Top Things To Do In Nashville:
Nashville, aptly named “Music City,” is a southern melting pot where music, culture and cuisine combine to create a modern American specialty. Nashville harvests American music from all strands of tone and twang; the city proudly embraces its country music roots, and it also supports the local hipster vibe with modern rock ‘n’ roll and soulful blues. Plus, Nashville boasts an eclectic restaurant scene that is further supported by annual food festivals, and it has vibrant museum offerings.
The best things to do in Nashville are as varied as the city itself—there is a little bit of everything for everybody. Here are our top recommendations for enjoying Nashville’s music, food and drink, and cultural exhibits.
The Best of Nashville Music:
The best place to begin absorbing Nashville’s musical scene is the Ryman Auditorium, a legendary music venue that used to be home to the Grand Ole Opry. The Ryman continues to host powerhouse musical groups, and the backstage tour is among one of the neatest sights in Nashville.
The Ryman Auditorium tour lets visitors experience musical history unique to Nashvillian gravitas; the walls are plastered with rare photos from Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong. To get a better idea of what those iconic artists were like in their prime, watch a screening of "Soul of Nashville,” which showcases archival images and footage of performers from the Ryman’s historied past.
The next stop in Nashville’s music appreciation tour is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum features plaques dedicated to country music’s best performers, including Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. The museum also showcases fanciful music artifacts like Jimmie Rodger’s guitar and Elvis Presley’s solid gold Cadillac limo. The main attraction, and a great panoramic selfie, is the two-story wall decorated with every gold and platinum country record produced.
For an interactive history experience about how country music began and evolved, spend time on exploring the Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music exhibit, which is a self- guided tour that spans two floors of the museum.
Afterward, walk across the street from the museum to another “Music Row” landmark and one of the world’s most influential recording studios, RCA Studio B. More than 35,000 songs have been produced within Studio B’s fabled walls by musical legends like The Everly Brothers, Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, Billy Grammer, and Roy Orbison.
Nashville Music Festivals:
Sweet summer melodies take a literal meaning in Nashville. Summer marks the launch of several excellent, foot-thumping music festivals. Some of the more popular festivals include:
● Musicians Corner at Centennial Park
● Full Moon Pickin’ Parties at Percy Warner Park Equestrian Center
● Bluebird on the Mountain
● Music in the Vines at Arrington Vineyards
● Live on the Green at Public Square Park.
The above festivals are a lot of fun, but the CMA Music Festival is the absolute best music festival in town. In early June, country music superstars take the stage for four days. Alongside the CMA festival are the CMT Music Awards. Last, the weekend of July 4th is the massive Let Freedom Sing! event, which features food, family activities and multiple days of live music along the banks of the Cumberland River.
Chowing Down on Nashville Food and Drink:
After embracing Nashville’s melodious offerings, spend time noshing in Nashville’s restaurant scene, which is almost more robust than its musical one. Here are our recommendations for the best Nashville restaurants broken down by food and drink.
● Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
● Martin’s Bar-B- Que Joint
● Loveless Motel and Café
● Arnold’s Country Kitchen
● Etch Restaurant
● The Patterson House
● Honky Tonk Central
● Mack & Kates Café & Wine Bar
● Robert’s Western World
● Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar
● Skull’s Rainbow Room
Learning Nashvillian Culture:
Nashville’s cultural grandeur isn’t all music related. Music city has another nickname, “Athens of the South,” and its museum diversity certainly supports the grand comparison.
The best kid-friendly museum is the Adventure Science Center. The center offers hands-on experiments and exhibits designed to promote critical thinking and teach math, science and history. For a livelier experience, spend a day touring the Nashville Zoo to see giraffes, owls, and even red kangaroos, or walk through the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens to learn about dozens of unique plant species and see spectacular horticultural presentations.
Another cultural experience we recommend is visiting the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the one found in Athens, Greece. The Parthenon was originally meant to be temporary, part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897, the massive building has become a hotly trafficked attraction. The Parthenon houses models of the statues found in the original Athens structure, and an impressive art collection. The most famous piece is Alan LeQuire’s Athena Parthenos, which stands at almost 42 feet tall and is the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world.
As we mentioned earlier, summer is one of the best time to visit Nashville. The music festivals start popping up, and some fun non-musical events also follow suit. Other popular, culturally immersive events include:
● Tomato Art Festival
● Wine on the River
● Shakespeare in the Park
● Music City Hot Chicken Festival