Nashville Trip Ideas
A TRUE MUSIC CITY
Begin your visit in Nashville by taking in the historic and music-filled downtown scene on the Music City Trolley Hop On/Hop Off Tour. Hop off at your leisure at historic spots such as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. This state-of-the-art facility features more than 40,000 square feet of country music artifacts, including the museum’s newest exhibit, The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and California Country.
For lunch, walk to down-home Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant’s downtown location on Church Street. With mismatched tables and chairs and an eclectic clientele, Puckett’s serves Southern-style food that is some of the best in town.
Next, walk a few blocks to the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium, and see where hundreds of famous artists, from James Brown and Patsy Cline to Bruce Springsteen and Mumford & Sons, have performed. Finish your afternoon by exploring Marathon Village, a.k.a. Nashville’s Creative Neighborhood. From Corsair Artisan Distillery, a craft distillery that makes high-quality spirits in small batches, to Antique Archaeology, created from Mike Wolfe’s American Pickers on the History Channel, enjoy the unique complex created for artists, photographers and designer studios.
For family attraction options, check out the Nashville Zoo, where you can come face-to-face with a wide variety of animals, or experience the Adventure Science Center and interactively explore the Adventure Tower, BlueMax or Sudekum Planetarium, where astronomers teach you how to identify the seasonal constellations, bright stars and planets.
Enjoy dinner at Merchants, a classic, modern-day restaurant reinvented from the historic 1892 Merchant’s Hotel. End the night by hitting Nashville’s world famous honky-tonks on lower Broadway including Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western World and Legends Corner.
NEIGHBORHOOD HOT SPOTS
Start off the day discovering some of Nashville’s unique neighborhoods, such as East Nashville, an eclectic and creative neighborhood that has attracted many musicians and visual artists to the area. Find great shopping options, including Fanny’s House of Music, Goodbuy Girls – named One of South’s Top 10 Boot-iques by Southern Living, and the Art & Invention Gallery.
Enjoy the popular local eatery, Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden, for lunch. Take a quick trip to the northeast side of town and experience Music Valley. Hit the shops, the music venues, and music attractions. Then travel over the river and spend the afternoon hitting some of Nashville’s famed record stores, including Third Man Records, a record label office, photo studio and live venue founded by Jack White, and Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, a legendary independent record store that features limited-edition releases.
Next, explore the 12-South neighborhood, the up-and-coming place to live and socialize. Grab a coffee at the Frothy Monkey, get fitted for a pair of artisan denim jeans at Gwyneth Paltrow’s favorite imogene + willie and enjoy gourmet popsicles varying from Mexican Caramel to Strawberry Chocolate chip at Las Paletas.
Travel over to The Gulch and see how it has perfectly combined its industrial background with a contemporary style to create and area of upscale restaurants and vibrant nightlife. After shopping at Two Old Hippies, a store lined with collections of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, get a home-brewed drink at Yazoo Brewery.
Have dinner at one of a number of hip restaurants in The Gulch, such as Music City Flats, a casual restaurant with whole wheat flatbreads and an expansive wine list, Whiskey Kitchen, a favorite see-and-be-seen tavern, or Kayne Prime, an upscale steakhouse that features American fare and artisanal cocktails.
Finish off the day with a night of authentic bluegrass at the famous Station Inn, a staple in the Nashville community since 1974 that offers live acoustic music nightly. If bluegrass isn’t your scene, check out the cozy Mercy Lounge on Cannery Row, where buzz-bands and renowned national talents hit the stage on any given night.
GET YOUR ART ON
Enjoy breakfast at Taylor Swift’s favorite spot, Fido, a funky coffeehouse in Hillsboro Village. Conveniently located near Vanderbilt and Belmont universities, Hillsboro Village is a collection of shops, boutiques and restaurants perfect for a day’s stroll.
Not in the mood for shopping? Learn about Nashville’s thriving arts scene. Discover one of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ many temporary exhibits, pop in to any of the downtown art galleries, most of which are on the “Fifth Avenue of the Arts,” or visit the Parthenon in Centennial Park, the world’s only full-size reproduction of the Greek Parthenon and home to Athena, the tallest indoor structure in the Western world. Not sure where to start? Consider the First Saturday Art Crawl throughout downtown Nashville on the first Saturday evening of every month, during which visitors can visit a plethora of galleries in downtown Nashville.
Spend the afternoon at Belle Meade Plantation, Nashville’s largest and wealthiest private estate that was once a renowned thoroughbred horse farm, or visit The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson and see the mansion, tombs of Andrew and Rachel Jackson, and Rachel’s beloved garden. Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is also a must-see, with a rotating exhibition schedule, events and breathtaking gardens to explore.
Finish up your day with dinner at Bound’ry, and upscale Midtown restaurant featuring global cuisine and an ambiance complete with eclectic artwork, or take in a show at Bluebird Café, where patrons can enjoy songwriters performing in an intimate “in the round setting” – a true Nashville experience. If you want to enjoy a more classical show, take in a performance by the Grammy-award winning Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in the heart of the downtown entertainment district.
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (CVC) operates two downtown Visitor Information Centers (VIC), offering discounted attraction tickets, special hotel rates, a plethora of brochures and coupons, and concierge assistance.
501 Broadway (615) 259-4768
The VIC in the glass tower of the Bridgestone Arena, located at the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Broadway, has a gift shop and wireless café with a large selection of Nashville souvenirs. Open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
150 Fourth Avenue North (615) 259-4730
The VIC in the Regions Bank Building, at the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Commerce Street, features music-themed giftware, art and accessories, as well as free maps. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
NASHVILLE CITY MAPS
City maps are available at the VICs, the Nashville International Airport, the Nashville Convention Center, the Metropolitan Courthouse and in most hotel lobbies.
Disability Information Office
Howard Office Building, information and referral office: (615) 862-6492.
MTA Access Ride
Wheelchair-equipped van service: (615) 880-3970. Call in advance for reservations. $2.50 flat fee.
Foreign Currency Exchange
Downtown and most branches: (615) 748-2941
Nashville International Airport
Wright Travel Business Center: (615) 275-2660
Tennessee Foreign Language Institute
227 French Landing Drive, Suite 100
CONNECTING TO THE MUSIC
A free Nashville Live Music Guide app is available for both iPhone and Android devices, locates live music venues throughout the city and tells you who’s on stage. Users can search by area of town or venue name, and a handy map function will show your location and the live music venue options nearby. The app’s calendar will search live music events up to 14 days out.
No app? No problem. The CVC has also set up a series of guitar pick signs that indicate a music venue. If a particular venue features four or ore live shows a week, a pick is placed outside so visitors know where to go for music.
FINDING YOUR WAY
Also transforming the way people connect to music in Nashville is the Wayfinding Guidance System. The program integrates pedestrian maps and signage with local street and traffic guidance signs. Located at some of the city’s most traveled tourist areas, the signs detail the major attractions around the area and help visitors find the sites closest to them.