It’s no surprise that a place known as Music City is full of bars, music venues, and recording studios. Add in all the dining options, museums, historic sites, and outdoor attractions, and it’s clear that there’s no shortage of epic things to do in Nashville.
In fact, there’s so much fun stuff to do in Nashville that it’s impossible to see everything in one trip. Don’t worry because I’m a Nashville local who’s ready to guide you to everything Nashville has to offer, from the most popular attractions to the hidden gems you won’t find anywhere else.
No matter whether you enjoy spending nights listening to the best country and bluegrass music in the world or you’d rather be dining at upscale restaurants, Nashville has something for you.
Let’s get started.
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37 Best Things to Do in Nashville
Visit “The Mother Church of Country Music”
No visit to Music City is complete with a visit to the Ryman. Located Downtown, this tabernacle converted into a music venue was originally home to the Grand Ole Opry and should be at the top of your list for things to do in Nashville.
The Ryman Auditorium has an important role in country music history, but it continues to host artists from all genres today. All music fans should take the time to visit this historic attraction.
Self-guided tours are available each day that allows you to explore the auditorium and the exhibits. You even get to take a photo on the stage. For an extra fee, you can take a guided tour that also allows you to go backstage.
👉 Pro Tip: If you have time, I’d suggest buying tickets to see a show at the Ryman. The acoustics in the venue are some of the best in the country.
Enjoy Downtown Nashville’s famous nightlife
📍 Map It: Broadway
If you are looking for nightlife, head to Broadway. This street in Downtown Nashville is home to several blocks of popular bars, clubs, and honky tonks.
Most establishments on Broadway don’t have a cover charge, so it’s a great way to hear lots of live music and enjoy a fun night out. You’ll hear more than just country music on Broadway.
You’ll find everything from rooftop bars with swimming pools to honky tonks beloved for their fried bologna sandwiches.
Going to Broadway should be all visitors’ listo f top things to do in Nashville. Expect to see crowds enjoying the atmosphere, and be sure to bring your dancing shoes.
👉 Love dancing? Take a line-dancing class at the Whisky Bent Saloon so that you’ll be ready to dance all night long.
Frist Art Museum
Browse award-winning art exhibits
Located in the Gulch, the Frist Art Museum is an award-winning attraction in Nashville. The museum is housed in an Art Deco building from the 1930s.
Exhibits change frequently. The museum does not have any permanent collections which means that the experience is different every time that you visit. Check the museum’s website to find current and upcoming exhibits.
The Frist is perfect for art lovers as well as for those who are not as familiar with art. The museum is dedicated to making art accessible to everyone.
Grand Ole Opry House
Soak in country music history at this iconic attraction
The historic Grand Ole Opry moved to its current location in 1974. The show is the longest running broadcast in the world. Musical greats like Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Loretta Lynn performed on the Opry.
Today, the broadcast still features a mix of rising country artists as well as country legends. You can get tickets to watch the Grand Ole Opry being recorded, a dream for country music fans. If you’re not a country fan, check the upcoming shows. Artists from all music genres play at the Opry House.
Tours of the Grand Ole Opry House are available daily. Country music fans should take advantage of the chance to get a glimpse behind the scenes of country music history.
Admire a century-old Parthenon replica
Nashville is home to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Long before Nashville became known as Music City, it was called “The Athens of the South” due to the city’s focus on learning and higher education. In 1897, the replica of the Parthenon was built for Tennesee’s Centennial Exposition.
Today, the Parthenon houses an art gallery featuring American artists as well as a full-scale statue of Athena just like the one in Athens.
The Parthenon is located in Centennial Park. Once you finish visiting the museum, you can take a stroll through the park. This is a great location for families to visit in Nashville.
Enjoy local wines, fantastic views, and weekend events
Head 25 minutes south of Nashville to Arrington Vineyards. Spend an afternoon enjoying a wine flight (or a frose!) and taking in the beautiful views.
The property is great to enjoy any time, but it really shines during spring and summer weekends. Fridays are Food Truck Fridays where you can enjoy some of Nashville’s best food truck offerings. Stop by on Saturday or Sunday to listen to live bluegrass or jazz bands.
A visit to Arrington Vineyards is a perfect romantic evening for couples or a fun activity to do with a group of friends.
Want to visit the vineyard and have a few drinks without worrying about driving afterward? Book a round-trip shuttle to get you to and from the location.
👉 Pro Tip: Fewer food options are available on weekdays. Pack a picnic or snacks if you visit Monday – Thursday.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Discover over 2 million pieces of country music memorabilia
Located in the heart of Downtown Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame is one of the largest museums in the world. It contains over 2 million artifacts relating to country music. You’ll see lots of cowboy boots and costumes, but you’ll also get to see other memorabilia like Elvis’s gold Cadillac.
There’s so much to see that you probably won’t be able to take it all in during one visit. There are some rotating exhibits, so every visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame is different.
If you’re a country music fan, don’t skip this museum. Take a self guided tour to go through the museum at your own pace. Expect to spend at least an hour and a half, if not longer, there.
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
Explore botanical gardens in a 1920s era mansion
Cheekwood is a favorite for both locals and visits. The property contains botanical gardens, an
arboretum, and a museum. The mansion on the estate was built for the Cheeks in 1929 and now houses world-class art exhibits.
Enjoy strolling through the 13 gardens. During the spring, over 250,000 bulbs are on display, but the gardens are worth visiting during any season. In the fall, guests particularly enjoy the pumpkin patch. In the winter, Cheekwood puts on a spectacular Christmas light display.
Cheekwood is the perfect place to go for a few hours to enjoy a relaxing, calm atmosphere.
👉 Pro Tip: Reserve your tickets in advance if you plan to visit Cheekwood during the weekend. The tickets can sell out quickly, especially during the fall.
Johnny Cash Museum
Walk in Johnny Cash’s Shoes
Music fans, don’t miss out on seeing the Johnny Cash Museum. It’s walking distance from many other popular attractions in Downtown Nashville, making it easy to add the museum to your itinerary.
Inside the museum, you can view a lot of Cash’s stage outfits, gold records, awards, and other memorabilia. You can even take a close up look at one of his Grammys. The museum is not large, but you’ll want to give yourself a couple of hours to visit.
The music is a tribute to Johnny Cash’s life, but it also offers insight into the role that Cash played in American culture. Even if you aren’t a die-hard Johnny Cash fan, the intimate, personal feel of the museum makes it well worth the visit.
Arcade games and pinball make a fun activity for kids – or anyone still a kid at heart
Game Terminal has one of the largest collections of arcade games and pinball machines in the US. Admission is free for adults aged 21+, and $8 for anyone under 21. All arcade games are free, and most pinball machines cost a dollar each. (Exchange cash for tokens at the token machines.)
It’s easy to spend hours inside trying out all the different games. Outside games like corn hole and giant jenga are also available.
Game Terminal is a great place to bring kids, but it’s also fun without them as well. All ages are welcome until 8 pm. After 8 pm, the space is 21 and up only.
Nashville Sites & Attractions
12th Avenue South
Spend a morning strolling Nashville’s top shopping district
📍 Map It: 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN
Located in the 12 South neighborhood, 12th Avenue South is a street featuring some of the best shopping and dining destinations in Nashville.
Whether you want gourmet restaurants, coffee houses, bakeries, or boutiques, you’ll find it on 12th Avenue South. Favorites like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Five Daughters Bakery are all located here. For upscale dining, try Urban Grub or Josephine.
Reese Witherspoon’s flagship clothing store Draper James is on 12th Avenue South. A few of my favorite stores in the area are White’s Mercantile, Imogene + Willie, and Emmerson Grace.
👉 Read Next: The Best Places to Stay in Nashville
First Horizon Park
Cheer on Nashville’s minor league baseball team
Nashville has a lot of options when it comes to professional sports, but, in my opinion, going to First Horizon Park is the most fun.
First Horizon Park is home to Nashville’s minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds. Going to watch a game is the perfect summer activity.
Even if you’re not a huge baseball fan, you’ll love the laid-back atmosphere at the park. If things start to get a little slow, head to the Band Box. It’s the perfect spot to socialize while playing corn hole, foosball, ping pong, or shuffleboard.
Gaylord Opryland Resort
Visit Nashville’s Coolest Resort
The Gaylord Opryland Resort is located in Music Valley near the Grand Ole Opry House. Even if this isn’t where you are staying in Nashville as a guest, a visit to the resort is a magical experience.
The resort has so many dining and shopping options that it’s easy to lose count. There’s even 9 acres of indoor garden atriums and a water park. The water park is only for guests though.
Consider making the Gaylord Opryland Resort your homebase for a visit to Nashville. It’s just a short drive to the heart of Nashville, and you’ll have an experience you won’t get anywhere else.
Grimey’s New & Preloved Music
Pick up a vintage record or two
Browse through vinyls, CDs, and tapes at this East Nashville record shop. There’s a large selection of used and new vinyl. A lot of artists provide signed copies of their work for Grimey’s to sell. If your favorite artist has a new release, you might find a signed copy here.
Downstairs is a carefully curated selection of used and new books. Grimey’s has an in-store stage where artists sometimes drop by to promote their new music. Check their website to see who’s coming in next.
👉 Planning a trip to Nashville? Be sure to bookmark all my Nashville travel guides.
Catch a film in a historic theatre
The Belcourt Theater first opened in Hillsboro Village in 1925. The theater showed silent films and was later converted into a community theater.
Today the historic theater has been renovated and reopened. The nonprofit theater shows over 300 films a year. The cinema shows everything from blockbusters to foreign films to classic films. Concessions and cocktails are available to enjoy during the showings.
If you enjoy films, you don’t want to miss the experience at the Belcourt Theater.
A Hashville hangout spot for everyone
Pinewood Social in Rolling Mill Hill is one of the coolest hangout places in Nashville. The space features a coffee bar, a restaurant, a cocktail bar, bowling lanes, an outdoor pool, and a bocce ball.
Whether you want to get some work done in the coffee space in the morning, meet up with friends for brunch, or grab cocktails in the evening, Pinewood Social is the place to do it.
Radnor Lake State Park
Escape to an outdoor urban retreat
Nashville has a lot of outdoor spaces, but Radnor Lake State Park is a particular favorite. It’s the closest state park in Nashville and allows guests to get out in nature without traveling too far from the city center.
The park has 6 trails for hiking and wildlife observation. If you’re lucky, you’ll see turtles, otters, owls, or one of the many animals that make the park their home. Radnor Lake is the perfect place for nature lovers to get away from the bustle of the city and enjoy hiking through beautiful views.
👉 Pro Tip: Radnor Lake is especially popular with morning hikers, and parking is sometimes limited. Either get there very early or wait until the afternoon.
Museums & Culture
Tennessee State Capitol
Visit our historic capitol building
First opened in 1859, the Tennessee State Capitol is one of the oldest working capitols in the US. Visitors can go on self-guided tours any time that the Capitol is open. Check the times for the 45-minute guided tours, which occur once an hour.
Because the building is located on a hill, it offers great views of Downtown Nashville.
Unlike many other attractions in Nashville, visiting the Tennessee State Capitol is free. If you’re interested in history, the Tennessee State Capitol is an educational stop.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Tour the former president’s home
Take a trip about 10 miles south of Downtown to visit the home of former president Andrew Jackson. The estate consists of over 1000 acres and includes the Hermitage mansion.
As you walk through the museum’s rooms, you’ll learn about daily life for the Jacksons as well as more about Andrew Jackson. The museum does a good job of showing Jackson’s strengths while also acknowledging his flaws.
The estate was originally a cotton plantation. The Hermitage has made a point of finding as much information about the people who were enslaved on the property and including their stories.
Anyone interested in American history will enjoy a trip to the Hermitage.
Spot important music landmarks
📍 Map It: Music Row
The radio stations, recording studios, and record label offices on Music Row played an influential role in Nashville’s reputation as Music City. Today, RCA Studio B, the studio where greats like Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton recorded, offers tours to visitors. Most of the businesses on Music Row are still working with artists today.
You can walk or drive through Music Row on your own. However, most of the businesses on Music Row are not open to the public.
👉 Pro Tip: To get a better understanding of the history of this area, I’d suggest taking a Trolley Tour of Nashville. Your guide will point out the most famous landmarks as you go through Music Row, and you’ll get easy access to many other attractions in Nashville.
Belle Meade Plantation
Explore the historical site
Located just 8 miles south of Nashville, the Belle Meade Plantation used to be a plantation and thoroughbred breeding farm. Some of the most well-known racing horses have pedigrees that trace back to horses from Belle Meade.
Today, Belle Meade offers visitors a glimpse into life during the 18th and 19th centuries. Walking around, you’ll see traces of some of the high points from those centuries as well as some of the low points. A visit to the site is both beautiful and educational.
Tennessee State Museum
Walk through Tennessee’s history
The Tennessee State Museum in Downtown Nashville guides visitors through the state’s history. The museum begins by highlighting the First Peoples of Tennessee. Exhibits continue through events like the Revolutionary War and Civil War and ends with present day events.
The museum has more than you could possibly take in on one visit. There’s something for everyone from history to music to sports.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
Find your favorite athlete
Sports fans, be sure to visit the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. It’s located inside Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville.
The museum honors all kinds of athletes from Tennessee. You’ll see displays for hockey, college sports, Olympic athletes, and other legendary athletes, including Peyton Manning.
Kids will enjoy getting to dress up as Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans.
The museum only takes about an hour to see, so it’s the perfect place to go if you’re already exploring other things to do in Nashville’s downtown area.
Discover Nashville’s next star
Fans of the TV show Nashville probably already know about Bluebird Cafe. Just like on the show, the cafe really is a spot where up-and-coming artists perform.
The tiny club is located in a strip mall in Green Hills. While it’s not the most glamorous location in Nashville, you never know when you might see Nashville’s next rising star.
Check the website to see what’s scheduled each night. Every once in a while a huge star shows up to perform, making this one of the most unique things to do in Nashville.
👉 Pro Tip: Reserve your tickets in advance. There’s some space for walk-ins, but it varies for each show.
Listen to live bluegrass
This tiny club in the Gulch is the best place in the country to listen to bluegrass music. The Station Inn was started in 1974 by a group of 6 bluegrass pickers and singers who wanted a place to get together with other musicians.
Stop by on Sundays for the Bluegrass Jam where amateurs and professionals show up to play sets.
Check the website to see who’s playing on other nights. Station Inn usually features bluegrass, country, and Americana artists. There are no reservations or advanced tickets. It’s first come, first served, so if there’s someone you really want to see, be in line early.
Music lovers, this is one music venue that you don’t want to miss on your list of things to do in Nashville.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
An original Nashville honky tonk
📍 Map It: 422 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203 | Hours: 9:30 am – 2 am daily
Located on Honky Tonk Highway in Downtown Nashville, Tootsie’s is one of Nashville’s most well-known honky tonks. Legends like Willie Nelson performed here before their careers took off.
Tootsie’s first opened in the 1960s, and it’s managed to maintain its reputation as the honky tonk to visit in Nashville. Despite being so popular and busy, Tootsie’s still has a charming atmosphere.
Guests can enjoy three levels with live entertainment and a rooftop bar. Just like most honky tonks on Broadway, there’s no cover charge here. It’s a great place to spend the evening getting a drink and listening to good music.
Robert’s Western World
Live music and fried bologna sandwiches
Locals usually avoid honky tonks on Broadway because of the crowds and high prices. Robert’s Western World is one of the exceptions. Everyone enjoys stopping by this honky tonk for music and a fried bologna sandwich.
This atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. You can even bring kids to Robert’s Western World during the day. After 6 pm, everyone is required to be 21 or older.
Robert’s Western World has a traditional country feel. Even if you’re not a huge country fan, stop by for a unique experience that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Food and Drink
Nashville Farmers Market
Local foods, produce, and hand-made items
The Nashville Farmers Market has an open-air shed for vendors, a garden center, and a food hall. You may not need to buy produce while on vacation, it’s fun to browse the stalls. Pick out a couple of handmade items for souvenirs.
The market is just a short walk from the Tennessee State Capitol and the Tennessee State Museum. Head over after visiting the nearby attractions to eat in the food court and take a look at the seasonal produce.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
Try Nashville’s original hot chicken
Hot chicken has become something of a trend in Nashville. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the original place to get hot chicken in Nashville.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can handle the hottest flavor (XXX Hot). The chicken itself is really good fried chicken, and the milder spice levels actually let you enjoy it more.
There are multiple locations throughout the city, including a food truck. Even so, demand is always high. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Nashville for foodies – you shouldn’t leave the city without trying Nashville hot chicken at least once.
Stop by for a classic Southern brunch
Biscuit Love started out as a food truck serving traditional Southern fare. As its popularity grew, the owners expanded.
The restaurant features Southern classics like biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and shrimp and grits. Be sure to get an order of bonuts (biscuit donuts served over blueberry sauce).
With cocktails like bloody Marys and mimosas, Biscuit Love is a great brunch option. The line may look long, but it moves quickly.
👉 Pro Tip: If you don’t want to wait, the Hillsboro location is usually less busy than the Gulch location.
Goo Goo Shop
Make your own bars of this iconic local candy
For those who don’t know, Goo Goo Clusters are round candy bars made of caramel, marshmallow nougat, peanuts, and chocolate. The candy was invented by the Standard Candy Company in Nashville in 1912.
While you can find Goo Goo Clusters in stores all around Nashville and the rest of the US, visit the Goo Goo Shop to see the full selection of Goo Goo Clusters. They also offer shakes, ice cream, and other desserts in the store.
The store offers two special experiences. Guests can book a slot to make their own Goo Goo bars or sign up for a chocolate and wine tasting. If you’re a chocolate fan, don’t miss the Goo Goo Shop on your bucklist of things to do in Nashville.
👉 Love sampling local foods? Take a food tour of local Nashville spots without worrying about driving or parking.
East Nashville’s oldest dive bar
When you need a late-night snack in Nashville, Dino’s is your place. This old-school dive bar in East Nashville serves a great burger way past midnight.
The bar has a laid-back vibe, and offers no-frills food at a great price. The menu is small, but everything on it is good. The place has recently added a back patio that’s a great place to hang out when the weather is nice.
Don’t let the outside fool you. You’ll feel at home as soon as you walk in the door. Dino’s is beloved by locals and visitors alike.
Five Daughters Bakery
Try the 100-layer donut
Five Daughters Bakery began in Franklin, TN thanks to a husband and wife duo (and their five daughters). The bakery has since expanded to three locations in Nashville – 12 South, East Nashville, and Sylvan Park.
The star at Five Daughters Bakery is the 100-layer donut. These donuts take 4 days to make and weigh as much as 5 regular donuts. You won’t be able to eat multiple 100-layer donuts in one sitting like you would with regular donuts.
Five Daughters also offers yeast donuts and paleo donuts. Not interested in donuts? Try the cookies or breakfast biscuits. No matter what you choose, it’s going to be a delicious entry on your tour of the best things to do in Nashville.
Things to Do with Kids
Cool off in the splash pad
Want to get outdoors within the city limits? Head to Cumberland Park in Downtown Nashville.
Cumberland Park is located along the Cumberland River. Besides the riverfront views, it features tons of fun areas that kids will love, including a climbing wall, splash pad, a maze, and a cloud bridge.
Being Music City, naturally, there’s an amphitheater in the park turning the park into an outdoor live music venue on certain nights.
Cumberland Park is a beautiful respite from the business of Downtown Nashville.
Adventure Science Center
Experiment with science
📍 Map It: 800 Fort Negley Blvd, Nashville, TN 37203 | Phone: (615) 862-5160 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 3 pm | Thursday – Monday, until 6 pm on Friday and Saturday, Closed Tuesday and Wednesday | Entrance: $18 adults, $14 under 13
The Adventure Science Center is possibly the coolest place to take kids in Nashville. The exhibits are hands-on and fun while also offering one of the more educational things to do in Nashville with children.
Visitors can climb through a replica of a beating heart, step inside a giant guitar, lift a car single-handed, control a tsunami, and enjoy hundreds of other interesting experiences.
Want to visit without kids? Check out the museum’s Way Late Play Dates. These periodic events are designed just for adults and make great date nights.
See 350 species of animals
Stop by the Nashville Zoo to see more than 350 different species of animals. The habits are designed to allow the animals to live in an environment as close to their natural environment as possible.
As you walk through the zoo, you’ll feel transported to different parts of the world. Two of the most popular exhibits are the Lorikeet Landing and the Kangaroo Kickabout. Guests get to walk through these habitats and interact with the animals.
The zoo also has a gigantic jungle gym and a zipline. The zoo is a perfect attraction for families with kids.
👉 Pro Tip: Guests are allowed to bring in a cooler of food and drinks. The snacks sold in the zoo are a little on the pricey side, so take advantage of this.
Go down the water slides
Located on Percy Priest Lake, Nashville Shores is one of the best things to do in Nashville in the summer. Visitors can enjoy the wave pool, water slides, lazy river, and more.
Whether you’re looking for an action-filled adventure or a relaxing day by the water, Nashville Shores has it all.
RV sites and cabins are available for onsite lodging. The park is only 14 miles outside of Nashville, so it’s still easily-accessible regardless of where you stay.
There are an endless number of things to do in Nashville. I hope my suggestions help you get started as you discover all that Nashville has to offer. Be sure to check out all my Nashville travel guides.
In particular, before you leave, why not check out my guide to where to stay in Nashville? It’s packed with local tips and insider info on the best places to stay in town.