Known for being the birthplace of country music, you’ll get plenty of southern cooking and honky tonk tunes, while experiencing the hipster areas of East Nashville, and southern cultural institutions. The other big draw to spending time in Nashville is that it’s always a great place to party.
Nashville’s tourism boom of the last 10 years has left a shortage of lodging options. So depending on the time of year, hotel rooms don’t always come cheap. The best areas to snag a room, or an Airbnb are The Gulch, 12 South, or Downtown. Visit our guide on where to stay in Nashville here.
There’s no way around it. You either need to rent a car, or allow for a big rideshare budget. Nashville’s neighborhoods and attractions are a bit spread out, and there’s very little public transportation.
A visit to music city isn’t complete without actually seeing live music. Check out the venues both large and small to see who is playing during your visit. (It’s much better to see a show at the Ryman than to just get a tour.)
Does a trip to Nashville even count if you don’t visit a honky tonk? (Editor's note: *it shouldn’t*.) There’s no experience as uniquely Nashville, or that's as close to feeling the soul of the city than visiting a honky tonk. Depending on your scene, a weekend night will find most of them overrun with college kids and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Start your forray on Broadway at Legends Corner to find a more laid back crowd, then make your way to Robert’s Western World for music more in tune with the early days of country music (think Hank Williams and Patsy Cline). For more modern country music, head to The Stage on Broadway.
Mention Nashville to many out-of-towners and visions of cowboy boots and down-home crooners will surely dance through their heads. That part of Music City is alive and well at the Country Music Hall of Fame, one of the world’s largest museums and research centers dedicated to American music.
Check the calendar of events before you go; with everything from banjo lessons to meet-and-greets with up-and-coming artists, there’s always something new to take in.
Photo courtesy of Country Music Hall of Fame
Explore how the other half lived in the 1800s at this historic mansion and plantation. Originally established by the Harding family, the mansion has hosted many illustrious guests throughout the years, including President Ulysses S. Grant. Today visitors can take tours of the Greek-Revival mansion and the historic outbuildings, including a dairy, mausoleum, and reconstructed slave quarters.
Belle Meade’s former owners were one of the largest slaveholding families in Nashville and the reconstructed slave quarters still stand on the grounds today. Be prepared for some serious conversations.
Photo courtesy of Belle Meade
Once a thriving community of highly skilled German immigrants, Germantown fell to the brink of despair as it grappled with post-WWII anti-German sentiment. This neighborhood has culturally and economically ignited over the last few years with some of the city’s favorite local restaurants and close proximity to Downtown.
Plan your visit around the annual Oktoberfest in the fall.
Get your boots on and head down to the heart of Music City. If visiting for a sporting event or a conference, you will likely have lodging in the area, making it prime for discovery on foot.
Karaoke is very popular, but unless you sing like a participate on ‘The Voice,’ leave it to the professionals.
Sandwiched between the beating, crooning heart of Nashville (Broadway) and 12 South, you’ll find the city’s beloved Midtown area, which encompasses Edgehill and its shiny new cousin known as The Gulch. Both areas are oozing with young professionals. Edgehill is still up and coming and The Gulch is a welcomed gentrified version of a neighborhood that used to be the home of the city’s old railway yard.
In nice weather, park the car in the middle of The Gulch and just keep walking around until you find something cool...like Carter’s Vintage Guitars.
There are so many great places to eat and drink, it will be hard to narrow it down one or two. A progressive dinner or spending a week here might be the only way to do it all. Make sure to stop into No. 308 for drinks, or head to the Five Points area. For dinner, we suggest Lockeland Table and catching a show at the Family Wash, or head to 3 Crow Bar to close down the night.
Although mostly gentrified, keep your wits about you on some of the side streets. East Nashville is also pretty spread out, and not exactly walkable, aside from the Five Points area. Keep the ride share app handy as you prioritize your visit to this hood.
If you're trying to figure out where to eat, we recommend you check out the Olio 8 Guide to our Favorite Restaurants in Nashville...or skip right ahead to find out where to eat hot chicken.