goo Goo Shop, where you can find an array of Goo Goo Cluster variations, as well as other delicious confections. Whether you’re a chocolate lover or simply appreciate a sweet indulgence, the Goo Goo Cluster is a true Nashville tradition.
Nashville Craft Breweries
Nashville’s craft beer scene has exploded in recent years, offering beer enthusiasts a wide variety of unique and flavorful brews. From hoppy IPAs to smooth stouts, there is something for every palate. Take a brewery tour to learn about the brewing process and sample a range of locally crafted beers. Many breweries also offer taprooms where you can relax, enjoy live music, and savor the flavors of Nashville’s vibrant beer culture. Whether you’re a connoisseur or just looking to try something new, exploring Nashville’s craft breweries is a must for beer lovers.
Shopping and Souvenirs
The Mall at Green Hills
Indulge in a day of shopping at The Mall at Green Hills, Nashville’s premier luxury shopping destination. This upscale mall is home to a wide range of high-end retailers, including designer boutiques, department stores, and exclusive shops. Browse the racks of renowned fashion brands, shop for the latest trends, or treat yourself to a little luxury. From stylish apparel to elegant accessories, The Mall at Green Hills offers a curated selection of high-quality goods for the discerning shopper.
Experience the unique blend of Southern hospitality and vibrant urban energy while shopping in downtown Nashville. This bustling district is home to a mix of local boutiques, quirky specialty shops, and iconic retailers. Explore the unique stores along Broadway, where you can find everything from cowboy boots to vintage records. Don’t forget to meander through the alleys and side streets to discover hidden gems and one-of-a-kind treasures. Whether you’re searching for souvenirs, fashion, or home decor, downtown Nashville has something to suit every taste.
For a trendy and eclectic shopping experience, head to The Gulch neighborhood in Nashville. This vibrant district is known for its hip atmosphere and collection of unique shops and boutiques. Discover an array of fashion-forward clothing, locally made jewelry, and quirky home goods as you wander through The Gulch’s stylish streets. After a day of shopping, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the neighborhood’s acclaimed restaurants or unwind with a craft cocktail at a trendy bar. The Gulch offers a truly hip and happening scene for shopping enthusiasts.
Explore the charming neighborhood of Hillsboro Village, where you can find an eclectic mix of shops and boutiques nestled among historic houses and tree-lined streets. This pedestrian-friendly district is home to a range of unique stores, including independent bookshops, vintage clothing boutiques, and specialty gift shops. Discover locally made crafts, artisanal goods, and quirky souvenirs as you stroll through this vibrant neighborhood. With its friendly atmosphere and diverse shopping options, Hillsboro Village is a must-visit destination for those seeking a more eclectic retail experience.
Sports and Recreation
Catch a game or concert at Nissan Stadium, home to the Tennessee Titans NFL team and a variety of major events throughout the year. This impressive multi-purpose stadium offers a thrilling atmosphere for sports enthusiasts and music lovers alike. Whether you’re cheering on the Titans, attending a soccer match, or rocking out to your favorite band, Nissan Stadium provides an unforgettable experience in the heart of Nashville.
For sports fans and live music enthusiasts, a visit to Bridgestone Arena is a must. This state-of-the-art venue hosts a wide range of events, from NHL hockey games featuring the Nashville Predators to sold-out concerts by top artists. Experience the electric energy of a live performance or cheer alongside passionate sports fans as you immerse yourself in the thrilling atmosphere of Bridgestone Arena.
Take yourself out to the ballgame and enjoy America’s favorite pastime at a Nashville Sounds baseball game. The Sounds, a minor league baseball team, provide the perfect opportunity to soak up the sun, indulge in ballpark snacks, and cheer on the home team. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, First Horizon Park offers a family-friendly environment where you can experience the excitement of professional baseball without breaking the bank.
Immerse yourself in the fast-paced action of the NHL by attending a Nashville Predators hockey game. Known for their passionate fan base and energetic atmosphere, Predators games are a thrilling experience for sports enthusiasts. Join in the chants, watch the game unfold on the ice, and feel the adrenaline rush as the Predators take on their opponents. Whether you’re a die-hard hockey fan or simply looking for an exciting night out, a visit to a Predators game is a must.
Neighborhoods and Districts
Experience the heart and soul of Nashville in the vibrant district of downtown. This bustling neighborhood is known for its lively atmosphere, live music scene, and iconic landmarks. Take a stroll down Broadway, lined with honky-tonk bars and neon lights, or explore the historic buildings and boutique shops along Printer’s Alley. From the iconic Ryman Auditorium to the bustling Riverfront Park, downtown Nashville offers a diverse mix of entertainment, dining, and shopping options that capture the essence of the city.
Discover the eclectic and artsy neighborhood of East Nashville, a haven for creatives, musicians, and foodies. This trendy district is dotted with vintage boutiques, art galleries, and hip eateries. Explore the vibrant Five Points area, known for its unique shops and lively nightlife, or take a leisurely stroll through Shelby Bottoms Park and enjoy the natural beauty of the Cumberland River. East Nashville’s unique charm and welcoming atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for those looking for a taste of Nashville’s alternative culture.
Experience a blend of history and modernity in the charming neighborhood of Germantown. As Nashville’s oldest neighborhood, Germantown is steeped in history and boasts Victorian architecture, brick sidewalks, and beautifully preserved buildings. Explore the local shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants that have transformed this historic district into a vibrant destination. Don’t miss a visit to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, where you can learn about Tennessee’s history and take in panoramic views of the city skyline.
Discover the eclectic and stylish neighborhood of 12 South, known for its unique boutiques, trendy restaurants, and vibrant atmosphere. This lively district offers something for everyone, from boutique shopping to gourmet dining to lively nightlife. Stroll along 12th Avenue South and experience the charm of this rapidly growing neighborhood. Stop by the iconic “I Believe in Nashville” mural for a photo op, enjoy a sweet treat at one of the many ice cream shops or bakeries, and soak up the lively ambiance that makes 12 South a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Tours and Sightseeing
Nashville Pedal Tavern
Experience the sights and sounds of Nashville while pedaling through the city on a Nashville Pedal Tavern tour. This unique and interactive experience allows you to explore the city’s hotspots, historic landmarks, and vibrant neighborhoods while pedaling on a large group bike. Your knowledgeable guide will provide interesting commentary and ensure a fun-filled adventure for all. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for a unique way to see the city, a Nashville Pedal Tavern tour is a memorable experience.
Zip through the streets of Nashville with ease on a Segway tour. These self-balancing electric scooters provide a fun and efficient way to explore the city’s top attractions. Glide through downtown Nashville, admire the skyline, and learn about the city’s history from your knowledgeable guide. Segway tours offer a hassle-free and exhilarating way to see the sights and experience the energy of Nashville.
Sit back, relax, and take in the sights of Nashville on a charming trolley tour. These narrated tours provide a comprehensive overview of the city’s history, architecture, and landmarks. Hop on and off at various stops along the route, allowing you to explore Nashville’s top attractions at your own pace. Trolley tours offer a convenient and informative way to see the city’s highlights while enjoying the comfort of a vintage-style trolley.
Get off the beaten path and explore Nashville’s neighborhoods and hidden gems on a bicycle tour. Led by knowledgeable guides, these tours provide an active and engaging way to see the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, beautiful parks, and iconic landmarks. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just looking for a fun way to explore, a bicycle tour is a fantastic way to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of Nashville.
Day Trips from Nashville
Just a short drive from Nashville, the charming town of Franklin awaits with its rich history and unique atmosphere. Stroll along Main Street and admire the well-preserved Victorian architecture, explore the quaint shops and boutiques, and visit the historic sites, such as the Carnton and Carter House, which played significant roles in the Civil War. Franklin also offers a vibrant culinary scene and is known for its award-winning restaurants. Take a day trip to Franklin and immerse yourself in its rich history, vibrant culture, and small-town charm.
The Jack Daniel’s Distillery
Embark on a whiskey-fueled adventure with a visit to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Learn about the craftsmanship and tradition behind one of the world’s most famous whiskeys as you tour the historic distillery. Explore the barrelhouses, see the famed charcoal mellowing process, and sample a selection of Jack Daniel’s iconic whiskey. A trip to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery offers not only a taste of Tennessee’s rich whiskey culture but also an opportunity to learn about the legacy of a true American icon.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Venture deep underground and explore the vast and intricate network of caves at Mammoth Cave National Park. Located a few hours from Nashville, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the world’s longest known cave system, spanning over 400 miles. Take a guided tour through the cave’s awe-inspiring chambers and learn about its geological formations and fascinating history. Above ground, explore the park’s scenic hiking trails and enjoy the beauty of nature as you surround yourself with lush forests and abundant wildlife.
Escape the city and indulge in a day of wine tasting at Arrington Vineyards. Nestled in the beautiful hills of Middle Tennessee, this family-owned winery offers a serene setting for relaxing and savoring award-winning wines. Take a guided tour of the vineyards, learn about the winemaking process, and sample a variety of wines, from crisp whites to robust reds. Pack a picnic, grab a bottle of your favorite wine, and enjoy the breathtaking views as you unwind at Arrington Vineyards.