Overlooking view of Downtown Nashville's skyline in the morning

How to Do Nashville on a Budget (A Local’s Guide)

Nashville is a popular place for visitors, but a trip to Music City can quickly get expensive. Of course, it’s entirely possible to visit Nashville on a budget. 

There are plenty of free events and things to do in Nashville if you know where to look. You can enjoy much of what Nashville offers without completely emptying your bank account.

As a Nashville local, I’m here to help you find all the best ways to save money while you enjoy Music City. I’ll also help you find local attractions you can enjoy on a budget!

👉 Jump to: Tips | Things to Do | Where to Stay | Where to Eat 

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5 Tips to Visit Nashville On a Budget

Book a Hotel Based on Your Transportation

The Graduate Hotel neon sign in Downtown Nashville
The Graduate Hotel near Downtown Nashville

Hotels in the downtown area can quickly drain your travel budget. If you’ll have your own car during the visit, look for a hotel in other neighborhoods. You’ll save money on accommodations and get more of a local experience. Being able to drive makes it easier to visit Nashville on a budget.

However, if you’ll be relying on other ways of getting around Nashville without a car, staying downtown can actually up being cheaper. It’s possible to walk to many of the city’s best things to do if you have a hotel close to downtown.

Visit During the Off Season

Summer is the most popular time to visit the city, but it’s also the time when prices are highest in Nashville. Fall and spring have better weather and fewer crowds. Plus, you can find more hotel deals during those months. 

Picking the best time to come to Nashville can really help your budget.

Enjoy Drinks During Happy Hour

A drink on a glass with lime and straw on it

There are some amazing Nashville restaurants and great bars, but drinks can quickly get pricey. If you want to enjoy the best of Nashville on a budget, visit upscale restaurants during happy hour. 

You’ll be able to save money with great drinks and small plates at happy hour.

Look For Free Live Music

It’s not a visit to Music City if you don’t enjoy live music. Venues all over the city have free music playing each night and there are special events all throughout the year with free live music. A few of my favorites are Musicians Corner in Centennial Park during the summer and Live on the Green Festival in Public Square Park.

There’s almost always some event with free performances going on, so check to see what’s happening during your visit and enjoy free music.

Plan for Parking in Advance

Parking can easily be a big expense in Nashville, especially on the weekends. You’ll have to pay to park in downtown Nashville as well as some areas in the Gulch, Germantown, and East Nashville. 

Find out if the places you want to visit offer free parking or if there’s free parking nearby. It can be worth walking a block or two to save money on parking. 

For more useful tips, see my list of the tips for traveling to Nashville.

9 Cheap & Free Things to Do in Nashville

Tennessee State Museum

View from the entrance to Tennessee State Museum
The entrance to the Tennessee State Museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: 615) 741-2692 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Saturday, 1 – 5 pm Sundays, Closed Mondays  | Entrance: Free

One of the best free things to do in Nashville is to visit the Tennesee State Museum. From pre-historic times to now, the museum showcases the historic events that have shaped Tenessee. You’ll find exhibits on everything from the Civil War to the state’s well-known musicians. 

You can visit multiple times and still not be able to take everything in.

Tennessee State Capitol

The Tennessee State Capitol under the clear blue sky in Nashville

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (615) 741-2692 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Monday – Friday, Closed Saturday and Sunday | Entrance: Free

History buffs will love visiting the Tennessee State Capitol building. The historic building dates back to 1859 and is one of the oldest working capitols in the U.S. You can take a self-guided tour during opening hours or a 45-minute guided tour for free.

Besides being an excellent historical attraction, the building also has beautiful views of downtown Nashville. It’s a great place to take photos of the skyline during your trip. The State Capitol is one of the best free local attractions in Nashville.

Fannie Mae Dees Park

View of a dragon mosaic at the Fannie Mae Dees Park
The dragon mosaic at Fannie Mae Dees Park

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (615) 862-8400 | Website | Hours: 5 am – 10 pm daily | Entrance: Free

If you are traveling with kids, Fannie Mae Dees Park is a must-visit. Locals usually call it the “Dragon Park” because of the giant mosaic dragon featured in the park. Besides the dragon and playground equipment, there’s also a splash pad for kids to play in. 

The park in Hillsboro Village is a great place to bring a picnic and enjoy the afternoon. It’s one of my favorite things to do with kids in Nashville.

First Saturday Art Crawl

📍 Website | Hours: 5 – 8 pm first Saturday of the month | Entrance: Free

On the first Saturday of each month, art galleries throughout downtown participate in this fun and free event. 

With galleries open to the public for special events and exhibitions, it’s a great way to see local and international artwork. There are also usually free drinks and refreshments at some of the stops. The list of art galleries changes each month, so be sure to check the website first.

Music City Walk of Fame

The Dolly Parton’s star at the Music City Walk of Fame
Dolly Parton’s star (photo: Chad Robertson Media / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (800) 657-6910 | Entrance: Free

If you’re a music fan, then check out the Music City Walk of Fame. Located across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame, you’ll find stars in tribute to many of the biggest names in music who came through Nashville. Including everyone from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix to Dolly Parton, but it’s not just country music. 

You can easily spend half an hour finding your favorite artists.

Nashville Sounds Game

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (615) 690-4487 | Website | Entrance: Tickets range from $10 – $40

From March to September, head to First Horizon Park (formerly First Tennessee Park) to watch the Nashville Sounds play. A ticket to see Nashville’s minor league team play baseball can be as cheap as $10.

You can watch the score on the iconic guitar-shaped scoreboard, and there are plenty of fun activities like mini golf and table tennis if you want to take a break from the action.

👉 Pro Tip: Only clear bags are allowed inside the stadium. This tote bag and this purse both meet the requirements.

Nashville Flea Market

Antique plates, tea pot sets, and more displayed in Nashville Flea Market

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (615) 862-5016 | Website | Entrance: Free

If you’re in Nashville on the fourth weekend of the month (or the third weekend in December), then check out the Nashville Flea Market. Open Friday through Sunday at the fairgrounds, the market has endless vendor tents (over 2000!) and is one of the best flea markets in the US. 

You can browse everything from antiques to boutique clothing to yard art. As long as you can keep from buying too many treasures, this is one of the most fun cheap things to do in Nashville on a budget.

Big Band Dance

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 7 – 10 pm Saturdays, June – August | Entrance: Free

When you come to Music City, you expect live music, but it’s even better when the music is paired with dancing. Head to the Centennial Park event shelter on Saturday evenings in the summer and bring your dancing shoes. The evening starts off at 7 pm with a free dance lesson–waltz, swing, foxtrot, or another style. Then, at 7:30 pm, the band starts and the dancing begins. 

This is a great event for families or for a date night. Either bring a picnic or get something from one of the food trucks nearby. It’s the perfect way to spend the evening.

Nashville Murals

Murals in the building of Grimey's New & Preloved Music
Grimey’s in East Nashville

When visiting Nashville, you’ll notice that there are murals and street art everywhere. Visiting several murals is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. In my opinion, 12 South and East Nashville have the best murals, but other neighborhoods have beautiful art as well.

If you want to splurge a little for Instagram-worthy photos, you can book a mural tour. Or you can do your own DIY mural tour for free.

Where to Stay in Nashville on a Budget

Finding affordable accommodations can be tricky, especially when you want to do Nashville on a budget without sacrificing the experience. Here are a few neighborhoods to consider when deciding where to stay in Nashville while keeping cost in mind:

Music Valley

View of the Grand Ole Opry House on the outside
The Grand Ole Opry building (photo: 4kclips / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For Families | ✨ Best Budget Hotel: Comfort Inn Nashville

If you’re traveling with family, then Music Valley is a great option. This area in the northeast part of the city is home to the legendary Grand Ole Opry, the Opry Mills Mall, and several other tourist attractions.

You will need a vehicle to explore Nashville if you stay in Music Valley. The area is not centrally located, but it’s only a 10-minute drive from East Nashville and 20 minutes from downtown. The hotels in the area are generally well-priced even during Nashville’s busy season.

West End

People outside the Nashville Parthenon
Nashville’s Parthenon located in West End

👉 Best Area For Fewer Crowds | ✨ Best Budget Hotel: Element Nashville Vanderbilt West End

If you want to be near downtown without the downtown Nashville prices, try West End. This area has less crowded attractions like Nashville’s Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Greek Parthenon.

The area tends to be quieter than other popular tourist areas. Vanderbilt University is nearby, and the area is home to more locals than tourists. Depending on where you stay in West End, it’s possible to walk to some areas in Midtown and Downtown. Staying in Midtown is a good way to do Nashville on a budget while still feeling like you are part of the action.

Downtown

People and neon signs in Broadway in Downtown Nashville at night
Broadway in Downtown Nashville (photo: Erwin Widmer / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For Nashville’s Main Attractions | ✨ Best Budget Hotel: Best Western Plus

While hotels in Downtown Nashville tend to be pricier than in other areas, it can make sense depending on what you want to do in Nashville. If you stay in a Downtown hotel, you can walk to major attractions like the Johnny Cash Museum and the Ryman Auditorium. You can also enjoy listening to free music at the honky tonk bars on Broadway.

Factor in the cost of transportation before automatically deciding that downtown is out of your budget. If you are planning to mostly visit attractions within walking distance of the downtown area, saving on transportation may make up for a more expensive hotel. 

Cheap Eats in Nashville

Nashville has so many amazing restaurants to try. With this many choices, you don’t have to look hard to find cheap eats. All of Nashville’s neighborhoods have multiple places to get inexpensive meals. You can enjoy a trip to Nashville on a budget without missing out on great food.

Five Points Pizza

Pizza

📍 Google Maps | Website | Price Range: $-$$

Five Points Pizza has a great lunch special with two (huge) slices and a drink for under $10. Even outside of lunch, the slice of the day is a good deal at less than $5 a slice. I get the prosciutto and basil slice for lunch more often than I’d like to admit.

Mas Tacos Por Favor

Mexican

View of the entrance to Mas Tacos Por Favor
(photo: Carla Sloke / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Website | Price Range: $

With excellent tacos for $3 each, don’t be surprised to see a long line at Mas Tacos Por Favor in East Nashville. There’s nothing on the menu above $10, so as long as you don’t order too many margaritas, you won’t blow your budget.

Robert’s Western World

American

View of people outside the Robert’s Western World
Robert’s Western World in downtown (photo: 4kclips / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Website | Price Range: $-$$

The live music might be free at the bars on honky tonk highway, but the food and drinks aren’t usually cheap. 

Robert’s Western World is one of the exceptions. You can get the famous recession special–a fried bologna sandwich, chips, a moonpie, and a PBR–for just $6. The rest of the menu is also reasonably priced.

Nashville Farmers’ Market

Multiple Cuisines

View from the inside of Nashville Farmers’ Market
The Market House at the Nashville Farmers’ Market

📍 Google Maps | Website | Price Range: $-$$

The Market House at the Nashville Farmers’ Market has several restaurants serving good, cheap food. My two favorites are Music City Crepes and Chicago-style Gyro. But, you can get a lot of food without spending much money at most of the restaurants there. 

Just know that the restaurants close at 4 pm Monday-Thursday and 6 pm Friday-Sunday, so the Market House is a better choice for lunch or an afternoon snack most days.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Hot chicken

Fries and chicken on a plate at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
(photo: Josiah True / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Website | Price Range: $$

You have to try hot chicken while in Nashville, and thankfully, it’s not too expensive. You can get great hot chicken in different restaurants around the city. Hattie B’s is one of my favorite locally-owned hot chicken options. 

You can get a plate with a generous amount of chicken and one or two sides for around $12.

FAQs About Nashville On a Budget

How much money should I save for Nashville?

If you are traveling solo, plan to save $200-$300 per day for Nashville. If you are splitting the cost of accommodations, this amount can be lower. The money that you need really depends on what you want to do while you’re visiting the city.

What is the cheapest month to go to Nashville?

The cheapest months to go to Nashville are November through March. Hotels and plane tickets are generally lower during these months. However, prices can be higher near Christmas and New Year.

Is the cost of living cheap in Nashville?

Nashville has a higher cost of living than the average large city in the United States. However, the cost of living for many other areas in Tennessee is lower than the United States average.

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Thanks for reading my guide to Nashville on a budget! As you plan your trip, check out our guide to the best things to do in Nashville.

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