Downtown Nashville is where Music City comes to life with plenty of entertainment options and historical sites. Tourists and locals alike make their way downtown to hear live music, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, catch a Predators game at Bridgestone arena, or take in the skyline at one of the city’s many scenic rooftop bars. Read on for our curated list of things to do in downtown Nashville.
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You can find the best nightlife in Downtown Nashville. You’ll find all genres of music pouring onto the streets from restaurants and live music venues. Downtown is a harmonious mix of equal parts whiskey, honky-tonk dancing, and incredible live music.
The oldest honky-tonks are still some of the most popular. Long-standing establishments like Robert’s Western World and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge attract big crowds looking to catch local artists or world-famous touring acts. Enjoy these performances while feasting on the ‘Recession Special’: a fried bologna sandwich, PBR, and a moon pie.
For an exceptional rooftop experience, ACME’S Feed and Seed combines music, cocktails, and unparalleled views. Heading towards the Gulch, you’ll find trendy restaurants and hotel bars where you can dine on oysters and end the night with a live DJ set. One of our favorites is LA Jackson, a rooftop bar at the beloved Thompson Hotel.
Still not ready to call it a night? Why not check out the Dolly Parton themed treasure, the rooftop bar, White Limozeen?
Best Outdoor Activities
Downtown Nashville grants you easy access to all of the green space that Nashville has to offer. Get your nature fix at Riverfront Park, then catch stunning views of the Cumberland River and the downtown skyline from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.
A short drive away from the city in Southern Jackson County is Cummins Falls, one of the most impressive waterfalls. You’ll find locals escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city here. The hike to the basin can be a bit treacherous, but the views are well worth it.
Tip from a local: enjoy these cascading beauties on a weekday when the crowds are sparse.
Summer sports in Nashville are usually based around the nearest body of water. Ask any native, and they’ll tell you the hot months are best survived in a kayak, canoe, or boat. Piercy Priest is Nashville’s largest lake where you can boat to undiscovered islands for a savory picnic with a spectacular backdrop. The Harpeth River, a short 20-minute drive from the center of the city, is the perfect place to enjoy a day of kayaking.
When the Summer months trail away, and the weather turns crisp and cool, Nashville’s array of public parks are a fantastic way to spend the day. Grab lunch from the Nashville’s Farmers’ Market and head to the gorgeous Centennial Park. This expansive 132-acre green space is complete with the backdrop of the iconic Parthenon and a scenic walking trail with stunning views of Lake Watauga.
Nashville is known for its burgeoning food scene, and hot chicken is still the city’s most talked-about local delicacy. Locals and tourists alike will flock to a few favorites to challenge their spice tolerance. Hattie B’s is the most popular, and there are multiple locations throughout the city, which makes it easily accessible as you tour different areas. If you’re feeling brave, Hattie B’s offers a ‘Cluckin’ hot’ that will be sure to kick things up a notch— and maybe even make your eyes water.
Locals will debate endlessly on the best place to try Nashville’s famed hot chicken— but Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, founded in 1945, is credited with popularizing the dish and inspiring many other restaurants to carry similar variations. Most of these places keep their recipes closely guarded, so making a culinary trip just for Nashville’s hot chicken scene is an attraction in its own right.
For something on the lighter side, Nashville has an impressive list of other world-class offerings, many of which can be found in the heart of downtown. Experience Skull’s Rainbow Room, a speakeasy lounge established in the 1940s at the cornerstone of Nashville’s legendary Printer’s Alley. With exceptional food and burlesque performances, this bar makes for a truly memorable evening.
Downtown Nashville is energetic, historical, and bubbling with year-round crowds. Locals and tourists alike indulge in the world-famous music scene— both past and present. With live shows every night and some of the greatest museums in the world, there are plenty of entertainment options downtown.
The acclaimed Country Music Hall of Fame is a must-visit— boasting rotating exhibits and famous traditional instruments. The museum provides a comprehensive history of Country music roots and Nashville artists that have risen to fame over the years.
Another must-see is the Grand Ole Opry, a country music stage originally founded in 1925. Its new home is near the world-class mall, Opry Mills, and a resort with an entire indoor ecosystem, a boat, and a waterfall. The Opry is a huge part of Nashville’s history and is an important presence in country music.
Ryman Auditorium, a premiere live-performance venue located downtown, was previously the home of the Grand Ole Opry. It is a stunning building and the most prestigious place for musicians to play. If you’re unable to snag a ticket to an upcoming show, you can pop in for a tour for a glimpse into this iconic auditorium.
No trip Downtown is complete without basking in the sights of the bustling and well-known Broadway Street. The neon-illuminated buildings are filled with honky-tonks, restaurants, hotel bars, and offers the best people-watching in Nashville. Broadway is where cowboy boots hit the pavement, and music pours out of every establishment. The energy here is palpable, and there is no shortage of fun. Keep heading South of Broadway, and you’ll find a more modern aesthetic in the area known as ‘The Gulch,’ which is outfitted with glamorous buildings and incredible eateries.
Find Your Dream Nashville Apartment
Now that you know the best things to do in downtown Nashville, check out our favorite studio apartments. Need something bigger than a studio? Reach out to AptAmigo to find your dream apartment. All you need to do is tell us your preferences, and we’ll compile a list of buildings you’ll love. Once you’ve chosen your top buildings from the curated list we’ve created, we will schedule a day of tours, be there to ask all the easy-to-forget questions, and even uber you to each apartment. The best part? It’s completely free.
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Taylor Small is a New York transplant now residing in Nashville, TN, with a background in social media, public relations, and marketing. She freelances and runs her own interior plant design business, Oasis Design. On the weekends she can be found riding around in her 1971 Ford searching for the best antique mall or hiking with her dog, Oliver.