Nashville is a destination that offers so much more than meets the eye. While music is undeniably at the front and centre, it’s a city packed with culture, vibrancy and unmissable experiences. Read our Nashville Travel Guide to find out more about what to do, see and where to eat when visiting…
It’s a hazy evening as my plane touches down in Nashville, Tennessee and I find myself wondering just what this southern state has to offer. Affectionately named “Music City” Nashville manages to retain a small-town feel with the panache of a big city.
It buzzes with the aplomb of a city that never sleeps, in particular when exploring Broadway, dipping into the many Honky Tonk’s and local bars. Nashville has long been known as a destination for music lovers and some of the most loved singers of all time – Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley and Taylor Swift to name a few – are interwoven in this city’s country roots.
From those looking to get a step up in their songwriting, to those who want to just listen and soak up the atmosphere, Nashville welcomes all and makes it a difficult place to leave. We recently headed to see just what the city has to offer and while I knew music was a real draw, I was surprised at how multi-layered it was. For beneath the Honky Tonks, hot chicken and guitar strums, is a hotbed of culture and must-visit foodie destinations just waiting to be explored. Here’s our travel guide to Nashville, from what to eat and where to stay, to what you absolutely don’t want to miss.
To Stay in Nashville
Nashville is a hotbed of hotels and retreats, from small, luxury boutique options to sprawling spa resorts.
If you’re looking to get right in the nitty-gritty of Broadway but enjoy a slice of opulence along the way, we recommend the Omni Hotel. Located on 5th avenue between Demonbreun and Korean Veterans Boulevard, the Omni Nashville Hotel is a large and contemporary hotel complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooftop pool, an on-site restaurant and lounge. Bedrooms are large and comfortable, with sprawling views over the city and the hotel itself is packed with Tennessee charm. Even better is the fact it’s connected to the Country Music Hall of Fame – one of the must-visits when in the city. The Omni Nashville is an ideal choice for exploring the city on foot and is close to many of the city’s main attractions, restaurants and bars.
For a hotel offering a slice of old-school Nashville, the Kimpton Aertson located in midtown is an effortless choice. A step away from the tourist path, it’s a boutique hotel with a truly authentic feel. Quirky, contemporary and luxurious, the walls are adorned with eye-catching artwork and it’s a fantastic spot to make your base while in the city. Spend your free time in the rooftop pool, sipping a cocktail at the boor or working out in their Woodhouse spa. You can make use of their public bikes, valet parking and complimentary wine that’s served daily at 5pm in the lobby.
To Do in Nashville
Nashville is a city that beats to the tune of its own drum. It’s contemporary yet classic, where shiny, glass, high rises rub shoulders with cowboy-style facades, neon signs flashing through windows advertising the food, drink and entertainment within. Music lovers are free to lose themselves to the rhythmic notes of country music, foodies to sample their way through traditional biscuits and spicy fried chicken and thrifty shoppers lose themselves down the many avenues dedicated to clothes stores and boutiques.
It’s a location where you can take your time to discover the hidden gems that sit on every corner, hopping from Museum to Museum by day and swaying to the sound of live music once the sun sets. It’s a city with no hidden agenda, where the pace is pretty chilled and you can see as much – or as little – as you please, without feeling like you’ve wasted any opportunity. With an average of 207 sunny days per year and particularly hot summers, you want to make the most of the swimming pools and al fresco dining opportunities.
Explore North and South Broadway
Walk a little further than Nashville’s famed Lower Broadway and you’ll reach two sub-neighbourhoods of Downtown Nashville, each with their own personality and unique offering. South of Broadway is a main thoroughfare in the city and plays host to a vibrant music scene, many award-winning restaurants and trendy boutiques. Here you can visit the convention centre, many live music venues and the famed Schermerhorn Symphony Center. North Broadway is home to a plethora of Museums, including the Ryman Auditorium, the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum and a host of lively bars and places to visit.
Get your history fix at the city’s many museums
Music is interwoven deep into the foundations of Nashville and as such it’s no surprise the city is packed with Museums and educational centres dedicated to this. Start your trip with a visit to the Ryman auditorium – a National Historic Landmark built by Captain Thomas G. Ryman in 1892. Well-known as the Mother Church of Country Music and the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, it’s one of the most iconic venues in Nashville and somewhere you can’t leave without seeing. You can either embark on a guided tour or see one of the many shows and concerts that are thrown throughout the year.
After this, wander round the corner to The National Museum of African American Music – a new and highly interactive venue dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans. It’s a fantastic spot to spend a few hours, where you can learn about the rich history and influence on music as well as make your own music playlists, take part in a dance party and try your own rap battle!
Other museums you can’t miss on your trip include the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Musician’s Hall of Fame & Museum. The first is a sprawling 350,000 sq ft space filled with galleries, archival storage and artefacts all about some of the most celebrated artists in Nashville’s history. The latter allows you to discover the stories behind Nashville’s producers, musicians and sound engineers, with a host of objects and interesting spaces to discover, alongside fun interactive elements.
You also can’t miss the Greek Parthenon – something you probably don’t expect to stumble upon in one of Nashville’s premium urban parks! A full-scale replica of the famous Greek temple, marvel in the architecture before heading inside to view the city’s art museum and Athena Parthenos – the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western World. Located in Centennial Park, it’s a beautiful spot to also spend some time with a drink and picnic lunch taking in the views.
Get in the zone at a full moon Pickin’ Party
When in Nashville, there’s no way to quite experience living like a local as going to a full moon Pickin’ Party – and no, there’s no physical labour required (apart from dancing if you fancy it!) A beloved Nashville tradition featuring live bluegrass music, they’re one of the city’s most famous events and after our visit it’s clear to see why.
Located at the Percy Warner Park on Fridays and Saturdays, everyone’s invited to bring a chair, some snacks and set up in the grass. With food trucks and drinks on offer, it offers the perfect spot to relax as the sun sets, listening to live music and just taking in the buzzing atmosphere. If you play a bluegrass instrument, you’re encouraged to bring your own and join in the many pickin’ circles throughout the night – or alternatively, we recommend just going around and listening to all the music that’s playing!
Shop til you drop at one of the many destinations in the city
If shopping is on the agenda, you’re spoiled for choice in Nashville. We recommend 12th South neighbourhood – a half-mile stretch along 12th Avenue South with a host of beautiful boutique shops offering local wares, fashion, jewellery and accessories. Be sure to pop into Emerson Grace for elevated wardrobe staples, Judith Bright for a stunning array of jewellery, Imogene + Wille for effortless high and mid rise denim and all the other stores in between.
For a more upscale shopping experience, don’t miss May Hosiery Mills, a new retail experience featuring local designs, merchants and products ideal for shopping or just wandering around looking at the many objects on display.
Many of the neighbourhoods are home to boutiques and shops just begging to be explored, so put aside some time to just wander around – you never know what great finds you might come across!
Grab dinner and a show at the Grand Ole Opry
No visit to Nashville is complete without dinner and a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Arguably the most prestigious and well-known venues in the country music scene, it’s named the home of country music. With shows taking place weekly, head down where you can sit alfresco and enjoy food from local trucks while listening to live music under the hazy evening sun before enjoying the main event.
Unlike your usual concerts, the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts live and also has a number of artists perform on any given night. From established country stars to those that are just emerging to the spotlight, it’s here you will find some of the most incredible talent on the country scene.
Watch a soccer game at Geodis Park
Football – or soccer – is quickly climbing the ranks in the US and when in Nashville, you’d be missing out if you didn’t watch a game at the new Geodis Park stadium. Located in the heart of the Wedgewood-Houston neighbourhood, it opened in May of 2022 and has firmly established itself as one of the premier sports and entertainment destinations in the US.
The stadium holds 30,000 people and is breathtaking in design and atmosphere – even if you’re not a football fan, you’ll find it impossible not to get swept up in it all. Grab some pre-game snacks and a drink, settle into comfortable seating, and enjoy the game, cheering on for Nashville SC. There are also concerts held here throughout the year, so check out the schedule ahead of your trip and be sure to book in advance.
Get down with Motown at one of Nashville’s longest-running weekly dance parties
Motown Mondays at Th5spot is one of the longest-running weekly dance parties in Nashville and takes place every week. Take to the dance floor as DJ duo Electric Western spin the dance hits of Funk, Soul, Girl Groups, Doo Wop, Rock’n’Roll, and more. Sing along to classic tunes and unique hits as you soak up the vibes, sip cocktails and craft beers and let your hair down. For a night of fun in Nashville, look no further!
To Eat in Nashville
Dine in the city’s many delicious foodie destinations
As well as being a fantastic place to shop, explore and soak up the culture, Nashville is lucky to have a thriving foodie scene. Whether you’re after a Michelin-starred meal, luxury cuisine, the city’s best biscuits or the hottest chicken in the Southern state, you’re spoilt for choice.
Dine on mouthwatering BBQ food at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Downtown, don’t miss a breakfast at Biscuit Love, tuck into gourmet pizza at FOLK and get your sweet-treat fix at Cupcake Collection. Discover the best local nachos at Bastion, eat fresh dishes at The Hart and don’t miss brunch at Urban Grub. With something for everyone, you’re guaranteed to never go hungry! Our full foodie guide to Nashville is coming soon, so watch this space!
Try some of the locally produced whisky, wine and beer
Nashville’s known for its love of whisky, so when you’re visiting, why not get down to the nitty-gritty and learn more about this beloved tipple with a distillery visit? The Nashville Craft Distillery opened in 2016, focusing on local and regional ingredients and resources to produce their range of mouthwatering spirits. Head down for a tour and a tasting, plus find plenty of gifts for loved ones (unless you cave and enjoy them before heading home!) You can learn all about how the spirits are created, from the technical aspects of fermentation and distilling to them ending up in a bottle on the shelf. It’s a fantastic event to do with friends or a partner.
Another one for liquor lovers – head to Bearded Iris that’s located on the Nashville Greenway in Germantown. Here you can watch your beer being brewed, free to ask any questions you fancy, before tucking into a pint or two. It’s a great way to learn more about the craft while enjoying a tipple in a cool and quirky setting.
If wine is more your thing, the Belle Meade historic site and winery is a must. A stunning 1853 Greek revival mansion home to English Derby winner Iroquois, Belle Meade has always been a centre of hospitality and continues to this day. Enjoy a unique tasting where you can sample a range of beautiful wines made on site, paired with small plates created with local produce. Once you’ve sampled the beautiful wines, be sure to take the time to wander around the old house and beautiful gardens, finding more out about the history and farm as you go.
What you need to know…
Nashville is an unmissable travel destination that needs to be on any travel bucket list. It’s a thriving metropolis that enables travellers to lose themselves in the musical veins of its core, while also offering so much more in between. It’s a city that feels safe and secure, where you enter and immediately feel at home. Busy with a hometown feel, you never quite know what gem you’re going to stumble upon next. Whether heading as part of a road trip or as a destination in its own right, as soon as you’ve stepped foot in Nashville, you’ll find it hard to leave. Find out more about Nashville and what this incredible city has to offer here.