Your Ultimate Guide to having the best time in Nashville, Tennessee
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So you booked your flight to Nashville, now what? You’ve heard Nashville is a great destination and there’s a lot to do but where do you even begin? Well good news because I’ve practically planned your trip for you! Just keep reading.
Nashville, music city, most well known for the country music scene. Even if you aren’t a fan of country music you will still find something to love about Nashville. The city has even coined the term “Nash-Vegas” given the glitz and bright lights of Broadway similar to the Vegas strip (with a little southern twang).
When to go
Nashville is one of those magical places that experiences all seasons, yet it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Goldilocks would love it because it’s perfect or rather it’s just right. Keep in mind that Nashville experiences a lot of seasonal changes. If seasonal allergies greatly affect you, it’s best to be prepared! I definitely learned this the hard way my first time there.
The weather is usually the nicest in May/June or late August into September. Even in the winter months low temps usually are close to 30 degrees F. So, really Nashville is never a bad idea!
How to get to Nashville
Depending on where you hail from, you could road trip to Nashville or Nashville also has an International airport. (Airport code BNA.) A lot of cities offer direct flights making it a great destination for a long weekend trip. (Hello maximizing that PTO if you also work full time like me!)
The airport is less than 10 miles away from downtown Nashville so you really can be having fun up until your ride to the airport to bid farewell to a city you will be itching to return to.
Where to stay
Depending on your budget and what your main purpose is while in Nashville, most people stay downtown/close to Broadway or if you’re more of a spread out and have a house type traveler the Hillsboro/West end area or 12 South area would be close enough to downtown while giving you more of the neighborhood vibe.
12 south has many great restaurants & murals too! I’ll give details about some of the fun murals in this area of Nashville below in the section about what to do.
How to get around Nashville
Whatever your travel style is, I’m a firm believer that a rental car isn’t needed for Nashville. Most areas are reasonably walkable and Ubers/Lyft’s are abundant. Some hotels offer an airport shuttle/pickup so definitely look into that if you’re staying at a well known chain hotel. (Opryland resort offers shuttle services.)
We walked a ton so be sure to pack comfy kicks. Most of Nashville is easily walkable. We opted to take some short uber rides in between destinations so we could maximize our time and it was perfect.
What to see and do in Nashville
Broadway is what you can think of as “The Nash-Vegas strip”. Because you’re in music city this area of Nashville has bright lights, lively honky tonks (bar venues with live music) and so much going on. The best thing hands down about this part of Nashville is the live music. Almost every bar has live music so you really can’t go wrong. Each different venue definitely has their own ambiance and crowd.And it’s definitely more of a party and it gets more rowdy the later at night it gets. Even in the afternoon or earlier in the evening this area of town is a fun place to be.
My favorite spots on (or close to) Broadway:
Honky Tonk Central has a great view out over Broadway if you go up to the bars on the top levels you can look out onto the Broadway strip. This bar had different live bands on each floor!
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Is the most well known honky tonk. It was originally home to the Grand Ole Opry and it saw many up and coming singer/songwriters get their break into the music scene.
Nudie’s Honky Tonk this by far was our favorite stop on Broadway. Live music all the time and we absolutely loved one of the acts that played several time. Each time came to Nudie’s, it was busy but not overly crowded. There was enough space to belly up to the bar and stretch out a little. To me, this is what a classic old school honky tonk should be like.
Wild Horse Saloon Unfortunately, I didn’t plan this location great. As we were arriving the line dancing was just wrapping up. Plan ahead! Double check their hours, when line dancing is, and what the schedule is for live music as this venue closes a lot earlier than I anticipated. Don’t be like me and assume all venues are open late! Sadly, I barely experienced the Wild Horse Saloon. But, it was super nostalgic as I fondly remembered my Mom watching this show during my childhood (circa 90’s, hashtag 80’s baby). They have the largest dance floor in downtown Nashville!
Really, you can’t go wrong starting at one side of Broadway and popping into any venue that has tunes blasting that suits your fancy. Be sure to check out my favorites!
Another fun thing to do is the Nashville pedal tavern. It’s BYOB, and a shared pedal bike but also a bar at the same time. There are several different routes this party bike goes on. You can opt for a private tour with just people in your group or do a public tour and meet some new friends. (Keep in mind, you will need at least 6 people to do a private tour. ) You can check out the specifics on their website.
There are a few neighborhoods in Nashville that are known for murals but there definitely are many sprinkled throughout the city. While there I stumbled upon some that I didn’t even know existed! You can hope to stumble upon some of the below murals by happenstance, or take a pointed approach to your mural searching and book a tour! The tour linked below lasts 2 1/2 hours where you will be shuttled around in a van to many different murals. Check out the specific details here.
From Sevier Park to the 12 south apartments, if you walk along this route, you will pass by many fun murals. Some of which I include details below:
Mural: Lookin’ Pretty Music City
Lookin’ pretty music city located at (address: 2709 12th Avenue South)
Mural: I Believe in Nashville
Located in Howell’s alley. There are a few other locations of the same mural throughout the city. Map of the location in 12 South included below. (address: 2702 12th Avenue South)
Mural: Flower Wall
This mural is also in the 12 S area of Nashville. (address: 2900 12th Avenue South)
Mural: What lifts you
The What lifts you mural Is one of the most well known murals in Nashville. This mural was designed by the famous mural artist Kelsey Montague who has murals located all over the United States. This mural is located in The Gulch area of Nashville. This famous mural is located at the pinned location in the map below (address: 302 11th Ave S).
Mural: Geometric wall
The Geometric wall is located across the street from the what lifts you mural. This mural is supported by the Nashville Walls Project.
Mural: Acoustic Skyline
Acoustic Skyline located in the Gulch area of Nashville. (address: 533 Lafayette Street)
Mural: Country Music Legends
This mural depicts some important musicians with ties to Nashville. The featured artists include: Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline & Dolly Parton. (address: 608 Ash Street– in front of Industrial Fire & Safety, notice the fire extinguishers)
Additional murals listed below:
I didn’t visit these, but I would like to on a return trip. (Always planning that next trip!)
Mural: What Lifts you up
This mural is another Kelsey Montague mural. What’s fun about this one is it’s a hot air balloon but there is an actual basket you can climb into. (Address: 1034 Eastland Ave, at The Cleo East Apartments)
Mural: Nashville Looks good on you
Also located in the 12 South neighborhood and I completely missed it! What a bummer. (address: 2509 12th Ave S, in the parking lot behind Frothy Monkey so you could always navigate to the Frothy monkey, snap a pic then grab an iced coffee.) There are so many great murals in this area so grabbing coffee, walking around and getting some photo ops then having brunch/lunch is a perfect start to the day! Sadly, where we had brunch in the 12 S neighborhood is now permanently closed so I won’t even mention it. But, I will hint and say they had epic bloody mary’s!
Another great mural planning tool, is to look at the hashtag nashville murals. (#nashvillemurals) on Instagram. There are so many murals! (And I’m totally here for it!) When in Arizona for a long weekend to head to Sedona, I wasted wayyyyyy too much time searching out some murals in Phoenix first. Live and learn right? But, mural hunting is so fun!
Museums & Music History
Johnny Cash Museum on my most recent visit, we had planned on visiting here. We were leaving Nashville the day after the tornado in 2020 so our plans to house our luggage prior to leaving fell through and we weren’t allowed to go in with our baggage. This is definitely something on my docket for the future though.
Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum I absolutely loved this museum! Seeing all of the history surrounding Country Music and some of the memorabilia including guitars and outfits worn by stars (memorabilia). It was definitely more of a pop culture and nostalgic experience in my opinion.
This is a really tiny venue, and some of the admission is first come first serve. It’s an intimate venue where many up and coming singers and songwriters perform. Many well known country stars have started their careers by playing at the Bluebird.
The last time I was in Nashville we tried really hard to get tickets! Waiting online refreshing our browsers only to have tickets sold out by the time it was our turn to purchase in the que. Since our time in Nashville was limited to a long weekend, we decided that didn’t want to wait a handful of hours to snag a first come first spot. So, this again will fall into the bucket of things I want to do the next time I go to Nashville. Is it just me, or do a lot of people have “next time” lists?
A very iconic music venue. This is more like a concert and a larger venue though. I would ensure you get tickets in advance and can check on the link I provided if you plan to catch an event. The Grand Ole Opry is located at the Opryland hotel (which is a considerable distance from downtown Nashville.) There is a shuttle from the Wildhorse Saloon to the Opryland Hotel. It also operates downtown from as the Ryman Auditorium as well.
If you’re making the trek to The Opryland hotel, it really is a destination in itself. So, ensure you arrive early to walk around and experience it.
Parks and Outdoor Sights
The Walk of Fame Park is an outdoor pavement sidewalk area with Nashville legends being recognized with stars. It’s located by the Nashville Music Garden downtown. (address: 121 4th Ave S)
Parthenon located in Centennial Park is a full to scale replica of the Parthenon located in Athens, Greece.
John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge you can see this bridge from some of the rooftop bars. It crosses the Cumberland river in downtown Nashville and is a great vantage point to see the city from.
Where to drink
I’m sure you’re not even a little surprised that I’m going to recommend some breweries. Drink local, wherever you are! Nashville has some really well known breweries that are even starting to distribute regularly in Minnesota as well as some smaller more intimate taprooms.
Bearded Iris Brewing
Bearded Iris is going to be your spot if you love IPA’s (India Pale Ale). Haze for dayz is their motto! (At least in my opinion, it should be!) We tried many on tap with samplers and out of the number of beers at the time, I think they only had one or two that weren’t an IPA.
Southern Grist Brewing Co.
Southern Grist has two taprooms. I preferred the East Nashville location best which was their original location. They always have a wide range of styles on tap from hoppy to light lagers. My absolute favorites beers are their sours. The HILL series is my favorite. If you’re into craft beer, this is my number one recommendation- go to SG and definitely get a flight! I promise you won’t be disappointed. Southern Grist is one of my top favorite breweries not in my local area and I very lovingly have given it the nickname of “Gristy grist”.
New Heights Brewing Company
New Heights Brewing Company was such a cozy space. I loved that they served their flights in muffin tins. The beers that I really enjoyed included the coffee & cream cream ale and cinnamon toast crunch brown. I snagged a crowler of the cinnamon toast crunch to bring home with me.
This location is a combination of a brewery & coffee bar focused on small batch beer. It was a really chill vibe. I really enjoyed the beer, Desoto which is a sour fruited gose with a pastry flavor notes.
Tailgate brewery has a few different locations throughout Nashville. We visited the Music Row location. My favorite beer I tried here was the Imperial Peanut Butter Milk Stout. They had a wide range of different styles of beer that were enjoyable including many ciders. I tried a handful of ciders that were very unique.
This is a combination moonshine tasting & beer taproom. (Yee-haw Brewing) Truly the best of both worlds! They now have a great outdoor space. This is more of a destination where you can hang out for awhile. When I visited it was only the moonshine tastings so I can’t comment on the beer at the affiliated brewery. But if you know me, beer is always included in my adventures! (Beer ventures are the best adventures!)
Where to eat
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Trust me, the long line is 100% worth it! Hattie B’s has multiple locations throughout Nashville, so be sure to find the one that’s the closest to you. Not only is the chicken amazing, the sides were to die for as well. I ordered the medium tenders platter with pimento mac & cheese and the potato salad with the red skins included.
Home made biscuits, yes please! If you’re a fan of great biscuits and gravy you definitely need to make it to Biscuit Love. Pictured below are the delicious “bonuts” which are biscuit donus with an amazing blueberry compote and marscapone on top. (insert drool emoji!)
Disclaimer: I’m a sucker for breakfast & brunch in general, but these pancakes were phenomenal! It was like dessert for breakfast, not to mention the special syrup they have here that the waitress suggested we put in our coffee. Their menu is huge and I wanted one of everything. I can’t wait to return to try out some more breakfast fare.
After the failed attempt at the Johnny Cash museum, we drown our sorrows with a pitcher of margaritas! Oh, and tacos too! Bakersfield has awesome street tacos and is located downtown.
Peg Leg Porker
No frills, downhome southern barbeque. I would scarf some more food here in a heartbeat! Also, there’s an added bonus a mural that depicts their version of wings. (Ain’t no thang but a chicken wing!)
Monells at the Manor
This restaurant is located outside of downtown Nashville. This was a really memorable experience. They offer all-you-can-eat Southern fare, including fried chicken, served family-style in a historic mansion. (address: 1400 Murfreesboro Pike). The map below makes it look a little wonky, but it’s close to the airport. Given the location, it would be a great first stop once arriving or on the way out of town before heading to the airport.
The Hampton Social
This restaurant has many locations in IL (Illinois). It’s well known for its instagram-able decor. The location in Nashville is close to Broadway, downtown and near the pedestrian bridge across the Cumberland river. They have indoor & outdoor seating, a rooftop and reservations are taken via OpenTable.
Rooftop bar and outdoor restaurant concept is so aesthetically pleasing. Located in Midtown on the rooftop of The Graduate Hotel, it’s a little removed from the hustle and bustle of Broadway/downtown. Plus, the aesthetic is adorable! Be sure to make a reservation two weeks out if you want to hit this popular spot.