Planning a weekend in Nashville? Follow these travel tips to help you plan your Nashville itinerary, know where to stay in the city, where to find the best eats, and experience the best things to do in Nashville.
Nashville is the capitol of the US state of Tennessee and home to Vanderbilt University. It’s nicknamed the “Music City” and is famous for the Grand Ole Opry stage radio show.
Since Nashville is a reasonably small city, this is a great place to spend a long weekend exploring the Country Music Hall of Fame, eating hot chicken, and dancing the night away at the honky tonks.
Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend or girls weekend in Nashville, here’s how to plan your trip like a pro!
Where is the best area to stay in Nashville?
If you’re visiting Nashville for the first time, I recommend staying in one of these four neighborhoods:
Best hotels in Nashville for every budget
If you’re traveling on a budget, these are the best affordable hotels in Nashville:
- Home2 Suites by Hilton Nashville Vanderbilt
- Best Western PLUS Downtown/Music Row
- Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt
If you have some more wiggle room in your budget, below are some of the best mid-range hotels in Nashville:
- Cambria Hotel Nashville Downtown – We stayed here and LOVED it!
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Nashville-Downtown
- Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Downtown / Convention Center
If you want to splurge on your accommodations, below are some popular luxury hotels in Nashville:
What do I need to know about traveling to Nashville?
Best time to go: April through October is the best time to visit Nashville when the weather is warm. December is also a beautiful time to visit when the city is decorated for Christmas.
Best way to get around: Walk around the downtown area, rent a car, ride the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour (this is a great option for those who want to see Nashville’s top attractions without driving a car).
Top 5 things to do in the city: Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Downtown Nashville (Honky Tonks), and The Johnny Cash Museum.
What’s Nashville known for? Nashville is nicknamed the “Music City” and is famous for its live music (especially country music), hot chicken, and iconic buildings.
Top 10 things to do in Nashville
- Country Music Hall of Fame
- Grand Ole Opry
- Ryman Auditorium
- Downtown Nashville (Honky Tonks)
- The Johnny Cash Museum
- Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley
- Nashville Parthenon
- Belmont Mansion
- National Museum of African American Music
- John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
What is the best way to get around Nashville?
The best way to get around Nashville is by car. While downtown Nashville is walkable, if you want to visit the attractions and neighborhoods outside of the downtown area, then you’ll need a car.
If you’re booking your hotel in downtown Nashville and plan on only staying in the downtown area, then there’s no reason to drive or rent a car. You can easily get around on foot.
If you’re staying in downtown Nashville and want to also visit the 12South neighborhood, Blue Bird Café, the Parthenon, and Grand Ole Opry, then you’ll need a car. Having a car is the most efficient way to get around to all the different attractions in Nashville.
Nashville does offer public transportation, but I found that the neighborhoods and attractions are too spread out. I’ve been to Nashville with and without a car. Having a car allowed us to see and do more in a short period of time.
If you’re visiting Nashville without a car and want to see the city’s top attractions, then consider taking the Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Bus Tour. With your 1-Day Trolley Tour, you can hop-on and hop-off ALL DAY at their 14 Old Town Trolley Stops.
This means you can check out Broadway, Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame, Belmont Mansion, Hot Chicken, The Gulch, Centennial Park (to check out the Parthenon), Frist Art Museum, Capitol View, and more!
Weekend in Nashville: Day 1
Highlights of Day 1
- Breakfast: Biscuit Love
- Lunch: Hattie B’s or Princes Hot Chicken or Bolton’s
- Snack: Five Daughter’s Donuts
- Dinner: The Hampton Social
Start your morning by grabbing breakfast at Biscuit Love, located at 316 11th Ave S in The Gulch. This is one of the most popular breakfast spots in Nashville and specializes in southern-inspired breakfast and lunch dishes.
You’ll place your order and pay at the front before sitting down at one of the tables in the restaurant. It can get really busy, so I recommend getting here before 8:00am to avoid a long line up.
My husband ordered the Egg Plate with bacon and I ordered The Lily. Both meals were tasty! Their Bonuts are also a customer favorite, but we were too full to try them.
After breakfast, check out the Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural, located at 302 11th Ave S.
Then head to 201 Broadway (about a 21-minute walk) to ride the Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Bus. If you’ve purchased your tickets online, you can actually get on at the stop in The Gulch (where Biscuit Love is located), but stop #1 is located at 201 Broadway.
The Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Bus Tour can be an excellent way to get familiar with the city of Nashville and hit all the major attractions if you don’t have a car. Nashville offers lots of different bus tours, but the Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Bus is the most popular.
Below are the 14 stops available on the bus tour:
- 201 Broadway
- Ryman Auditorium
- Music City Walk of Fame
- Country Music Hall of Fame
- Legislative Plaza
- Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
- Farmer’s Market
- Capitol View
- Marathon Motor Works
- Centennial Park
- Hot Chicken
- Belmont Mansion
- The Gulch
- Frist Art Union Station Hotel / Frist Art Museum
For your first day in Nashville, I recommend checking out the attractions and neighborhoods outside of the main downtown area. Then you can spend the next 2 days exploring the attractions in downtown Nashville.
Hop off at the Farmer’s Market or Capitol View stop and walk over to check out the Tennessee State Capitol, located at 600 Dr. M.L.K. Jr Blvd. It’s about a 13-minute walk from either stop.
Visitors can take a guided or self-guided tour of the Capitol Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm central time. Depending on your interests, plan to spend 30-45 minutes here.
Hop back on the Trolley Bus Tour and head to Centennial Park, located at 2500 West End Ave. This is a beautiful, large urban park approximately two miles west of downtown Nashville.
Here you’ll find the iconic Parthenon, which is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. There is also an art museum inside which you can choose to visit for a small fee.
Centennial Park also has a 1-mile walking trail, Lake Watauga, the Centennial Art Center, a band shell, a beautiful sunken garden, historical monuments, and sand volleyball courts. This is a great area to have a picnic, people watch, and enjoy nature. Depending on your interests, plan to spend 30-60 minutes here.
Hop back on the Trolley Bus Tour and head to the next stop (Hot Chicken – 1901 Broadway), where you can grab lunch at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, located at 112 19th Ave S.
Hot chicken is popular in Nashville, and it started in the 1930s by a woman (whose identity is unknown). She wanted to get revenge on her cheating boyfriend by making him a too-hot-to-handle version of his favorite fried chicken.
As it turned out, Thorton Prince loved the spicy hot chicken and it inspired the Prince family to create Prince’s hot chicken, which is now referred to Nashville hot chicken.
Where is the best hot chicken in Nashville?
- Prince’s Hot Chicken – This is the first and original place to grab hot chicken in Nashville.
- Bolton’s Hot Chicken & Fish – This the next original hot chicken in Nashville and has been around since the 1980s.
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – Founded in 2012, this hot chicken restaurant has become so popular that you’ll probably find a line up outside of Hattie B’s right now.
After lunch, hop back on the Trolley Bus and get off at the next stop to check out Belmont Mansion, located at 1900 Belmont Boulevard.
This is the largest house built in Tennessee prior to the Civil War, constructed between 1849 and 1860. The average visit is between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
After exploring Belmont Mansion, head over to Five Daughter’s Bakery, located at 12th South, 1110 Caruthers Ave (about a 20-minute walk). They are famous for their 100 layer donut.
My husband and I got 5 donuts and they truly are some of the most amazing donuts we’ve ever had. I am still dreaming about how light and tasty they are.
After grabbing a donut (or two), check out the 12South neighborhood, which is a half-mile stretch along 12th Avenue South. Here you’ll find vintage clothing stores, cute coffee shops, gourmet restaurants, and some of Nashville’s most popular murals.
If you’re a fan of the actress, Reese Witherspoon, you can also check out her clothing store, Draper James, which is located at 2608 12th Ave S.
After exploring the 12South neighborhood, walk back to Belmont Mansion to head back to downtown Nashville, catch an Uber, or take the #17 public bus.
You can make a quick stop to check out the historic Union Station Hotel or head back to your hotel to rest before grabbing dinner at The Hampton Social, located at 201 1st Ave S. This is a beautiful 3-story restaurant that offers costal-inspired food, cocktails, and live music.
I recommend making reservations as it can get quite busy here. My husband and I both enjoyed their pizzas.
After dinner, you can walk along Broadway to check out the Honky Tonks for live music, or head back to your hotel to get some rest after a long day of sightseeing.
More fun things to do in Nashville:
- Nashville: Double-Decker City Tour
- Nashville: 2-hour Trolley Sightseeing Tour by Night
- Nashville: The Ville All-Inclusive Pub Crawl
Weekend in Nashville: Day 2
Highlights of Day 2
- Breakfast: Milk & Honey
- Lunch: Liberty Common
- Snack: Goo Goo Cluster
- Dinner: The Pharmacy Burger Parlor
Start your morning by grabbing breakfast at Milk & Honey, located at 214 11th Ave S in The Gulch. I recommend getting here early as it can get busy.
After breakfast, explore The Gulch neighborhood. Here you’ll find a variety of coffee shops, cute boutique stores, and murals.
Then head over to the Country Music Hall of Fame, located at 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S. It’s about a 13-minute walk from The Gulch.
If you’re looking for a breakfast option closer to the Country Music Hall of Fame, I recommend checking out The Pancake Pantry, located at 220 Molloy St (about a 4-minute walk away).
The Country Music Hall of Fame is self-guided. I recommend spending around two hours here to experience the full museum tour. Even though I’m not a big fan of country music, I enjoyed exploring this museum and seeing all the different artifacts and memorabilia from the genre’s biggest superstars.
After exploring the Country Music Hall of Fame, head to Ryman Auditorium, located at 116 5th Ave N (about a 6-minute walk away).
I recommend walking through the Music City Walk of Fame Park to check out the star-studded pavement which honors Nashville’s music legends.
The Ryman Auditorium was the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. It’s now designated as a National Historic Landmark for its pivotal role in the popularization of country music.
You can take a self-guided tour of this live music venue which celebrates all genres, backgrounds, and people on its stage.
After checking out Ryman Auditorium, grab lunch in downtown Nashville. If you’re looking for a cute restaurant, I recommend going to Liberty Commons.
For something casual, head to Assembly Food Hall which offers a variety of different bars and eateries under one roof.
After lunch, it’s time to check out Honky Tonk Highway (located on Lower Broadway), which is a row of honky tonks playing live music from 10:00am to 3:00am.
What’s a honky tonk?
Tips of visiting the honky tonks in Nashville:
- The over-21 age limit is usually not enforced until 7:00pm or 8:00pm, which means that family members of all ages can experience the honky tonks in Nashville during the day.
- Most of the honky tonks have multiple bars and levels, so if the first level is busy, head upstairs to try the next one.
- It’s important to pace yourself. These bars are open until 3:00am so I recommend setting a drink limit for yourself (if you’re drinking an alcoholic beverage) and make sure to drink plenty of water too.
- Try to visit during the day when the honky tonks are less crowded and the music is just as good. This is a good way to avoid the crowds in the evening.
- The bands on Lower Broadway play for tips. If you like the music they’re playing, make sure to bring cash so you can leave them a tip. If you want to request a song, most bands appreciate a $20 tip per song request.
- Wear closed-toe shoes to the bars. Leave your sandals at home. You don’t want people stepping on your toes!
- Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. Just around the corner on 2nd Avenue North, you’ll find more bars playing live music.
What are the most popular honky tonks in Nashville?
You could easily spend a full day bar hopping and checking out the different bars on Lower Broadway. But if you’re short on time, here’s some of the best ones to visit:
- Legends Corner (428 Broadway) – This bar offers some of the best live country music on Broadway.
- Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (422 Broadway) – This is of the most famous bars on Broadway, which means it can get really busy in the evening. Try to visit earlier during the day to avoid the crowds. Apparently, this is where Willie Nelson earned his first songwriting gig.
- Robert’s Western World (416 Broadway) – This is the best spot in Nashville for traditional country, rockabilly, and bluegrass music.
- Honky Tonk Central (329 Broadway) – This bar offers three floors and three stages to listen to live music. Here you’ll hear a mix of modern country music, classic rock, and 90s / early 2000s favorites.
- Mellow Mushroom (423 Broadway) – This is a good bar for rock music and has excellent pizza if you’re hungry.
If you want to take a break from the honky tonks, check out Goo Goo Chocolate Co, located at 116 3rd Ave S (across the street from The Johnny Cash Museum).
This is Nashville’s official candy which is a tasty combination of nuts, caramel, nougat, and milk chocolate in a rounded cluster. It’s been around since 1912 and is worth visiting!
If you have a car (or don’t mind taking the public bus or calling an Uber), head to The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden for dinner, located at 731 Mcferrin Ave (about a 12-minute drive from downtown Nashville).
This is one of the most popular burger restaurants in Nashville and is also its original biergarten with a collection of German wurst and bier. They offer options for both meat eaters and vegetarians.
If you prefer to stay in downtown Nashville, check out Bakersfield for delicious Mexican street fare, located at 201 3rd Ave S.
After dinner, head to either the Grand Ole Opry to see a show or The Bluebird Café. The Grand Ole Opry is the world’s longest-running radio show (it began in 1925). You can also take a backstage tour to see artist dressing rooms, learn Opry history, and get a photo on stage.
The Blue Bird Cafe is one of the most popular music venues in Nashville and worth a visit if you’re in the area. I recommend planning ahead as many of the shows book up in advance.
More fun things to do in Nashville:
- Nashville: Homes of the Stars Narrated Bus Tour
- Nashville: Downtown Segway Tour Experience
- Nashville: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Grounds Pass
Weekend in Nashville: Day 3
Highlights of Day 3
- Breakfast: The Loveless Cafe
- Lunch: E+ROSE Wellness Cafe
- Snack: Mattheessen’s – Ice Cream, Cookies, Fudge
- Dinner: The Stillery
Start your morning by heading to The Loveless Café for breakfast, located at 8400 TN-100. This is a popular Southern café with a country vibe. It was recommended to me by locals and is worth a visit.
After breakfast, head back to downtown Nashville to check out The Johnny Cash Museum, located at 119 3rd Ave S. It’s smaller than the Country Music Hall of Fame, but it’s a wonderful museum and a must-visit if you’re a fan of Johnny Cash.
The museum is self-guided and takes an average of one hour to go through and experience everything. If you have time, consider visiting the Patsy Cline Museum, which is located on the second floor of The Johnny Cash Museum.
If you’re ready to take a break from deep fried food, I recommend going to E+ROSE Wellness Café, located at 501 Church St. Here you’ll find a healthy selection of superfood bowls, toast, smoothies, salads, wraps, grain and noodle bowls, and more.
After lunch, visit the National Museum of African American Music, located at 510 Broadway. This is the only museum that is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the musical genres inspired, celebrated, or influenced by African Americas.
The museum is self-guided and takes an average of 90 minutes to tour the entire museum.
After exploring the museum, it’s time to explore more of downtown Nashville. If you have a sweet tooth (like me), check out Mattheessen’s, located at 123 2nd Ave N fl 1. This is one of the best spots downtown for ice cream, cookies, shakes, and delicious fudge.
Then make your way over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. Formerly the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, this connects downtown Nashville to the residential suburbs of East Nashville.
The bridge spans 3,150 feet across the Cumberland River and is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. This is a great spot to relax, take photos, and see a view of downtown Nashville.
If you enjoyed the honky tonks yesterday, spend the rest of the afternoon bar hopping and checking out the different bands.
Then grab dinner at The Stillery, located at 113 2nd Ave N. This is a popular spot for mason jar cocktails, burgers & brick-oven pizza. They also offer live music on the weekends.
More fun things to do in Nashville:
- Nashville: Pontoon Part Cruise with a Captain
- Nashville: Downtown Helicopter Tour with Champagne Option
- Nashville: Sightseeing Cart Tour
Weekend in Nashville FAQs
How to get from Nashville airport to downtown
You have three different options to get from Nashville airport to downtown:
Taxi – The Nashville Airport Taxi is the fastest option. It takes around 18 minutes and will cost you $25. Follow the signs for “Ground Transportation”. Here you’ll see local taxis available.
Bus – Take the 18 bus, which only costs $1.70 and will take around 35 minutes to arrive downtown. At the airport, follow the signs for “Ground Transportation”. Here you will see the purple sign for the bus.
Rent a car – Driving a car is the best way to get around Nashville.
How much money should you bring to Nashville?
Your daily budget should be around $138 per person for your vacation. Based on the expenses of other visitors, this is the average daily price. (Price are in USD).
|Average Daily Cost|
As you can see, a vacation to Nashville for one week will cost an average of $964 per person. (Source)
Is 2 days enough in Nashville?
While you won’t be able to see and do everything that Nashville has to offer in 2 days, it’s enough time to see the main attractions and check out the Honky Tonks and Broadway.
Is 3 days enough in Nashville?
Yes, Nashville is a small city, but you can easily cover the main attractions and landmarks in 3 days. This is a good amount of time to spend exploring Nashville, the Honky Tonks, and the different neighborhoods in the city.