Also known as “Music City”; Nashville is the home of country music, the creators of hot chicken, and a famous men’s restroom. The capital city of Tennessee offers visitors a chance to dive deep in the country music scene, catch some blues in a hidden ally or whittle the afternoon away at a local winery. Come to Nashville to watch famous performers on the big stage, catch a glimpse of the infamous Bluebird Cafe where songwriters come together and sample Tennessee’s finest whiskey. With its never-ending supply of restaurants, entertainment and people watching; Nashville isn’t just for country music lovers. Spend some time exploring this city and make sure to include these top 10 things to see and do in this wonderful city.
1. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame
In the heart of Downtown Nashville sits an iconic structure, home to country music since 1967. The Country Music Hall of Fame is one of the most visited attractions in Nashville and is the first thing we recommend visiting. The museum is home to interactive touch screen displays, live performances, historic country video clips, photos, and artifacts. Spend a few hours to really discover the history of country music and how far it has come. Take in the Wall of Fame and gold records, listen to the audio tour and explore three floors of an incredible architectural building. Visit the souvenir shop, dine at the attached restaurant or simply spend your entire day immersed in country music. Country music lover or not; the Hall of Fame begs to be explored.
2. Visit the Men’s Restroom at the Hermitage Hotel
The men’s washroom at the Hermitage Hotel isn’t strictly for men anymore. Due to popular demand, this washroom has been opened to allow both men and women to have a peek inside. What makes it so special you might ask? Opened in 1910 this art-deco restroom is walled with leaded glass tiles in green and black, authentic terrazzo floors, and lime green fixtures. To complete the restroom, there is an actual two-seat shoeshine station in gleaming black. While you are in the historic Hermitage Hotel make sure to pay a visit to the Oak Bar where you can grab a drink from the well-stocked bar and admire the beautiful historic lobby and architecture of the hotel. Make sure to snap some photos of this iconic hotel and restroom.
3. Take in a Show at the Grand Ole Opry
Offering one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences is what the Grand Ole Opry is famous for. You will find everyone from old-timers to big star names to up and coming stars performing here. With a seating capacity of 5,000 and not a bad seat in the house; you will spend two hours singling along to some of the country’s greatest artists. For an extra special experience make sure to book the backstage tour where you’ll get to see the dressing rooms, how the performers enter the Opry, and even get to stand on stage and get your picture taken. Stick around after the performance and grab an autograph from one of many stars. A word to the wise is to book in advance for front row seats and backstage tours. This is one performance you don’t want to miss while you’re in Nashville.
4. Printers Alley
Step out of Nashville’s honky-tonk scene and into a historic district best described as artsy and electric. We suggest visiting at night where the bars come alive with blues and the hipsters come to hideaway from the tourists that often crowd the bar scene in downtown Nashville. You’ll find some interesting architecture and history on this street so make sure to read up on it before you visit to get the most out of it. Visit Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Printers Alley to experience some true blues, terrific atmosphere, and fantastic service. This bar fills up quickly so make a reservation or go early, but don’t skip out on this place; it’s well worth the visit. If karaoke is your thing, choose from one of many karaoke bars including “Naked Karaoke” or grab an outdoor table at the end of the alley and listen to the sounds drifting out from the bars. Step back onto a street that was once home to a thriving publishing industry.
5. Blaze the Tennessee Whiskey Trail
Whiskey drinker or not; you cannot go to Tennessee without visiting at least one or two distilleries. With two distilleries located right in the heart of Nashville; Baeachtree Distillery and Consair Artisan; it has never been easier to learn a little about traditional Tennessee Whiskey. If two are not enough for you; head outside the city center where loads more await you. Visit the famous Jack Daniels distillery which is the world’s top-selling whiskey and get your own personal bottle of Jack Daniels engraved at the store. Or, join up with a whiskey tour and let the tour operators take you to multiple distilleries in one day; leaving the driving up to them. Explore the quaint towns that you travel through with picturesque landscapes, antique shops, and excellent dining. Most importantly don’t forget to sample that amazing Tennessee whiskey!
6. Bluebird Cafe
The legendary Bluebird Cafe is your next stop in Nashville. But don’t leave buying your tickets to the last minute. Tickets go on sale every Monday and sell out within five minutes; so get your computer ready and get them fast. Wondering what’s so special about the Bluebird Cafe? Tucked away in a small strip mall with an even tinier parking lot, sits a legendary venue that has given some of country music’s biggest stars their start. Stars such as Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, and Garth Brooks were first discovered in this very venue. Described as a listening room; the Bluebird provides a space for the “heroes behind the hits” to showcase their music. Songwriters come together to perform their own songs with others accompanying them with instruments and harmony. Raw emotion, deep feelings and a chance to hear the greatest songwriters out of Nashville come together; the Bluebird is a legendary stop in Nashville.
Taking a break from all this country music our next stop takes you to something right out of Greece. The only full-size replica of the Parthenon in the world sits right here in Nashville. Included in the Parthenon is a replica gold statue of Athena, an art gallery and the story of how it came to be in Nashville. Take a few hours and self-guide yourself through the Parthenon stopping to admire the enormous bronze doors to the main room and the details of the architecture. Bring your camera along for some photos of the outside grounds and upper level; no photography is permitted on the lower level in the art gallery though. Roam the park outside the Parthenon and you may get lucky and stumble across one of many music festivals that run throughout the year. Learn why Nashville is often called the “Athens of the South” and discover an impressive piece of history.
8. Belle Meade Plantation Tour
What is a trip to the south without a plantation tour? Head to the historic Belle Meade Plantation to understand what life was like in the 1800s. Home to some of the most affluent families in Tennessee; this mansion and grounds are truly breathtaking. Discover the stables where the most successful breeding programs in the State took place at that time. Stroll through the mansion and admire the preserved artifacts that are in pristine condition. Hear the history behind the families that lived on these grounds from knowledgeable tour guides that often have a touch of quirky humor. Finish off your tour with a free wine tasting from their vineyards; trust us you don’t want to miss out on this wine. Speaking of wine; our next stop in Nashville just happens to be a vineyard.
9. Arrington Vineyards
Nestled in the rolling hills 25 miles south of Nashville sits a winery so serene and calm you will feel at home as soon as you enter. Log cabin-like buildings set the presence of the vineyard with a roaring fireplace upon entering. Visitors of the vineyard are encouraged to bring a picnic with them to enjoy outside on the picnic tables set amongst the winery. There are many options for wine sampling at Arrington. Sample a multitude of wines with an associate who will tell you more about each one, take a wine sampler “to go” and enjoy the experience outdoors with full tasting notes or sign up for a premier experience that will take you throughout the winery and explain the full process from start to finish. Anything you choose to do, Arrington Vineyards gets an A+ rating from us.
10. Try Hot Chicken
Home to the birthplace of “hot chicken” you best not leave Nashville until you’ve tried this infamous dish. Pan-fried chicken that has been battered in buttermilk and coated in a heavy spiced sauce atop a piece of white bread topped with pickle chips makes this dish fairly unique. If spicy food is what you are after; look no further. The original home of hot chicken is Prince’s Hot Chicken; named after the original establishment serving this dish all the way back to the 1930s from a shack in a Nashville strip mall. Another big contender in the hot chicken race is Hattie B’s; a similar spice lover’s paradise. Whichever location you choose to eat your hot chicken from; be warned the spice level is no joke and the delicious factor is out of this world.
11. Tour United Record Pressing
Pressing vinyl records since 1949, United Record Pressing has included clients such as Motown and Vee-Jay Records (pressing The Beatles 7″). Its current home on Chestnut Street includes a very unique Motown Suite; an apartment that sits above the factory. The Motown Suite was used in the 1960s for African American run companies that were not often welcomed anywhere else. Every Friday United Record Pressing offers a tour of the factory. Arrive early to ensure your space and have a chance to visit the infamous Motown Suite, watch actual records being produced and learn the history behind vinyl. If there is one way to wrap up your time in Nashville it’s visiting this hidden gem and learn more about vinyl than you ever thought possible.