A first-time visitor to Nashville can be overwhelmed with the amount of things to do and see (the music! the boots! the fringe! where to begin!?), so we’ve highlighted each distinct neighborhood to give you a feel for its unique vibe, while also highlighting some places and activities worth the fanfare. Don’t be surprised if you develop a little southern twang after reading this comprehensive Nashville visitor guide.
Places to Visit in Downtown Nashville for Visitors
The Nashville Pedal Tavern party bike is your fun and unique ride to Downtown Nashville and the many honky tonks of Music City! Your 90-minute pedal-assisted cruise takes you through the iconic Downtown area, into the heart of Music City. You’ll pass by legendary and historic sites, stop for a photo and visit a partner bar.
Your ride ends downtown, so you can stay out and enjoy the honk tonks, bbq pits, other restaurants and stores till the sun goes down (or comes up! Nashville Pedal Tavern cruises are offered at various times throughout the day and into the evening).
The Honky Tonks — or Honky Tonk Highway
What is a honky tonk? This quintessential staple of Nashville is a bar that serves up both drinks and live country music. Lucky for us, Broadway is a major thoroughfare in downtown Nashville and has over 30 honky tonks, bars and restaurants to offer.
If you want legendary and rowdy, head to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge; you can’t miss the lilac exterior with an interior pumping with live tunes from country music’s next big stars. Honky Tonk Central is a triple-story, corner-hugging honky tonk that offers a different band on each floor. Whiskey Bent Saloon and Nudie’s are two more classic, long-standing honky tonk bars to give you an authentic experience. Many of these honky tonks boast rooftops to take in the city landscape while sipping on a few.
Celebrity-backed honky tonks are also a dime a dozen on Broadway and all worth a toe-tap. Miranda Lambert is the first female artist to open a bar and restaurant on Broadway– Casa Rosa, while Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red and FGL House (Florida Georgia Line) are known for great jams, solid food and celebrity drop-ins.
If you love jammin’ to anything from the ‘90’s, head to AJs–Alan Jackson’s bar–where bands crank out sing-scream worthy pre-2000s hits. If you prefer to get up close and personal with the microphone yourself, there is a floor dedicated to karaoke lovers, and a rooftop to cool off after a night of crooning. Redneck Riviera is John Rich’s bar, Jason Aldean has his own place and Garth Brooks has a bar coming soon!
Buy Some Boots
With honky tonks on the agenda, you might want to look the part, so it’s off to find some cowboy boots to blend in with the locals (or at least, the other tourists!). Some of the main purveyors of cowboy boots and accessories are Big Time Boots, Betty Boots, Boot Country and Boot Barn.
A few tips for the boot-virgins? Budget for at least $100 a pair–authentic ones cost a pretty penny and can run up to $1000. Every boot is different, so although many pairs may be assigned the same size, it’s important to try them on before your purchase (and wear socks–no one wants a sweaty boot foot). Buy them snug as a loose boot will cause blisters, and after a day (and night!) of walking up and down Broadway, that’s the last thing you need. But don’t take our word for it; make sure to consult with a local cowboy boot and western wear professional to score your perfect pair!
Eat some BBQ
Tell me what’s your flavor? Are you a Memphis dry rub dude or a tangy Carolina vinegar gal? Why pick one? Nashville is known for their low and slow BBQ, and there are plenty of options if you want BBQ for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And all have their own spin and of course, plenty of fixins’ to accompany your protein pick.
Looking for a sign from the BBQ gods? Head toward the neon pig head to Rippy’s Barbeque Honky Tonk or follow the neon flying pigs to Jack’s Bar-B-Cue. Both are located on Broadway and popular for both finger-lickin’ bbq and libations day and night. Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint has an enormous space downtown with an open-air beer garden and a big stage for live music. (Peg Leg Porker & Edley’s are also worth mentioning, but are located in the Gulch and 12 South neighborhoods, respectively.)
Take in Some Culture
Downtown is composed of many iconic sights that not only showcase Nashville’s legendary music but celebrate the rich culture and history that has shaped it as well. Take in some music history with incredible exhibits at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and the Johnny Cash Museum, and then walk through Ryman Auditorium, one of the most revered concert halls in the world, nicknamed “Mother Church” for the spiritual concert experience.
The Frist Art Museum hosts some of the most prestigious art collections in the world, while a walk in the 11-acre Bicentennial Capitol State Park celebrates Tennessee’s historical moments, such as the World War II Memorial and the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains. Then head across the way to the Nashville Farmers Market where you can snack on fresh produce, artisanal food and shop with local vendors.
Centennial Park has a full-sized replica of the ancient Parthenon, because why not? This architectural marvel is why Nashville is referred to as the “Athens of the South” and visiting it is the mash-up you never thought you needed. Within its 46 Doric columns houses the largest indoor sculpture in North America (of girlfriend Athena, nonetheless) and four art galleries to peruse. Come for the culture and leave your expired passport behind.
Places to Visit Along Midtown / Music Row in Nashville for First Time Nashville Visitors
While you could spend your entire trip exploring Downtown Nash-Vegas, there is so much more to experience than Broadway. The local Midtown neighborhood lies outside of Downtown and offers live music, upscale restaurants, and dive bars but with a less raucous feel–think an eclectic crowd of music types, business folks, mixed with Vanderbilt & Belmont University students. Here you will also find iconic Music Row. Music Row is an area designated on 16th and 17th Avenues, where legendary artists have recorded iconic albums in the numerous music studios located within these blocks.
Notable Music Studios and Record Labels
Now before you bust into these studios, note that only a handful are open for tours and need to be reserved ahead of time. However, it’s still a powerful experience seeing these former-churches- and residential houses-turned-music studios in person. For instance, Columbia Studio A/Quonset Hut has seen (or shall we say, ‘heard’) the likes of Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash and Patsy Cline. And Music Row is not just limited to country music artists; The Spice Girls and the video game score of Madden NFL 2016 was recorded at Ocean Way Nashville Recording Studios. The legendary RCA Studio B still has the holiday lights that were strung in July to get Elvis Presely into the spirit to record his Christmas album.
Owen Bradley Park
A little pocket-sized oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the north end of Music Row, this park is home to the bronze statue of Owen Bradley, one of the people responsible for creating the “Nashville sound.” (There is room for two on his piano bench, so perfect IG-worthy photo op.)
At Kung Fu Saloon, come for the FREE vintage arcade games and stay for the shuffleboard, Skee ball and private karaoke rooms. An outdoor patio offers heaters when it’s chilly and pingpong when the mood strikes. Losers Bar & Grill is a dive bar notable for its unglamorous and unapologetically old style. The Red Door Saloon is a well-known, Chicago-style bar that is a celeb-fav. Winner’s Bar & Grill hosts The Whiskey Jam on Monday nights where local artists come together to serve up some great live music. If you’re jonesing for some old school hip hop or pop, head to The Dogwood.
Places to Visit in The Gulch Nashville for Visitors
If Nashville were a mall, the Gulch neighborhood would be the trendy boutique you always begged your mom to go to when you were young; it’s curated beautifully, upscale and IG-worthy. This pie-shaped area just south of Downtown is super walkable and home to trendy high-rise condos, chic hotels, must-visit boutiques, fun restaurants and murals that are synonymous with Nashville.
Milk & Honey is worth the inevitable wait, whether it be for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Or if someone in your party is hangry and needs some post-shopping fuel, their in-house made popsicles and homemade gelato are great to refuel. What started as a food truck, Biscuit Love is now a full-fledged restaurant and their locally-sourced, family-run business will satisfy your hankering for an award-winning southern biscuit. Margaritas may not be authentic to Nashville, but with over 120 tequilas, Saint Añejo won’t let you down with their cocktails nor their authentic Mexican cuisine. LA Jackson serves up some epic roof-top views along with a ginormous cocktail that can satiate 4-8 of your besties. Head to MOTO for their chic industrial backdrop with Italian-influenced small plates or Virago for their award-winning sushi and edgy design.
You are never too old for a photo op with a beautifully-created mural, so put in your steps to see some of Nashville’s most-tagged photos. A set of angel wings awaits at the “What Lifts You” wings mural on 12th street, while a collection of candied captions are ready for your fiercest pose at the “Candy Hearts” on 8th Ave. The “Hear This Nashville” mural on Gleaves makes a great photo op day or night. The “Lego Man” mural is a half block away from the “Jimi Hendrix” mural on 12th, so why not capture both the playful and rock’n’roll with both these stops.
All About the Boutiques, Baby
You’re going to want to under-pack for Nashville in preparation for the amount of shopping that’s to be done in the Gulch. From the celebrity-backed shops to the vintage markets to well-known retailers, there is so much to see (and try on!). If you’re hoping to get a glimpse of celebrities-turned-boutique owners, check out Kittenish (Jessie James Becker), and Uncommon James (Kristin Cavallari). Check out Lucchese for boots and Blush, e. Allen and Parish to complete the outfit; these boutiques are definitely worth a visit. You can even make your own custom hat with Rustler Hat Co. hat bar!
Beve Boutiques offers VIP guided shopping tours to Nashville’s popular boutiques. They customize your shopping itinerary to your group’s style, budget and time. Whether you’re looking for an intimate shopping experience, or to visit the up-and-coming boutiques with Instagram-worthy backdrops, Beve Boutiques is your personal tour stylist. Check out our full guide to boutique shopping in Nashville and start planning your shopping spree!
Places to Visit in Germantown Nashville for Visitors
Germantown may be a bit off the typical tourist’s radar, but this extraordinary area should not be missed; this neighborhood exudes charm, with its brick sidewalks and Victorian buildings preserved from another time. And it wouldn’t be a Nashville neighborhood if it didn’t host a bevy of chic restaurants, carefully-curated boutiques and bustling nightlife, all within a historic backdrop.
First Horizon Park, home to the Nashville Sounds Baseball Club, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, opened in 2015 and hosts games April through September. Concerts and festivals also come through the stadium, so check out their Events page to see what’s happening during your visit.=
Tennessee State Museum
For those who are interested in delving into the history of Tennessee, this museum holds over 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Guests can wander through six permanent and limited-time-only exhibits with an array of experiences: interactive, displays, artifacts, movies. The best part? It’s free!
This neighborhood may be just north of Downtown, but it’s chock full of award-winning eateries, making it a hub for the culinary-obsessed. Ask any local: the pillar of Germantown is Rolf and Daughters. Its ever-changing seasonal menu of hand-made pastas will have you visiting summer, fall, winter and spring. Multi-James Beard Award-nominated chef Daniel Lindley transformed a warehouse into a highly sought-after restaurant and bar that offers elevated yet accessible dishes to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Looking for a fried chicken fix? Check out Monell’s Dining and Catering. Brisket can be found at Butchertown Hall and Emmy Squared serves up slices of Detroit-style pizza.
Nashville Farmers Market
This lively, daily market is held in two open-air sheds (providing shade and protection from the elements!) and features locally-owned shops, artisans, farmers stalls, small businesses and restaurants that offer good eats and unique wares. On any given day, you can pop in to see chef-led cooking demos, wander through the 24,000 sq. ft. garden center or tuck into an authentic, international meal.
Places to Visit in Other areas of Nashville
There are many pockets around the city not mentioned above that are worth visiting; we just don’t have the space to mention them all! Below are some notable attractions that make Nashville who it is.
Nashville Sport Hubs
Nissan Stadium, located across the river from downtown Nashville, is the home of the Tennessee Titans and host of some pretty epic concerts, including the CMA Music Festival. The Major League Soccer club, the Nashville SC, play at GEODIS Park, which is located a few miles south of the Gulch, in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood.
The Famous Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry, located a little over 15 minutes northwest from downtown, is responsible for making country music famous through its legendary radio show, introducing country music to the air waves nearly 100 years ago. Every week, the stage showcases both up-and-coming and the biggest names in bluegrass and country music artists. The lineup of 8 bands or musicians changes every night so the audience can expect something new and original each visit. See a show, take a behind-the-scenes tour and shop for merchandise that’ll thrill any country music fan.