Nashville is Music City USA, but also party central USA. There are endless concerts, tours, sporting events to keep a person busy for days. I had the pleasure to spent 4 days and 4 nights there. Even as a solo female, I was able to meet lots of people and have a fun time. There are so many things to do in Nashville.
Nashville Total Access Pass
A great way to save money is to buy the Nashville Total Access Pass. The Nashville Access Pass can be purchased online or at the Nashville Visitor Center, in the tower building at the corner of 5th and Broadway outside the Bridgestone Arena. The costs is $75 (although I spoke to a couple that claimed to pay $70 but not sure where). The pass comes with 4 tickets to your choice of a couple dozen tours and attractions, a booklet that describes each, a free ticket to the Parthenon, a free ticket to the Tennessee state athletics museum, a list of all the free things to do in Nashville, and a coupon for 25% off any Grayline tour. Since the activities normal price ranges from $12-40, it pays to do the more expensive activities with the pass. The 4 paid activities I did were Redneck Comedy Tour, Old Town Hop on Hop off bus, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Hatch Show Print, plus the Parthenon. These would have costed $116 if paid separately, so a 35% discount.
Walk the sacred halls of the Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame displays from all eras of country music and the actual hall of fame has placards for the inductees. There were much fewer than I had guessed – lots of room on the walls for more.
Make your own souvenir print at the Hatch Show Print
The Hatch Show Print is located on the bottom floor of the Country Music Hall of fame. This is one of only a couple old time poster printing companies. They use wooden carvings of letters, symbols, and pictures to stamp up to 3 colors on a poster. Each color takes a day to dry, so a 3 color poster takes an amount of time to set up and then 3 days to print. It was fascinating to learn about the history and process and at the end, we got to make our very own 8×11 poster to take home. Each one is unique as the ink is applied to the shapes differently.
Ride a Hop on Hop off Bus (HOHO)
The tour takes well over an hour to circle the main sights of the city with guided narration. In addition to the main sights downtown like the Museums and Ryman Theater, the tour goes out to the Parthenon and up and down Music Row. The guides tell stories and some even give away trivia prizes. I rode with the Old Town Trolley company, but there are others.
Visit the Parthenon
The Parthenon normally costs $6 but was included in the Total Access Pass. It’s a true to size replica of the Parthenon in Greece. Inside is a magnificent Athena statue, whose staff is actually a flag pole from a McDonald’s restaurant.
Laugh out Loud on a Comedy Bus Tour
There are several comedy tours in Nashville. I did the 2-hour Redneck Comedy Bus Tour. The guide was really funny and told jokes as we drove around town in a converted school bus. He roasted everyone on the bus but especially the gynecologist that told us the weirdest thing he ever found stuck “up there” was a whole piece of blueberry pie. Blueberry pie became the running inside joke for the rest of the tour.
Ride or Walk up and down Music Row
Music Row is a row of record producing offices that are in revamped homes. These historical homes are protected, so only the insides can be renovated. Many country stars have their own studio here. You can even go to the bar that inspired Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup”
Watch a live taping of the Grand Ole Opry
The Opry is a bit of a drive out of downtown. There were 9 artists on the night I visited and they were all great, finishing with Rascal Flatts. As the Opry is a live radio show, the audience had a little laugh at all the intermission live recorded commercials.
See a show at the new Ascend Amphitheater
The new Ascend Amphitheater is just off the end of Broadway on the river. On one evening, I was drinking a couple beers at the hostel, hoping to find someone to go out with when someone offered me a free ticket to see The Band Perry, which was the concert associated with the Rock and Roll marathon taking place that weekend.
Take a walk on the Pedestrian Bridge for a View of the City, at Day and Night
There are great views of the city from this former railroad trestle, especially the AT&T building that is nicknamed the Batman Building.
Eat some Nashville Hot Chicken
One of the most famous is Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. I recommend the “Medium” if you normally order hot. I met someone who couldn’t finish the “Shut the Cluck Up” flavor and was sick the next day. They have a great selection of tasty southern sides – collard greens, cheesy bacon grits (Sunday only), black eyed pea salad, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, mac and cheese with pimentos. It was worth the wait of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Have a Bachelorette Party
Nashville has become the Bachelorette Party capital of the world. There were dozens of bachelorette parties out an about, especially on Saturday night. They are often pedaling around town in the bike bars all with matching t-shirts or tanks, and matching sunglasses.
See a Sporting Event
Nashville makes a great place to watch your home football team on the road. Hockey playoffs were on during my visit. I didn’t go to the game, but I watched on a big screen TV outside. Going back to Nashville for a Seahawks game would be a blast – the NFL stadium looks fun.
Take a day trip to Lynchburg and the Jack Daniel’s Distillery
I rented a car and had a fun time with whisky samples and BBQ. See the details here.
Save money on Accommodation by staying at the Nashville Downtown Hostel
FANTASTIC location on a quiet street 2 blocks from the eastern end of Broadway (where the Hard Rock café and the start of 3 blocks of Broadway where all the Honky Tonks are). Average nightly rate of $37.50 (higher on weekends than weekdays). Incredibly clean, free coffee, a nice social room on the first floor, beer fridge for guests.
Last but not least…Pub Crawl the Honky Tonks on and Off Broadway
In addition to country music, there’s lots of Rock, especially 1990’s rock in the bars on Broadway and the surrounding streets.
Two of the hottest Honky Tonks are Toostie’s Orchid and Nudies. But they are also the most expensive ($6+ for beers).
Nudie’s is a great venue and no, it’s NOT dirty or a strip club. Nudie is the name of a guy that designed decorated cars with silver dollars and gun replicas. One of his cars is in the Country Music hall of fame and the other one is affixed to the wall in Nudie’s Honky Tonk.
Tootsie’s seemed to be the coolest place where the folks with money and conference attendees go. Many of the women at Tootsies were swooning over a guy that hosts a show on HDTV, but I didn’t know who he was (no cable). The going rate to have the band play your requested song in Tootsies was $50!
On Church street, you can get lots of flavors of 2 for 1 beers.
For old time country, check out Robert’s Western World. For $5 you can get the “Recession Special” lunch of a fried bologna sandwich, chips, and a PBR. For cheaper beers, and to find out where the locals go, try some of the bars off of 2nd or Church. Here we got 2 for 1 beers and drafts for $2. Nashville is an expensive place to drink – tip the bartenders, bands, and bathroom attendants at the more popular places.
The world is a small place…
While sitting at the bar at Nudies, a woman and man approached me…
Woman: are you from Ohio?
Me: No. Seattle, but I used to live in Ohio.
Woman: Is your name Lisa?
Man: Lisa M?
It turns out I worked with the guy for a couple years in the early 2000’s. After he reminding me of his name, I totally remembered him. In further coincidence, it was both our first time in Nashville.
Are there any other top things to do in Nashville you would add – add to the comments below?