Planning a visit to Tennessee's booming capital city? You won’t be short of options for things to do in Nashville.
This vast and dazzling yet warm and welcoming city is known for its rich history, artistic culture, and widely-loved passion for classic country music. Hit up some of the most famous music venues in the world and catch a live show from your favorite performers or explore one of Nashville's many museums.
There are plenty of popular attractions across the city. We'll take you through some of the best places to go in Nashville so you can make your visit one to remember.
The Nashville Parthenon
Immerse yourself into the ancient world when you visit The Parthenon. One of the best places to go in Nashville, this iconic structure is the only to-size replica of the original Parthenon outside of Athens. It came to life during the 1930s for Tennessee’s 100th year as an official state. Playing on its given nickname of the “Athens of the South”, Nashville took the momentous occasion as an opportunity to build the finest Parthenon replica to house great works of art.
The Parthenon boasts rotating exhibits throughout the year, but the most popular are the permanent galleries. The Cowan Collection of American Art features 57 notable American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. As most of the featured artists were members of the National Academy of Design (a reputable association for esteemed artists), their paintings display many prestigious artistic tropes like Impressionism.
Meander down vast halls lined with vivid oil colors and be dazzled by exquisite landscape paintings showcasing different parts of the country. You’ll find iconic pieces of work from the likes of Winslow Homer and George Inness Jr.
Country Music Hall of Fame
Tennessee is known as the hub of country music, and Nashville sits right at the genre’s center. It’s no surprise, then, that the city is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, a museum dedicated solely to its love of string-based tunes. It’s one of the most authentically southern things to do in Nashville, where you can absorb some authentic Tennessee culture and heritage.
There is an entire exhibit that pays homage to two of the country’s most famous musicians – Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Here, you can discover the true impact their music had across the nation during the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War. There are also exhibits dedicated to iconic artists such as Kacey Musgraves and Martina McBride as well as displays that focus on bluegrass music and country music during the 70s.
Make sure you check their events calendar ahead of your visit. The Country Music Hall of Fame often hosts live music events, so you can enjoy a show after exploring the museum.
The Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville holds the seat of political power in the state, and the Tennessee State Capitol is the beacon of electoral power. One of the most notable of Nashville’s attractions, it has been symbolic of the people of Tennessee since 1859.
Even to look at the Capitol beacon from afar is an experience. Designed by William Strickland, a notable architect of the time, the structure is perched atop a hill overlooking the city and is modeled off a Greek Ionic Temple.
Visitors are encouraged to reserve a free-of-charge guided tour ahead of arrival to ensure the best experience. Your tour guide will take you through the museum, which displays unique artifacts such as the musket of Daniel Boone (a famous militia leader) and the Medal of Honor of WWI hero Alvin C. York. You can also find a 13-star US flag, a rare find in modern-day America.
Music lovers should make time to visit Music Row, one of the most cool places in Nashville. A historic district in Downtown, it’s known as the beating heart of Nashville’s music industry. As Dolly Parton famously sang in her hit song Down on Music Row, “if you want to be a star, that’s where you’ve got to go”.
You’ll find the most prominent of Music Row’s venues on 16th and 17th Avenue South. From live music venues, honky-tonk bars, recording studios, and notable record labels, this is where the magic happens. Head to Tin Roof Demonbreun to watch one of the regular live acts with a side of Southern comfort dishes or to Dawg House Saloon to get dancing with the local sports fans.
Casa de Montecristo
Casa de Montecristo is the local cigar lounge in Nashville and is the best place to sample premium-rolled stogies with a few friends. It’s a full-service bar with an expansive drinks selection, so works as the perfect place to celebrate your bachelor party or birthday.
Once inside, take a seat in one of the lounge’s plush armchairs or spacious booths to settle in for a luxurious smoking experience. The staff are experts in all things tobacco, so are happy to guide you through their extensive cigars list. They’ll ask you questions on your flavor preferences and head to the onsite cedarwood humidified lockers to pluck to the perfect puff for you. If you are enjoying a dram while you’re here, they’ll recommend a drink that works well with the cigar of your choice.
The Bluebird Café
Spend a wonderful evening enjoying a live performance of up-and-coming artists at The Bluebird Café, one of the most popular of Nashville’s nightclubs. The venue hosts two shows every night of the week and an Open Mic on Mondays for newly-ambitious musicians.
You’ll find this downtown Nashville attraction just off Hillsboro Pike in the Green Hills neighborhood. Previous shows have featured iconic singers like LeaAnn Rimes and Chris Tompkins, with many of your favorite musicians still regularly returning to Bluebird to perform again. At the very least, you’ll get to see the start of many budding artist's careers before they’re swept up by fame.
While this is a music venue, you can expect to be well fed and watered when they have “café” right there in the name too. If you’re just hoping for some light nibbles to enjoy with a show, you can order baked brie with focaccia or a classic plate of fries. For the more ravenous, we recommend ordering the turkey club sandwich or the loaded Bluebird basket, filled with fried chicken and crispy fries.