With so many great things to see and do in Nashville, it can be difficult to decide what time you should visit, and what you should spend your time on. To help you make the most of your time there, we've selected 15 great activities that will send you home raving about your visit to the Music City.
Go Honky Tonkin' on Broadway
Broadway is one of the most famous attractions in all of Nashville thanks to the numerous honky tonk bars that line both sides of the street. On any given night, visitors will find plenty of great music to get their feet tapping or send them whirling around the dance floor. This being the Music City, the number of great musicians in residence is higher than just about anywhere else on the planet, which means the local bands are outstanding. If you're lucky, you may even catch a country legend in the crowd, with some getting up on stage to jam with the band.
Turn Up the Heat With Some Nashville Hot Chicken
Nashville hot chicken is the city's contribution to American cuisine, and while it is delicious there is definitely truth in advertising when it comes to its name. The level of spice that you'll encounter when eating this local delicacies is likely to be far above most anything else you've encountered before, but that's what makes it fun. If you can stand the heat, head to Hattie B's for some of the best hot chicken you'll find anywhere.
Tour the Home of President Andrew Jackson
History buffs and curious travelers will find a lot to love at The Hermitage, the southern plantation that was home to President Andrew Jackson for more than 40 years. Spread out across 1,100 acres, the site gives visitors a glimpse into the old south with its stately manor house, sprawling gardens, cotton fields, and old log cabins. Despite the fact that is located right in Nashville, stepping on the grounds of The Hermitage is akin to walking back in time.
Explore the Parthenon at Centennial Park
Did you know that Nashville is home to an exact replica of the Parthenon from ancient Greece? This version of the temple dedicated to Athena was built in 1897 as part of Tennessee's centennial celebration, and is located in the city's Centennial Park. Being free and open to the public all year round, the park is a great place to sit and enjoy the weather, although it is just as fun to wander in and out of the Parthenon itself, which is in decidedly better shape than it's Greek counterpart.
Wander Through the Gaylord Opryland Resort
While the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center does have more than 3,000 rooms to accommodate travelers, it also features plenty of things to see and do for visitors who aren't staying there. For instance, you can walk through the scenic gardens that include tropical plants and several large waterfalls. You can also grab a meal at one of several restaurants, wander in and out of various shops, or spend an entire day at the on-site waterpark. The resort is often decorated for various holidays throughout the year, but is especially enchanting during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Catch a Professional Sporting Event
Nashville is a great destination for sports fans pretty much any time of the year. The city is home to both professional football in the form of the Tennessee Titans and is a surprisingly great hockey town thanks to the Nashville Predators. But, the local AAA baseball team — the Sounds — are a lot of fun to watch and a great way to spend a warm summer's night in the Music City. The most recent addition to the local sports landscape is the Nashville Soccer Club, which is already growing in popularity very quickly.
Catch a Show at the Ryman
Thanks to its long and rich history, Nashville's Ryman Auditorium is considered to be one of the premier music halls in the entire U.S., regularly hosting some of the biggest names in the industry. Many country legends got their start on that stage, which once hosted the legendary "Grand Ole Opry." Today, musicians of all genres play the venerable space, which has some of the best acoustics found in any venue on the planet.
Stroll Through the Nashville Zoo
The Nashville Zoo is a wonderful day excursion for kids and families of course, but it is a lot of fun for travelers unencumbered with children too. The 200-acre space has the usual assortment of animals, including giraffes, bears, leopards, and rhinos. But it also has a number of unusual creatures as well, including red pandas, massive Galapagos tortoises, colorful flamingos and macaws. There is even an zip line, petting zoo, and kids-only train ride.
Take a Tour of the Historical Belle Meade Plantation
Once the home to one of the wealthiest families in all of Nashville, a visit to the Belle Meade Plantation is yet another chance to catch a glimpse at the city's storied past. The 24-acre grounds are just a fraction of the once-sprawling estate that was owned by the local Harding family. The residents of Belle Meade routinely hosted presidents, statesmen, celebrities, and other dignitaries inside the large mansion they called home. There you'll have the chance to discover what life was like for the upper-crust throughout the South in the years preceding the Civil War. In addition to the Harding home, visitors will also find stables, an old dairy, slave quarters, a smokehouse and other interesting structures on the grounds.
Escape to Nature at the Warner Parks
Nashville is home to an impressive number of green spaces, making it easy for residents and visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. The most popular of those places is the Warner Parks, which offer 3,100 acres of secluded forest just 9 short miles from downtown. The two adjacent parks, which are named for Edwin and Percy Warner, offer plenty to see and do. There you'll find hiking and mountain biking routes, as well as equestrian trails for those looking to ride horses. There is a dog park on the premises, not to mention a cross-country running course, a golf course, and a variety of athletic fields too. Whether you're just looking for a quiet place for a picnic or you need a space for workout, you're sure to find it inside the Warner Parks.
Drop by the Bluebird Cafe
The Bluebird Cafe is a Nashville institution and has been the launching pad for the careers of many musicians. Live music is a given at the Bluebird, with visitors getting the chance to spot the next great country star before they've hit it big. This is the place where Garth Brooks was discovered, and it is not uncommon to see major stars mingling throughout the crowd. More than just a place to listen to some tunes however, this is a songwriter's paradise where the words and stories are as important as the artists themselves. If you want to drop by the Bluebird, making a reservation ahead of time is highly encouraged.
Pay Homage to Country Greats
Located right in the heart of downtown, the Country Music Hall of Fame makes for a memorable stop on any tour of Nashville. There you'll find exhibits dedicated to the all time great of the genre, including the likes of Gene Autry, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and countless others. The museum houses thousands of photographs, audio files, videos, and other memorabilia, and has a shifting slate of exhibits to enchant and educate those that pass through its doors. Even if you're not necessarily a fan of country music, it is hard not to fall in love with this place.
Sample Authentic Tennessee Whiskey
Nelson's Green Brier Distillery has been making Tennessee Whiskey for more than 150 years, and it continues to produce excellent batches to this day. While touring the distillery in Nashville you can learn all about the history of the place while discovering how the whiskeys and bourbons are made. On top of that, Green Briar has the distinction of being found right in the city, as opposed to having to drive a couple of hours to visit other distilleries found throughout the state.
Walk Across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
Nashville's downtown area is highly walkable, and if you're staying in the area traveling on foot is one of the best ways to explore the city. One of the highlights of such a walking tour is crossing the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which links the two sides of the Cumberland River, providing some excellent views along the way. On one side of the Cumberland you'll see the bustling downtown area, with the glitzy honky tonks, restaurants, and various other tourist attractions. On the other side, you'll catch a glimpse of Nissan Stadium, where the Tennessee Titans play. The Pedestrian Bridge is especially enchanting at night when its numerous lights are lit.
Learn Something New at the Adventure Science Center
There are plenty of museums to visit in Nashville, but one of the best for kids — and kids of all ages — is the Adventure Science Center. There, modern technology and tried-and-true educational practices come together to inform and delight visitors. With more than 175 standing exhibits on hand at any given time, plus rotating demonstrations and exhibits that change with the seasons, it seems like there is always something new to discover. The planetarium also hosts regular shows and there are always lots of special events to appeal to visitors of all ages. Whether you're already a science nerd at heart, or you have one lurking inside, this is a place the will leave a lasting impression long after you've gone home.