Welcome to Music City, USA where bachelorettes exhaust the word party, “woo hoo!” girls are heard year round, man buns are aplenty and hot chicken is a staple to your breakfast, lunch and dinner. This local’s guide to Nashville will help you see all there is to see, especially on a budget!
Nashville is that small town with a getting-bigger city feel that’s perfect for your Southern/Metro getaway and it’s a place I am proud to call home. Working on Broadway has given me a mouthful of what tourists think Nashville is, and I finally decided to explain that Nash is NOT just Broadway.
Yes it’s a wonderful place to throw a bachelorette party – it’s a wonderful place to throw any party – just keep in mind, it is a CITY, not a street.
There are so many places to explore in Nashville: Downtown, Germantown, the Gulch and East Nashville, there’s also Midtown, 12 South, 8th South, and Hillsboro Village.
To get to know the real feel of Nashville, make like a southerner and slow down. Take a look around, expand your horizon past the few blocks of SoBro and soak up the homegrown feel of this little big town (see what I did there country fans?…)
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My #1 Tip for visiting Nashville:explore outside of Broadway.
There’s so many restaurants and shops, things to do and icons to see that aren’t downtown. It’s Music City; there’s a plethora of events every single weekend all throughout the year.
Here’s a few of my favorite things to do!
The obvious – bar hopping downtown.
I know I said to avoid Broadway but it’s the reason you’re coming here so I might as well mention it. They are extremely expensive for drinks and food but the bartenders know this, so sometimes they over pour anyways, which is a subtle way of them asking for a generous tip. Wink wink.
My favorite bars are the Stage, FGL House (on a weekday, because it’s extremely over crowded Thursday-Sunday) and Honky Tonk Central*.
*In the time since I’ve been downtown for a night out, there have been quite a few bars opened – Miranda Lambert’s cantina, 5th & B, a few others. I will update this post when I experience those places for myself. Although I can already recommend 5th & B because it has a cluster of local restaurants and a Music City themed Taco Bell, apparently it’s a must see!
Jason Aldean’s has a better dance floor if you’re looking to do some aerial swing dancing. The Stage has the best variety of music, but mostly country! After it starts getting late, the artists on each floor play a ton of different genres.
Catch a performance at Andrew Jackson Hall
I caught Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera and was blown away at the performance!
But really, learn how the famous Old No. 7 is famously made here in Tennessee. With multiple levels of tours, you’re sure to please everyone in your group, or, have the best experience if you’re traveling solo!
See a concert, obviously.
Concerts are almost everyday somewhere (okay, definitely stay downtown and visit the local bars to hear some amazing music. The artists here are unmatched.)
These local singer-song writers will NOT disappoint. 3rd and Lindsley, Bluebird Café and any bar on Broadway will be playing music! Marathon Music Works always has shows going on, and since it’s Nashville, you never know who’s gonna show up. A lot of country artists live here and play free concerts before or after their tours. Keep an eye out on social media for a pop up show!
The Gaylord is beautiful no matter what time of year you go! Very popular for conferences, there’s plenty to see and do.
During Christmas, they have their annual ICE display which, in my opinion (which is always right), is TOTALLY worth it. Get on Groupon for your 50% discount on tickets. Take a tour through their themed, 9° world of Christmas. They have had Rudolph, Frozen, and How the Grinch stole Christmas the last few years!
This is all ice!
There’s a mini river boat tour through the middle of the hotel, shops surrounding the river, and restaurants, along with gift shops and souvenir stores throughout the hotel. A few blocks away is Opry Mills Mall for all your shopping needs.
A few steps away from the hotel is the Grand Ole Opry herself!
Take a night to see a show at the Opry, and maybe do a backstage tour.
Things to know before you visit the Opry:
Every show they have one of the performers out for a signing!
Shows occur Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in off season, and vary weekly June-November. Since the schedule varies every week ,be sure to check out when the showtimes are during your trip!
Canoe one of the many rivers and lakes.
During the summer it is so unbelievably hot, you can’t help but get some heat relief and jump in the water. Look, I am a Colorado girl so I know clear, fresh water. Tennessee is the opposite but, it is sooo hot I had to get over it and I am so glad I did! Tip-a-Canoe is myfave!
Johnny Cash Museum
Head back downtown and stroll onto 3rd Ave, home to the museum dedicated to the Man in Black. Patsy Cline’s is directly above it as well! See and hear everything to do with Johnny Cash and grab some coffee right after at Bongo café.
The OG of Country Music shows. It’s different from any concert you’ve ever been to, giving you a grander appreciation for the music and its artist. This venueis an icon and should not be skipped.
The Parthenon at Centennial Park
Is anybody else a cheesy Greek Mythology nerd and remembers ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’? I’m not embarrassed to say that it’s one of my favorite throwback (yes, this is a “throwback” to High School for me) movies. Anyways, the scene where Percy steals the jewel from the crown was filmed at this full-scale replica of the Athens parthenon!
Even if you aren’t a Percy Jackson fan, It’s totally worth every penny. Since taking Art History, I have a much bigger appreciation for the replica of the original Parthenon and cannot WAIT to see the real thing, but this will suffice for now!
Take a walk in Centennial Park before or afterwards, it has a pond and is set on a huge piece of land; perfect for a picnic or lunch outside.
There is an unbelievable amount of hiking trails and waterfalls surrounding Nashville! If you have a rental car or are staying with a friend, I highly recommend taking a day trip out to any of them! Burgess Falls, Cummins Falls (permits by reservation are now required, around $6), Radnor Lake, Percy Priest Lake are just a few of the hot spots for outdoor activity during a Tennessee Summer.
Downtown – Nash Collection, Ensemble, Betty Boots, Blush, Vintage Creek, Fire Finch. Downtown is also where you will find all of your tourist souvenirs and clothes.
Hilsboro Village is a college based community with 21st Avenue lined with amazing local and chain stores. Altar’s State and Posh are my favorites! Not to mention the famous Grilled Cheeserie brick and mortar is right around the corner.
12 South and the Gulch are upper end shopping with great restaurants and breweries.
I hope this local’s guide to Nashville has made it easier to fill your itinerary! When you get there, just ask the locals, they will give you the best options!