A Visitor’s Guide to Nashville: Sightseeing, My Favorite Restaurants and the Best Bars in Town.

Nashville was named as one of the best places to visit in 2020 by Conde Nast Traveler. For eight years now, Nashville has been ranked as a top travel destination in various publications. The capitol of Tennessee is probably best known as the “home to country music” and has earned the nickname Music City.  However, Nashville offers visitors a wide variety of attractions in addition to its live music venues. Nashville is a city rich in history, offers diverse dining choices and a unique art scene which includes murals, street art, museums, and art galleries. The best time to visit Nashville is either before May or after September. The late spring and summer time can be brutal if you are not accustomed to warm weather coupled with the high humidity.

Here is a list of my personal favorites I would recommend to anyone wanting to visit Nashville. Links to all these recommendations are highlighted in the orange text.

Attractions

Ryman Auditoriumif you are a gospel or country music fan, this is the first place you should visit in Nashville.  It is often referred to as “The Ryman”, “The Carnegie of the South”, and the “Mother of Country Music.” This was the first home of the Grand Ole’ Opry from 1943-1974. Self-guided tours are available.

Front of the Ryman AuditoriumFront of the Ryman Auditorium
Stained glass windows in the RymanStained glass windows in the Ryman
Inside the Ryman AuditoriamInside the Ryman Auditoriam

Grand Ole Opry Show and Back Stage Tour – Country music’s famous stage. Be sure to see a show (reservations are required) where you can watch both famous and aspiring performers.  After the show, you can take a separate backstage tour and see the dressing rooms and lounge area for that evening’s performers. You will even have a photo opportunity to stand in the historical stage circle. Reservations for the backstage tour must be made in advance. If you are passionate about country music, I highly recommend you do not leave Nashville without visiting both the Ryman and the Grand Ole Opry.

Front entrance to the Grand Ole OpryFront entrance to the Grand Ole Opry
If you take the Backstage tour, you will have the opportunity to stand on the famous circle on the Grand Ole Opry Stage. If you take the Backstage tour, you will have the opportunity to stand on the famous circle on the Grand Ole Opry Stage.
Inside of the Grand Ole OpryInside of the Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry post office where members can receive their mail. You will see this on the Back Stage tourGrand Ole Opry post office where members can receive their mail. You will see this on the Back Stage tour

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum This 130,000 square foot museum is one of the world’s largest gallery of country music artifacts consisting of vintage video, photographs, records, and text panels. 

Belle Meade Plantation – The Belle Meade plantation started in 1807 when southerner John Harding bought a log cabin on 250 acres near Natchez Trace. The cabin was later renovated and enlarged to resemble a Greek Revival mansion. After the Emancipation, this became of one of the largest thoroughbred horse farms in the south. Guided tours through the Mansion are available along with a complimentary wine tasting for visitors 21 and over.

Belle Meade PlantationBelle Meade Plantation

Nashville Murals The murals in Nashville have continued to gain popularity and are attracting visitors from all over. Be sure to check out the fascinating street art all over Nashville. Blogger Kristin Luna compiled a list of these here where you can find these. 

Downtown Nashville – this is where you will find The Ryman Auditorium, Printers Alley (live music, lounges and clubs), Bridgestone Arena (Nashville Predator NHL team), Nissan Stadium (Tennessee Titans NFL team) and Broadway Street (country music and honky tonk country bars).

Downtown Franklin – this hidden gem is one of my absolute favorite side excursions when I visit Nashville.  Franklin is a small town approximately 22 miles south of Nashville. It has received numerous accolades including the “Great American Main Street Award”, “Best Small Town in Tennessee” “America’s Most Romantic Main Street” and one of “America’s Favorite Towns” (Travel + Leisure Magazine). This quaint quintessential town has some great shopping for unique gifts, household wares, clothing along with some fantastic restaurants.  Franklin played an important part in American history. The Battle of Franklin was one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War. Tours are available for both Carton and Carter House, historic homes which played important roles in the Civil War.

If you are traveling with girlfriends, I highly recommend you spend some time in the downtown area. My favorite thing to do is to shop and have lunch in Franklin.  My favorite stores (if you like to cook and entertain) are: Savory Spice Shop and Hester and Cook.  For some restaurant recommendations look down below under the heading restaurants.