48 Hours in Nashville: The Ultimate Itinerary

Nashville Skyline at Sunset
Malcolm MacGregor / Getty Images

From high culture to honky tonks, Nashville, Tennessee, is a greatest hits package few other cities can top. Since the earliest days of vinyl, this town has produced some of the most popular music hits, and live music is a definitive part of the city’s fabric, seen and heard every day and night of the week at the always-bustling bars, pubs, and music venues that line Broadway. 

But the city’s magic extends far beyond its international reputation as a music hot spot. Nashville also boasts a unique food scene (hot chicken, anyone?), a number of excellent craft breweries and distilleries, spoils of shopping, and spacious parks and green spaces. If you’ve got 48 hours to explore this hub of arts, culture, and culinary gems, here’s what needs to be on your list.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Exterior of the Country Music Hall of Fame

TripSavvy / Jackson Vance

10 a.m.: Check in to the Cambria Hotel Nashville Downtown, centrally located in the heart of Nashville’s thriving downtown area and just a few blocks away from the nightlife of Lower Broadway. Featuring its very own music lounge, guitar-shaped bedside tables, country-themed art installations, and vintage record players stacked with country vinyls that greet you upon arrival, this property is fully inspired by its surrounding city. Beer lovers can even take advantage of the property’s in-house cicerone, who curates the hotel bar’s exclusive menu consisting of only local craft brews. 

11 a.m.: Even those who didn’t grow up on country music will appreciate spending a few hours in the Country Music Hall of Fame. This world-famous museum illustrates the evolution of the genre, featuring a mix of never-before-seen sound footage, wardrobe collections, and artifacts from legends like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, as well as modern stars like Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves. With both permanent exhibitions and limited collections, you’ll find something new to discover with each visit. Swing by the nearby RCA Studio B to experience the recording home of greats like Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and more.

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

Courtesy of Hattie B's Hot Chicken

1 p.m.: Hot chicken is synonymous with the city of Nashville, and if you can only choose one place to get it, the correct choice is Hattie B’s. Opened in 2012, this establishment quickly cemented itself as one of the city’s most prized culinary gems, and one look at the lines that form outside every day during lunch and dinner hours will confirm that. If you’re a fan of spicy food, a trip to Hattie B’s is unmissable, but be warned: this chicken is hot. Spice newbies should stick with the Southern or Mild options, but those brave enough to venture into the hottest options should order their chicken as Hot!, Damn Hot!, or Shut the Cluck Up!.

3 p.m.: Take a snap at Nashville’s infamous “What Lifts You” mural, a popular Instagram spot featuring two sets of wings—one large and one small—that you can stand in front of to look truly angelic. The mural, painted by Kelsey Montague, is part of the artist’s “What Lifts You” series, which gained popularity when singer Taylor Swift posted a photo of her standing in front of one in New York City. Montague’s mural isn’t the only local art installation worth lining up for: Adrien Saporiti’s famed "I Believe in Nashville" wall continues to draw crowds in the city’s 12 South neighborhood. 

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

SIgn for Tootsie's

TripSavvy / Jackson Vance 

8 p.m.: Nicknamed the “Carnegie of the South,” the Ryman Auditorium is an essential pilgrimage for any country music diehard. Originally built as the Union Tabernacle Church in 1832, the venue is best known for being the filming location of the iconic American country music show the "Grand Ole Opry," which ran at the venue from 1942 to 1976. Today, megastars who sell out arenas and stadiums consider it an honor to perform at the Ryman, known for having some of the best acoustics of any music venue in the world. The Opry returns to the Ryman every November through January for a three month residence and tickets go fast, so make sure to secure them before a winter trip. 

10 p.m.: No trip to Nashville is complete with a night out on Lower Broadway. Live music is the heart and soul of Nashville, and heading to a honkey tonk is an essential experience for any visitor. Whether you check out local country bands at venues like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Tin Roof, or rock and alternative jams at Acme Feed & Seed and Nashville Underground, you'll get to experience the true essence of Music City as locals and tourists alike come together to raise a glass and stomp their boots.  

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Pillars at the parthenon

TripSavvy / Jackson Vance

9 a.m.: Eat off last night’s hangover with a Southern breakfast at Biscuit Love, Nashville’s favorite biscuit joint. Due to its popularity, expect lines, but the experience of biting into one of these dense, buttermilk delights is totally worth it. Order the East Nasty, a massive, juicy chicken thigh with cheddar and country gravy served on a biscuit, or the Southern Benny, a biscuit topped with shaved country ham and two fried eggs covered in sausage gravy.

11 a.m.: After polishing off breakfast, it’s time to walk over to Nashville’s lush Centennial Park to get a glimpse of The Parthenon, a replica of the Greek Parthenon built in the city in 1897 as part of Tennessee’s centennial celebration. The building—the world’s only full-scale replica of Greece’s original—was built to pay homage to Nashville’s history as a champion of education, being the first southern city in the United States to establish a public school system. Originally meant to be temporary, locals loved the building so much that it remains a fixture of the city and serves as the city’s art museum. 

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Downtown Nashville and the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
Photo by Mike Kline (notkalvin) / Getty Images

12 p.m.: Head to The Farm House for classic Southern fare served farm to table style by head chef Trey Ciocchia. A downtown favorite, you can’t go wrong with anything on this seasonally rotating menu, but the pimento cheese beignets and crispy pigs ears are particular standouts. Keep your eyes peeled: the private back dining room is often occupied by famous locals like Carrie Underwood and Nicole Kidman. 

2 p.m.: The pathway between Nashville’s bustling downtown and the trendy East Nashville neighborhood, the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll. With panoramic views of the city’s skyline, it’s an especially enchanting walk to take during the evening, and during the daytime it doubles as a perfect vantage spot to take in views of the Cumberland River. A symbol of the city, the bridge has been the backdrop for numerous country music videos, television shows, and films. 

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

Nashville Cityscapes And City Views
Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

5 p.m.: A decade ago, one would be hard-pressed to find any sort of craft beer scene in Nashville, but with more than two dozen craft breweries now calling the city home, Music City has reinvented itself into a beer lovers’ hot spot. Local favorite Jackalope Brewing is one of the few breweries founded by females in the traditionally male-dominated industry, and was the first in Tennessee to sell canned beers. Make sure to try the Thunder Ann Pale Ale, and if it’s in season during your visit, don’t miss the Lovebird, a strawberry/raspberry wheat ale that sells out fast.

7 p.m.: There’s no better spot to enjoy a perfect last meal in Nashville than at one of the city’s staples, Henrietta Red. Opened in 2018 by chef Julia Sullivan, who previously worked at New York City’s Michelin-starred Blue Hill and Per Se, and sommelier Allie Poindexter, this Instagram-friendly spot has been earning raves for its Carolina-style Southern eats. Seafood is done exceptionally well here, and the wood-roasted oysters with green curry are not to be missed.

9 p.m.: Make a final toast to an incredible 48 hours in Nashville at Black Rabbit, a sophisticated, atmospheric cocktail bar with an intriguing backstory. Located in the city’s historic Printer’s Alley, this 120-year-old building used to be the law office of mafia kingpin Jimmy Hoffa, and is said to be the place where Hoffa’s lawyer Tommy Osborn was caught jury tampering (a cocktail on the menu, “The Hoffa Connection,” is named for this). Kick back with a cocktail in front of the bar’s large open fireplace and start daydreaming about your next trip back to Music City. 

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