Downtown Nashville

Downtown Nashville skyline. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Josh Hild)

Do you love great food and live music? Then put a visit to Nashville on your travel destinations list. Exploring a new city can be so much fun. There’s always something unique to discover, and Nashville is no different. From the Honky Tonks downtown, to the scrumptious barbecue, the best things to do in Nashville offer a new adventure around every street corner.

You don’t have to wait for a milestone, like a birthday or anniversary to book your next trip. Although many of us like to tie vacations to these happy moments. In fact, those who travel to celebrate special occasions are happier and more successful than those who don’t, according to new research. A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults looked at their thoughts on milestone travel and found that while 48 percent save travel for special occasions, another 40 percent think you should travel as much as you can.

Nashville is also one of the best places in the country to see live music, particularly country music. Live shows are more than just fun and exciting. A recent study says concertgoing may be better for your mental health than doing yoga.

Don’t forget your cowboy boots (opens in a new tab) StudyFinds compiled a list of the five best things to do in Nashville next time you visit based on reviews from ten expert websites. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations in the comments below!

The List: Best Things to Do in Nashville, Per Travel Experts

1. The Grand Ole Opry

One of Nashville’s main attractions, the Grand Ole Opry is a musical treasure. NOMADasaurus notes, “it’s the dream of musicians to be invited (yes, invited) to play on the hallowed stage. In Nashville, playing here is the definition of ‘making it’.”

“The Grand Ole Opry is the longest-running radio broadcast, dating back to 1925, attracting some of the most talented singer-songwriters of all time,” according to Upgraded Points.

Visitors come from around the world to be in the audience for this radio program. “You can get tickets to watch the Grand Ole Opry being recorded, a dream for country music fans. If you’re not a country fan, check the upcoming shows. Artists from all music genres play at the Opry House,” adds Travel Lemming.

“In addition to catching a show, you can also sign up for a tour of the Opry. There are daytime backstage tours as well as post-show backstage tours,” points out Goats On The Road.

2. Museum Tours

Nashville is also home to some great museums. One standout is the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum, which features approximately 2.5 million artifacts.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville (Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash)

“Music and history lovers can mix and mingle over the exhibits found at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Peruse the plaques dedicated to country music’s finest – from Patsy Cline to Reba McEntire to Alan Jackson – and walk among artifacts like Johnny Cash’s guitar and Elvis Presley‘s ‘solid gold’ Cadillac limo,” according to U.S. News & World Report.

Travel Addicts points out the museum, “makes an effort to pay tribute to county music’s heritage while also having a focus on contemporary and even cross-over artists. While there is a permanent collection, some of the exhibits rotate.”

The Johnny Cash Museum is another fantastic stop for music fans. The Vacationer notes it’s, “one of the top music museums in the world and filled with the largest comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia.” Johnny Cash’s handwritten letters, instruments, clothing and other personal effects are on display. “The museum features a small theater playing clips of the films and TV shows that Cash appeared on, and there’s an interactive exhibit showcasing his music in various formats. Be sure to book your tickets online to avoid the queues as the museum can get busy,” according to Upgraded Points.

3. Visit Broadway

This vibrant area of Downtown Nashville features bars, clubs and honky tonks. The music fills the air as you walk the streets. The awnings aglow with fancy neon signs. Many of today’s top country artists own bars and restaurants in this section of town. 

“Affectionately referred to as the Honky Tonk Highway, the bars and clubs here are defined by the presence of live music, long hours, and a lack of cover charges. With a musical culture that encourages big stars and unknown acts alike to hit the stage, no matter how small, that means that bar-hopping is the way to go,” suggests Expedia.

Broadway in downtown Nashville
Broadway in downtown Nashville. (Photo by Chad Morehead on Unsplash)

Make sure to stop at Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville’s oldest honky tonk. Travellers Worldwide notes it’s, “a top-rated destination for tourists. Many famous musicians have walked through the doors of the lounge, including Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline. Because of its popularity, it always has an extremely long wait in the evenings to get inside. However, once you get in, you’ll have a fantastic time with live music and plenty of drinks.”

Day or night, Broadway is an experience like none other. Plus, you can find some great stores to score a souvenir cowboy hat and a pair of boots.

4. The Ryman Auditorium

Known as the Mother Church of Country Music, this historic music venue is located in Downtown Nashville. “Established in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle church, this 2,362-seat venue was once Grand Ole Opry’s home,” according to Family Destinations Guide.

The Ryman features incredible acoustics, beautiful architecture, stained glass windows and church pews for seating. “Self-guided tours are available each day that allows you to explore the auditorium and the exhibits. You even get to take a photo on the stage. For an extra fee, you can take a guided tour that also allows you to go backstage,” notes Travel Lemming.

Ryman Auditorium in Nashville
Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. (Photo by William King on Unsplash)

“If a tour isn’t quite your speed, you can grab a ticket to one of the performances (country and beyond) that still happen here almost every night of the week,” adds Travel Addicts.

5. The Parthenon in Centennial Park

No, you aren’t in Greece, but you’ll want to check out this cool replica of The Parthenon located in Nashville’s Centennial Park. The structure “was only meant to be temporary – it was built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897 – it has since become a beloved attraction, housing models of the statues found in the original structure as well as an impressive art collection. Travelers praise the well-kept grounds, peaceful atmosphere and magnificent building, recommending an evening visit to see it illuminated,” according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Step inside the upstairs main hall to see the huge statue of the goddess Athena. Take a tour and stroll through the four fine art galleries. Fun fact: the Athena statue is the tallest indoor statue in the Western Hemisphere,” adds The Vacationer.

Honorable Mention: The Food

Nashville is known for its incredible eats. Grab a piece of hot chicken from Hattie B’s. “There are a few Hattie B’s locations in Nashville, including one right near Music Row. Provided you don’t overdo it on the spice level, eating hot chicken is definitely one of the tastiest things to do in Nashville,” points out Goats On The Road.

If you are still hungry, one of my favorite spots for some good old-fashioned barbecue is Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. Their pulled pork is a mouth-watering delight. As for the ribs? They fall right off the bone. 

Want some breakfast? The Pancake Pantry has some of the best flapjacks in Tennessee, with endless flavor combinations. Another must-try is Biscuit Love. You can build a breakfast around their specialty biscuits, and add some hot chicken to it too. 

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.    

About Melissa Kraus

Melissa is a freelance writer, based out of New Jersey. She has over two-decades of writing, editing, and producing experience for Radio, TV, and Digital Media.

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