Country Music, BBQ and Southern Hospitality: What to do in Nashville, TN

Known as the home of Country Music, Nashville TN is an exuberant, upcoming city. Many know it for the country stars it produces, some for the amazing southern cuisine, others for the numerous bachelor and bachelorette parties that overtake the city. Whatever the reason, Nashville has become a mid-western hot spot for locals and tourists alike. 

After getting stationed in nearby Fort Campbell, Matt and I both lived in Nashville until 2016. Moving from New York City, I wasn’t sure how Nashville would hold up to the Big Apple. But within a few years, I learned to love this small city and all the amazing things that it offered, even beyond country music. Here are some suggestions of favorite places to visit, foods to eat and music to explore!

What to See:

Broadway Street: A trip to Nashville isn’t complete without a stroll down honky-tonk lane. Lined with bars, restaurants and clubs, Broadway is the center of Nashville’s nightlife. While it will be filled with country music and cowboy hats, you’ll be sure to feel the essence of Nashville and its unique culture. 

Opryland: Most tourists are encouraged to see the Grand Old’ Opry, which has hosted some of the best country music stars since the 1920’s. While it is a special place for country-music lovers, it wasn’t really our cup of tea. Instead, we suggest a visit to Opryland, just next door. This hotel is not only luxurious, but also contains 4 stunning gardens which you can walk through. There are shops, restaurants, nightlife and many great places for a photo op! Look out for special events that are held here throughout the year, great for both adults and children. 

Parthenon and Centennial Park: If you’re looking for a break from the bustling city, head over to Centennial Park for a walk among the gardens. You can even see a replica of the Parthenon with tall columns and an art museum inside. 

What to Do:

Find Some Local Music: Nashville is BURSTING with great music, and you can find amazing talent everywhere! Between concerts, Ryman Auditorium shows and local bands in every bar, you are bound to find excellent music anywhere you look. But many people don’t know that along with country music, they also have a fantastic alternative music scene, thanks in large part to a local radio station called Lighting 100. In the summer, there is a music festival called Live on the Green which is free to attend and hosts great musicians. Some artists I’ve seen there are Lord Huron, Ingrid Michaelson, The Head and the Heart, Young the Giant, Michael Franti and the Spearheads and many more! Whatever you do in Nashville, DON’T miss out on the live music scene!

Dance in the Honky-Tonks: Whether you love country music or not, the nightlife in Nashville is amazing! Downtown has a lot of good clubs where there are live bands and dancing, such as Honky-Tonk Central, one of my favorites. But don’t overlook a section called Midtown, where another street full of bars will have you dancing all night long! Check out Winners & Losers, Rebar and Red Door Saloon. 

Walk across the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge: With views of the Cumberland river, downtown Nashville and the Titans football stadium, this bridge is worth a stroll down if you are exploring Nashville. Perfect to watch the sunset or even see at night when the bridge is lit up with colored lights.

Visit the Cheekwood Estates and Gardens: Located to the southwest of the city, Cheekwood Estates and Gardens is a nice half day trip near Nashville. The mansion, built in the 1930’s, houses an art museum, but is also a beautiful example of southern architecture. The gardens around the mansion are amazing and worth a leisurely walk through. 

What to Eat:

Nashville Hot Chicken: It doesn’t have the name NASHVILLE hot chicken for no reason! If you like spicy, fried chicken, there’s really no better place to try it than here! Get it with a side of pickles and cole slaw and enjoy the spicy goodness! 

Where to get it: Hattie B’s, Acme Feed and Seed 

Craft Beer: The craft beer scene is skyrocketing in the US, and it surely didn’t miss Nashville! The city boasts 18 different breweries, along with craft brew shops scattered all over town. One of our favorite summer events is the Music City Brewer’s Festival, which hosts over 100 different breweries in one tented heaven! Definitely try some of the local brews from Blackstone, Fat Bottom, Jackalope and Yazoo Brewery! 

Where to get it: Craft Brewed, M.L Rose Burgers and Craft Beer

BBQ: You can’t go south without trying some BBQ, and Nashville has many great choices! Get yourself some brisket, dry rubbed ribs, or pulled pork, and of course a side of delicious corn bread. Honestly, after visiting 30+ countries, I still crave the BBQ from my favorite spot, Bacon & Caviar. There are many places that have good BBQ, so give some a try!

Where to get it: Bacon & Caviar BBQ, Peg Leg Porker

Other Restaurants we recommend:

  • Virago – Asian Fusion, 
  • The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden – burgers, old fashioned soda, milkshakes
  • Monell’s Restaurant – classic southern food served family style
  • Whiskey Kitchen – great southern food with modern twist
  • Nashville Farmer’s Market – a variety of great, local food

Photo Credits:

Matthew & Stephanie

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