Top 10 Free Things to Do in Nashville, TN

It’s no wonder that Nashville is considered Music City. The entire metropolis permeates with music and arts. If you are around or in town, be sure to stop by these top 10 free things to do in Nashville, Tennessee, put on a pair of boots, and go honky tonkin’! 

“So honky tonk means white people hitting it hard?” – Dev, Master of None

To those who have seen this episode, kudos, I love this show! Master of None was where I first saw clips of Nashville, it seemed fun! I’ll be the first to admit that country music/living is not my style, and was unsure of how I’d feel about Nashville! But.. you never know until you try, right?

Turns out, Dev (Aziz Ansari) was pretty on point. Nashville has many, many things to do during the day. That aside, the city really comes alive at night

We had so much fun discovering the quirks of our new home. As always, I’ve come up with a budget friendly list of things to do in this new city.

Things to Do:

#10: Opry Mills Shopping

If you’re into shopping, this beautiful mall has a huge inventory of places to shop. The store is definitely decked with Christmas decorations and music- point! Highlights are advertisement of leather boots for buy 1, get 2 free! Don’t forget to stop by the stalls, where they give out delicious free samples of chocolate fudge!

#9: Opry Hotel Gaylord Resort

Right across the parking lot from the Opry Mills Shopping Mall (or take the closest walk from the IMAX theater) is the Opryland Hotel. We were recommended this spot to check out from our AirBNB host.

The hotel features 3 magnificent domes, each one with their own special attribute. Upon walking in, we weren’t even sure we were allowed in there! The place was very beautiful, hotel rooms surround the artificial tropical environment.

 

  • Delta Dome – a manmade river, where you can pay to take a river ride through the hotel; a really cool water show fountain that comes every hour or two!
  • Magnolia – pool (outdoors) and bar
  • Conservatory – an indoor jungle; very cool exotic plants (I found this out when I poked at one that oozed sticky stuff on my hand)

This hotel is comparable to the majestic hotels in Vegas (just without the casino, hehe). If you’re in town, do check it out!

#8: Walk on the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

It is completely worth it to see Nashville lit up during the night. It takes about 30 minutes from one side to the other. We took fantastic photos of the opposing bridges and the Nashville skyline!

The nice thing about this bridge is that there are no cars allowed on it.​

When you get to the other side, keep an eye out for a mysterious elevator that takes you to the Cumberland Park, there was live music as well! This is an excellent place to go to take a break from the loud music downtown.

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#7: TN State Museum

Nashville’s Tennessee State Museum and Capitol Museum are free and pretty close to each other. This is a great place to learn more about Nashville’s culture and history. But look out, they’re shutting the state museum to relocate to a different location, so some of the artifacts are not in display.

While you walk around, also look out for this cool diagonal crosswalks, which were everywhere downtown! Reminded me of Shibuya Crossing in Japan.

#6: Parthenon in Centennial Park

Definitely come check out the full-sized replica of the Greek Parthenon. The closest thing to being in Athens itself!

#5: Radnor Lake State Park

After staying up an unhealthy amount the night before, you can recover the next day by taking a lovely stroll through Radnor Lake with its beautiful hikes.

Also a great opportunity for some photography!

#4: Bi-centennial Park

Don’t forget to visit this park in the middle of town, a beautiful stop for a day trip.

While you’re there, don’t forget to catch the bell towers as they go off! It rings every 15 minutes, but the hourly tunes are even more magnificent.

#3: Farmer’s Market

We loved the farmers market for its outdoors-y indoors feel. Visit to the Picnic Tap for the board games and a delicious Flight of Tennessee. There are also tons of other restaurants and an International Market, where I bought yummy persimmons.

#2: Nightlife: Live music!!

You can’t miss the Honky Tonk Highway/Music Mile/Downtown on your visit to Nashville.

It’s hard to imagine any other place like here, except for perhaps New Orleans, where bar after bar right next to each other plays live music through the night, every night. But there it is, on Honky Tonk Highway. The amazing thing is there are no cover fees anywhere! Let’s go honky tonk!

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You can’t miss the Honky Tonk Highway/Music Mile/Downtown on your visit to Nashville.

It’s hard to imagine any other place like here, except for perhaps New Orleans, where bar after bar right next to each other plays live music through the night, every night. But there it is, on Honky Tonk Highway. The amazing thing is there are no cover fees anywhere! Let’s go honky tonk!

  • The Big Bang Bar– this dueling piano bar is very popular among locals, and rightly so. We even got to hear some ragtime piano! The energy felt in the music is evident in the artists makes this top my list of favorite places on Honky Tonk highway.
  • AJ’s Good Time Bar – a 4 story bar karaoke spot with a rooftop bar! This place has great music and great energy. Love their karaoke DJ! ❤ Do visit! 
  • Ms. Kelly’s – located off of the Printer’s Alley, but completely worth the visit (only several blocks away) for a night of fun karaoke. A lot of college students and locals come here to let off steam. 
  • Nudies Honky Tonk – frequently advertised as the longest bar in town. True to the fact, it is very long, with several floors of live music.

For a less touristy destination, visit the Printer’s Alley for some cool live music at night. For late nights, make sure to go with other people or take precautionary measures!

Literally every other person is a performer, a to-be performer, or incredibly musically talented.

#1: The Bluebird Cafe

If you’re in Nashville and skip everything else on the list, you must visit Bluebird! I have never cared too much for country music (though I’ve never hated it), but Bluebird had changed me. You’ll frequently hear that Bluebird was where a lot of singer/songwriters started off at.

The storytelling songs made me laugh, cry, and reflect upon life more than I’ve ever had while listening to music. These artists really knew how to tell a tale.

There is no cover fee to listen at Bluebird, however you must buy $10 in foods. We had a baked brie and a local dark beer, which were both delicious and completely worth it!

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Where to Eat:

True to our budget oriented selves, we cooked almost through our entire trip in Nashville. Because we were vegetarian, it is a little bit difficult to find a place that served us dishes that weren’t sides.

However, we found a vegetarian restaurant The Wild Cow, which had 5 star quality foods! The portions were very large for its price, and we were very happy customers. Be aware that it is very busy and you might have to wait 30 minutes to an hour without reservations.

Where to Stay:

We stayed at an Airbnb with our lovely hosts Shuo and Ron. It was a great location!! It was only $40, way cheaper than all other options we had. The room was very neat and cute. He had left us free granola bars and water bottles. The kitchen and living room were very homey. This is possibly the best Airbnb I’ve ever had! If you’re interested in booking with him, here is is page link! I 100% recommend. 🙂

Sign up here for your next Airbnb and get $40 on your trip!

Get Around:

We primarily used our car during the day. Parking is free for most everywhere except for downtown. Parking downtown is free after 6pm.

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While there, we found that even on a weeknight, bars were packed! Even more coincidentally, we were there during the CMA’s (Country Music Awards, as I found out). Streets were completely blocked, people pouring out, performers mingling with visitors in the glow of the night. It was a quite sight. 

Should you go to Nashville?

Well, it depends. Do you love listening to live music? Meeting nice people? Having a good time?

I think there’s something for everyone in Nashville. You should at least give it a try and you may find that you like it as much as we did. ❤

Cheers!!

 

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