Visit Nashville – Have you ever been?
Nashville was never high on my list since I am not a country music fan and there are definitely many things to do in downtown Nashville and neighborhoods. I enjoyed it and learned a lot about music history. It was interesting and fun to visit Nashville, and it’s not just country music. It’s blues, gospel, christian music, rock and roll, soul, bluegrass, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, rock, classical and more. The city has great:
- Art collections
- Beautiful parks
- Lovely waterways
I recommend a visit to Nashville and there’s far too much to cover in one blog post. So let’s start with the the Top 4 things to do when you visit Nashville.
Top Things to Do in Downtown Nashville and Neighborhoods
- Visit the Ryman Auditorium (the original Grand Ole Opry)
- Learn about the history of music at the Country Music Hall of Fame …
- … and, if you have time, add the RCA Studio B tour
- Enjoy free music at The Honky Tonks (bars) on Lower Broadway
To find out why these are my top picks, read the rest of this post and see the photos. (And stay tuned for more of my Top 10 in future posts. If you subscribe to the blog — at the top of the right sidebar — you’ll be sure not to miss it!)
Downtown Nashville and Midtown
We spent 6 days and visited downtown, midtown, and areas surrounding the city of Nashville. We found top things to do in downtown Nashville and surrounding neighborhoods. Since I am a not a city girl, I preferred the more natural environments outside of downtown. Generally, people don’t visit Nashville to see the countryside, though, so I will share more on Nashville downtown and neighborhoods, as well as the beauty outside of town.
If you have a just a few days, I recommend spending it downtown and, if time allows, go to midtown when you visit Nashville. I’ll share the top sites from my research that we visited in downtown Nashville.
If you have a few extra days, see the sites outside of downtown, although they won’t give you the ‘feel’ of Nashville. I will share my favorites and others that were recommended in and out of town.
See History When You Visit Nashville
Nashville has so many places to see that it can be overwhelming when selecting. There is the Ryman Auditorium (#1 – the original Grand Ole Opry), Country Music Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame (free at the the Music City Convention Center), Musicians Hall of Fame. And there are many more, like the Johnny Cash Museum and the Tennessee State Museum (free and filled with early history of Tennessee). However, the highlights for us were the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B.
To learn about the history of music when you visit Nashville, I recommend the Country Music Hall of Fame (#2); if you have time, add the RCA Studio B tour (#3). I learned so much about the cross-over of rock with country music. We learned about the non-country music recorded in Nashville and the stars who collaborated, like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. You’ll learn about many more. I wasn’t a country music fan, and now I want to listen to country music.
Advice on Viewing the Top Sites
You can only see Studio B as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame ticket. Usually the Studio B tour is on a same day ticket; however, I asked if we could schedule our tour for the next day, and they said ‘yes.’ Doing the RCA Studio B tour on the following day also helped prevent overload. I loved seeing where so many of the musicians I know recorded and hearing the music recorded while there in the studio.
We spent a little over an hour in the Country Music Hall of Fame because we did the Grayline Tour (Discover Nashville). If you want to spend more time, do the Country Music Hall of Fame on your own, and look for online discounts. I could have spent 2-1/2 hours there or more. Studio B tour is an additional hour.
We liked the Grayline Tour because we got a great overview of the city. The bus driver was quite knowledgeable and was constantly pointing out city highlights. Using an air conditioned bus to tour was pleasant in the oppressive August heat. For the Grayline Tours, I found an online coupon for 10% off (it was the only discount I could find).
The tour stopped at the Ryman Auditorium which is the original Grand Ole Opry. The best part of the tour was the introductory movie. It is somewhat interesting to see such an historic place, but I did not find it not very impressive or exciting. Perhaps if we had seen a show there, it would have been more fun, but we were not around for scheduled shows.
Visit Nashville for Music and Fun in Downtown and Midtown
We all know Nashville is a music town. Until we visited, I didn’t realize how much music, and the many places where music is available. The Honky Tonks (bars) on Lower Broadway (#4) have free music daily. While you need not purchase anything, it is nice to support the musicians with tips (as they play for free), and the establishments that are providing the venue for musicians to perform. Here is a list of some of the free music venues to check out when you visit Nashville:
ON HONKY TONK HIGHWAY
- Layla’s Bluegrass Inn
- Legends Corner
- Nashville Crossroads
- Rippy’s Smokin’ Bar & Grill
- Robert’s Western World
- The Second Fiddle
- The Stage on Broadway
- Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
- The Wheel
- Whiskey Bent Saloon
ON LOWER BROADWAY
- Acme Feed & Seed
- Bootleggers Inn
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Honky Tonk Central
- Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
- Paradise Park Trailer Resort
- Tequila Cowboy
- The National Underground
- Tin Roof Broadway
ON 2nd AVENUE
- B.B. King’s Blues Club & Restaurant*
- Benchmark Live Music and Sports Bar & Grill
- Big Shotz
- Dick’s Last Resort
- George Jones Museum
- Nashville Street Tacos
- Wildhorse Saloon*
- Cafe Coco
- Commodore Grille
- The Country
- Losers Bar & Grill
- Rack Room/ Blue Bar
- Soulshine Pizza Factory
- Springwater Supper Club & Lounge*
- The Row (We spent 2 evenings here and liked the food and the extensive beer selections – happy hour is 2 for the price of 1. It is next to Vanderbilt.)
- Winners Bar & Grill
* Some nights are subject to cover charges or ticket purchases; call to be sure.
Plus there are big free events for music and other types of festivals throughout the year in Nashville, like the New Year’s Eve Bash, July 4th Freedom Sing, Vineyard events April through December, Community Concerts, Big Band Dances and more.
Nashville is known as the ‘Songwriting Capital of the World.’ Many venues have open mic and songwriter’s nights. You’ll find places every night of the week all over Nashville. We were at the Row for a Songwriter’s night and enjoyed the performers.
There is so much to see and do when you visit Nashville, pick and choose carefully or plan to visit Nashville several times. Stay tuned for more of our Top 10 list in future posts to help you sort through the options.
Please add your Nashville experiences in the comments section.