If you’re planning a long weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, and wondering what to do in the Music City, you’ll want to read this article! From honky tonk and hot chicken to live music and party barges, Nashville is a good time.
Nashville, Tennessee is a music lover’s dream come true. The city is steeped in musical history, and there is no shortage of live music venues. But Nashville is more than just country music. The city has a vibrant food scene, with plenty of chef-owned restaurants to choose from. And there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy too, from hiking and biking to Cumberland River kayaking.
Below, we’ve crafted the perfect Nashville itinerary covering the city’s top attractions, eateries, and entertainment.
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Day 1 in Nashville: Friday
Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a great way to spend your morning in Nashville. Visiting the museum is one of the more popular things to do in Nashville, so you’ll want to get there early anyway. During spring break and tourist season, the lines can get quite long. And, if you’re wondering whether to bring the kids, the answer is yes!
You can purchase a self-guided audio tour or wander through the museum on your own. From stage costumes and memorabilia to original recordings and vintage cars, you’ll find something interesting around every corner.
Lunch at Martin’s Bar-B-Q Joint
Martin’s Bar-B-Q Joint originated just south of Nashville nearly 25 years ago and follows the whole hog barbecue tradition. If you like barbecue, you’ll want to stop by Pat Martin’s place! There are two locations in Nashville for you to choose from.
Start with their smoked wings with Alabama white sauce which is a very popular option. Then order one of their samplers so that you can try a little bit of everything. Martin’s Bar-B-Q Joint arguably has some of the best barbeque in Nashville.
Explore Music Row
The heart of Nashville’s music industry, Music Row is home to recording studios, record labels, and many other industry-specific businesses. It’s also home to RCA Studio B, a famous recording studio where many country music stars have recorded hits.
As you stroll down 16th and 17th Avenues South, you’ll also see a few statues and historical markers along the way. There’s a lot of history there, so consider a tour if you’re interested in learning more.
Dinner & Bluegrass at the Station Inn
Bluegrass music is an integral part of the music scene in Nashville too. Located in the Gulch neighborhood sits an intimate Bluegrass bar called The Station Inn. Live music is offered every day, and seating is first-come, first-serve.
Children are welcome but must be kept quiet. And, while food is served here, keep in mind this place is all about the music. The Station Inn is a little hidden gem in the middle of Music City.
Day 2 in Nashville: Saturday
Visit the Johnny Cash Museum
The Johnny Cash Museum is another one of those must-visit places to add to your Nashville itinerary. Although not a large museum in size, it’s jam-packed with Johnny Cash memorabilia and artifacts.
Johnny Cash fans will appreciate the in-depth knowledge they’ll gain about their favorite musician. Even if you’re not huge on Johnny Cash, music fans will still enjoy the tour through time.
Please note that there is no onsite parking, so you must find parking somewhere downtown.
Nashville Hot Chicken Lunch
Legend has it, Nashville hot chicken came to be during a “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” scenario back in the 1930s.
A gentleman named Thorton Prince was known to be unfaithful. When his then-girlfriend suspected he had been with another woman, she decided to put hot peppers on his favorite fried chicken meal.
Her plan, however, backfired when Thorton Prince thoroughly enjoyed his hot chicken. He enjoyed it so much that he’d go on to open a fried chicken shack in Nashville.
Today, you can try the original Prince’s Hot Chicken at several locations in Nashville.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Another Nashville hot chicken stand you should know about is Hattie B’s. There are also several locations in Nashville. You usually can’t miss a Hattie B’s because there is a line out the door and down the sidewalk most days.
Take a Tour of Nashville
You should consider a party bus tour if you’re in the Music City for a special occasion, like a Nashville bachelorette party. You’ll be surprised to know that there are more than just a few party bus options for you to choose from, too.
If you’re an early riser who likes mimosas, check out the Nashville Party Barge’s Murals and Mimosas tour. They’ll provide endless mimosas while taking you on a Nashville mural tour, allowing you to hop off the bus and take pictures throughout the tour.
Another party “bus” option is the Nashville Tractor. A big red tractor, with the words “I Got Plowed” written across the tractor’s bucket, will take you on a non-stop tour of Nashville. While this tour doesn’t serve or sell alcohol, it does allow you to bring non-glass drinks and a small cooler.
Finally, if you’re looking to go on a simple sightseeing tour of Nashville, you’ll want to check out Old Towne Trolley Tours. They offer guided tours of the city with a hop-on/hop-off option. And if you can’t tour the entire city in one day, they have two and three-day tour packages available.
A Night out on Broadway
There’s nothing more exciting than the bright lights of Broadway at night coupled with free live entertainment. Head down to lower Broadway, also known as Hony Tonk Highway, and you’ll experience the excitement of Nashville.
From 10 AM to 3 AM, lower Broadway bars have live bands that don’t require a cover charge. However, please remember to tip because that is how most bands make money in Nashville. Please note that after about 6 PM, many of these establishments turn into 21+ only.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is the oldest honky tonk bar in Nashville. This purple-painted bar has two stories of live music and a rooftop bar. Many music legends have passed through here, including Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson. Tootsie’s is a Nashville must with great vibes, good food, history, and excellent entertainment!
Nudie’s Honky Tonk
Known as the longest bar in Nashville, Nudie’s Hony Tonk is another Broadway establishment with history. Nudie Cohn was a famous tailor who designed costumes for stars such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and others.
You’ll find memorabilia, stage costumes, live bands, and a roof-top bar throughout the three-story bar. The bar is also known for its bar design which houses nearly ten thousand silver dollars.
Bootleggers Inn is a more intimate bar serving moonshine with its entertainment. It’s the only moonshine bar in Nashville! Try southern favorites such as Apple Pie and Peach moonshine while you enjoy live music on two stories.
Day 3 in Nashville: Sunday
Sunday Brunch in Nashville
There is no shortage of brunch spots in Nashville, Tennessee. If you like entertainment with your brunch, drag brunches are available too. There are so many choices all you need to do is search brunch near me, and you’ll be inundated with options. Here are a few recommendations.
The Frothy Monkey, located in Downtown Nashville, is a popular coffeehouse that serves brunch every day of the week. There are several locations throughout Nashville including one in the 12 South district.
If you want a little wine with your brunch, you’ll want to check out lou Nashville. They offer natural wines, tapas, and weekend brunch. This spot is especially popular with foodies and has a covered outdoor patio.
417 Union is another popular spot for brunch in Nashville, serving up a little history with your meal. They offer southern fare and a host of cocktails. After your meal, be sure to check out all of the WWII and civil war memorabilia.
Last Stop Tourist Attractions
Music City is filled with non-country music-related activities you can add to your Nashville itinerary. While you could easily spend more time in the city and still find things to do, here are some of the more popular tourist attractions you may be interested in checking out.
- Nashville Parthenon
- Frist Art Museum
- Belle Meade Plantation
- Tennessee State Capital
- Riverboat Cruise
- Gaylord Opryland Resort
- Nashville Zoo
- Tennessee State Museum
- Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
- Predators Game at Bridgestone Arena
- Titans Game at the Nissan Stadium
Live Country Music Show
Most people will tell you that seeing a live country music show while you’re in Nashville is a must. The two most popular spots include the Grand Ole Opry House and the Ryman Auditorium. Both country music halls have a deep history and offer backstage tours outside of events.
The Grand Ole Opry show is the longest-running radio broadcast in the United States. It all started in 1925 when a radio show host played the music of a fiddler on the then WSM Barn Dance show. It’s said to be one of the significant catalysts in country music’s popularity.
The Ryman Auditorium was made famous for hosting the Grand Ole Opry show for a period. Today, the Ryman is a live performance venue hosting country music shows, operas, symphonies, ballets, and more. Go on a guided tour and learn more about the roots of country music and the building’s significance.
Nashville is a music lover’s paradise, and there’s no better time to experience its musical culture than during a long weekend. You can find world-class music venues of all genres throughout the city, from historic honky-tonks to cutting-edge clubs. The city’s music scene is also fueled by a lively nightlife, with bars and restaurants staying open late into the night. And of course, no trip to Nashville would be complete without taking in a live performance of the Grand Ole Opry. This legendary country music radio show has been entertaining audiences for generations. So if you’re looking for a fun-filled long weekend getaway, be sure to add Nashville to your list!
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Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.