There’s a reason people call Nashville the Country Music Capital of the World. Between the Grand Old Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and troves of country bars along what’s known as the “Honky-Tonk Highway,” Nashville is a must-see destination for country music lovers. One Billboard survey concluded that 42% of the U.S. population has a thang for twang—but what if you fall firmly into the other camp? Best to avoid Nashville altogether? Not so fast. This vibrant city much more to offer.
Arts + Culture
Nashville is home to dozens of first-class museums, venues and historical sites that aren’t related to country music. Head out to Andrew Jackson’s historic home, known as the Hermitage, to learn more about the seventh President of the United States. Be sure to plan your visit ahead of time—wandering this sprawling estate can take upwards of three hours if you want to see it all!
On the hunt for world-class art in the heart of the city? Look no further than the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Located in what was once Nashville’s main post office, the Frist features a continually rotating assortment of exhibits highlighting everything from regional to international artists. Since the museum doesn’t have a permanent collection, find out what’s on display at any time here.
If you’re eager to enjoy Nashville’s beautiful weather, take a stroll through the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. The 55-acre grounds and stunning mansion were once home to Mabel and Leslie Cheek, whose children offered the estate up for public use in 1957. Cheekwood is home to 12 unique gardens, including the Bradford Robertson Color Garden, Shomu-en Japanese Garden and Carell Woodland Sculpture Gardens and Trail. What’s more, the estate also features both permanent and rotating art exhibitions as well as an artist-in-residence program. Cheekwood is open rain or shine, Tuesday through Sunday year-round.
Food + Drink
Nashville has certainly earned its spot as one of the nation’s top 20 food cities last year. From classic Southern delights to modern culinary twists, Nashville has something for everyone—in every price range.
$ – Dining on a budget? Check out Thunderbird for traditional classics like smoked wings, coleslaw and Southern mac and cheese. Or, give Urban Cookhouse a go if you’re in the mood for something a little lighter. Their selection of fresh, local salads and delicious sandwiches is perfect for a lunch on the go.
$$ – For a special night out, swing by Skull’s Rainbow Room to enjoy live music in a speakeasy atmosphere. Recently
renovated and reopened after being shuttered 17 years, the bar now offers a cozy ambiance and stellar cuisine. Looking for a good brunch spot for the following morning? Give Biscuit Love a try to chow down on some bonuts (biscuit donuts) or a classic chicken and biscuit breakfast.
$$$ – If you’re looking to splurge on a high-end dining experience, give The Catbird Seat in Midtown a go. Perfect for foodies and adventurous tourists alike, The Catbird Seat offers exceptional and innovative noshes like roasted kelp ice cream and tuna with watermelon and fermented butter. Be sure to book a reservation well in advance—spots fill up quickly! On the hunt for the best steakhouse in Tennessee? Kayne Prime is at your service. Between the tantalizing appetizers and mouthwatering cuts of meat, some patrons say this restaurant alone is worth the trip to Nashville.
Guided tours are a great way to learn about a new city straight from the experts. If you’re up for an all-day affair, the Jack n’ Back Jack Daniel’s Distillery tour never disappoints. The tour, which starts in Nashville and shuttles visitors to neighboring Lynchburg, allows guests to see where Jack Daniel himself worked. Explore the Barrelhouse building and (of course) opt in to a tasting tour.
If American history is more your style, be sure to look into the Historic Tennessee Southern Plantations and Presidents Tour. This tour takes you to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in the morning and to the Belle Meade Plantation in the afternoon, offering a fabulous opportunity to see some classic antebellum architecture and learn more about the history of southern plantations. You’ll wind down the day at the Belle Meade Plantation’s winery before heading back into town.
From local arts and historical sites to world-class dining, Nashville is so much more than just the Country Music Capital of the World.