Are you getting ready to visit Nashville for business, pleasure, or just another stop on your way to someplace else? Do you have a day to kill in Nashville and don’t just want to spend it watching old movies on the hotel television? We’ve got you covered.
Check out this list for some ideas on how to spend 24 hours in Nashville in the most exciting or relaxing (your choice) way possible.
Visit the Church of Country Music
Any fan of Country, Western, or Country-Western music has to make pilgrimage to Ryman Auditorium when in Nashville. Nashville is called the “Music City” for a reason, and a big part of that reason is the Ryman Auditorium, also called the “Mother Church of Country Music.”
You might know it by its more famous name, the “Grand ‘Ole Opry House.” That’s right, the Ryman was the home of the longest running radio broadcast in the history of the United States.
The Ryman stage has scraped the boots of Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks, Minnie Pearl, Reba-needs no last name-McEntire, Blake Shelton, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley, just to name a few.
If you like Southern music and you’re in Nashville, you owe yourself a trip to the Ryman Auditorium.
Dine on the Finest Nashville Cuisine
Stay out of the airport Chilis, steer clear of the thousandth McDonalds to cross your path – if you’re in Nashville, you’re in the center of culture, music, and food for the entire region.
If you’ve only got one meal to spend in Nashville, spend it in one of these popular spots.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Can’t write about Nashville without hitting a little BBQ. Martin’s is a classic BBQ joint with long picnic tables, standing tables, and a bar. Paper towels come in buckets, as do the drinks and the beers. With several locations around Nashville, Martin’s is easy to get to and even easier to recommend.
Try the pulled pork sandwich or a redneck taco – cornbread cake topped with the BBQ meat of your choice. Mmm – Mmm – Good!
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
The original Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack can only be found right here in Nashville, so if you’re a sucker for hot chicken, this is the place for you.
You’re not doing it right if you’re not scorching your tongue, which means it would be wise to get some potato salad on the side to cool your soon-to-be volcanic mouth. And don’t forget the pickles! Hot chicken without pickles is like beer without more beer – unthinkable!
Rolf & Daughters
If you’re looking for something a little more left of center, check out Rolf & Daughters. Rolf & Daughters specializes in turning fancy cuisine into comfort peasant food, and is the spot for diners who want something a little different.
If you’re sliding through Nashville for only a day, I recommend either the heritage pork or the spaghetti alla chitarra.
See the Parthenon Without Leaving the Country
For history buffs and architecture nerds alike, the Parthenon recreation in Centennial Park has to be seen to be believed.
Located in Nashville’s Centennial Park, this Parthenon is an exact 1-for-1 replica of the Parthenon in Athens, at least on the outside. The interior is slightly different, however, because it houses Nashville’s art museum. So, you can add “art aficionados” to the group of people who need to swing by the Parthenon while they’re in Nashville.
The Parthenon even has a 40-foot statue of Athena, goddess of warfare and wisdom, just like the original Parthenon did.
Take a Stroll Down Printer’s Alley
Also called “the District,” Printer’s Alley is a tiny slice of downtown Nashville that is packed to the gills with nightclubs, honky tonks, and jazz clubs for any would-be partier looking to soak up the nightlife.
Bourbon Street Blues will crank the tunes with live bands every night, while the Skulls Rainbow Room dishes up gourmet food and specialty cocktails for a classier experience. Hit the Fleet Street Pub for a bit of English pub food and some football on the telly, or grab an earful of local bands and a handful of craft beer at Alley Taps.
A Lesson in Civil Warfare
As you may or may not know, Nashville was the site of the “Battle of Nashville” in December of 1864. The Battle of Nashville is considered to be one of the biggest victories the Union Army had during the war. In fact, after the battle of Nashville, the Army of Tennessee was so devastated that is was no longer considered an effective fighting force for the remainder of the war.
There are walking and driving tours of the Battle of Nashville that will provide you a map and guide you through the entire dramatic event. Begin at Brookemead Park, where the Confederate artillery held off an attack by Union gunboats, all the way to the Peach Orchard Hill, where General S.E. Lee was finally dislodged by six regiments of Black troops, which is also the largest single offensive by Black troops anywhere in the war.
You’ll visit the buildings, houses, and churches that were used as observation posts, headquarters, and hospitals, all while learning the fascinating story of this devastating urban battle.
Nashville’s Isn’t Called the Music City for No Reason
No trip to Nashville is complete without a visit to Broadway. Not the Broadway with Cats, Hamilton, and Rent…No, this is Nashville’s Broadway, the hottest spot for music in the entire city.
When it comes to honky tonks, you can’t go wrong with Robert’s Western World. Grab a drink and listen to a band who may or may not end up on your radio someday. Known as “Nashville’s Home of Traditional Country Music,” there are worse ways to spend a night on Lower Broadway.
Hit up the Country Music Hall of Fame for a brief history lesson on the greats. Take a group tour or wander alone, but whatever you do, don’t miss the exhibition of historic musical instruments and artifacts from the most famous country musicians in the world. Ever wanted to see Johnny Cash’s iconic black suit, Earl Scrugg’s banjo, or Patsy Cline’s cocktail dress? Well, you can see it here.
Another honky tonk of some repute, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge has been quenching the thirst of musicians and fans since the 1960s. Scrunched up right behind the Ryman Auditorium, Tootsie’s couldn’t be closer to the beating heart of country music in Nashville.
Ride a Horse, Save a Cowboy
Can’t leave Nashville without slapping on a cowboy hat and jumping into the saddle, can you? Don’t miss this opportunity to cross horse riding off your bucket list.
You can rent horses at the Warner Parks and a few other places around the city and ride the trails. Six-gun not provided, and probably illegal, but no one is going to stop you from pretending you’ve got a Colt Peacemaker on your hip and a deadly bandito on your trail.
You can also hike through Warner Parks, and it’s all-around a lovely spot to spend an afternoon.
Drink Wine at the Historic Belle Meade Plantation
The Belle Meade Plantation is over 220 years old and began as little more than a tiny cabin and a wide spread of land. These days, it’s a massive winery and museum paying homage to Nashville and equestrian history.
You can shop and take tours, of course, but you can also spend an afternoon or evening trying out the bevy of wines made on the premises. Red wines like the American Legend or the Big Win Zin were favorites with my group, as were white wines like the Race Day White and the Celebration Riesling.
Enjoy the sprawling estates and the tasty wine while soaking up a truly historic and beautiful landscape.
Why Limit Yourself? See it All!
Even if you’ve only got 100 minutes to spare, you can see a little bit of everything in Nashville with a live walking tour.
Instead of sinking all of your time into one spot, a walking tour gives you a well-rounded education on the city. It’s also a good place to start to get an idea of where you want to go next, like a tasting menu.
Check out the aptly named “Really Entertaining Tours” website for more info on these kinds of guided tours.
Waste No Time in Nashville
Why sit on a hotel balcony reading the same social media feed when you can use your time more wisely and learn something about a new city?
Nashville is bursting with music and culture, and if you get down into the streets you can find a good time wherever you go. The map on your phone will save you from getting lost, and hopefully this list can save you from wasting a night.
So, get your walking shoes on, grab your gear, and get moving.
It’s time to meet Nashville.