Planning a trip to Tennessee? Start by exploring all the best things to do in Nashville, TN. From rockin’ music venues to historical monuments, Nashville has got something for all travelers.
Nicknamed Music City, Nashville is famed for its live music bars, recording studios, and concert halls. Historic music venues like the Ryman Auditorium are often credited with making country music famous around the world.
Even beyond its musical reputation, Tennessee’s capital is a fun & energetic city. Among the top tourist attractions in Nashville lie beautiful parks, museums, and art galleries. The city’s culinary scene is also among the most innovative in the Southeastern US. In its trendy restaurants & bistros, you’ll enjoy delicious Southern comfort food with a modern twist.
Need some ideas for what to do on your trip? Plan the perfect vacation with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Nashville, TN!
Must-see places to visit in Nashville, TN
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Stuck to visiting Nashville in one day? Start with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Housing one of the largest music collections in the world, the museum celebrates Nashville’s rich musical culture and heritage and is one of the city’s must-sees. For country music fans, it’s a dream come true.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum teems with photos, plaques, and memorabilia. You’ll spot musical instruments belonging to world-famous country music artists. Some of the museum’s most famous artifacts include Carl Perkins’ blue suede shoes and Elvis Presley’s gold piano and gold Cadillac.
At the museum, you can also watch little-seen archive footage of stars performing live. Learn more about your favorite country artists through bibliographical reels and interactive exhibits.
After your Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum visit, be sure to cross the street to check out the Music City Walk of Fame. Located in the Nashville Music Garden, the Music City Walk of Fame pays tribute to country music’s biggest stars and top performers. Scan the star-studded pavement to pay tribute to music legends like Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash.
If you’re planning to visit Nashville, one of the must-do activities is walking down Lower Broadway, better known as Lower Broad. Dubbed the Honky Tonk Highway, Lower Broad is the heart of Downtown Nashville. The entertainment district comprises four street blocks and is packed with restaurants, music venues, bars, and clubs.
Lower Broad celebrates the country music scene in Music City. Many of its music bars (or honky-tonks) have historical significance. The unique mix of establishments has landed Lower Broad on the United States National Register of Historic Places. This district is the perfect place to see talented aspiring country musicians aim for the stars. Many bars don’t have a cover charge either, making it a no-brainer for country music fans to tick off the bucket list.
Fans of country music should drop in for a cold beer at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row. Or drop in for a taste of delicious Southern pub food and drinks at Ole Red, owned by Blake Shelton.
For the class Lower Broad experience, catch a live show at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. The bar is one of the most famous historical honky-tonks in Tennessee’s capital city and the perfect spot to catch some music performances on your trip.
Located in Nashville’s West End neighborhood a few minutes from downtown, Centennial Park is one of the city’s finest green spaces. Originally farmland, the 132-acre park now teems with gorgeous natural scenery and is a fantastic place to unwind in the city center.
In the past, Centennial Park served as a post-Civil War fairground and a racetrack. Today, the park is popular with locals and visitors alike for its recreation area, offering a wide variety of activities. It attracts families on vacation and locals looking for some respite from the busy downtown area. Strolling through the park, you’ll find walking paths, a lake, and an open landscaped area where you can enjoy a quiet picnic under the trees.
The park’s centerpiece is a replica of the famed ancient Greek temple in Athens, The Parthenon. Duck inside The Parthenon to check out the 42-foot statue of the Greek goddess Athena and the art museum.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
History buffs spending time in Nashville should carve out time for Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. Built in Greek Revival style, the 19th-century mansion was the former home of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States. After drifting from the public eye, Jackson resided in this historic Nashville home until his death in 1845.
With its rich history, this National Historic Landmark is one of America’s most-visited presidential homes. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage sits on over 1,120 acres, comprising over 30 historic buildings, nature trails, and gardens.
Take a stroll in the gardens and grounds to soak up the historic atmosphere and escape from the hubbub of city life. At this popular attraction, you’ll also enjoy interactive exhibits and programs that tell the story of one of Nashville’s loveliest historic homes.
Check out the Hermitage’s official site for tickets and more information about visiting.
If you’re visiting Nashville with kids, try to spend an afternoon at the Nashville Zoo. Home to around 3,000 animals, the zoo is a favorite attraction for kids and parents alike. The zoo is attached to an old family farm, now serving as a museum. Besides interacting with animals, you can tour the farm and learn about its history.
At the Nashville Zoo, visitors can also check out regularly organized lectures and summer camps. With its diverse experiences and activities, the zoo offers plenty of adventure for families—kids and adults alike!
Johnny Cash Museum
Want to pay tribute to one of the true legends of the country music scene? Pop into the Johnny Cash Museum. The popular museum is located one block south of Lower Broad in the hip SoBro neighborhood and tops the list of what to see in Nashville for country music lovers.
The Johnny Cash Museum displays his entire story in a collection of pictures, posters, records, and other artifacts. Guests will also find a section of the museum dedicated to Sun Records, the famed Memphis record label. Not only did Sun Records launch Cash’s career, but that of countless other music legends like Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the King himself: Elvis Presley.
Spend time listening to little-heard demo samples to gain a greater appreciation of Cash’s musical roots. You can also enjoy his songs covered by an authentic country band live in the museum’s café.
For those who love to collect souvenirs, the museum’s gift shop offers plenty of Johnny Cash memorabilia. Be sure to snap a picture with the star’s life-sized cardboard cutout for your Instagram feed!
Visiting Nashville with your family? Add Cumberland Park to your trip plans. Sitting on the eastern banks of the Cumberland River, the park is one of the most relaxing spots in the city center.
At Cumberland Park, you can take a stroll along the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to dramatic skyline views. Or get a little exercise on its walking paths or climbing wall.
Between John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and Nissan Stadium, keep on the lookout for Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks, one of the coolest sculptures and street art installations in the city.
On hot summer days, the kids can enjoy a refreshing cool-down at the park’s splash pads. You can also opt to sit on a bench and relax to beautiful river views or visit the park’s butterfly garden.
After nightfall, Cumberland Park often hosts concerts at its outdoor amphitheater. You can also venture across to the downtown side of the river to enjoy Riverfront Park on the western bank. Like Cumberland, the amphitheater at Riverfront Park is a popular venue for outdoor concerts, particularly during Nashville’s high tourism season.
Built up an appetite? Venture a little further into East Nashville. The laid-back and artsy district has become one of the coolest places to live and hang out in the city. Spend some time exploring East Nashville’s trendy restaurants, cafes, and craft breweries before heading back downtown.
Historic RCA Studio B
No tour of Music City is complete without visiting Historic RCA Studio B. The famed recording studio sits on Music Row, the historic heart of Nashville’s music industry that’s home to dozens of record labels, recording studios, and radio stations. The historic studio provides a glimpse into the city’s music scene during some of its most exciting periods and insight into famous artists’ lives and how they produced their greatest hits.
Artists like Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, and the Everly Brothers laid down some of their greatest tracks in the historic Music Row studio. Nowadays, Studio B is both a famous tourist attraction and a classroom for students from the area.
On the studio tour, visitors will learn about music history and the role RCA Victor had in pioneering the Nashville Sound. Aspiring students will meanwhile learn about the science of sound and recording technology.
After your visit, fuel up with a spicy bite to eat at nearby Hattie B’s Hot Chicken Midtown. The famous restaurant serves some of the most delicious Southern food in Tennessee, including its namesake Nashville Hot Chicken.
For country music fans, visiting the Ryman Auditorium is one of the highlights of a trip to Nashville. Visiting the famed theater brings to life over a century’s worth of legendary performances. Standing on its stage, you’ll be in the footsteps of legends like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash.
Book a self-guided tour of the Ryman Auditorium. It’ll roll through the entire history of the building, from its construction to its near demolition to its rebirth. Besides the insight into the Ryman’s story, you’ll also visit five exhibits to peruse genuine historical artifacts.
Located on the campus of Belmont University, Belmont Mansion is one of Nashville’s most impressive historic buildings. Built in a striking Italianate style, the mid-19th-century mansion was built as a summer retreat by Joseph and Adelicia Acklen. The mansion even served temporarily as a Union Army headquarters during the Battle of Nashville.
On a tour of the antebellum home, you’ll marvel at exquisite details like gilded mirrors, Venetian glass windows, artwork, and period furnishings. The historic gardens are also well worth a gander for their elaborate landscaping.
The Belmont Mansion offers guided tours daily. Check out the official website for prices and reservations.
General Jackson Showboat
Looking for evening entertainment beyond downtown? Hopping aboard the General Jackson Showboat is one of the most popular things to do in Nashville, TN. Putting along the Cumberland River since 1985, the showboat is one of America’s biggest and most famous of its kind.
On board the General Jackson Showboat, you’ll enjoy a superb dinner and rockin’ live entertainment to breathtaking views over the Nashville skyline from the river. With its classy Victorian design, it’s the perfect place to get a modern-day experience of the Old South.
Frist Art Museum
Enjoy exploring great art and learning about art history? Give in to both passions at the Frist Art Museum. Located in The Gulch in Downtown Nashville, the art museum has a wide array of exhibitions featuring works from renowned local, regional, national, and international artists.
Every week, The Frist displays a rotating selection of exhibits spanning everything from paintings to photography to sculptures. The exhibitions are even accompanied by live music twice a week.
All the museum’s quirks are contained within a striking Art Deco building dating back to 1932 that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With its 30 interactive art-making stations and educational programs, the Frist Art Museum is the perfect stop for a family vacation, too.
After checking out The Frist, head south into The Gulch. One of Nashville’s coolest neighborhoods, The Gulch has no shortage of interesting destinations on the menu.
Crawl the streets in search of street art and murals, including the famed Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural. Catch fun music performances covering a variety of genres—especially bluegrass!—at The Station Inn, one of the city’s most famous historic music venues. Or dig into its drinking and dining scene with a stop at one of the many trendy restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Tennessee State Capitol
Located in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, the Tennessee State Capitol is one of Nashville’s must-sees landmarks. Known for its impressive architecture, the building features local Tennessee limestone. It’s designed in a simple Neoclassical style and topped with a stunning dome.
If you’d like to learn more about its history, explore the Tennessee State Capitol via an informative guided tour. The tours are held twice daily. To admire its architecture, you can also take a self-guided tour.
After your tour of the Capitol building, save time to visit the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Located next door, the museum honors Nashville’s most famous musicians from every genre.
Need a break from sightseeing? Head a few blocks south of the Capitol to grab a coffee at the Frothy Monkey. The popular local coffee shop serves an array of signature drinks using their own craft-roasted beans.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
If you’re a sports fanatic, don’t miss the chance to revere the state’s most successful sporting figures at the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum is a must-see for sports fans interested in delving into Tennessee’s sporting history.
Honoring over 500 athletes, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame represents every popular sport. Besides the exhibits, kids will also love the chance to dress up as Nashville Predator or a Tennessee Titan.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Bridgestone Arena, home to the Nashville Predators.
Heading east of the Cumberland River, you’ll find one of Nashville’s most important historical quarters. Although sometimes neglected by tourists, East Nashville has grown in popularity in recent years. It’s become of the hippest areas to hang out in the city.
The neighborhood’s graceful Southern architecture hides coffee shops, cafes, vintage stores, and eateries. You’ll also sniff out some of Nashville’s most popular food trucks and craft beer joints.
For the complete East Nashville experience, check out Five Points. Home to hip music venues, bars, street art, and boutiques, it’s one of East Nashville’s coolest areas with something for everyone in your travel group. Visit to explore the city’s burgeoning food scene.
Grand Ole Opry
Famous for its red-barn stage, the Grand Ole Opry in Music Valley is one of the most renowned Nashville tourist attractions. The show offers the best bits of the latest country, folk, gospel, and bluegrass music.
Besides showcasing the South’s greatest music, the Grand Ole Opry also broadcasts skits and comedy routines. You can take a complete stage tour and peek into the performer’s dressing rooms before the entertainment begins. After the performance, treat yourself to dinner at the Opry Back Porch BBQ next door.
If you’ve got more time, drive a little more along Opryland Drive to check out more of Music Valley’s attractions. Whatever your interests, excitement awaits at Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. The resort’s indoor/outdoor waterpark, Soundwaves, makes a good case for families to stay at the resort. The innovative waterpark excites with its pools, lazy river, and water rides.
Nearby Opry Mills is also a great destination for shopaholics. Unload some dough at the massive shopping mall’s upscale shops and factory stores.
Belle Meade Plantation
Located a few miles southwest of the city, Belle Meade Plantation is a beautiful historical site for a great day out of the city. On a day trip to Belle Meade, you’ll tour its 18th- and 19th-century Greek Revival mansion, carriage houses, cabins, and slave quarters.
Take a leisurely stroll around the Belle Meade Plantation or opt for a guided tour to learn more.
SEE ALSO: Top-Rated Day Trips from Nashville
When you’ve had your fill of Victorian architecture, head over to Belle Meade Winery. At the winery, you can unwind with a glass of some of the finest wine from the South.
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
Located southwest of the city, the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is one of the coolest places to see in Nashville. Cheekwood centers around a beautiful Georgian mansion dating back to the 1930s. The historic home now hosts a museum and art galleries with a 7,000-strong permanent collection.
Besides its art museum, the 55-acre estate is also known for the lovely Cheekwood Botanical Garden. If you are looking for calm during your vacation, the garden is a marvelous place to visit.
The Cheekwood Botanical Garden includes the Woodland Sculpture Trail, fringed by four greenhouses. The greenhouses are home to some of the region’s most beautiful camellias and orchids.
Outside, Cheekwood Botanical Garden shows off exquisite botanical species from around the world. In each season, you’ll experience a slightly different arboretum.
After visiting the Cheekwood Estate, walk down to Percy Warner Park. The large public forest teems with hiking trails as well as cycling routes and equestrian paths.
Adventure Science Center
One of the most popular family-friendly attractions in Nashville, Adventure Science Center is a must if you’re visiting with kids. The science center is full of interactive exhibits to keep children of all ages busy. Besides being loads of fun, the adventures will also teach them a thing or two that they wouldn’t learn in class.
While the kids are occupied, you can look around the Adventure Science Center for adult workshops. The science center also features a dazzling planetarium. Most weekends, it even offers yoga classes under the stars!
Located south of the city center in Green Hills, Bluebird Cafe is the area’s most-loved live music venue by locals & tourists. Since its opening in 1982, the legendary music club has hosted many well-known artists. Former famous patrons have included Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks.
Besides established artists, the Bluebird Cafe also features up-and-coming songwriters in an intimate setting. Normally, there are two shows held every night, seven nights a week.
With the Bluebird Cafe’s popularity, reservations are essential. Book your tickets ahead if you want to get your chance to see the next country star in the making.
Radnor Lake State Park
Nashville isn’t short on parks. But if you want to see some of its finest natural wonders, embark on a day trip to Radnor Lake State Park. Located south of the city, the beautiful nature preserve is the perfect place to enjoy a pleasant hike in the country. The park stretches out on over six miles of hiking trails.
Radnor Lake State Park encompasses its beautiful namesake lake and a refreshing wooded area. After enjoying its fresh air and natural beauty, check out the educational displays in the visitor center. They’ll help enlighten you on the park’s native flora and fauna.
Recommended places to stay in Nashville for sightseeing
For most visitors, the best places to stay in Nashville fall within its downtown. The areas around Lower Broad and SoBro (South of Broadway) are favorites for travelers. Staying here will put you within easy reach of many of the city’s top points of interest, including great restaurants and nightlife.
Located close to Broadway, this boutique hotel is one of the finest in downtown. You’ll love the rooms’ crisp modern style.
With its location on Printer’s Alley, this mid-range hotel is perfect for experiencing the city’s nighttime buzz. In its striking Art Deco building, you’ll enjoy six on-site restaurants & bars.
Styled like a grand American hotel, The Hermitage is one of Nashville’s finest luxury hotels. The hotel’s palatial old-world charm is unforgettable.