Honky tonks, hot chicken, cowboy boots, and live music everywhere you look! Nashville is a vibrant place with big city vibes and small town charm. Who would’ve thought? I have to admit, it was never quite on my list of places to visit. Yet, somehow it quickly shot to the top of my list as one of the best cities I’ve ever visited in the United States. With the best in mouthwatering food and desserts, exhilarating live entertainment, and breathtaking city views, you won’t be disappointed when you visit music city. Here’s my guide to the perfect time in Nashville, Tennessee – including activities for couples, friends, and families.
Disclaimer: This guide was written in August 2020 during the global pandemic after a visit in June 2020. Always be sure to check CDC guidelines and attraction reopenings prior to traveling anywhere this season.
Table of Contents
Where To Stay
Let me start by saying one thing: parking in Nashville is atrocious – as with any big city. You’re going to want to shove the car in a parking garage and never take it out again, so staying right in the city within-walking distance of everything is the best advice I can offer you within this entire guide. We stayed at the Hyatt Place downtown, and it was an amazing experience! Friendly staff, a clean room, and a prime location within 5 minutes walking-distance of the hustle and bustle of Broadway.
For while you’re planning: If you’re roadtripping, check out 15 Free Apps Every Traveler Needs to make it easier!
Things to Do: Day 1
Brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe
Between the flavorful Mardi Gras Omelette, sweet hot beignets, and the amazing service from our waitress, Another Broken Egg Cafe far surpassed my egg-spectations (see what I did there?)! It’s southern style brunch was to die for, along with the blackberry mimosa that I quickly downed along with the rest of my meal. You won’t be disappointed!
Views at the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
There’s no shortage of breathtaking skyline and river views at the top of the decades-old John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, built in 1907! This historic pedestrian walkway allows you to catch a glimpse at the entire buzzing downtown area for the perfect picture of all there is to offer in Nashville. I recommend visiting both during the day and at night to see all the lights from the city!
Visit Greece at The Parthenon
Travel to Greece while you’re still stateside at the world’s only full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon. Built in 1897, it was constructed as a part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition to celebrate Tennessee’s 100th-year anniversary of statehood. Although it’s a little trip from downtown, it’s fully worth it as inside there’s a larger-than-life golden Athena statue alongside an extensive art and history exhibit. If you love history and culture, you have to make the trip here! When we visited, it was under construction (hence the mound of dirt in my otherwise perfect photo) – but they’re still allowing visitors inside!
Head out for Drinks at the Bobby Hotel Rooftop
A swanky hotel with a rooftop pool and bar, the Bobby Hotel is a boutique paradise in an unexpected setting. It’s an absolutely STUNNING hotel that I definitely dream to stay at on my next trip to Nashville. Luckily, the hostess was able to finesse a table for us – but be sure to make a reservation in advance. Have a drink next to their quirky Airstream sitting on the rooftop, or overlook the historic 4th avenue.
Try On Cowboy Boots at Boot Country
Is it really a trip to the south if you don’t try on cowboy boots? You gotta do it for the experience! I’ve never seen so many boots in my life as I saw at Boot Country – nor smelled so much leather! I shimmied on a pair of red cowboy boots and they were too cute. Plus, if you’re looking to walk away with a pair: they have buy one get TWO free!
Dinner at Bakersfield
Party at the Honky Tonk Bars
If you told me I’d be line dancing in Nashville and hollering the lyrics to country music songs, I’d probably have laughed. Yet, there I was! Learning dances, rocking out to guitar solos, and serenading my love with the lyrics to country songs while he stared in bewilderment. You have to jump on the honky tonk party scene on Broadway – stat. There’s live music in every bar! Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk was ALWAYS jumping day and night, and The Stage was also one I thoroughly enjoyed.
Things to Do: Day 2
Breakfast at Biscuit Love Gulch
“Biscuits and gravy” is a dish that’s literally synonymous with southern cooking. The Gulch is a small district with shops, murals, and restaurants – including a Nashville favorite, Biscuit Love. Their coffee is amazing, the service is speedy, and you’ll love the flaky honey biscuits they serve!
Take a Self-Guided Street Mural Tour
I’m a sucker for good street art, and Nashville has no shortage of murals to see! On the sides of restaurants, hidden in alleys, boldly painted on garage doors – they are quite literally everywhere. Here‘s where you can find the addresses for the murals in Music City for the perfect, Instagrammable photo opp!
Takeout at Hattie B’s and Picnic at Bicentennial Park
No trip to Nashville is complete without Hattie B‘s famous hot chicken! Just be prepared to fight the crowds and the wait as you try to get your hands on that spicy, mouthwatering goodness. Also, don’t forget to grab an amazing southern-style sugary lemonade as the perfect way to wash it down! We opted for takeout and had a lovely picnic in Bicentennial Park (free admission!) with views of the Capitol Building and the city.
Ride the Nashville Tractor
Get this, you guys. You can get pulled through downtown Nashville and next to Nissan Stadium on a TRACTOR! The Nashville Tractor! With alcohol! Plus, they stop at the Ole Smoky Moonshine factory where you can hop off the tractor and enjoy 30 minutes of free time to roam. We squeezed in a moonshine tasting there, and the blackberry flavor was amazing! The on board DJ gets the party going and takes you through scenic Nashville for an unforgettable experience.
Dinner and Jazz at Printer’s Alley
The historic and world-famous Printer’s Alley is one of the oldest districts in Nashville, having been the center of the publishing industry in the city back in the early 1900s. The street contained restaurants, hotels, and saloons – many of which had become speakeasies during the Prohibition era in the U.S. Today, the alley is filled with the sounds of jazz coming from its many bars. We visited Skull’s Rainbow Room and had amazing shrimp-topped swordfish and cocktails as we were serenaded by a classic jazz duo in a romantic and relaxed setting. For something a little more rowdy, many locals recommended Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar (temporarily closed as of August 20).
Things to Do: Day 3
Make a Detour to Kentucky to Tour Lost River Cave
This may be a Nashville guide, but Kentucky is only an hour away and I had a great experience on the Lost River Cave boat tour! The historic cave is seven miles long, and was used during the Civil War by both Confederate and Union troops at different times in history. In the 1930s, it was turned into an underground nightclub – with over 100 steps down to even gain access! On your way back,
Lunch at Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria
Slim and Husky‘s hot chicken pizza was one of those things I’m sad I can’t get here at home! A beloved Black owned business in the Nashville area, you’re missing out if you don’t stop here for one of their yummy artisan pizzas! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Wine Down at City Winery
Who would’ve thought there’d be a winery smack dab in the city? City Winery in Nashville has a beautiful patio with live music, great tasting wine, and even better crunchy chicken wings to go with it (We ate a lot that day, okay? No judgment!). Be sure to make a reservation if you want to snag an outdoor seat to listen to the artist perform!
Ice Cream at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen
Let me start by saying, we ate Savannah’s Candy Kitchen ice cream at least three times while we were in Nashville. It’s just that good! Plus, it brings back childhood memories of candy, other sweet treats, and watching the toy train circle the store when I was little girl living in Georgia. If you’re an ice cream lover, make a stop here. It’s conveniently located on Broadway alongside all of the excitement!
As you can see, there’s SO MUCH to do in Nashville. Since we were traveling during the pandemic, the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Ryman, and the Johnny Cash Museum were both closed. Although sad we missed those iconic landmarks, we had an amazing time regardless and neither one of us felt like we missed out on anything. If you’re very interested in country music history, you may want to put a pause on your trip until these places open. Regardless, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!