Nashville is one of those cities where you think you know what to expect but you get there and it’s totally different. Not necessarily in a bad way though. For starters, it is way more touristy than I thought it would be. Like all those smoke filled honky-tonks where everyone goes to drink their heartbreaks away in all those country songs. Yep. Good luck finding one of those. And music row is the furthest thing from the main attraction. Still Nashville is a great place to visit.
One thing about Nashville is that it is all spread out so when it comes to exploring, it’s best to do it by neighborhoods as they are all like 20-30 minute apart.
While there is a ton of stuff to do in Nashville, here are our 10 favorites.
1. Drive down music row
Ok, I know this is cliche but…you can’t go to Nashville without driving down music row!!! Seriously. Country music is what Nashville is known for. Aside from the statues of guitars and other instruments, it surprisingly seems like a normal neighborhood. It isn’t built up with coffee shops and restaurants like you would think. And surprisingly, other than the big record companies like Sony or RCA, a lot of the business on music row are in houses. Everyday normal houses. Houses like you and I live in. Nothing special. Isn’t that neat?
2. Visit Broadway and the honky-tonks
If you are looking for a party, Broadway is where you will find it. As a matter of fact you will find all the parties you want. The whole street is made up of honky-tonks, not the ones you hear about in country songs, but new-age honky-tonks. Kind of like your LA nightclubs. They all offer live music, food, and all the drinks you can handle. A little tip for you: go early as almost every one of them have a long line to get in after 9 or 10 at night.
3. The Nashville Zoo
A zoo is probably the last thing you think about when you think about Nashville but it is definitely worth the thought. While The Nashville Zoo offers all the things you would expect at a zoo, it goes far beyond your expectations. The coolest thing ever is their Kangaroo Kickabout. You can literally walk through the Kangaroo exhibit and pet them. Yes, you can pet a Kangaroo!! Is there anything better?? Ok..maybe I’m a little obsessed with kangaroos but hey, that’s not something you get to do every day. They also offer a zipline ride with great views of the entire park. As of the spring of 2019, they have a new tiger exhibit that’s worth checking out as well.
4. Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
A nice quiet stroll through the gardens at Cheekwood will give you a much needed break from the crowds and live music on Broadway. They are beautiful any time of the year, but the colors in the spring and summer are simply stunning. More than just gardens, the grounds also house a beautiful 19th Century mansion once owned by Tennessee’s Cheek Family that you can walk through and marvel at the beauty.
5. Belle Meade Plantation
Belle Meade was once the premiere plantation for boarding, breeding, and training thoroughbred horses back when the thoroughbred racing movement was moving west. Though it is no longer a working plantation, you can still see thoroughbred horses when you visit. They have also added a homemade ice cream shop, a winery, and an ice room for bourbon tastings.
6. Country Music Hall of Fame
If you are a country music fan at all, you have to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. It houses instruments, clothes, and other artifacts once owned by all of our favorite stars.
7. Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is a lot like the Country Music Hall of Fame. Are you really a country music fan if you go to Nashville without visiting the Grand Ole Opry? You can listen to it on the radio or watch it on TV, but nothing compares to watching the historical show in person. You can even get a backstage tour!
8. Visit Manuels
Manuel is who all the celebrities go to when they need custom suits (think Porter Wagner type suits). Everything he makes is one of a kind and completely handmade. Unless you are super wealthy, you probably won’t be able to buy anything he has designed but a walk through his shop is still worth it. The pieces really are phenomenal.
9. Burger Republic
Burger Republic has the best burger in America. No..really..they do. Burger Republic topped the list of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Burgers in America. The restaurant is located in the Gulch neighborhood. The Gulch is the best place in Nashville, in my personal opinion, for shopping. Shopping and burgers. It’s the perfect afternoon, right?
10. Visit Franklin
So, if you know anything about me, you know that I love a good day trip. And Franklin? Well, that’s a good day trip! It’s only a 30 minute drive outside of Nashville and it’s downtown is the definition of a charming downtown. Rumor has it, Franklin is where the majority of the celebrity sightings are found, but you didn’t hear that from me. If you do happen to venture in to Franklin, be sure to make time for dinner at Gray’s. You won’t regret it.