Here was our dilemma before visiting Nashville: we did not like country music. Please don’t judge us! We were born in the Chicago area, and grew up listening to every other kind of music, just not country.
We love the south and we love the people, but we just don’t love country music. We were almost indifferent planning the trip, because we weren’t sure how we were going to feel about Music City.
Nashville is probably our most underestimated city destination to date. I really didn’t know what to expect, maybe something between big belt buckles and honky-tonk heaven.
It was that, plus so much more, including many genres of music, beautiful gardens, historical places, and antebellum plantations. We absolutely adored Nashville.
Nashville Things to Do
Experience Music City (even if you don’t like country music)
Nashville is not just a destination for music, but with that being said, the raw musical talent that emanated from the streets was exhilarating. We walked in and out of bars (with no cover charge, mind you) and the music was unbelievable.
It seemed crazy these musicians didn’t have record deals; they were amazing. They seemed to be doing it just because they loved playing music. What a concept! They actually enjoyed every minute of playing and you could feel it.
I didn’t care that they had a twang. I didn’t care the music they played was music I’ve never heard. It was that good. I was in the moment, enjoying every last string they played. It was magical.
Even though we weren’t there for the music, it tops our list of things to do. Check out one of the many areas that offer free live music:
- Lower Broadway
- The Gulch Neighborhood
- 2nd Avenue
- Demonbreun Street
The Music City Rollin’ Jamboree is one of the most popular tours in Nashville at the moment. It’s a musical sightseeing tour with the inside scoop on Nashville’s biggest stars, filming locations, hot spots, and jokes that will keep you in stitches the entire time. Bring your own drinks and roll through town.
Walk through Opryland Hotel
The Opryland Hotel is a must-see while in Nashville. I’m not sure I’ll be able to explain the existence that is the Opryland, but I’ll try.
It is spectacular: New Orleans-style décor with balconies overlooking their extravagant atrium, classy restaurants, gardens, and a river running through it. The high, translucent roof tricks you into believing you’re outdoors, but it is all tucked inside. It is an oasis for a good time.
We stayed once and loved it, but it is a destination unto itself, so if you are looking to visit the city I would suggest staying closer to downtown.
Visit The Hermitage
President Andrew Jackson’s estate, located northeast of downtown, was very interesting and took half a day to explore. The Hermitage is a wonderfully preserved historical site with slave quarters, gardens, and even Andrew Jackson’s tomb. It was very engaging and we learned quite a bit about him, but also about southern society and life during the antebellum period.
Tip: Free admission for active or retired military.
Taste Local Beer at Yazoo Brewery
Yazoo Brewery, in the Gulch, has a great taproom with all their brews on tap. It’s a very casual atmosphere with locals and tourists alike. I was excited to see they had a hefeweizen, which is my favorite type of beer. They offer $8 tours Wednesday through Saturday which is very popular, so if you’re interested you may want to book online to guarantee a spot.
Wander through Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art was one of our favorite sights in Nashville. The grounds were stunning; filled with many different garden designs, sculptures, trees, plants, and flowers. The estate is not that large so plan for only two or three hours or so for the visit.
Tip: 50% Discount for Active Military
Explore the Belle Meade Plantation
The Belle Meade Plantation is an authentic Southern plantation rich with history. It includes a beautiful Greek-Revival style mansion, gardens, historic buildings, and a winery on the grounds. Free admission for active or retired military.
The plantation is about two miles from the Cheekwood Gardens so you can make a day of it and visit both. Make sure to save some time to drive around the prestigious neighborhood and gawk at all the stunning homes.
The famous Blue Bird Cafe is in the area as well. Now that I am obsessed with the TV show, Nashville, it is on my list of places to go when we go back! I heard the shows sell out quick since it’s such a small venue so plan ahead.
Indulge in the Greek Experience at The Parthenon
Nashville is not only called Music City, but Athens of the South too. Who knew? We had no idea. Nashville has the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon in the world. Again, who knew? It was awesome! Located in Centennial Park, the Parthenon also houses an imposing 42 foot high Athena statue.
Nashville is a wonderful balance of music, culture, and history. We had a great time exploring the area and even warmed up to country music on our visit
What’s your favorite Nashville things to do? Have any other recommendations?
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What a fantastic post. We’ve been through Nashville, but apart from visiting Opreyland hotel, bypassed the city as we’ve not been fans of country music either. Now I want to go back to experience all the great things we missed!
Thanks! We had a wonderful time in Nashville and, like you, hope to return soon.
This is a GREAT blog – we toured the Hermitage, Yazoo Brewery & The Parthenon during our long weekend. If weather had been better, we could have taken in more but very rainy / chilly. We’d also highly recommend bike tour – http://www.greenfleetbikes.com – and if you can, do at beginning of your stay. The owner / guide, Austin was very friendly & had great recommendations. We also took in a show at The Bluebird Café – loved it … But you need to check website & book ahead (usually one week ahead) as its a very small venue. Also check out The Station Inn in The Gulch (reviews in Yelp, etc.). GREAT music – unpretentious – kind of a “dive” bar – folding chairs, only sells beer / soda, but it’s all about the music .
Thank you so much Rose! Glad you like the blog. We will be going to Nashville again at some point and will definitely check out your suggestions. I remember having the Gulch on our list of places to check out, but never got around to it. We love live music! Thanks for reading!
Justin @ Root of Good
Nashville looks like a cool place to visit for a few days or a week (if you do it slow like us). My wife worked there for 3 months and has always wanted to take me (and now the kids) on a visit. Neither of us like country music, or really live music at all. So it’s good to see the non-music oriented parts of the city. All my wife could mention to do in Nashville was visit that awesome hotel with the river through it and eat incredible nachos at Eddie George’s (I love nachos).
We also have the Mammoth Cave on our list for Nashville area. I’m thinking it’s 1-2 hours away but maybe a good side trip from Nashville.
Nashville is a great town. We were so surprised we liked it so much because of the whole country music scene. We haven’t tried Eddie George’s so I’ll put that on my list of things to try for next time. Thanks! We want to visit Mammoth Cave as well. I read about a rails to trail bike path above it that’s supposed to be wonderful as well. Thanks for reading and the good ideas!