The author kayaking at a river in Nashville with the buildings on her background

3 Days in Nashville Itinerary (A Local’s Perfect Weekend)

If you’re looking for the perfect Nashville itinerary, then you’re in the right place.

Nashville has a lot of great restaurants, museums, music venues, and other attractions. If you only have 3 days in Nashville, it can be difficult to pick out just a few things. You can’t do every single thing in only one weekend in Nashville.

Luckily, I’m a Nashville local who has tailored the ultimate 3 days in Nashville itinerary. There are so many unique things to do in Nashville, but this Nashville itinerary will help ensure that you get to see the best parts of the city.

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3 Day Nashville Itinerary

Day 1 – Exploring Downtown Nashville

Since you only have 3 days in Nashville, Day 1 will focus on hitting the city’s biggest downtown attractions. Today’s the day you’ll learn a lot about Nashville’s music history. While Nashville is best known as the country music capital, Music City has a lot to offer to all music lovers.

Morning

CDs on frame displayed inside the Country Music Hall of Fame
Display at the Country Music Hall of Fame (photo: Michael Gordon / Shutterstock)

Start off your first morning in Nashville with breakfast at Pancake Pantry in Downtown Nashville. It’s just a short walk from the Holiday Inn & Suites which is where I’d recommend staying on your first trip to Nashville. Get to Pancake Pantry early because there will be a line. The blueberry pancakes are worth the wait, though.

After breakfast, head over to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. At the museum, you’ll see the world’s largest collection of country music artifacts and memorabilia. Even if you aren’t a huge country music fan, the museum is worth a visit. You can check out the Walk of Fame stars in the park right next to the Country Music Hall of Fame as well. 

Then, walk over to take a tour of the Ryman Auditorium. You can see the legendary stage where many of country music’s greatest artists have performed and where the Grand Ole Opry used to be broadcast. Artists of all genres perform at the Ryman today.

👉 Pro Tip: You can take a guided tour around Nashville that includes admission to both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium. The tour is an especially good way to see a lot of Nashville when it’s too hot to walk around comfortably in the summer.

Afternoon

View of the Johnny Cash Museum sign on the entrance
(photo: DimplePatel / Shutterstock)

For lunch, go to Assembly Food Hall. All of the 20+ restaurants inside the upscale food court are great, but I’d suggest trying out Prince’s Hot Chicken. If you’re in the mood for dessert after your lunch, then Hattie Jane’s Creamery, also in Assembly Food Hall, has amazing small-batch ice cream.

In the afternoon, visit the Johnny Cash Museum, dedicated to the legendary singer. The museum is small, but it’s well designed. It’s also incredibly interesting to learn how Johnny Cash influenced American culture. 

Then, stop by the newly opened National Museum of African American Music. Here you’ll learn about the role African Americans have played in developing American music.

Evening Option 1

Neon lights sign on the stores at Broadway in Nashville at night
Broadway at night (photo: Scott Heaney / Shutterstock)

Begin the evening with dinner at Husk. The menu at this award-winning Nashville restaurant changes frequently, but it’s all outstanding. The restaurant is not far from the Holiday Inn & Suites, so you’ll have time to change out of the clothes you’ve been walking around in all day if you want.

Spend the rest of the evening checking out the bar scene and live music on Broadway. Since this is Music City, you’ll find live music in basically every bar on Broadway all night long. There’s no cover charge to enter most of the bars on honky tonk highway, but getting multiple drinks can be pricey quickly. 

If you only visit one honky tonk, it should be Robert’s Western World. It’s one of the most popular bars visited by both locals and tourists.

Evening Option 2

View of the Station Inn from the outside
Station Inn in the Gulch

Broadway may not be everyone’s scene. It’s fun, but the honky tonks can be a little too crowded and loud for some people. If this is you, then you can still enjoy Nashville’s signature live music and drinks in a more intimate setting. 

The Station Inn has the best bluegrass, classic country, and Americana musicians you’ll find anywhere playing 7 nights a week. It’s a small venue in the Gulch, and the tickets are first come, first serve, so get there early. Sunday nights are set aside for bluegrass jams.

If there isn’t room at Station Inn, try out one of Nashville’s many music venues outside of Broadway like the 5 Spot or the Listening Room. You may not know the artist or band playing, but there’s always a chance that you’re listening to the music industry’s next big star.

Day 2 – Visiting East Nashville and 12 South

You’ll mostly spend the second day of your Nashville itinerary getting out of Downtown Nashville. East and 12 South tend to have more locals than tourists on most days.

Morning Option 1

Murals in the building of Grimey's New & Preloved Music
Just a few of the murals at Grimey’s New and Preloved Music

On your second morning in Nashville, get breakfast at HEARTS. The Australian-inspired menu is small, but it’s all delicious. You’ll have a full day so grab a coffee from one of East Nashville’s coffee shops.

Stop in at Grimey’s New and Preloved Music to browse the records. The entire outside of the building is covered with beautiful murals that are updated as artists release new albums. Be sure to take a look at the books downstairs while you’re there. Check to see if Grimey’s has any in-store events or special releases taking place during your visit.

I’d also suggest stopping by the Groove, another record shop in East Nashville. The small shop carries a lot of local releases as well as a good selection of new and used vinyl. You never know what gems you’ll find while looking through the record bins.

Morning Option 2

Relaxing view from Shelby Bottoms Nature Center
Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and Greenway

After waking up, head to East Park Donuts. The salted brown butter donuts at this local shop are unreal. You can get a sausage biscuit, too, so you don’t just have sugar for breakfast (unless you want to). 

Then, drive out to the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and Greenway. The Greenway is a peaceful area with 5 miles of paved hiking trails that pass along the Cumberland River in places. It’s a nice way to take a little break from the city without actually having to leave Nashville. 

There are several trails to hike near Nashville, but Shelby Bottoms is one of my favorites.

Afternoon

A chair outside the Draper James in Nashville
Draper James on 12 South (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

Head over to 12 South Avenue to have lunch at Edley’s Bar-B-Que. Obviously, the barbecue is the main star on the menu here, but I would definitely recommend getting the banana pudding as a side no matter what you order. 

Then, spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the nearby shops on 12 South. You’ll definitely want to stop at the flagship location of Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James. White’s Mercantile, Imogene + Willie, and Emmerson Grace are also must-visits. 

When you work up an appetite while shopping, you can grab a sweet treat from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams or Five Daughters Bakery.

👉 Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for murals as you walk down 12 South. Nashville has a lot of instagrammable spots, but the ones on 12 South are fairly easy to take photos at.

Evening

View of the stage inside Grand Ole Opry
The stage at the Grand Ole Opry (photo: Creative Jen Designs / Shutterstock)

In the evening, make the short drive back to East Nashville to have dinner at Butcher & Bee. You’ll want to make sure to order the whipped feta. 

Book tickets in advance to see the Grand Ole Opry in the evening. You’ll have to drive out to Music Valley, but it’s an easy drive from East Nashville. You could just get tickets to tour the Grand Ole Opry House, but seeing the actual show is an incredible experience.

If you still have energy left after your busy day, go to the L27 at the Westin. The L27 is one of the best rooftop bars in the Gulch with a beautiful view of the Nashville skyline. Of course, you can always go back to Broadway if you’re in the mood for more live music.

Day 3 – Sightseeing around the City

To finish up your Nashville weekend itinerary, you should make stops at some more of Nashville’s landmarks and historical sites.

Morning

People smiling for a photo Athena replica on their background in the Nashville Parthenon
Athena replica in the Nashville Parthenon (photo: legacy1995 / Shutterstock)

On your last morning in Nashville, get breakfast at Biscuit Love in the Gulch. The line may look long, but it moves relatively quickly. You need to get at least one order of the bonuts, a delicious biscuit/donut combination served over blueberry compote.

Then, head over to Centennial Park. Spend some time walking around the lake, and visit Nashville’s Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Greek Parthenon. Visiting the grounds is free, but the entrance to the Parthenon is $10. Inside, you’ll get to see a full-size replica of the statue of Athena. 

There are also two galleries with temporary exhibits and one permanent collection of American art on display as well. No Nashville itinerary is complete without at least stopping by Centennial Park.

Afternoon Option 1

Aerial view of the Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park
Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park

At lunch, make your way to the Nashville Farmers Market. The Market House has over 20 stalls where you can get lunch or snacks, and the farmstands are fun to browse when they’re open on the weekends. 

Spend the afternoon visiting the Tennessee State Museum, a free museum right next to the farmers market. The museum houses multiple exhibits all about Tennessee’s history. 

Right next to the museum is the Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park. While the Tennessee State Capitol building is closed on Saturday and Sunday, the park is worth exploring. The bells at the Court of 3 Stars ring on the quarter hour and play a Tennessee song at the top of each hour. 

👉 Pro Tip: If your third day in Nashville doesn’t fall on a weekend, you can take a tour of the Capitol building. It’s one of the oldest Capitol buildings in the US that’s still in use.

Afternoon Option 2

View of the Frist Art Museum building in Nashville
Frist Art Museum in the Gulch

Make a reservation at Adele’s in the Gulch for their incredible weekend brunch buffet. Make sure you’re hungry because you’ll want to eat everything that’s set out. If you can’t get in at Adele’s try another restaurant in the Gulch. Okatu Ramen or The Gumbo Bros are both great choices that are usually a little less crowded.

Then, spend the afternoon at the Frist Art Museum. This beautiful museum housed in a 1930s art deco building does not have a permanent collection. Instead, the museum hosts some of the best touring exhibitions in the world. Check the website to see if you’re interested in the exhibits on display during your visit. 

Evening

If you have time before you need to leave Nashville, then head to Cumberland Park where you can stroll along the Cumberland River. Then, walk the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to get a few great photos of Nashville before you go.

Where to Stay in Nashville

View from the pool area of Dive Motel in East Nashville
The Dive Motel in East Nashville (photo: Chris Owens / Shutterstock)

Best Hotels 

With so many great places to stay in Nashville, the best hotel choice really depends on what you’re looking for and what neighborhood you want to stay in. Because Nashville is such a popular destination, doing Nashville on a budget can be tricky, but it’s still possible.

Here are a few of my top picks:

Best Neighborhoods & Areas

View of cars in Downtown Nashville before nighttime
Staying Downtown puts you near lots of Nashville’s attractions. (photo: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock)

One of the best things about Nashville is that it has a lot of great neighborhoods with their own distinct character. Here are a few of the places that have the most for visitors to enjoy.

  • Downtown (Search hotels in Downtown) – The heart of Nashville, this area is the perfect place to enjoy Nashville’s music venues, museums, landmarks, nightlife, and restaurants. It has the most to offer for tourists and is relatively walkable. 
  • Midtown (Search hotels in Midtown) – Just west of Downtown, this area is a favorite for locals and visitors. Here you’ll find some of Nashville’s best local music venues. Midtown is also home to Nashville’s Music Row, the district where today’s music studios and record label offices are located. 
  • The Gulch (Search hotels in The Gulch) – This is Nashville’s trendiest neighborhood right between Downtown and Midtown. You’ll find some of Nashville’s best boutiques, spas, and restaurants in this upscale area.
  • East Nashville (Search hotels in East Nashville) – This mostly residential area is just east of Downtown across the Cumberland River. It’s quieter than Downtown, but has a cool atmosphere. There aren’t too many hotels in this area, but it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods.

How to Get Around in Nashville

A horse carriage crossing a street in Nashville
In most cases, the best way to get around Nashville is by car. (photo: f11photo / Shutterstock)

It’s possible to visit Nashville without a car if you mostly stay Downtown and are willing to use rideshares or taxis to visit other parts of Nashville. There is some public transportation that will take you to a few of the more popular spots.

Nashville isn’t currently set up well for other forms of transportation, but the options are slowly improving. Certain neighborhoods are more walkable than others. Getting between different neighborhoods can be difficult.

That being said, having a car makes getting around Nashville much easier. You can pick up a car rental directly at the Nashville International Airport (BNA) to make your trip smoother. Use the search engine at Discover Cars to compare the best deals on a car rental.

For a more in-depth guide to transportation in Nashville, read my tips on getting around Nashville.

Nashville Itinerary Planning Tips

Tip #1 – Make Dinner Reservations in Advance

On the weekend, many restaurants fill up quickly for dinner. If you’re going to a restaurant that allows you to reserve a table, it’s worth planning in advance to make sure you get in. Plus, it’s nice to know you won’t have to wait in line for at least one meal. 

Tip #2 – Be Aware of Nashville Events

Aerial view of the Nissan Stadium in Nashville
Nissan Stadium (photo: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock)

Some events draw thousands of people to Nashville, so this might alter some of your plans. For example, it’s probably best not to do anything near Nissan Stadium right as a Titan game ends and nearly 70 thousand people try to leave at the same time. 

Other big events that happen often are Predator games at Bridgestone arena and concerts by popular artists. Unless you’re going to one of those events yourself, you’ll want to avoid the traffic and crowds they cause.

Tip #3 – Look For Free Live Music

There’s a reason why Nashville is known as Music City, and there’s almost always some type of free event with music happening in the city. Whether you’re trying to do Nashville on a budget or not, finding free live music events is always fun. 

Tip #4 – Check The Weather

Always look at the weather before your Nashville trip. Depending on what time of year you visit Nashville, the high temperature can fluctuate as much as 30 degrees within just a couple of days.

Bring a light jacket or cardigan even if the weather is supposed to be hot during your Nashville weekend trip. Some evenings can get chilly much quicker than you’d expect after sunset. 

Tip #5 – Get to Breakfast Spots Early

A French toast on a plate served in HEARTS Nashville
Twice-cooked French Toast at HEARTS Nashville

The most popular breakfast and brunch places in Nashville fill up. Most restaurants do a good job of keeping things moving, but the lines typically get significantly longer after around 10 am. There are still lines before then, but just not as bad. 

Nashville Itinerary FAQs

Is 3 days enough in Nashville?

While you could easily spend longer in Nashville, 3 days is enough to see many of Nashville’s biggest attractions. It’s enough time to visit Downtown, go out to Nashville’s honky tonks, and try some of the city’s signature foods.

Do you need a car when visiting Nashville?

Having a car is helpful when visiting Nashville. It’s possible to see Nashville without a car, but Nashville is not set up well for most other methods of transportation. While Nashville is working to improve alternate transportation forms, for right now, having a car makes visiting Nashville easier.

What is the cheapest time to go to Nashville?

November to March is typically the cheapest time to go to Nashville. Try to avoid going around the winter holidays though. Christmas and New Year can draw crowds and hotel prices tend to rise for a few weeks then.

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Thanks for reading my guide to 3 days in Nashville! Even if you don’t follow this Nashville itinerary exactly, you’ll have a good starting point for your trip to Nashville. Up next, check out my top picks for day trips from Nashville!

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for your guide. I will be in Nashville solo next week from Tuesday to Thursday (I’m checking out an accelerated nursing program at Union University in Hendersonville). I would love to experience as much of the city as possible with the little time I have and definitely want to have great food and be in safe places. I have only been to Nashville once last year in November and I was with 6 friends. We went to Broadway one evening and were surprised by how much of a party scene it was…felt like Vegas a bit. We did hit Pinewood Social, Monell’s, and Belle Meade and went to a concert. I am hoping to see the Parthenon and Opryland this time. If you can recommend a few good spots for dinner and maybe a nicer music venue, I would greatly appreciate it!
    Thanks,
    Stacy Rehmann

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