If you’re planning to mosey down to Nashville, you’ve probably got music on your mind. Fill your boots in Downtown Nashville, where iconic historic music venues like the Ryman Auditorium, the original home to the Grand Ole Opry, await. Or just follow the honky-tonk beat that bursts out of the rockin’ bars on Lower Broadway, Nashville’s famed Honky Tonk Highway.
But don’t go just for the music scene– Downtown Nashville is the beating heart of this vibrant, multi-faceted city, offering the perfect blend of Southern hospitality and big-city attractions. Explore a myriad of museums, art galleries, historic buildings, and landmarks. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the neighborhood’s fabulous green spaces. Give your wallet a workout in eclectic shops and boutiques. And be sure to dig into Downtown Nashville’s amazingly diverse restaurant and nightlife scene.
Ready to hit some Music City high notes? Ease into it with this complete Downtown Nashville neighborhood guide, including what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay.
What to see & do in Downtown Nashville
Want to be at the heart of the Nashville action? Then hustle over to Lower Broadway, aka the Honky Tonk Highway. Running from the southwest to the northeast through the heart of Music City, this legendary strip of pavement is the real hub of Nashville’s vibrant cultural scene.
Immerse yourself in Lower Broadway’s amazing all-day/all-night party. Rock to the music that’s pumped out into the street, or duck into one of the neighborhood’s friendly watering holes when you’ve worked up a thirst.
Take a close look at the buildings you pass; many of them are beautifully-preserved Victorian-era structures that have been cleverly repurposed as western gear shops, bars, eateries, and hotels.
Soak up the energy of the street, then snag a spot to enjoy an al fresco brew and admire the passing parade. Take in a live show at the hugely popular Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, the musical home that launched the careers of big-name country music singers like Willie Nelson.
Keep your eyes peeled; you never know who might show up to do a star turn!
If you’re a country music fan (c’mon, you’re in Nashville!), a visit to Ryman Auditorium is a must. Wedged between Fourth Avenue and Fifth Avenue, a half block off Broadway, this was the original site of the legendary Grand Ole Opry.
Adored by music fans and performers alike, Ryman Auditorium is a National Historic Landmark tracing its roots back to 1885 when it began life as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. Much of the magnificent original structure has been beautifully preserved in its stained glass windows, polished wooden pews, and amazing acoustics.
The Tabernacle was reincarnated as the Grand Ole Opry in 1943 – and it launched the stellar careers of country music legends like Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. Step inside and tour the exhibits that highlight the greats of the past. Feel the energy of the “Nashville Sound” as you trace the footsteps of legendary artists, including Johnny Cash and the one-and-only Elvis.
The Opry has since found a new home base outside the city, but the Ryman is still revered as a showcase for A-list musical performers throughout the year.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
If you want an eyeful of country music history, head to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Downtown Nashville’s Music Row to get it. Home to over 2.5 million amazing artifacts, this DT Nashville gem is one of the world’s most popular music museums – and it’s where you’ll get the skinny on the Music City backstory.
Known as “the Smithsonian of Country Music,” the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind recordings and archival footage, instruments played by music legends, and amazing costumes worn by the brightest country music stars. (Check out Carl Perkins’s blue suede shoes and Elvis’s gold piano!)
Featuring stunning architecture, this massive 40,000-square-foot museum showcases exhibits honoring country music legends and boasts a Wall of Honor displaying countless gold and platinum records that have been made by country music stars over the years.
One of the most popular things to do in Nashville is to tune in to a Celebrity Audio Tour and enjoy intriguing behind-the-scenes stories from stars like Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton, and Vince Gill.
Johnny Cash Museum
If you’re a devotee of the Man in Black, the Johnny Cash Museum is the place where you can “fan out.” Devoted to the life and work of one of the biggest country stars of all time, this Johnny Cash shrine has been ranked as the #1 music museum in the world by travel experts at Forbes, Conde Nast, and National Geographic Traveler.
Set in the heart of Downtown Nashville on 3rd Ave South just South of Broadway, the Johnny Cash Museum features more artifacts and Man in Black memorabilia than any other museum in the world. (And that’s a lot! Cash sold over 90 million records during his lifetime.) Trace his journey through music history in intriguing interactive exhibits, fascinating archival films, and more.
When you’re ready for a break, treat yourself to a cuppa Joe as you kick back and enjoy some of Cash’s most popular songs.
Want to stretch out your stay? Hit Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ and savor some great Southern eats, thirst-quenching libations, and fantastic live music courtesy of local artists.
Tennessee State Museum
Ready to do some Tennessee time traveling? Then take a trip to the Tennessee State Museum. Set next to the Nashville Farmers’ Market in the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, the “Smithsonian of Tennessee” lets you experience the state’s remarkable art, history, and culture from ancient times through to the present.
Explore the Tennessee State Museum’s massive collection of art and artifacts and witness thousands of years of Tennessee history unfolding before your eyes. Learn about the ancient origins of Tennessee’s spectacular landscapes and diverse animal and plant life.
Dive into an immersive experience as you journey through the interactive exhibits of the “Tennessee Time Tunnel.” Learn about the fascinating history of the territory’s First Peoples and about the early days of Southern settlement.
Get an inside look at legendary figures like Andrew Jackson, Davey Crockett, and others who shaped the future of a thriving territory that would become the United States.
Got youngsters in tow? Check out the Children’s Gallery for a fun, hands-on learning experience that includes a “walking map” of Tennessee.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
Want to soak up some Tennessee history in a beautiful natural setting? Head over to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, and you’ll discover both. Set in the shadow of the Tennessee State Capitol building, this beautiful urban state park was opened in 1996 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood.
Pick up a park map or take a ranger-led tour. Meander through this 11-acre green oasis and savor its natural wonders as you explore Tennessee’s history. Take in highlights, including an imposing 200-foot state map etched in granite and a heavenly 95-bell carillon that chimes hourly.
Follow the Pathway of History, and discover the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains. Take a seat in the park’s spectacular 2,000-seat amphitheater and revel in amazing views of the Capitol Building and the iconic Nashville skyline.
Worked up an appetite? Settle in at a picnic table and enjoy the melodic sounds of the park’s carillon. Pop into the visitor center’s gift shop before you leave to pick up a memento of your visit.
Nashville Farmers’ Market
Craving a down-to-earth vibe in an urban setting? Plant yourself in the thriving Nashville Farmers’ Market and explore its homegrown bounty. Nashville’s original 19th-century market was a single 40-foot-long shed. Today, this vibrant community hub stretches across 16 urban acres in Downtown Nashville, and it’s home to close to 100 vendors – so dive in!
Discover a rich array of fresh produce, mouthwatering artisanal food, tempting restaurants, and one-of-a-kind shops and crafters. Let yourself wander as you soak in the sights and smells of the Nashville Farmers’ Market.
Explore farm sheds that are loaded with colorful fresh-picked produce. Feed your senses in the 24,000-square-foot garden center. Check out the market’s “culinary incubation center,” home to up-and-coming culinary stars.
When hunger hits (or even if it doesn’t), stop in at the Market House, a vast food hall packed with over 30 restaurants and shops. Dig into goodies ranging from Korean sushi to Venezuelan empanadas – and wash it all down with a craft beer or local wine!
Want to experience the energy of one of the busiest sports and entertainment venues in the country? Step inside Bridgestone Arena and catch the vibe.
Set on some prime real estate at the corner of Broadway and 5th, the Bridgestone Arena is the home base for (hopefully!) Stanley Cup contenders, the Nashville Predators. Stop in at the team store for some memorabilia, and browse the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Check out the arena’s schedule to catch some B-ball or a round of pro wrestling.
Prefer music over muscle? You’re covered: This multitasking event space is also a showcase for music legends and Hall of Famers of every musical genre. With a seating capacity of 20,000, the Bridgestone Arena has welcomed everyone from Reba McEntire to The Weeknd – and it’s home to the Country Music Awards.
If you’re up for a splurge, book a luxury suite. Watching your travel budget? Just head over to Pete & Terry’s Tavern for some great sports bar eats and craft beer.
Where to eat & drink
Set in the heart of Downtown Nashville, Etch was the brainchild of award-winning chef and Nashville native Deb Paquette. It exudes a modern, upbeat vibe with two private dining rooms, a full bar, and an open kitchen where guests can interact with the chef as she cooks up an eclectic mix of globally-inspired food.
If you’re looking for real down-home Tennessee fare, check out local fave Jack’s Bar-B-Que in the heart of Nashville’s Lower Broadway neighborhood.
Snag a seat on the patio facing the Ryman Auditorium, and take your pick of mouthwatering Southern comfort food, including beef brisket, ribs, and smoked chicken. Save room for fudge pie!
Looking for a dash of history to spice up your dining? Head for the historic Merchants restaurant. Built in 1892, the beautifully preserved building offers three dining options. Check out the lively black and white ground floor bistro for superb cocktails and tasty bar food.
The second floor of Merchants offers a more refined (and expensive) food and wine menu, and the third floor is available for private dining.
Want a full-on, sit-back-and-relax bar experience? Check out a Downtown Nashville fave, The Stillery, where you’re guaranteed a warm welcome and incomparable bar food.
Dig into delicious brick-fired pizza, fresh salads, juicy burgers, and unique starters like sriracha deviled eggs and hot chicken Mac n cheese. Wash it down with a signature mason jar cocktail or craft beer.
If you’re looking for “Cheers” with a British accent, you’ll find it in the Fleet Street Pub. You’re welcome to hang out on a comfy sofa with a book or board game, play a round of darts, or take in some “beautiful game” action on the big screen TV.
Indulge in authentic homemade Brit treats ranging from sausages and battered fish to fries, and sample from a superb collection of Scotch Whisky.
Dive into the honky tonk experience at – where else? – Honky Tonk Central. A lively newcomer to the world-famous Lower Broadway neighborhood, Honky Tonk Central is jam-packed with three full stories of great Southern food and “all day and all night” foot-stompin’ Nashville music.
You’ll work up an appetite here – so satisfy it with fantastic bar food ranging from Philly Cheese Steak to Frito Chili Pie.
Take them at their word: the “work hard, play hard” Redneck Riviera Bar & BBQ is one rockin’ joint! This raucous hotspot features craft cocktails, brews & BBQ meals, plus nightly live music & a jumpin’ rooftop bar.
Dig into goodies like Pot Roast Sandwich and Southern Sliders loaded with pulled pork and chicken as you savor your favorite libation.
Want some hot country music sauce with that meal? Check out The Stage on Broadway, a lively country music bar in that’s hosted the likes of Hank Williams Jr. and Miranda Lambert.
This unique venue promises friendly service, ice-cold beer, two floors, and a rooftop patio where you can catch performances by Nashville’s brightest stars – along with amazing rooftop views of Downtown Nashville’s vibrant Broadway action.
Where to stay
As it’s the heart of the city, Downtown is one of the best places to stay in Nashville. Many of the city’s top-rated hotels are scattered around the Lower Broad area and in the hip SoBro neighborhood in the south.
Set in the heart of Music City just minutes from local attractions like the Bridgestone Arena and Ryman Auditorium, the Drury Plaza Hotel Nashville Downtown is ideal for both business travelers and vacationers. Guests are treated to a complimentary hot breakfast, free snacks, and “cold beverages” at the Drury’s daily Kickback® event – the perfect way to unwind with your fellow travelers at the end of the day.
Settle in at pet-friendly Hyatt Centric Downtown Nashville to experience Nashville’s unique “SoBro” (South of Broadway) vibe. This boutique hotel is steps away from the Country Music Hall of Fame and the vibrant music and nightlife of the Honky Tonk Highway. Grab a workout in the fitness center or relax in the pool, then kick back with a craft cocktail on the rooftop bar.
If buildings with an intriguing backstory are your thing, Dream Nashville is the place you’ll want to lay your head. This one-of-a-kind hotel consists of two reimagined historic landmark buildings set on Downtown Nashville’s legendary Printers Alley – the site of the city’s buzzing newspaper industry in the early 1800s. Lofty ceilings, sleek art deco design, a rich history, and vibrant nightlife make this hotel a dream to stay in.
If you’re craving a haven of luxury, you’ll find it at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel in the heart of Downtown Nashville. Vacationer or business traveler, you can recharge in upscale hotel rooms and suites featuring marble bathrooms, plush bedding, generous workspaces, and fantastic bird’s eye views of hoppin’ downtown Nashville. After a jam-packed day of business or sightseeing, kick back in the on-site restaurant and dig into delicious handcrafted Southern-style fare at the on-site restaurant.
If you’re in the mood for some world-class luxury, treat yourself to a stay at The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville’s “original million dollar hotel” and a Nashville icon since 1910. You’ll know you’re staying somewhere special when you view the stained-glass ceiling in the hotel’s famous lobby and in the grand ballroom! This historical treasure invites you to revel in oversized rooms and luxury suites complete with custom-made European furniture.