There is SO much to see and do in Nashville, Tennessee. It can be overwhelming to narrow it down. Hopefully this list of my TOP 10 things to SEE and DO in Nashville, Tennessee will help you to make good choices.
I first discovered Nashville, Tennessee two years ago when my son was stationed in Little Rock, Arkansas. You might be wondering… what does Nashville have to do with Little Rock? Well, absolutely nothing, except that I couldn’t find very much to do in Little Rock in December. That’s why I planned our first trip to go to Nashville instead.
This was my son, Maverick’s, first Christmas away from home since he joined the military. I wanted it to be very special. Nashville is a 5-hour drive from Little Rock so it sounded like a good idea to go there and have fun. It turned out it was a GREAT idea.
We loved Nashville so much that we have gone back THREE times in the last year! That trip started our new Christmas tradition…. to take a family trip every Christmas.
As one of my FAVORITE places in the United States, I’d like to share with you my family’s top 10 favorite things to see and do in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Top 10 Things to See and Do in Nashville, Tennessee:
1. HOP ON HOP OFF TROLLEY
As I mentioned in Have you heard of the Historic Triangle in Virginia, one of the first things I like to do when I travel is to go on one of those “Hop on Hop off” bus tours. We did this in Nashville and I HIGHLY recommend it. Not only do the tour guides give you some fun information about the history of the town, but you also get to see so many cool spots to “hop off,” that you might not have known about otherwise.
We selected Nashville’s trolley, instead of a bus tour but they have them available as well. Check out the details for information about pricing and the stops on the tour. You can easily spend the entire day hopping on and off the trolley at the 15 different locations. Make sure you plan for at least one full day of fun. I think this is the best way to see what music city has to offer. For Trolley tour tickets- CLICK HERE
If you start the trolley at the ticket area, near Broadway Street, there is a fee for parking (and it’s not cheap). If your hotel is close by, you might want to Uber to that location instead.
2. BROADWAY, DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE
In my opinion this is one of the best places you can visit to get a feel for the home of country music. (Broadway Street in Downtown Nashville is the first area you will see if you start the trolley tour from the ticket area.) This street is also called Honkey Tonk row, and it’s the perfect place to hear what Nashville sounds like.
We learned that a Honkey Tonk is a bar that has live music. This area is probably my FAVORITE part of Nashville because it has so much to see and hear. It’s really fun how the bars are all right next to each other.
As you drive, or walk, down honky tonk highway you can hear live bands playing all different types of music from inside the venues. There is literally something for everyone here!
You can go into music venues like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, which has music similar to Patsy Cline, Jason Aldean’s bar, or one of my favorites, Kidd Rock’s bar. Most of the bars have multiple levels with different music playing on each level. Many of them have a rooftop bar where you can sit outside and look out over the strip.
All of the bars sell food so I like to get something small, like an appetizer, at each place. Then I can linger for a little bit before going to the next place for another experience.
During the day it’s not unusual for a live music venue to allow children to come in since they offer food. It’s not uncommon to see lots of families here.
If you’d like to learn how to line dance, or if you just want to watch everyone else on the dance floor while you eat, then go to the Wildhorse Saloon. My family likes to watch the line dancing from the upper level. I think it’s funny because I remember my grandmother watching Wildhorse Saloon on Country Music Television (CMT) when I was younger. This is a great place to bring your children!
The price for parking right off this strip gets to be much more expensive at night. If you are coming at night and your hotel is in the area, I’d suggest using Uber because it will be a LOT cheaper!
3. INTERACTIVE MUSEUMS
If you take the trolley tour I mentioned in #1 they have a stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame. There are TONS of different types of museums with interactive exhibits to visit while you are in Nashville.
Okay, a little sidebar confession here… Most of my children don’t actually care for country music. (Gasp!) I know it’s odd that we LOVE Nashville so much, even though we aren’t country music fans. I’m telling you that Nashville is SO much more than country music!
Musician’s Hall of Fame:
We decided to visit the Musician’s Hall of Fame because it wasn’t exclusively country music. It is a very large museum and it has interactive displays with musical instruments, which made it a lot of fun. You can go into the recording studio to record a song or you can put on a live show with the instruments on stage. For tickets to the Country Music Hall of Fame CLICK HERE.
If you decide to visit any of the museums in Nashville, look online to check for discounts prior to your arrival. At the Musicians Hall of Fame we used my son’s military discount, but they also offer discounts for students, teachers, firefighters, police and seniors.
4. MARATHON VILLAGE
Another really cool place we discovered through a stop on the trolley ride was Marathon Village. There is a store here from the famous television show American Pickers. It is a pretty big deal to plenty of people, my oldest son included. In addition to this cool store, there are several different boutiques that sell things. You will find stores with candy, jewelry, a unique general store, art gallery, wine tasting, and my favorite the “brewstillery”.
There are SOOO many unique stores inside of this village, and there are a ton of Instagram photo opportunities here as well. Click 👉here to see everything they have to offer. You could easily spend several hours walking around Marathon Village.
This area looks a bit deceiving because there are a ton of stores but you have to wander around inside and outside to find them. I suggest checking out the website first so you know EXACTLY what they have to offer. Otherwise, you will assume you have seen it all when you haven’t.
5. MURALS IN NASHVILLE
While you are in and around Nashville you will see TONS of murals.
You can pay to go on a guided mural tour or you can do a little research and plan your own tour. I am sharing some links that I have pinned on my Pinterest board “Nashville, Tennessee” so you can create your own guided walking tour.
- Boxwood Bliss– As a Nashville native, she does an excellent job of providing all of the addresses, with a downloadable printable map.
- StyleBlueprint– Here is a list called “The Nashville Murals you Haven’t yet seen” with addresses.
- Stevie Jewel– Providing the “Best Wall Murals in Nashville with Map.”
- Wayfaring Views– An article with 29 Murals in Nashville.
I would recommend planning your own mural tour if you are traveling on a day when things are closed, like on a major holiday. We were there on New Year’s Day so that is when we decided to see some murals. It was a great way to see the murals because it was the FIRST time I didn’t see a long line at the What Lifts You mural. We finally got to get our picture taken at the famous wings in the heart of Nashville!
6. CHEEKWOOD ESTATE and GARDENS
It might surprise you that my teenagers agreed the botanical gardens should be on the “Top 10 things to see and do in Nashville, Tennessee”. Cheekwood Estate and Gardens is a 55-acre botanical garden and historical estate. There is plenty to see and do here any time of year.
We love going to Cheekwood at night in the winter because they have an amazing light display called Holiday Lights. In addition to the lights, you can explore inside the mansion, which is decorated beautifully for Christmas.
They also have Christmas carolers, snacks, and drinks at the café. Check out their site for the variety of Seasonal Festivals.
If you go at 8:30 pm you can get the late night discounted entry price. We have done this twice and there is plenty of time to see everything without a big crowd. It’s a substantial savings if you are visiting with your family.
7. OPRY MILLS MALL & MADAME TUSSAUDS WAX MUSEUM
The Opry Mills Mall is a place my daughter and I LOVE to visit in Nashville. (This is something I save to do if it is very cold, rainy, or if we have time to kill before/after getting to the airport.)
The mall is HUGE with over 200 stores! Aside from the stores, there is an IMAX Movie Theater inside, theme restaurants like the Aquarium Restaurant, a Dave and Busters, and the very fun Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
We have fun seeing all the country music legends at this wax museum! The museum isn’t very large, but it is definitely something cool to do if you have the time. You can get your ticket to the museum here.
8. GRAND OLE OPRY & GAYLORD OPRYLAND RESORT and CONVENTION CENTER
While you are at the Opry Mills Mall you should make sure you walk over to see the Ryman Auditorium. It is best known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry. You can take a picture by the giant guitars out front, or you can take a peek inside. During one of our trips, we saw the Cirque Du Soleil show Cirque Dreams Holidaze at the Grand Ole Opry. It was incredible! You can also look into taking a backstage tour of the Opry. Click here to get tickets for the Grand Ole Opry.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center:
Next to the Grand Old Opry is a very large hotel called the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. You DEFINITELY want to add this to your “Top 10 things to see and do in Nashville, Tennessee”.
You wouldn’t think that a hotel would be one of the popular attractions to visit but this one is different. Go inside this massive hotel to walk around and have something to eat. It feels like you are in a city when you are there. You can easily get lost!
Depending on the time of day, they have live music and water fountains with occasional shows set to music. They also have waterfalls and exquisite landscape displays. It’s a great spot to take your family.
I’ve mentioned touring hotels in 6 Awesome things to do in Vegas Besides Gamble. If you’ve been to hotels in Vegas, I would say this hotel is comparable. However, the Gaylord Hotel is much larger.
Don’t forget to read “Top 5 Things You NEED to Know when Finding a Hotel” before you make your final selection!
If you park in the Opry Mills Mall parking lot, (by the movies) you can walk right over to the hotel. If you park at the hotel, you will have to pay to park and it is VERY expensive! I recommend taking the walk if you are up for it.
9. CLASS AXE THROWING
I surprised the kids with an axe throwing experience at a place called Class Axe. None of us have ever done it before so I thought it would be fun to give it a try together.
First, you pick out your “Axe Throwing Name”. Then you sign a waiver, 😉 get a quick lesson, and you are ready to try it yourself. As if that doesn’t seem dangerous enough, this place is also a BYOB (bring your own booze). I have no idea how they are able to get liability insurance when they have axes and drinking. However, somehow it’s working out and it’s a LOT of fun!
You are not just throwing axes at the board the entire time. They have different games that they incorporate into the throwing. It turned out that I sucked pretty badly at the axe throwing. I spent most of the time practicing, but it was still so much fun.
I’d recommend this as something to do at night or on a rainy day, because it’s an inside activity the whole family can enjoy. You have to make a reservation in advance on their website. They have discounts on their website if you purchase the tickets there, and I also found discounted tickets on Groupon.
10. PFUNKY GRIDDLE
Although Nashville is FILLED with plenty of good places to eat, there is one place we go EVERY time because it’s such a good time. It is called the PFunky Griddle.
I’ll be honest with you… it’s not the most glamorous looking place to eat, but that’s not why you are going. You are going because it is FUN! You get to cook your own breakfast, or lunch, on the griddle in front of you. (Think of it like hibachi, but for breakfast, and YOU are the one cooking.)
At some point you might think to yourself… so I’m paying all of this money AND I have to cook the food too?!? Yes, but I’m telling you, it’s a good time! You’re going to have to trust me on this one. We go there… Every. Single. Time. Also, they have vegetarian and gluten free options so no one is left out! I strongly recommend that you add this fun breakfast spot to your “Top 10 things to see and do in Nashville, Tennessee.”
There is always a wait to get in so just plan that into part of your unique experience. Bring a game to play or something to do in the car while you wait. You will give them your phone number and they will text you when your table is ready.
DAY TRIP FROM NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
Although Nashville is the MOST fun you can have in the city, if you would like to take a break and see some nature then I have the PERFECT DAY TRIP for you. Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and Georgia has amazing hiking, rock formations and waterfalls. Check out this link for a Full-Day Tour of Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain with Lunch. You will get transportation from Nashville and admission to ALL 3 of the most famous tourist attractions. Lookout Mountain is a great place to take a day trip!
QUICK LINKS for NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
I like to purchase my tickets through Get Your Guide because then I have everything I need all in one app on my phone. The site is easy to use and they provide lots of details for the different activities. Typically, within 24 hours of the event you can cancel an activity for a full refund. I love that because if my plans change, there’s no stress. Below are some quick links to things I’ve mentioned in the post, but please visit Get Your Guide to see the 36 of the best things they have for Nashville!
If you liked this post about the family trip we took for our Christmas tradition then you might also want to read about our latest family Christmas trip: 10 Unforgettable things you NEED to do in Savannah Georgia.
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LET’S CONNECT: Which one of our favorite “Top 10 things to see and do in Nashville, Tennessee” do you think you’d add to your list?