02/ 28/ 23

15 fun and unique things to do in Nashville, Tennessee

15 fun and unique things to do in Nashville, Tennessee

15 fun and unique things to do in Nashville, Tennessee

From home of hot chicken to a sculpture trail through the forest.

Neon signs on Lower Broadway in Nashville, TN
Image: Nina Dietzel/Getty Images

A memorable trip to Nashville, TN, should always be a blend of music, museums, local shops, and repeat visits to the paradise that is Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Below, we’ve rounded up these experiences and more to help you make the most of your time in Music City, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a regular looking for new weeknight adventure.

1. Light your taste buds on fire with hot chicken

Prince’s Hot Chicken
Prince’s Hot Chicken 
Image: Richard L/Tripadvisor

Hot chicken isn’t Nashville’s only food claim to fame (see also: Goo Goo Clusters), but it’s certainly the spiciest. Try the original version at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, which opened in 1945, and you’ll understand why everyone from Beyoncé to the James Beard Foundation agrees that Nashville hot chicken is worth the burn. Like most hot chicken purveyors, the restaurant offers a range of spiciness—from plain and lite mild to XXX hot—so everyone can get in on the action.

If you're looking to make a Hot Ones–style itinerary out of it and taste the range of fiery options available in Nashville, pack some antacid and head to Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish for a hot fish sandwich, Granddaddy’s Famous Hot Chicken just outside of the city for a hot chicken loaded baked potato, and Chauhan Ale and Masala House for hot chicken pakoras.

2. Experience the Grand Ole Opry

You don’t have to be a country music fan to have fun at the world-famous Grand Ole Opry. The beauty of the shows here is that there’s enough variety between acts to keep things interesting, and the crowd is always wild with excitement. For a behind-the-scenes look Opry, including an on-stag and a chance to meet the artists, book the thrilling backstage VIP tour.

3. Explore the rooftop bar scene in Downtown Nashville

The rooftop at White Limozeen
The rooftop at White Limozeen
Image: Navigator58391142573/Tripadvisor

There are more rooftops in Downtown Nashville than you could ever visit in a single weekend getaway, so focus on the standouts. The laid-back rooftop bar at the Bobby Hotel features seating in a 1956 retrofitted Greyhound bus and live music on the weekends, while White Limozeen at the Graduate hotel is a hot-pink, Dolly Parton fantasy come to life, with frozen cocktails and Champagne Jell-O shots. If you’re in the mood for major views, head to Acme Feed & Seed on Broadway, which overlooks the Cumberland River and downtown.

4. Deep-dive into Black music history

A newcomer to Nashville’s already-strong museum scene, the National Museum of African American Music celebrates 400 years of Black music history and influence. Covering blues, jazz, gospel, pop, hip hop, and beyond, this museum takes visitors on an educational—and emotional—journey through artifacts and sound.

5. Find art in the forest at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens covers 55 acres of lush terrain and includes a meandering sculpture trail through the forest. A couple of highlights along the way include the whimsical Crawling Lady Hare by Sophie Ryder and an early James Turrell Skyspace.

6. See the best of the best at the Country Music Hall of Fame

View from the top floor of the Country Music Hall of Fame
View from the top floor of the Country Music Hall of Fame
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

No need to be a music buff to enjoy the larger-than-life experience that is the Country Music Hall of Fame. Spanning a full city block and three levels of exhibition space, this popular museum displays famous footage, original costumes, instruments, sound recordings, and thousands of photos that pay homage to the history of country music. Don’t miss the Hall of Fame rotunda, lined with bronze plaques of country music’s greatest stars, and if you have time to visit Elvis’s favorite recording studio, take the RCA Studio B tour. The Johnny Cash Museum and Patsy Cline Museum—both located in the same building in Nashville's SoBro neighborhood—are also worth seeing.

7. Unleash your creative side at the Frist Art Museum

Exterior of the Frist Art Museum in Nashville
The Frist Art Museum in Nashville
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Dedicated to high-quality exhibits with related educational programs, the Frist Art Museum is a great place to learn about art. After seeing a show, visitors of all ages can head to the Martin ArtQuest Gallery to try their hand at art-making activities like drawing, animation, printmaking, painting, and more. Stay at the nearby 21c Museum Hotel for some further inspiration.

8. Party the night away at The Dive Motel

The Dive Motel isn’t just a pretty place to rest your head under kitschy wallpaper, though you can do that if you need a break. It’s also a seriously good time—every guest room comes with a custom party switch that activates a disco ball and dancing music. If you end up staying elsewhere, know that the hotel hosts regular events like comedy shows and dance parties with live DJs. The pool is also open to the public from 5 p.m. until sundown every day for just $10.

9. Shop for vinyl at Third Man Records

Large selection of records at Vinyl Tap
Selection of records at Vinyl Tap
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

A trip to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without some record shopping. Jack White’s Third Man Records is a popular record and gear shop, but for a more local vibe, try Grimey’s, The Groove, and Vinyl Tap (where you can sip brews while you shop).

10. Learn to line dance…

Line dancing isn’t something everyone just picks up at the local honky tonk, so take a lesson at Whiskey Bent Saloon. If all you’ve got is two left feet, you’ll still have fun exploring this country-western dance style.

11. …then show off your moves along the Honky Tonk Highway

Rumored to be where Willie Nelson got his start, Lower Broadway is home to so many rowdy dancing-and-drinking spots that it’s known as the Honky Tonk Highway. The live music venues here stay open late, so you can literally dance the night away—just don’t forget to tip the band and bartenders. We have a whole guide to Broadway's best bars, so you'll be well prepared for the can't-miss spots.

12. Support small businesses in 12 South

Flower truck at White’s Mercantile
Flower truck at White’s Mercantile 
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Nashville’s 12 South neighborhood is known for its boutique and specialty shops. Hit Imogene + Willie for perfectly tailored jeans, White’s Mercantile for home decor, Draper James for stylish women’s clothing from Reese Witherspoon, and Emerson Grace for womenswear by local designers.

13. See a show at the Ryman Auditorium

What do Blondie, Father John Misty, Charli XCX, and comedian Celeste Barber have in common? They’ve all performed at Nashville’s famous Ryman Auditorium. The historic venue is known to music lovers as the place where Johnny Cash met June Carter, but to locals, it’s the most spiritual music hall in town. Check the calendar for your favorite acts, and be sure to take a self-guided backstage tour to peruse old concert posters from Hatch Show Print or to lay down a track of your own in the recording booth.

14. Eat your way through The Gulch

Ribs and sides at Peg Leg Porker’s Barbecue
Ribs and sides at Peg Leg Porker’s Barbecue 
Image: i_therefo re_conclude/Tripadvisor

Several Nashville neighborhoods are packed with award-winning restaurants, but The Gulch in particular is very walkable, making it easy to hop from delicious place to delicious place. Start at casual breweries like Hops & Crafts and Yazoo Brewing Company, then soak up the suds at barbecue joint Peg Leg Porker or tasting-menu spot The Chef & I. End your tour—and your night—at nearby luxury hotel the Thompson Nashville.

15. Spend an afternoon in autophile heaven

Home to the largest collection of European cars and motorcycles in the U.S., the Lane Motor Museum is a must-visit for petrolheads. From amphibious cars from the ’60s to early Harley Davidson models, there’s plenty to explore throughout the museum. Plus, there’s a kid-friendly play area to keep little ones entertained while you nerd out.

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