There are few cities in America with as much star power and draw as Nashville. And considering its top-notch entertainment options and its status as a birthplace for country music, it's no surprise that the city is so legendary. However, if you want to visit and have no idea where to start, the city can be a bit overwhelming. To help newcomers along during that first trip, we've assembled some recommendations for our favorite attractions, dining, and nightlife around town. We promise that this guide to the best Nashville locations will make your next visit to Nashville truly memorable.
How to Spend a Weekend in Nashville
1. Country Music Hall of Fame
If you do one thing during your trip to Nashville, it should be this. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum attracts the music-obsessed ever since it opened in 1967. Nowadays, it brings in even casual country fans who feel the call of its exhibits and memorabilia, which include Elvis Presley's gold Cadillac limo and Jimmie Rodgers' guitar. Make sure to check out the self-guided "Journey Through Country Music" exhibit, as well as the real Studio B, where Dolly Parton and Roy Orbison recorded some of their most famous songs.
2. Grande Ole Opry
A former radio show that blossomed into an all-star attraction, the Grand Ole Opry is the place to be for world-class entertainment. The iconic music venue has hosted everyone from Loretta Lynn to Brad Paisley to Carrie Underwood over the years, and many flock to the Grand Ole Opry just to breathe their same air. If you really want a memorable experience, take a backstage tour and learn about the Opry's storied history. You may even get a chance to walk the stage!
3. Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
Broadway in Nashville isn't the same as Broadway in New York -- and that's not a bad thing. Rather than fill its corners with song and dance shows, Nashville's Broadway likes to traffic in live country music. Check out Tootsie's Orchid Lounge for a comfortable entry point into the area's live music scene. Afterwards, explore the rest of Broadway to check out the countless bars and venues that host both well-established and up-and-coming music acts every night of the week.
4. The Johnny Cash Museum
There's nowhere on Earth as dedicated to "The Man in Black" as the Johnny Cash Museum. Here, you will find hand-written letters by the Man himself, as well as costumes he made famous and short films about his life. You can also learn more about Cash's time in the Air Force and his marriage to June Carter, if you want to dig into the icon's personal life. In fact, the whole place is officially endorsed by the Cash family, ensuring that you'll see things there you'll never find elsewhere.
5. Prince's Hot Chicken
No visit to Nashville is complete without a taste of classic Nashville hot chicken. Sure, you can order the iconic dish in many parts of the country, as it has recently surged in popularity. However, you'll be remiss not to have Nashville hot chicken in, well, Nashville. The cooks at Prince's Hot Chicken are the undisputed masters of the genre, but don't ignore local hotspots like Bolton's or 400 Degrees, either.
6. Arrington Estates
Some of Nashville's best places aren't necessarily downtown. If you have the time and seeking a haven away from the hustle and bustle of Nashville, check out Arrington Estates. It's the perfect place for picnicking, sipping on locally-made wine, and listening to live jazz and bluegrass, all while soaking in the natural surroundings. When you're ready to jump back into the thick of things, just hop in your car or an Uber and zoom back downtown.
7. The Nashville Parthenon
Nashville isn't just Music City, U.S.A. It's also the Athens of the South, according to many. That's of course due to its many cultural offerings, but it's also because of its Parthenon, which exists serenely apart from Nashville's many live music venues and museums. For a great photo op, consider visiting this picturesque replica of the real Parthenon in Athens. Doubling as Nashville's premier art museum, the in-house collection highlights dozens of paintings done my American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
8. The Bluebird Cafe
Visiting the Bluebird can be a near-religious experience for music lovers -- It's the place where Taylor Swift got her start, for one. But the real draw here, other than its prominent role in the ABC (and later CMT) series Nashville, is its ability to make you feel. A lot. The Bluebird's perfect acoustics and intimate space make it a singer-songwriter's dream as performers bare their souls in the Bluebird's wings. Come here for an authentic Nashville music experience unlike any other. Just make sure to get reservations!
Want to share your favorite spots in Nashville? Head over to our Wide Open Roads Facebook!