Dubbed “Music City,” Nashville serves as the epicenter of the country music industry and also is home to traditions of Tennessee whiskey. But there’s a ton more you can see and do in a weekend’s time, and you don’t even need to bring a guitar. Or a whiskey still.
From shopping, dining and dancing at the honky tonks on Broadway to the many cultural experiences around the city, museums, sports and thriving neighborhood districts, it’s helpful before going to get an idea of what to do and see while you’re there. Are you into history? Fine dining? Quirky cultures? Outdoors adventures? There’s a little something for most anyone in Nashville.
It’s worth noting that in addition to the music tradition that gave it its nickname, Nashville also has been named America’s Friendliest City by Travel + Leisure magazine.
While one weekend in Music City may not be enough to truly explore everything there is to do and see, this Nashville guide will serve as a good starting point for future trips back.
Nashville At A Glance
- Unofficial (but also official) City Name: “Music City”
- When To Visit: April through October
- Where To Stay: Downtown on Broadway, East Nashville, Vanderbilt/Midtown, Germantown, 12 South
- How To Get Around: Uber/Lyft, car rental for the weekend, bikes (there are several rental options), chartered transportation (buses, SUVs, and black car service), or schedule a tour with Mint Julep Experiences
- Before You Go: Check availability, and book everything in advance!
- Must-Do and Must-See Places:
- Visit Broadway and the Honky Tonks
- Take a Stroll Down Printers Alley
- Attend a Show at the Grand Ole Opry
- Get some Chocolate at Goo Goo Cluster
- Visit the Historic Belle Mead Historic Site & Winery
- Visit Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg
- Get Yourself some BBQ and Nashville Hot-Chicken, Beer and Bourbon
A Bit About Music City
Founded in 1779 on the banks of the Cumberland River, Nashville has grown to be the 21st most populous city in the United States. Following World War II, many residents began moving to suburbs outside the city, which helped fuel its growth.
And as population and housing growth continued, so did Nashville’s allure as a center for business and culture, opening the door for a thriving arts scene, professional sports franchises, dining and a bustling tourism appeal that somehow continues to grow.
Its long history of music lent it the nickname “Music City,” and this is thanks to many factors, such as the presence of a number of classic venues, such as the famed Ryman Auditorium, birthplace the Grand Ole Opry, and the many honky tonks located on lower Broadway. The city is also home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the legendary Music Row, home to countless recording studios over the decades, such as the historic RCA Studio B, where legendary artists such Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton recorded some of their biggest hits.
The city has many historic attractions helping to tell its story, numerous performing arts centers, dining from fine to casual, such as the city’s trademark Nashville Hot Chicken, and nightlife. In fact, so popular is Nashville’s bar scene that The New York Times called the city “the hottest destination for bachelorette parties in the country.”
Where to Stay for a Weekend in Nashville
The Omni Hotel Downtown on Fifth Street is literally just steps from the Lower Broadway district and easily the best bet if you want to be immersed in the Downtown Nashville culture. The hotel offers a variety of accommodations for groups of all sizes, plus dining, a spa and more, and it’s also a pickup/drop-off point for Mint Julep Experiences tours. But there are plenty of other options downtown in case The Omni is booked, from the JW Marriott to the Four Seasons.
For slightly quieter options, try East Nashville, where there are plenty of boutique hotels, bed and breakfast options and more. Waymore’s Guest House is a fine example of how to be within easy access of downtown but without as much tourist-driven bustle.
Also in close proximity to all the downtown fun is the Vanderbilt/Midtown area, where you will find plenty of hotels plus surrounding bars and eateries. There are plenty of available lodging options in this part of town, and you can usually stay on a lighter budget.
The Germantown and 12 South areas are also options for places to stay during your Nashville weekend — The Germantown Inn is a beautiful boutique option, while in 12 South, located just a couple minutes’ drive south of downtown along a short stretch packed with shops and restaurants, has a few worthy options as well, such as the modern (and dog-friendly) 12 South Guest House, where you rent apartments from local owners.
Where to Eat During a Weekend in Nashville
You’ll want to make sure to enjoy all the possible dining options you can while you’re in Music City USA — because the city is certainly about more than honky tonks and museums. And while it may technically be a Southern city, there are plenty of modern, big-city dining amenities to go with some local, more casual favorites.
You can start the day with breakfast or brunch downtown at the popular and upscale Another Broken Egg Café — try the Bourbon Street Pancakes — or in a more laid-back way outside downtown at the Loveless Café, a timeless place set in a house along Highway 100.
For lunch, keep it real with the first-ever hot chicken joint in town, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, or visit Hattie B’s in Midtown for another popular hot chicken sandwich. Or head to Capitol View for a burger at M.L. Rose, tacos at the laid-back San Antonio Taco Company on the Vandy campus or maybe a pizza pie at Smith & Lentz in East Nashville. If barbecue is what you’re in the mood for, you have to make it to Edley’s, which has three locations in the Nashville area. The brisket is to die for.
If you want to take it higher for dinner, you’ll find no shortage of options in Nashville. Hit happy hour for light bites and cocktails at 1 Kitchen, then have dinner at a Nashville mainstay such as The Standard, which set in an Antebellum townhouse, Etch, or the hidden gem Audrey, just outside downtown, which offers an upscale prix fixe menu.
Things To Do in Nashville (besides the Honky Tonk Highway)
When in Nashville, of course you’ll want to peek into some of the classic honky tonks, like Robert’s Western World and Tootsies Orchid Lounge. But there’s much more to Nashville than just the Broadway district and the Honky Tonk Highway.
Things To Do Downtown
If you prefer to stay downtown, get over to the Ryman Auditorium and take the tour. You’ll be able to walk the hallways, see the on-site museum that details the history of the old theater and the artists who’ve performed there, and then finish your tour by having your picture taken on that famous stage. You also can visit Goo Goo Cluster and make your own candy bar, and even take a walk across the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge. c
Things To Around Nashville
If you choose to venture out of downtown, visit Centennial Park, take a walk around, check out the Parthenon, view one of the rotating exhibits and see the Athena statue while you’re at it. And you won’t want to miss the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum.
If you’re interested in shopping, sightseeing and sipping on beverages — we’d recommend a Murals and Mimosas or Murals and Margaritas tour. There are many great neighborhoods to visit in Nashville – Hillsboro Village, 12 South and The Gulch to name a few. In each of these neighborhoods, along with popular boutiques and great restaurants, you’ll find iconic murals.
Interested in a day trip from Nashville?
Lynchburg, TN is just a days trip away from Nashville and is home to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Many make the trip from Nashville to Lynchburg to tour the distillery, enjoy a premium tasting and explore the small, charming town. You can make the drive yourself, but if you’d prefer to relax and enjoy the scenery along the way we’d recommended a Jack Daniel’s Tour that includes transportation to Lynchburg. With an itinerary laid out and admissions taken care of in your tour booking, there’s no added coordination required on your end.
Take a short drive to visit the historic Belle Mead Historic Site & Winery. Tour the grounds, sip the wine, see the majestic mansion and learn the history of this former horse farm, which dates to the 1820s.
Or make a visit to Gaylord Opryland Resort to visit the indoor gardens, which spans nine full acres and is home to 50,000 rare and tropical plants. And don’t forget the Nashville Zoo is just six miles south of downtown; take a backstage tour and get up close and personal with a sloth or a rhinoceros.
Looking to experience the music highway? From the heart of country to the birthplace of blues, a day trip or overnight trip from Nashville to Memphis is a must for those drawn to music’s history. Why experience just one music city when you can immerse yourself in two iconic birthplaces of music legends in just a days drive?
Sightseeing and Transportation Made Easy with Mint Julep Experiences
Whether it’s transportation needs, access to unique Nashville experiences or curated itineraries to your interests, as a destination management company Mint Julep Experiences has the expertise and access to coordinate a memorable weekend in Nashville.
Sip on Some Tennessee Whiskey While in Nashville
When in Tennessee, don’t forget to sample some Tennessee whiskey — and there are plenty of ways to do that in and around Nashville, and all along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.
Sticking around the city? No problem! You’ll find plenty to sip on, tours to take and you’ll also get a feel for the cultural significance and history of whiskey-making in Tennessee.
You can start with historic Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, which originally dates to 1870 and is making the “original Tennessee Whiskey” again for the first time since 1909. Interested in Tennessee rye whiskey? Not far from Green Brier, you’ll find Standard Proof Whiskey Co., which features an array of flavored and straight ryes. Not far from the eye of downtown is Pennington Distilling Co., which makes its brand of Davidson Reserve Tennessee whiskeys. There are plenty of other distilleries around Distillery Row making a variety of spirits, from flavored whiskeys to vodka and more: Corsair Distillery, Nashville Craft Distillery, Big Machine Brewery & Distillery, Far Better Spirit Co. and several others.
About 70 miles to the south, you’ll find the famed city of Lynchburg, home of Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and not too far from there you’ll find Cascade Hollow Distillery (home of George Dickel whiskey) and Nearest Green Distillery, which is named for and dedicated to the man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. Take a tour and sample several different whiskeys as part of a day trip — Book a Jack Daniel’s Tour through Mint Julep Experiences.
If you’ve got time to venture out of the city during your weekend, Jack Daniel’s Distillery should be your first choice, but there are plenty of guided whiskey distillery tours available through Mint Julep Experiences if you like to experience other whiskeys and prefer someone else to do the driving.
A Weekend Itinerary to Nashville
Feeling overwhelmed with all there is to see and do in Nashville? Here’s a sample itinerary of what a weekend in Nashville could like that might help you out — crafted by Mint Julep Experiences.
Friday in Nashville
Arrive in Nashville, take in lower Broadway, visit the honky tonks before they get too crowded to better take in the history. Shop in the district at the many options available, from hitting the historic Arcade to places like Market Street Mercantile, It’s a Nashville Thing, Ya’ll and The Music City Shop.
After lunch (a fried bologna sandwich at Robert’s perhaps), venture to Midtown, 12 South or the Gulch, for more sightseeing and shopping. Consider an afternoon treat at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams or Five Daughters Bakery, but be sure to save room for dinner.
Head back downtown, grab a cocktail or two at the 1940s-era speakeasy, Skull’s Rainbow Room, in Printers Alley. After dinner, it’s time to see what those honky tonks are all about when downtown is rocking. Dance the night away, sing along to classic country tunes, and/or do a bar crawl — there’s no cover charge anywhere!
Saturday in Nashville
Saturday seems like the right day for a distillery tour, doesn’t it? Be sure to book a Mint Julep Experiences tour for late morning, following a hearty breakfast downtown to help soak up the whiskey you’ll be sipping all afternoon.
If you feel like getting up early, take a visit to the Nashville Farmer’s Market before you hit the road. Take in the distilleries and have lunch along the way, while you learn the history of Tennessee whiskey and see the beautiful landscapes at the various distilleries.
Back in town, refresh before dinner at one of Nashville’s many restaurants, then take in a show at the Ryman — and pretty much any show will do, because you’ll be enchanted by the venue, its history, its atmosphere and sitting in the legendary church pews listening to live music. If you still have the stamina when she show’s over? Maybe a nightcap somewhere on the nearby Honky Tonk Highway.
Sunday in Nashville
Find another stellar breakfast spot, such as Loveless Café, then do a museum tour, hitting the Ryman tour (you’ll still be buzzing from the music the night before), the Johnny Cash Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Grab lunch downtown in between stops (Broadway Brewhouse has delicious roasted wings, and you might even be able to catch a bit of the Tennessee Titans game if it’s fall).
Last chance to take in some shopping before your last dinner in town. Maybe grab one last PBR at Robert’s during happy hour, then grab yourself some delicious barbecue at Peg Leg Porker. If you’re up for it afterward, venture out of downtown one more time to grab cocktails at 12 South Taproom before calling it a weekend.
Would you like help coordinating your trip?
Book a Public Tour with Mint Julep Experiences to secure a plan for one of your days in the Music City. If you’d like a more intimate and custom experience, or a multi-day itinerary, inquire for Custom Tour and work with an Experience Coordinator to craft your weekend in Nashville.