In Nashville, the Tennessee state capital, music rocks in the air 24 hours a day.
The country mecca has earned the nickname of Music City, USA, a city where by day you can enjoy the gentle southern rhythm and, by night, lose yourself among guitars and honkey tonk bars where songwriters aspire to be discovered.
How to get around Nashville
Downtown Nashville, around Broadway, can be visited on foot. But, as soon as you get away from the area, the car is essential, since the most interesting neighborhoods are far from each other. Besides, they are typically American neighborhoods, very extensive and with scattered places of interest.
To go from one neighborhood to another, we always use Uber or Lyft. They arrive quickly and, although the total price is similar to that of renting a car, you save the money (and the time) of having to look for parking.
There is a free bus in Nashville, the Music City Circuit, that runs through the most emblematic places. It is a good option when your legs no longer hold you. The problem is that it only runs through the center and The Gulch neighborhood but does not stop in more remote neighborhoods.
Routes to visit on your Nashville vacation
Hillboro Village neighborhood
To start, you can visit a not so typical but beautiful place called Hillsboro Village, which is a charming neighborhood of independent shops, low houses, and a student atmosphere.
There is a famous breakfast place called Pancake Pantry; it is a family restaurant where they serve giant plates of pancakes brimming with syrup or cream.
It is advisable to go early because there are often very long lines to enter and taste their dishes’ deliciousness.
If you don’t want to wait, another great and nearby breakfast option in Hillsboro Village is Fido, a cozy cafe where they prepare a thousand types of breakfast. It is an excellent option to start the day with energy.
Next stop, the neighborhood’s main street to take a walk and see all its shops, heading to Centennial Park. It’s about a 20-minute walk through a very quiet part of town.
Centennial Park and the Nashville Parthenon
Centennial Park is the most important urban park in the city, a huge green lung where locals walk or play sports.
Although, for travelers, what strikes us the most is the building that rises up in the background: a life-size replica of the Parthenon in Athens!
The Parthenon was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and today houses the city’s art museum (for a fee), where a recreation of the Athena statue is on display.
Even if you don’t want to enter the museum, get close to the imposing structure and take the opportunity to stroll along the beautiful Watauga Lake.
The Farmer’s Market
If you are going to vacation in Nashville, you cannot miss going to one of the places that we enjoy the most. El Farmer’s Market is near downtown, at the Bicentennial Mall State Park, so you will have to drive (about 15 minutes).
This place is open every day, and it is not the classic farmers market: outside, you will find everything from handicraft stalls to antiques, and inside the building, dozens of local restaurants and cafes await you where you can eat or have a snack.
The Ryman Auditorium and The Grand Ole Opry
After leaving the market, you can stroll in the direction of the next destination: the Ryman Auditorium. It’s about a 20-minute walk, and along the way, you’ll pass the massive Tennessee State Capitol.
If you have not eaten yet, along the way, you will also find Frothy Monkey, a cafeteria that serves sandwiches and light dishes that will encourage you to continue enjoying your beautiful vacation.
The Ryman Auditorium is one of the sacred places in Nashville’s musical history. This concert hall was built as a worship place but rose to prominence in 1943 when the Grand Ole Opry settled there.
During your trip to Nashville, this name will repeat itself over and over again, as the Grand Ole Opry is the city’s most beloved tradition. It is a weekly concert where new talents and big names from country, bluegrass, folk, gospel, among many other genres, perform.
Thanks to him, country music became popular in the billion-dollar industry that it is today, and the tickets are among the most sought after in the city. So if you’re in the mood for a pure Nashville experience, this is the place.
But let’s go back to the Ryman Auditorium. Although the program is no longer performed there today, this concert hall has witnessed great moments in music history. Did you know that Johnny Cash and June Carter met there when they were both performing at the Grand Ole Opry?
Today, you can visit the Ryman Auditorium by buying concert tickets or signing up for a tour. The lobby and shop are open to the public.
Broadway and the bars of Honkey-Tonk
And it’s time to get to know that place that you can never miss when you visit Nashville: Broadway Street.
From 5th Ave to 1st Ave, Broadway is a succession of luminous signs, honkey-tonk bars where live music escapes at all hours of the day, shops with thousands of cowboy boots, groups of drunken young people and restaurants.
Broadway is Nashville’s tourism mecca and an undisputed party and alcohol destination, and in that sense, it’s a bit reminiscent of New Orleans and its Bourbon Street.
But it also preserves the most authentic venues, honkey-tonks (typical musical bars of the southern United States) where, for the price of a beer, you can sit and listen to country or folk live until the wee hours of the morning.
These are the mythical Nashville honky-tonks that we liked the most, although if you walk down the street, you will find a thousand more, and you can come and go as you please:
- Robert’s Western World
- Tootsies Orchid Lounge
Keep in mind that, in most places, they do not allow you to enter with a backpack.
Exploring Broadway and its Neighboring Streets
If it’s still early days and you don’t feel like locking yourself in a bar, go explore Broadway and its surrounding streets, where you will find shops of all kinds.
The ones that are repeated the most are the cowboy boots and hat stores, very typical of the southern United States, but you will also find souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes.
If you like Johnny Cash, on 3rd Ave, the Johnny Cash Museum awaits you, a journey through the musician’s life and work that exhibits instruments, costumes, and personal belongings.
The Cumberland River
If you are a person who loves nature and would like to have photos with beautiful green backgrounds, the perfect idea is to go to the Cumberland River and cross the John Seigenthaler Bridge pedestrian bridge to capture wonderful moments.
In that place, you will be able to see the skyline of the city, which has quite curious buildings, such as the AT&T Building. In fact, the inhabitants often call it the Batman Building because it resembles the superhero mask.
If you want to rest for a while, you will find parks with grass to lie down on both sides of the river.
One of the best ways to end a day in Nashville is to enjoy a live music session.
If you want to get away from the Broadway crowds, another neighborhood with a lot of atmosphere for dinner or a drink is The Gulch, an old warehouse area that has become fashionable in just a few years.
Another popular destination for listening to live music, although located on the city’s outskirts, is the Bluebird Cafe, a small venue where songwriters and songwriters flock to play, hoping to be discovered.
This is what happened to a young Taylor Swift, whom they discovered at the Bluebird Cafe, and they say that it is very common to see renowned musicians in public. If you want to go, remember to book before.
The Music Row
To continue your vacation, you can head to one of the city’s historic neighborhoods: Music Row.
Don’t expect the bustle of Broadway, though; Unlike. At first glance, you would swear this is a typical American suburban residential neighborhood, with idyllic little houses and pristine lawns in the gardens, which they keep clean with Nashville Recycling.
However, behind the facades are not homes but businesses related to the music industry, especially country, gospel, and Christian music.
Stroll down 16th and 17th avenues (known as Music Square East and Music Square West), and from time to time, you will find a sign betraying record companies, recording studios, and radio stations.
Country Music Hall Of Fame
You can choose to walk through the Although you can walk down Music Row, however, also pay for a full tour of the RCA Studio B of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
This place is a mythical studio where great artists like Elvis recorded. Although it is located on Music Row, you should keep in mind that you must organize a tour with time with the museum to visit it.
This place is quite close to Broadway, and tours start from there (you cannot start the tour directly at the studio). So if you feel like visiting the studio, instead of starting your day on Music Row, you can start downtown.
After touring Music Row, we suggest you visit the neighboring neighborhood, The Gulch (about 15 minutes on foot). Along the way, on Demonbreun St, you will find a restaurant, although many other options await you at The Gulch.
It is an industrial-looking neighborhood since it was an area of wastelands and warehouses. Today, the premises are occupied by breweries, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores like Carter’s Vintage Guitars, a Nashville classic.
From The Gulch, you can hop on the free Nashville bus, the Music City Circuit, to get back to downtown.
After taking one last walk downtown, you can spend your afternoon in the East Nashville neighborhood, which is about a 15-minute drive away.
It is a lively and somewhat eccentric neighborhood, with independent shops, breweries, restaurants, and street art.
Keep in mind that Nashville is a huge city and, beyond the center, the neighborhoods are very large and widely spaced, designed for people to travel by car.
If you go on foot, you can explore a small part of East Nashville, around the original Fanny’s House of Music, an area where restaurants and bars abound.
The Gaylord Opryland Resort
It is a wonderful idea is to go to the Gaylord Opryland Resort, a gigantic hotel next to the place where the Grand Ole Opry is represented today.
If you are wondering what is special about a hotel when sightseeing, wait until you see the Opryland, it isn’t easy to describe so much beauty together.
Yes, it is a hotel, but around the rooms, they have built a spectacular complex made up of gardens, shops, artificial rivers in which you can even sail in small boats.
Everything is inside, but it is so impressive that it is easy to forget that you are inside a building. Although quirky, the Gaylor is a delight to stroll around and have a drink before ending the trip and heading home.
An excellent place to visit
If you want to experience a truly unique and special place with almost limitless entertainment options, Nashville is the place for you. Its climate, its attractions, and the people of the place will help you create insurmountable memories of your Nashville Vacation.
How could you see, if you travel alone you will be able to visit and learn more about the night scene of the place, attend a series of exciting events and make new friends. But, if you travel with someone, this will not limit you in any way, since there are a wide variety of theaters, restaurants, and parks where you can enjoy both a romantic evening and share a fun moment with your family or friends.
If you plan to stay for several days, you will undoubtedly find the perfect accommodation option for, from cheap hostels to luxury hotels, since in this place they are used to receiving a large number of visitors throughout the year. Therefore, for sure, they will make you feel at home.