- Country music capital of the world
- A variety of cool neighborhoods with unique character
- Honky tonk bars have live country and bluegrass music nightly
Metro population: 1.9 million (#36 in the U.S.)
When To Visit: Year-round
Climate: Mostly sunny with some rain year round. Cool winter, warm spring and fall, and hot summer.
Nashville is the Hollywood of country music and its celebration of live entertainment makes it one of the most unique and exciting cities in which to go out. If you need a break from the bustling honky tonk bars, the Cumberland River weaves through town and provides opportunities for nice walks and nature getaways without leaving the city.
Photo: Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, Downtown
Where To Go in Nashville
Honky Tonk Highway: You can’t leave Nashville without a stroll down this bustling block lined with old-school honky tonks, Nashville’s iconic live music bars. There’s also great souvenir shopping and museums. Free. 408 Broadway.
Music City Walk of Fame: Nashville’s version of the worst tourist attraction on Earth (The Hollywood Walk of Fame) pays homage to country music’s biggest stars. It’s a funny sight to see and has views of the beautiful new Country Music Hall of Fame Building across the street (that has $25 admission). Free. 121 4th Avenue South. (800) 657-6910
Tennessee State Capitol: One of the country’s most unique state capitols (it’s one of the only ones without a dome), this Greek Revival style building dates back to 1845. Free tours are available hourly on weekdays or you can explore on your own (weekdays only). Free. 600 Charlotte Avenue. (615) 741-2692
Capitol Mall State Park: The Capitol sits on a hill overlooking this long green space which has beautiful art, striking architecture, and excellent exhibits on Tennessee’s history and geography. Free. 600 James Robertson Parkway. (615) 741-5280
John Seigenthaler Bridge: For some of the best views of Downtown and the Cumberland River, take a stroll across this pedestrian bridge. Free. 107 1st Avenue South. (615) 862-8750
The Gulch: One of Nashville’s newest up-and-coming neighborhoods, The Gulch is a modern and environmentally friendly area with trendy bars and eats. Free. 316 11th Avenue South.
Centennial Park & The Parthenon: Nashville’s most popular park, this bustling green area has great walking trails, a large pond, and a huge full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon that represents Nashville’s historic nickname of “The Athens of the West.” Free. 2500 West End Avenue, West End. (615) 862-8431
Stones River Greenway: This beautiful 10 mile path follows the Stones River and Cumberland River and the tranquil forest of the Stones River Bend Park. There are many entrance and exit points at which you can take much shorter strolls on the trail. Free. 1014 Stones River Road, Hermitage. (615) 981-3363
Five Points: It seems like every city has at least one hipster/artsy neighborhood and 5 Points (also called East Nashville) is Nashville’s. The area hosts a multitude of art galleries, beer gardens, and eateries. Free. 1017 Woodland Street.
Vanderbilt University: This campus dates back to 1873; it has stunning architecture and so many trees and plants that it is a designed Natural Arboretum. Free. 2201 West End Avenue, West End. (615) 322-7311
Music Row: This district hosts the greatest concentration of country, gospel, and Christian record companies in the nation. There are plaques scattered about that commemorate historic events that occurred in this influential area. Free. 40 Music Square West.
Nashville Cheap Eats
Nashville restaurants and fast casual eateries popular with locals where you can get a full meal for under $15 (often under $10). I always highlight some vegan or vegetarian options – cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is by far the #1 way you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute less to animal cruelty.
The Wild Cow: This vegan restaurant with plenty of gluten free options donates a portion of their monthly sales to rotating charities and has numerous bowls, tacos, and sandwiches from which to choose. 1896 Eastland Avenue, East Nashville. (615) 262-2717
Pancake Pantry: A popular brunch spot near the Vanderbilt campus famous for their sweet potato cinnamon cream pancakes (!!). Expect a line on weekends. 1796 21st Avenue South, West End. (615) 383-9333
Swett’s: This casual family-owned, cafeteria-style eatery has some of Nashville’s best and most authentic soul food. 2725 Clifton Avenue, McKissack Park. (615) 329-4418
Noshville: A deli with a wide selection of appetizing sandwiches and salads as well as a strong breakfast menu. Closed after lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays. 4014 Hillsboro Circle, West End. (615) 269-3535
Jack’s BBQ: A long-time local favorite, this large two-level establishment has fun decor and some of the best BBQ in Nashville. Expect a line at prime hours. 416 Broadway, Downtown. (615) 254-5715
Nashville bars, lounges, and clubs that are popular with locals and meet one or more of these criteria: A) Unique, unlike anyplace you’ll find in another city B) Fun and lively, sure to be a good time C) Beautiful decor or view
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge: One of the largest honky tonks, this three-level venue has cheap drinks and a great rooftop with a view of Honky Tonk Highway and its wild inhabitants. 422 Broadway, Downtown. (615) 726-0463Tribe: An upbeat, modern gay bar with a large bar area and dancefloor. They have an impressive drag show on Monday nights. 1517 Church Street, West End. (615) 329-2912
Layla’s Bluegrass Inn: If bluegrass is more your tune, then this small honky tonk will suit your fancy. There’s live bluegrass bands performing most of the time and fewer crowds than its neighbors. 418 Broadway, Downtown. (615) 726-2799
Santa’s Pub: There’s Christmas decor galore at this dive bar that takes its theme very seriously and is situated in a double-wide trailer. It’s the best local spot for karaoke in Nashville. 2225 Bransford Avenue, South Nashville. (615) 593-1872
Robert’s Western World: One of the most popular honky tonks, this two-level bar has almost never-ending live country music and full crowds to enjoy it. 416 Broadway, Suite B, Downtown. (615) 244-9552
Canvas: This bright, fun gay lounge has plenty of seating and great Tex Mex food. 1707 Church Street, West End. (615) 320-8656
Nearby Side Trip from Nashville
Mammoth Cave National Park: The largest cave system in the world, this national park is just 1.5 hours north in Kentucky and has several guided tours that highlight different aspects of these underground wonders.