9 Must-Do Experiences in Nashville

Music City—full of neon signs and honky tonks, country music stars and wannabes—has irresistable allure for all types of visitors. Fine art museums, historic plantations, farmers’ markets, a booming downtown, and vintage shops add to the draw of thoroughly modern and exciting Nashville. Here are some of the can’t miss things to do in Nashville.

416 Broadway B, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
Storied honky-tonk joints—and tourists—crowd lower Broadway, but even locals are drawn to the classic country feel of Robert’s Western World. Two-step around the tiny dance floor to covers of songs by such favorites as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn.
123 Ewing Drive
According to legend, Nashville-style hot chicken began in the 1930s when Thornton Prince’s girlfriend dumped cayenne on his fried chicken to get revenge for his cheating ways. But he loved it instead, and eventually opened up a hot chicken shop of his own. The Prince family carries on the tradition today at their simple strip-mall space. Customers place their orders at a kitchen window for varying levels of heat, from mild to extra hot. The spicy paste is applied after the fried chicken comes out of cast-iron skillets, and then the bird is placed on white bread and served with pickles. The addictive combo of tastes has since spawned hot chicken joints and special menu items across Music City and beyond.
623 7th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
Third Man Records, the Nashville outpost of musician Jack White’s record label and store, is hard to define. It’s both a retail outlet for vinyl and offices for his label, sure, but it also includes a “novelty lounge” with coin-operated video jukeboxes and whimsical contraptions. What draws the crowds, though, is Third Man’s music venue (decked out with curved blue walls adorned with taxidermy), which regularly holds live performances, shows movies, and hosts record-release events. Visitors also can step into the tiny Record Booth, a refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine, to record up to two minutes of audio that they can take home on a 6-inch phonograph disc.
116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219, USA
After the Grand Ole Opry left the Ryman Auditorium, country legend Roy Acuff said the redbrick building with its Gothic arches and stained glass windows might as well be torn down. The Ryman had been home to performances and broadcasts since the 1940s, but it was in poor condition and lacked air-conditioning and proper dressing rooms. Fortunately, its legacy as “The Mother Church of Country Music” prevailed and, after years of sitting practically empty, the auditorium was renovated and began hosting shows once again. Originally built as a church, the grand hall has spectacular acoustics and a lingering magic in its pews from all those years spent witnessing country music history. A trip here is practically obligatory when visiting the Music City.
4651 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211, USA
Nashville has the largest Kurdish population in the country, which speaks to its growing diversity. And with that diversity comes great food shopping from places like Sulav International Market—with a Kurdish bakery for fresh flatbread, Halal butcher, and rows of preserved lemon, spices, and nuts. Also check out Shish Kebob, the Kurdish restaurant located in the same strip mall.
919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
Since opening in 2001, the Frist Art Museum has hosted an inspiring—and continuous—slate of exhibitions from both nearby and around the world in its Art Deco digs. Visit on a Thursday or Friday night to catch “Music at the Frist,” when a wide range of musicians perform live in the museum café. The shows are free to attend with the purchase of admission.
2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
This sprawl of green—132 acres’ worth—is an oasis for urbanites. The park’s centerpiece, the Nashville Parthenon, is a full-scale replica of the Grecian structure and a physical testimony to Nashville’s “Athens of the South” nickname. The park’s bandshell hosts Shakespeare in the Park and occasionally serves as the site of the popular Movies in the Park, but because this is Nashville, a free live music series called Musicians Corner dominates the summer programming. On Saturday afternoons from May through September, music lovers, families, and pets gather to enjoy an impressive lineup of musicians, as well as local food trucks and a beer garden. Recent performers have included Preservation Hall Jazz Band and local favorites Rayland Baxter, Cale Tyson, and Langhorne Slim.
1222 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208, USA
Locals love the Sunday Supper at City House, when chef-owner Tandy Wilson serves his highly creative Italian-influenced menu, but you really can’t go wrong any night here. Wilson, a 2016 James Beard Award winner, is a Nashville native who spent time in Italy and California before opening his restaurant in the former home of a sculptor in the trendy Germantown neighborhood. Since then, he’s been drawing visitors and locals alike with his belly ham pizzas, corn bread gnocchi, and main dishes like roasted chicken and corn meal–crusted catfish with peppers, garlic, anchovy, lemon, and parsley. Those in the know bookend their visits with a perfectly crafted cocktail at the bar and a dessert from pastry chef Rebekah Turshen, like the almond ricotta skillet cake with lemon marmalade and lemon ricotta gelato.
2120 8th Avenue South
This famed guitar shop opened in 1970 and recently relocated from downtown to this space on 8th Ave. It’s where you’ll find an enormous range of equipment from starter guitars to a 1940 Stromberg Master 400 owned by Freddie Green in the Count Basie Orchestra and still strung with Freddie strings. Even if you don’t play, this place is worth a visit.
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