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Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

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There’s a lot more to Nashville than Broadway’s live music and bars (though those are very much worth experiencing – especially on a guided tour – for both country music fans and anyone who likes to have a good time).

Other essential Nashville attractions include the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Grand Ole Opry (or better yet, a backstage tour followed by a show). A performance at the Ryman Auditorium, a church-turned-music venue with church pew seating, is also enjoyable (the seats are not as uncomfortable as you may think).

There are several neighborhoods outside of downtown Nashville that is worth visiting. East Nashville, a city within a city with great restaurants and bars, and 12South, where you’ll find boutique shopping including Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James flagship store, are examples.

Spend the day visiting the animals at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere if you’re specifically looking for family-friendly activities in Nashville. Another option is the Gaylord Opryland Resort, where you can stay overnight or buy a day pass to the on-site SoundWaves water park. The resort also offers fantastic seasonal activities, especially during the holiday season.

Obviously, eating your way through Nashville is one of the best things to do in the city. Don’t leave until you’ve consumed biscuits at The Loveless Cafe and hot chicken from Hattie B’s.

#1 Broadway-Nashville Tennessee

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Broadway-Nashville Tennessee

While many people visit Nashville’s museums to learn about the history of country music, others prefer to experience the music live. The best way to accomplish this is by visiting one of the many bars that line Broadway, the main thoroughfare in downtown Nashville. Lower Broadway is dubbed “Honky Tonk Highway” due to the abundance of establishments that feature live music every day. Additionally, there is no cover charge, allowing you to bar hop at your leisure. Read More Here

#2 Grand Ole Opry-Nashville Tennessee

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Grand Ole Opry-Nashville Tennessee

The Grand Ole Opry began as a radio program in 1925, and it established Nashville as the “World’s Country Music Capital.” Throughout its history, the Grand Ole Opry has resided in a variety of venues, including the Ryman Auditorium, but it has always featured country music legends such as Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton as well as contemporary favorites such as Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban. And a visit to Nashville is not complete without a tour of the Grand Ole Opry House, which offers a glimpse into the past. Either a daytime or post-show backstage tour will give you a glimpse behind the scenes. During a daytime tour, your guide will share tales of music legends who have walked the hallowed halls of the Opry, show you photos of the Opry’s illustrious history, and possibly bring you onto the iconic stage. A post-performance tour will take you through the venue’s 18 unique dressing rooms and Studio A, where “Hee Haw” was filmed. Read More

#3 Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery

Belle Meade, located just 8 miles southwest of downtown Nashville, provides a glimpse into the lives of nineteenth-century Tennesseans. The mansion, which was constructed in 1853 and is riddled with bullet holes from the Civil War, is situated in the center of the plantation’s 30 acres of well-kept grounds. Interior tours of the mansion are led by guides dressed in period attire.

There are also guided tours of additional areas of the plantation. “Journey to Jubilee” is a popular hour-long tour that describes the lives of the enslaved workers who lived at Belle Meade; guides provide information from primary sources about enslaved people’s relationships with plantation owners and their journeys to emancipation. This tour is restricted to participants over the age of 12, but the plantation also offers a tour titled “Stories of Slavery and Freedom” and other programs designed for families with younger children.

#4 The Johnny Cash Museum

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

The Johnny Cash Museum

Discover the mystery surrounding The Man in Black by visiting The Johnny Cash Museum. The museum houses the largest collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world, including films, handwritten notes and letters written by Cash himself, and costumes made famous during the career of the music legend. Cash’s time in the Air Force, his marriage to June Carter, and his renowned prison concert tour are highlighted in the exhibits. A stone wall excavated from Johnny and June’s Hendersonville Lake House, which has been repurposed into one of the museum’s exhibits, is among the other personal mementos that are not available to the public anywhere else. This museum is a treasure trove of information for Johnny Cash enthusiasts.

Not much of a Johnny Cash fan? Recent visitors advised that you should still visit the museum. However, some caution that it can become crowded. Others complained that the small museum’s admission fees were too high. Adults pay $21.95; seniors, students, and members of the military pay $20.95; and children under the age of 15 pay $17.95. Children under 5 are admitted free with a paying adult. The Johnny Cash Museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

#5 Ryman Auditorium

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Ryman Auditorium

The Ryman Auditorium is the best place to begin absorbing Nashville’s musical heritage. It is no longer the home of the Grand Ole Opry, but contemporary acts such as Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, and Luke Combs continue to perform there. Recent visitors recommend taking a tour to gain access to the legendary music venue’s backstage areas. Attend the “Soul of Nashville” screening for a multidimensional experience that illustrates the Ryman’s significance in music history through archival images and footage of past performers. In addition, “Workin’ on a Building,” an exhibit showcasing artifacts from the Ryman’s construction, provides insight into the history of the auditorium. In addition, you can record a CD in the Ryman’s recording studio to take home as a memento of your visit.

#6 Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, music and history enthusiasts can mingle while perusing the exhibits. Peruse the plaques honoring the greatest names in country music, including Patsy Cline, Reba McEntire, and Alan Jackson, and stroll among artifacts such as Jimmie Rodgers’ guitar and Elvis Presley’s solid gold Cadillac limo. Take a self-guided tour of the two-floor “Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music” exhibition for an interactive history lesson on the origins and development of country music. If you have the time, peruse the two-story wall of gold and platinum country records before proceeding to Studio B. Studio B, one of the most influential recording studios in the world and a Music Row Landmark, produced over 35,000 songs by legends such as Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, and Roy Orbison. Studio B is approximately one mile southwest of the museum.

Recent visitors were impressed by the amount of country history, folklore, and memorabilia at this museum, adding that it is a well-planned and organized location. According to travelers, country music aficionados will enjoy every aspect of this attraction, while those less enamored with the genre will also likely find something to appreciate.

#7 Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway

About five miles east of downtown Nashville, the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway is a vast green space where visitors can learn about the local landscape and engage in outdoor recreation. Begin your visit at the nature center, where you can view art and cultural history exhibits. You can also rent a bicycle from the onsite BCycle station to explore the greenway, participate in an environmental education program, and learn about the activities available there. The 950-acre Shelby Bottoms Greenway has over 10 miles of unpaved and paved pathways (ideal for strolling and cycling) that traverse wetlands, streams, forests, and fields. Recent visitors remarked that the environment is tranquil and peaceful, and the trail network is well-maintained. Many people note that cycling is enjoyable here.

The entire area is accessible without charge, and the Greenway is open daily from dawn to dusk. Tuesday through Saturday, from either 9 a.m. or noon to 4 p.m., the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center is open.

#8 Tennessee State Museum

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Tennessee State Museum

The Tennessee State Museum, located in downtown Nashville adjacent to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and the Nashville Farmers’ Market, preserves the unique and storied history of the Volunteer State. The large museum features permanent exhibits depicting the natural history, Native American history, military and sporting history, and Civil War history of Tennessee. Additionally, there are temporary cultural and art exhibits on display. Numerous attractions at this museum are designed with children in mind, and the institution hosts numerous events and educational programs throughout the year. Recent visitors have praised the attraction’s beauty and educational value, and many have praised the free admission.

The museum is within walking distance of the Tennessee State Capitol and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, in addition to a variety of shops and restaurants. The Tennessee State Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday. There is free parking available near the attraction, as well as a number of bus stops.

#9 Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens should be a destination for art enthusiasts and nature enthusiasts alike. With its greenhouses, sculpture trail, and colorful flower display, the 55-acre Botanical Garden provides an escape from the bustle of the city. The on-site art museum is equally stunning: The museum features an impressive collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art, as well as antique furniture, temporary exhibitions, and artifacts from around the globe.

Recent visitors recommended a visit during the spring or summer when the gardens are at their most stunning. Overall, travelers stated that Cheekwood has lovely walking trails and well-kept gardens, and they also recommend touring the house.

#10 Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

After a day of exploring the roots of the “World’s Country Music Capital,” why not take in the sounds of Music City? Tootsie’s “World Famous” Orchid Lounge on Broadway is the place to go if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere with outstanding performances. Since the days when the Grand Ole Opry called the Ryman Auditorium home, this downtown bar has hosted performances by both internationally renowned and emerging artists.

Recent visitors have varying opinions of Tootsie’s, with some expressing dissatisfaction with the food while others claiming that the music is the main attraction. Despite the fact that some travelers lament the bar’s cramped atmosphere, others say it’s all part of the Tootsie’s experience. Tootsie’s is open until the early hours of the morning, and there is no cover charge.

#11 Radnor Lake State Park

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

Radnor Lake State Park

Even though Nashville is a bustling city, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors on the city’s outskirts. Located approximately 10 miles south of the city center, Radnor Lake State Park is a tranquil destination for nature walks and nature observation. The 1,368-acre park is home to a unique ecosystem of plants and animals, such as owls, waterfowl, and herons. In addition, the park features numerous jogging, hiking, and biking trails, many of which offer breathtaking lake views. Visit the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary Education Center for interactive displays, ranger-led programs, and panoramic views of the surrounding hills if you wish to learn more about the local birds.

Recent visitors remarked that they enjoyed peaceful strolls in this park and were amazed by the abundance of wildlife they observed. Some individuals recommend arriving early to secure parking if you are driving. The park office and visitor center is open Thursday through Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and park rangers are available to answer your questions about the area. Wednesdays are open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Aviary Education Center. Trails are open daily from 6 a.m. to 20 minutes after sunset.

#12 National Museum of African American Music

Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee

National Museum of African American Music

The National Museum of African American Music best exemplifies the fact that Nashville is more than just a city of country music. The museum will open in 2020 with the intention of educating visitors about the impact of African Americans on more than 50 genres of popular music, including jazz, gospel, and hip-hop.

Each of the museum’s galleries focuses on the evolution of African American music during distinct historical periods. The “Wade in the Water” gallery focuses on the call-and-response spirituals of the 1600s, whereas the “Crossroads” gallery highlights the emergence of blues music. The “Love Supreme” gallery teaches museumgoers about the Harlem Renaissance’s impact on music, while the “One Nation Under a Groove” gallery describes the emergence of R&B beginning in the 1940s and chronicles popular music during the civil rights era. The “The Message” gallery concludes with a comprehensive examination of hip-hop, rap, and youth culture up to the present day. In the Rivers of Rhythm Pathways, visitors can interact with interactive touch screens and watch immersive films in the Roots Theater. Visitors will find musical artifacts, including recording equipment, sheet music, instruments, and costumes, used by notable African American artists throughout the museum. Recent visitors were extremely impressed with the museum’s comprehensive history and entertaining interactive displays.

 

Summary

Now that you have discovered the top 12 things to do in Nashville, Tennessee, will you be planning a trip to see these amazing places? I invite you to leave your experience with any of the top 12 things in the comments below.

Do you believe I missed a place that should be mentioned in the top 12 things to do in Nashville Tennessee?

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12 thoughts on “Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee”

  1. This is a great article on things to do in Nashville. I love Tennessee! We usually drive up to Gatlinburg at least one a year from where we live in Louisiana and the whole state is gorgeous. Even though we go every year we actually haven’t been to Nahsville.

    I’ve been wanting to stop by when we pass through the state and we just might do that next time! If we do I now have a list of things to do there. Thank you for that! Maybe you know some things we can do down around Orlando Florida? 

    We’re going to Disney just after Christmas!

    1. When I traveled for work across the United States as a truck driver, we would park the truck on weekends and rent a car to explore the different cities. We visited a lot of these things to do, especially the Johnnie Cash Museum, as it was the next exit over from the truck stop, we parked. 

      Yes, I know of a lot of things that you can do around the Orlando area, as I was born and raised only 30 minutes away in Volusia County. 

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the Top 12 Things to do Nashville Tennessee!

    I have never been to Tennessee before but this is so helpful for when i do!

    The one im most looking forward to is visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

    I also want to check out the Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge because i seen it on my friends IG!

    1. Nashville is an amazing place to visit and tour, especially if you are a country music fan. The Country Music Hall of Fame is a great place to learn about past and present singers. I would like to go back now that Loretta Lynn passed away, as they probably put more of her items in the museum. 

  3. Being from Tennessee I can agree Nashville has quite a few things to see and do. Everyone seems to like to have a good time there. Which of these places is your favorite? I’ve been the the hall of fame and the state museum. I recommend giving some of these places a visit, Tennessee is a beautiful place and the food is amazing.

    1. Hello Spencer, I have been to the Johnny Cash museum and the Hall of Fame museum, and walked the boardwalk at night to see what it was all about when we were laid over in Nashville. Tennessee is beautiful, and Nashville offers so much more for tourists. 

  4. Nashville is a beautiful place.  I have only been there once, but the night life is amazing, not going to lie.  I think that people should go check out the historical sites there, though, because they offer so much to learn from.  I’m not  afan of country, but you can find things to do that don’t involve country music.

    1. Hello Jessie, Nashville does offer many more things to do besides based on country music. I am not a big fan of country music either but love to learn about the history of how it all became so popular over the years. 

  5. Being a fan of country music, singing with both my mum and my grandad when I was little I definitely think  Tennessee sounds like a fun place to be able to visit one day. 
    i think country music more than other music types is one that has to be loved by s person to truly understand it. You have some interesting places you talk about in your post! I’d love to visit the museum. And of course Broadway in Nashville would be extremely exciting! 

    1. Nashville, Tennessee is a great place to visit for those who love country music. There are also other things to do for people who do not like country music. The state of Tennessee is beautiful, especially through the mountains. I traveled through Tennessee many times in all seasons to see the changing of winter to spring, and summer to fall. It is beautiful. 

  6. I love country music and as such, Nashville is on top of my bucket list for a place to visit. My friend/colleague who wants to travel to Europe thinks I’m nuts for wanting to go to Tennessee, lol. I always watch my favorite country music artists perform at the Grand Ole Opry. It would be really nice to see them perform live ☺.  

    I really thought the Grand Ole Opry is all that Nashville has to offer. Reading your post, there is a lot more to do there than what most country music fans outside the US know. I am a nature-lover too so in case I will visit Nashville, I have to see the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway, the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, and the Radnor Lake State Park.

    By the way, do you think 4 days and 3 nights would be enough to enjoy all the amazing things that Nashville, Tennessee has to offer? 

    1. Nashville can even be a place to travel with family even if you don’t like country music. Grand Ole Opry is a great theater act that should be the first place to visit. Book your trip by purchasing tickets in advance as the tickets sell out quickly. 

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