Travel Guide: Nashville Top 5 Things to Do

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Ah, Nashville. Music City - Need I say more...This quick getaway was only four nights and three days, but it was so much fun exploring the city. Nashville is an 8 hour drive from Wisconsin, so we hit the road instead of flying. Let me just say, I definitely prefer flying... Since there is an overwhelming amount of things to do in Nashville, I put together this travel guide of my top 5 must-do's in the city. In no particular order...

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O L D  T O W N  T R O L L E Y  T O U R

201 Broadway, Nashville TN 37201

Cost: $43.65 for an adult ticket*
We took this tour on our first full day in Nashville. It was a great way to get to know the city and get an overview of everything there is to do. After you pick up your tickets, you board at Broadway and 2nd Avenue. Our schedule didn't permit, but you could easily spend a whole day utilizing this tour. Many stops aren't really within walking distance from downtown, so the tour is a great way to explore areas you may not get to visit unless you have a car. It is a hop-on/hop-off style tour with 15 different stops. You really get a great taste of Nashville on this tour. The trolleys come about every 15 minutes to each stop, so you can pretty much board at your leisure. Along the way, you have a guide giving you some local history between each of the stops. The planner in me loves that you can explore all of the different attractions and plan your trip before you go on the Old Town Trolley Tour Website! They even have a printable map. 

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The first 3 stops are within walking distance from Broadway. We did briefly hop off at the third stop to grab some Goo Goo Clusters. I had never tried one before, and they were so delicious! Once we re-boarded after our quick treat, we learned a bit about the history of the Ryman Auditorium. The trolley then headed up to Legislative Plaza. We hopped off there and went into the State Capitol. This is a Greek revival style building, and it's one of the few capitol buildings in the United States that doesn't have a dome. The inside of the capitol is beautiful and bustling with activity. It is also worth your time to walk around the grounds. Tennessean born Presidents Andrew Jackson and James Polk have monuments there. Another monument I thought was interesting was that of Sergeant Alvin C York. His story of bravery took place during WWI, when he led an attack that resulted in the killing of 25 and the capturing of 132 German soldiers.

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We boarded the trolley again, and the next stop was the Musicians Hall of Fame and then onto the Farmers' Market. The Farmers' Market covers 16 acres and has everything from local produce to plants and handmade crafts. There are plenty of eateries and retail shops here as well. We also hopped off at the Marathon Motor Works stop. This complex offers several retail shops, a distillery, a winery, and is also home to the Picker's store, Antique Archaeology. The complex itself is full of antiques from the old Marathon Motor days.

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The next stop is Centennial Park. This park has a walking trail, beautiful gardens, a lake, as well as sporting areas. It is also home to the Parthenon. The trolley tour gives you a chance to hop off and explore Vanderbilt University. The 11th stop is in front of Hot Chicken. This MUST be the place for chicken! The line was really long, so we decided not to wait. The 12th stop was on the Belmont campus. Here you could hop off and tour the Belmont Mansion. Because of the restoration of the grand salon, hours were limited. This is a definite must see on my list for next time!

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The next area of Nashville that the guide told us about was Music Row. There are so many studios in this area! Some are located in what look like houses, and others are  housed in fairly large buildings. Next stop, the Gulch. This is a trendy neighborhood loaded with boutiques and restaurants. Supposedly, some artists are known to have apartments in this neighborhood. The last stop is Union Station. Here is where the infamous Al Capone stopped on his trip to the Georgia penitentiary. The architecture is beautiful, as are many of the other buildings in this area. It’s worth a look. I have only briefly touched on the sights you can take in on the trolley tour. It is a really great way to explore the sights and sounds of Nashville at the pace you desire. The guides are so informative - they really make the tour worthwhile. Nashville is considered the Music City, but it is also a city filled with a rich history worth exploring. The best way to do that is with an Old Town Trolley Tour!

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N I G H T L I F E  +  D A Y L I F E

Live Music, Drinks, + Dancing

You really can't go wrong anytime on Music Row. Broadway is packed with rows and rows of local establishments where you can grab a drink and listen to bands pretty much anytime of the day. We hit almost every bar on the strip! One of our favorites was the infamous orchid colored Tootsies. This is right out the back door of the Ryman, also referred to by the locals as the Carnegie Hall of the South. This was the original Grand Ole Opry, and according to the locals, the performers would exit out the back door of Ryman and take a few steps across the alley to dip into Tootsies for a drink. This bar itself has several stories, with bands playing on each level. It also has a rooftop seating area with a great view down Broadway. Shout out to Jake Mauer - he was one of our favorite performers!

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Another local stomping group we really enjoyed was The Stage on Broadway. It has multiple levels with different bands and outdoor seating looking over Broadway. This was also where we met KC Johns and her band - they are definitely worth a listen. That girl can sing!

We also had to hit many of the chart-topping musicians' bars on Broadway. Jason Aldean's place is over the top - It has a tractor that doubles as a bar, plush wallpaper, and one of the best outdoor seating areas in Nashville. We also took in a couple of bands at Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row. The main floor had some great bands. The only downside of this was that it only had a single stall bathroom, which made for super long lines. Blake Shelton's Ole' Red was another bar we checked out. We ate here while listening to a band. The food was okay, but the bands were fabulous! Our favorite was Skyelor Anderson. He has great stage presence and was tons of fun. Apparently, he was also in the top 8 of the X Factor. It is well worth taking in one of his shows. We also stopped at AJ's Good Time Bar. We had to have our picture with the GIANT cut-out of the man himself, Alan Jackson. It was amazing to see how every bar you went into had a band that was so good. It is also worth noting that while much of the music you hear in Nashville is country, it is often mixed with pop (Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson) and Rock-n-Roll (Bob Seger, AC/DC, Pat Benetar), just to name a few. The Music City really lived up to its name.

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C O U N T R Y  M U S I C  H A L L  O F  F A M E

222 5th Ave, Nashville TN 37203

Adult Admission is $27.95* (Just an FYI: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is also home to the famous RCA Studio B recording Studio. For an additional fee, you can take this tour as well.) This museum is within walking distance from the downtown area. We just toured the museum while we were there. With the museum ticket, you get to experience country music from its conception through today. This museum is an iconic Nashville attraction, so we couldn't miss it!

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They museum is well laid out and spacious. It was fairly busy, but I never felt like I had to wait for people. With over 2 million artifacts, you really get a feel of the country music timeline. The museum offers artifacts, photos, videos, and interactive portions to the tour. The upper floor tells the story of the roots of country music. I got a taste of Elvis’s early history, and they even have his car on display. The second floor of the museum tells the history of the likes of Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.

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Then you move onto the exhibits showcasing the current stars of country music. It was really interesting to see the instruments and costumes that these performers would wear on stage. I honestly do not know how some of those women could perform in the shoes they did!

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The Museum also offers a section showcasing current country performers. The current exhibit, that will be changed this summer, showcases Little Big Town. After viewing all the exhibits, you can enter the rotunda where all the Country Music Hall of Fame inductees are listed. Plan on spending at least a few hours here. This was one of my favorite activities - the museum is well worth a visit!

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B E L L E  M E A D E  P L A N T A T I O N

110 Leake Avenue, Nashville TN 37205

Cost: $24 per adult for a 45 minute tour of the house
Belle Meade Plantation operates as a museum that includes the original mansion, out buildings, a visitor’s center with shopping, and a winery. After the tour, you are free to explore the grounds, and even partake in a free wine tasting. A tour guide dressed in period clothing greets you at the door of the mansion. Once inside, you learn the history of the Harding-Jackson family and their Greek-Revival mansion. Generations of this family grew an empire from humble beginnings by breeding thoroughbred horses. The importance of those horses is seen and told throughout the tour. In fact, horses racing today still have a bloodline that can be traced back to thoroughbreds from Belle Meade.

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This plantation was successful for nearly a century, but eventually succumbed to financial problems and reformist pressure to end gambling and horse racing. Our guide was excellent. She answered all questions and very enthusiastically told the story of this family. At the end of the home tour, we spent some time exploring the grounds, taking in the history of the slaves that were an integral part of the success of Belle Meade. We ended the day with a wine tasting. Belle Meade wines are made from native grapes, muscadine and blackberry fruit. I am not much of a wine drinker, but I was able to find two that I really enjoyed. This was a very informative tour that I would recommend. Had our stay in Nashville been a little bit longer, we would have made this into a whole day trip, traveling to Franklin and eating at Loveless cafe along the way. Several locals and friends who have been to Nashville recommended this. Franklin is a city full of Civil War history. Next time, Nashville, next time.

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T H E  S O U L  O F  M U S I C  C I T Y  N I G H T  T O U R

201 Broadway, Nashville TN 37201

This is another activity offered by Old Town Trolley Tours! I think it’s so awesome that they offer a variety of tours that cater to everyone. For this tour, you get your tickets and board the trolley at Broadway and 2nd Ave. This tour really focused on the local stories of the Music City and Honky Tonk Highway (aka Broadway). Our tour guide, Sherri Leigh, was great. She apparently used to hang out with many famous musicians. She told stories from her days as a hospitality rider where should would get the bands anything they wanted backstage before a performance. She even met Elvis! This is not a hop-on/hop-off tour. The guide points out many of the same places you see on the day tour, but adds more of a local flair to the stories. You also get to see several videos and are encouraged to sing along and have fun. You stop at one bar called The Local. Here, we heard another great local band, and also got a complimentary drink as part of the tour. At the end of the tour, you disembark near the Pedestrian Bridge. From here, you can see all of Nashville lit up at night. The skyline views were amazing. This was a fun tour that put a different spin on the local landmarks and culture.*

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You will notice that the Grand Ole’ Opry is absent from my list. We had so much fun exploring the city that we just ran out of time. I have that at the top of my list for a return trip. Nashville is a city I’m excited to visit again!

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B O N U S :  G R E A T  E A T S

The Stiller's + Pharmacy

We ate at several different places all over the city. I am highlighting two that went above and beyond with service and quality of food. The best place we found to eat downtown was the Stillery. It is located at 113 2nd Ave N, right off of Broadway. The food there was delicious and the portions were huge. Our party opted to try the pizza and burgers. The Prosciutto + Arugula pizza was delicious. It was loaded with white sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, and arugula. The menu says a pizza is a single serving size, but there was plenty for two. The pretzel burger was also a hit. It was juicy and oh so tasty. I consider myself a french fry coneseuir, and theirs exceeded my expectations. They were excellent. This was the best place we ate on Music Row.

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Another favorite that warrants a shout-out is The Pharmacy. This is located at 731 McFerrin Avenue, Nashville. We ate here after we toured Belle Meade. Expect to wait, but it is worth it. We sat at the bar and had a drink while they prepared our table. The menu is loaded with so many food and drink choices. The Pharmacy serves a large selection of German wurst and bier. It also hits home for the kid in all of us - it has an old-time soda fountain where you can get shakes, malts, and cream sodas. We tried the orange cream soda. It was not quite what I was expecting, but good nonetheless. It was frothy and very creamy. After sipping on that, it was hard to eat all of my burger and fries. The portions here are very large. The restaurant boasts burgers made from 100% Tennessee raised beef. Mine was delicious!

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Thanks for following along with my Nashville adventure! I'm more of an island girl when it comes to travel, so it's always fun to explore cities like Nashville and write travel guides about my experiences. I know a lot of people have been to the Music City, so let's make this post even more helpful for everyone who reads it - leave a comment if you have anything else you think is a must-do in Nashville!

*Thank you so much to Old Town Trolley Tours and the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum for sponsoring this post. All photos and opinions are my own. 


  1. Good ideas. I have been to Nashville several times and have not done these. Usually am hanging in a pool near Vandy.

  2. Going to Nashville next week. Can't wait to try these spots out!!