Yeehaw!!! If you are a country music fanatic, don’t book another vacation until you have visited Music City, USA! I don’t even care if you don’t like country music, because it is all such great fun anyway! Whether you are coming for a bachelorette party, a concert, or simply just to sight-see, Nashville is boatloads of fun! We had visited Nashville for only 2 days in 2015, but we knew we had to come back for a longer stay! While on our yearlong adventure, we visited a good friend of ours who is currently living here. Here are some must sees and dos when visiting Nashville, TN!
Music City, USA
This city has been dubbed “Music City, USA” and there is no mistaking why it is called that. Walk down Broadway any time of the day, and there will be live music coming from a street performer and inside many of the bars along the way. Even though you will find lots of music throughout the day, the evening is when Broadway really comes alive! To get the most bang for your buck, head to Honky Tonk Central, where there will be music playing on all 3 floors of the establishment! Not only do the bands play country music, but they will also throw in some classic hits and even some pop music to really surprise you. I’m telling you, it is a guaranteed good time, even if you don’t love country music!
Some classic Alan Jackson….
Followed by Blink 182? OK!
Layla’s and Robert’s Western World
A few other classic favorites were Layla’s and Robert’s Western World for some good ‘ol country music and bluegrass! These places have been around forever, and you can see that from inside. These old music venues are filled with original posters from concerts long ago, old license plates as well as other vintage memorabilia and some seriously worn and loved old bar tops.
If you really want a taste of some music history, hit up The Ryman Auditorium, which is one of the original Grand Ole Oprys, with its first show dating back to 1892! Anyone is allowed inside to walk around and see the place, but they also offer guided tours which give you so much information about the facility, the performers who frequented the place, and even access to the dressing rooms. Check out some memorabilia from Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash!
Tootsies Orchid Lounge
Ah! Tootsies! How could I almost forget Tootsies World Famous Orchid Lounge?! This place has to be one of the most famous places on Broadway! This is another music venue with three floors of entertainment and oh so much history! Make your way to the top floor for music, a bar, and an open-air rooftop that gives a great view of the city. This place was purchased in 1960 and has been a legend ever since. Rumor has it, Willie Nelson got his first songwriting job after playing here! We were also told that artists loved coming to Tootsies before, during and after performing at the Ryman!
Nashville Neighborhood Vibes and Food and Drink Options!
If you are looking for some rowdy fun, lots of music, drinking, and tourist traps, Broadway is for you! I can’t say it is for everyone, but I highly encourage everyone to do it at least once! It is like visiting Bourbon Street in New Orleans or Dirty 6th in Austin. You just gotta do it! If you aren’t into participating in the debauchery, I recommend hitting up Broadway during the day. You will still find live music, can shop for some Nashville boots, and get some candy at Savannah Candy Kitchen. As mentioned above, some must see places on Broadway are Tootsies World Famous Orchid Lounge, Honky Tonk Central, Layla’s and Robert’s Western World.
If you are looking to have fun, but want cheaper drinks and food, and less debauchery, hit up mid-town Nashville. There are some great bars and restaurants on Demonbreun St and Division St, including Tin Roof, Two Bits, Red Door Saloon and Hattie B’s famous hot chicken. This is a hot spot, because it is not as touristy, but has a young vibe because it is right near Vanderbilt University.
If you love pizza and beer like I do (I mean….who doesn’t?!) then you must check out Tailgate Brewery on Music Row! Not only do they have a great variety of their own beer on tap, but they also have excellent pizza! Our friend encouraged us to try the sriracha chicken pizza, which did not disappoint. This was definitely not your traditional style pizza by any means, but it paired perfectly with their colorful beer selection as well! The service was also wonderful. The bartenders were very knowledgeable about the beers, were open to letting us try a few before deciding, and were very attentive to our needs. We came here twice, because I found an unbeatable Groupon deal that included a 16” pie and 2 beers! So good.
Peg Leg Porker
On our first visit to Nashville, we stayed in what’s called The Gulch. This area is within walking distance of Broadway, but it is much quieter. There are several smaller restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries over here. Peg Leg Porker was a BBQ joint within walking distance from our hotel on our first visit to Nashville! This is your traditional BBQ spot, where you wait in line, order your food, and then hopefully find a seat to eat! We were invited to sit at a larger table with people we didn’t know, which was so nice! I now know why people from the south think people from New England are jerks….because we are…well compared to many people in the south! This was probably some of the best BBQ we have had in recent memory, though we did love Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix and Terry Blacks in Austin. Nashville is known for their famous hot chicken, so naturally we had to get it!
Right outside the Gulch you can easily walk to several breweries including Yazoo, Jackalope, and Tennessee Beer Works, but on our most recent trip, we found New Heights Brewery. This was a fairly small place, but off the beaten path. We actually walked from our hotel, which was not a short walk, but that was fine with us. We earned our beer that night! They had a great selection of beer, and the girl I sat next to pointed out her favorites. They had ample seating inside, but there were also picnic tables and a food truck outside. We had more stops planned for the night so we did not stay long, but enjoyed our visit!
We had the pleasure of staying at a fantastic Airbnb located in East Nashville. We ended up here because our first Airbnb, about 25 mins out of the city, reeked of cigarette smoke! YUCK! The host, April, was so accommodating, and after we cancelled the first one, she let us check into her place right away which was just great. This is a much quieter part of the city, but it has so much charm! This neighborhood has been and is going through some serious gentrification. They have taken old homes and restored them into such cute properties, with some coffee shops, bars, and restaurants sprinkled through! I really enjoyed staying in this part of the city. If you find yourself over here, you must hit up Duke’s for a fantastic happy hour special that is available Mon-Fri noon-8pm, as well as a killer deal that is available all the time! The “Patriot” is a mug of Coors banquet with a shot of Four Roses bourbon or the “Federale” which is a can of Tecate and a shot of Sauza Silver…for only $6! Such a great deal!
Hattie B’s is probably the most well-known spot for a hot chicken sandwich, but the few times we tried going, they had already closed. Poor planning on our part. Since we were staying in East Nashville, we decided on Pepperfire instead and we were not let down! When you order your chicken, you have 7 heat levels to choose from, starting from no heat up to X Hot and XX Hot which they claim will “jump on you and won’t let go!” All the chicken dinners come with 2 sides and pickles, and are very filling for a reasonable price. Be sure to get more so you can have left overs!
Five Points Pizza
In the Five Points area of East Nashville was an awesome pizzeria called…drum roll please… Five Points Pizza! I don’t discriminate against pizza, as all pizza is delicious, but let’s face it, we all know the best pizza comes from New Haven, CT! We hadn’t had any good pizza that reminded us of home in a long time, but we gave this place a chance and were not let down! They had really great, New York style pizza, that was thin crust, but still had a level of crunch that I desire. At this spot, you can go in the left side of the restaurant for a sit-down meal, or simply go next door for a slice or two! We ended up coming here twice because we really enjoyed their pizza.
I’m certain I’m only scratching the surface here, but these were the sporting events we participated in! We were lucky enough to be in Nashville when the Predators were playing the last game to determine whether they would be in the Stanley Cup finals. The Bridgestone Arena set up an awesome viewing party on the green right next to the arena for more fans to get in on the fun. They had food trucks and beer vendors set up for everyone, as well as a big viewing screen. It was almost as fun as being at the game! They ended up winning, which was so exciting!!!
CrossFit Regional Games
Our trip has been filled with so many coincidental events, where we happened to be in the right place at the right time. One of them being the CrossFit Regional Games, happening in Nashville, TN while we were there! We got tickets to the second day, which was really exciting! It was awesome getting to see Rich Froning and his team, CrossFit Mayhem compete and win their way to the Games, as well as superstars like Sara Sigmundsdóttir, Scott Panchick, and Sam Dancer.
Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Shelby Park
Even though we had a lot of fun partying in Nashville, TN, we also made sure to get outside for some walks and runs. Shelby Bottoms Greenway was about a mile from our Airbnb which was perfect! We went for the Greenway trail, but this is also a huge park! On our drive in, we saw playing fields, people fishing and walking around the pond, and playing with their dogs on the green. The Greenway is a 5-mile paved trail that runs along Cumberland River.
It also has 5 miles of primitive paths as well which allows you to explore nature a bit more. We saw many walkers, runners, and cyclists. The best thing, in my opinion, was that they had the Nashville B-Cycle bikes for rent right on the path! What better way to encourage fitness than that? There were also strategic water fountains along the way, playgrounds, and a Nature Center which looked really interesting!
Another outdoor activity I highly recommend is visiting Centennial Park near Vanderbilt! There is a life-sized replica of the Parthenon here! It seemed really strange to me, but it is just one of those must-see places here! Inside the Parthenon is Nashville’s Art Museum, which we did not get to see, since we visited after they had closed, but we hear it is great! At Centennial Park, there is a nice set of paths throughout the park to get a nice walk or jog in. We also brought our fitness bands in for an interval workout that I included in my book, The Female Vagabond’s Guide for Staying Fit on the Road. We did this workout right next to a stage, where they hold concerts and other performances throughout the year.
There is so much more to see in Nashville, and this guide is only just the beginning. I normally only write about places that I have personally experiences myself, to be fair to the locations and my readers. We did not have a chance to visit the following places, but I highly recommend going to see them, as we have heard so much great feedback about them! So try not to miss the Johnny Cash Museum, The Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Hall of Fame!