Honky Tonks Nashville

12 Best Things to do in Nashville, Tennessee

Julie United States 10 Comments

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Nashville?” For me, the answer is country music. Country music was not born here (it was actually born in Bristol, Tennessee) but Nashville is responsible for growing the country music industry over the past 100 years. People travel here to see the Country Music Hall of Fame, the legendary Ryman Auditorium, and of course, the hallowed halls of the Grand Ole Opry.

But what if you don’t care about the history behind the music.  What if you just want to have a good time? Nashville will not disappoint. With a hopping nightlife scene, live music spilling out of the Honky Tonks onto Broadway, and great restaurants, this city is a ton of fun for the over 21 crowd.

They say that Nashville is a drinking town with a music problem. You don’t have to be a country music fan to have a good time here (Tim and I proved that!). Take a look and see what Nashville has to offer.

Here are our 12 best things to do in Nashville

#1   Bluebird Cafe

If you go to one place in Nashville, it should be  the Bluebird Cafe. This was our favorite place in Nashville. The Bluebird Cafe is located in a strip mall a few miles from the heart of Nashville. In this 90 seat cafe, four to five singer/songwriters sit in the center of the room, taking turns playing their music for the audience. It is an intimate, casual experience. The small venue and the talent of these artists are what really makes the Bluebird Cafe special. Up-and-coming songwriters play here, hoping to make their big break. Bluebird Cafe has become even more popular in the past three years with its frequent appearance on the ABC television series “Nashville.”

Reserve your tickets as soon as they are available online (about one week before the performance) or be prepared to wait in line. We waited in line for three hours to get one of the few walk-in seats. This line grew to over 60 people before opening time, just to give you an idea of the popularity of this venue. But the wait was absolutely worth it.

To visit the Bluebird website where you can purchase your tickets online, click here.

See Also:  How to Get a Seat at the Bluebird Cafe

Bluebird Cafe

At the Bluebird Cafe

#2   Go Honky Tonking

The Honky Tonk bars on Broadway are Nashville’s most entertaining site. The beer and the Wild Turkey are flowing, live music is playing in every bar, and this place is just pure fun. Our favorites were Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western World, The Stage, and the Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar.

Honky Tonks Broadway

Honky Tonks Nashville

The Stage Nashville

Walking Down Broadway Nashville

Tim at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

View from Tootsie's

#3   Ryman Auditorium

The Ryman Auditorium, a historic building dating back to the 19th century, is now used as a concert music venue. From 1943 to 1974 it was the home to the Grand Ole Opry. Now, artists like Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, and Sheryl Crow perform here. Take a self-guided tour during the day or watch a concert at night. Located just one block off of Broadway, it’s easy to get to.

Click here to buy tickets for concerts at Ryman Auditorium.

Julie at the Ryman

Tim at the Ryman

#4   Wait in line for some of Nashville’s best eats

The people of Nashville do not mind waiting in line to dine at their best restaurants. Wow, never have we waited in line so many times in one weekend. Most of the time it was worth it. Recommended restaurants are Loveless Cafe, Arnold’s Country Kitchen, the Pancake Pantry, Biscuit Love, and Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, just to name a few. During the three days we were here, we sampled as many as possible.

For our post on the best places to eat in Nashville, click here.

Biscuit Love Nashville

#5  Country Music Hall of Fame

For us, even though we are not country music fans, we couldn’t visit Nashville without at least taking a peek at the Country Music Hall of Fame. See Elvis’ solid gold Cadillac, the gold and platinum records lining the walls, and the exhibits documenting the growth of country music.

Country Music Hall of Fame

Elvis Car

Guitars Country Music Hall of Fame

#6  RCA Studio B

This was another highlight of our weekend. RCA Studio B was the recording studio where Elvis recorded more than 260 songs. Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, and many other artists also recorded their music here. The Steinway piano that sits in the corner of the room has been here since 1957 and was played in many songs from the 1950’s and 1960’s. To sit in this room where so much musical history took place was a very cool experience.

You can visit RCA Studio B as an add-on to your Country Music Hall of Fame admission. It takes one hour to tour the studio and it is worth it!!

RCA Studio B Nashville Tennessee

Piano RCA Studio B

Sweet Spot RCA Studio B

#7  Grand Ole Opry

This is another destination that is on the Nashville “must see” list. How can you pass up a visit to the Grand Ole Opry? This establishment put Nashville on the map and was responsible for making country music what it is today. Take a backstage tour and/or watch a show.

Grand Ole Opry Entrance

Dressing Room Opry

Backstage at the Opry

On Stage at the Grand Ole Opry

#8   Take a City Tour

There are no shortage of fun tours in Nashville. Take a Segway tour, a redneck NashTrash Tour, or ride the Sprocket Rocket Party Bike or Pedal Tavern around town.

Peddle Power

#9   Johnny Cash Museum

One last museum, especially for the country music fans out there. This one contains a world class collection of items that tells the story of Johnny Cash’s life.

Johnny Cash Museum

#10   Franklin, Tennessee

If you have a car and want to escape the Honky Tonks and the museums, Franklin is a great change of pace. A small, historic town located a half hour drive away from downtown Nashville, this is a place to enjoy more Tennessee cooking and to go shopping.

Franklin Tennessee

Main Street Franklin Tennessee

#11   Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Located in Lynchburg, Tennessee, this is a hour and a half away from Nashville by car. For whiskey fans this excursion may be worth it. Take a tour of the distillery with the option to add on a tasting tour.

#12   Union Station Hotel

This is a 19th century Victorian train station reborn into a historic hotel. It is beautiful inside and would make a great splurge hotel in Nashville.

Union Station Hotel

Post updated August 2017.

Read Next: Kentucky Bourbon Trail: The Ultimate Guide

 

Best things to do in Nashville

Comments 10

  1. Thank you for your great recommendations! We’ll be visiting Nashville in January and we’ll definitely have this post in mind.

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  2. Someone else mentioned the Opryland Hotel but that’s another Nashville staple. There are a few other staples such as Loveless Cafe, Marathon Motor Works, and Belle Meade Plantation. I live in Nashville so I could go on all day.

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  3. Very accurate list but you missed a biggie in my humble opinion. A walk through the Gaylord Hotel is worth a couple of hours while in Nashville. Leave early before your Grand Ole Opry experience and tour the nearby Gaylord or even stay there for that matter. It’s comparable in beauty and uniqueness to some of the Vegas Strip hotels.

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      Hello Deborah. We did drive by it but never went in (we have been to the Gaylord in Orlando). Thanks for the recommendation! – Julie

  4. Great list but you missed a few of the wonderful, unique, “Old Nashville” places. The Aracade, between 4th & 5th Avenues. The Nashville Nut Peanut Shoppe is on the corner at the center of Arcade. These two are so, so Nashville. The Frist Center for the Arts on Broadway, next to Union Station Hotel. All of these places/buildings are older than the Bluebird. Next time you’re in town, check out them out. You’ll love them!

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      Hello Sharon. Thank you for the recommendations! Yes, we will have to check them out the next time we are in Nashville. And there will be a next time…Nashville is awesome! – Julie

  5. I didn’t know there was a Johnny Cach museum in Nashville! That would be so much fun to visit. I am currently planning a trip there, and I will have to add that to the list for sure. I bet everyone in the family will love it.

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