Top 12 Things to Do in Nashville, Tennessee

Nicknamed “Music City,” Nashville is country music’s epicenter with live music pouring out of countless honky-tonks and venues. However, this vibrant capital caters to all tastes offering art museums, historic landmarks, a buzzing food scene, and an array of top-notch attractions.

ParthenonA replica of the ancient Greek temple, offering art exhibits and city views.
BroadwayFamous for honky-tonks, live music, and boot shops, with a vibrant nightlife.
Country Music Hall of FameMuseum showcasing the history and stars of country music.
Radnor Lake State ParkA nature preserve for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing.
Tennessee State MuseumOffers a deep dive into Tennessee’s history through interactive exhibits.
Nashville Predators Hockey GameExperience the excitement of an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena.
General Jackson ShowboatEnjoy scenic cruises with entertainment and dining on the Cumberland River.
The HermitagePresident Andrew Jackson’s estate, featuring mansion tours and historical insights.
12South NeighborhoodA trendy area with boutiques, eateries, and cocktail lounges.
Hattie B’s Hot ChickenFamous for Nashville’s iconic hot chicken dish.
Adventure Science CenterOffers interactive STEAM exhibits, a planetarium, and fun for all ages.

Nashville provides unique experiences around every corner. You can tour the former home of country stars, catch a spectacular show along Broadway, or indulge in delicious hot chicken. History buffs can explore the state’s storied past at museums and preserved estates. Outdoorsy types have abundant parks, gardens and waterways awaiting exploration. With activities suited to every interest, these top 12 picks provide a well-rounded itinerary sure to show you the very best of Nashville.

Take In Stunning City Views at the Parthenon

Name and Location: The Parthenon stands proudly in Centennial Park, located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. It is a full-scale replica of the historic Parthenon in Athens.

History and Significance: Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, this architectural landmark has become an iconic site and one of Nashville’s most famous attractions. Over the decades, millions have visited and enjoyed the majestic columns and breathtaking city views it offers.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk around and explore the exterior of the Parthenon and snap photos with the impressive Nashville skyline in the background. For a small fee you can also go inside to see a giant statue of Athena and an art museum with various collections and exhibitions that change periodically.

Visitor Information: The Parthenon is open Tuesday through Saturday 9AM–4:30PM year-round with extended hours in the summer. Admission to walk the grounds is free with small entry fees to access the interior attractions.

Yes, Nashville contains its own replica of the ancient Greek Parthenon temple housing an art museum and giant statue of Athena. But even if you skip the interior exhibits, the exterior columns make a spectacular spot for panoramic city views. Snap photos of soaring downtown skyscrapers contrasted against this monumental backdrop. At night, the Parthenon’s luminous façade casts an otherworldly golden glow over Centennial Park. If visiting in summer, cool off watching the creative water fountain shows.

Tour Musical Landmarks Along Broadway

Name and Location: Broadway is located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee and is considered the epicenter of the city’s world-famous live music scene. It features a variety of famous musical landmarks and iconic venues.

History and Significance: Nashville’s Broadway hosted theaters and music halls as early as the 1800s. Over the decades it nurtured country music and the Grand Ole Opry, earning Nashville the nickname “Music City.” Today’s lively Broadway features musical activity day and night.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk up and down Broadway, go into places like the Ryman Auditorium and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, listen to free live music pouring onto the streets, and soak up the musical energy that makes Nashville so famous and beloved by music fans everywhere.

Visitor Information: Broadway is open daily with activity and music happening 24/7. It’s located downtown and can be easily accessed by rideshares, tour buses, or parking garages nearby. No admission fees unless attending concerts at ticketed venues.

Glitzy honky-tonks, live country music clubs, and boot shops rule downtown’s legendary Broadway strip. Stars past and present—like Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift—got their musical starts busking along this iconic street. Today, you might catch an up-and-coming act hoping to follow in their footsteps. Bar hop between iconic venues like Tootsies Orchid Lounge or Robert’s honoring country music history. Don’t miss out on snapping a photo with the towering Musical City “Nashville” sign out front.

Spend an Afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Name and Location: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is situated at 222 5th Avenue South right in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee, just moments from Music Row.

History and Significance: Since opening in 1967, the museum has preserved country music history through vast collections of recordings, photos, instruments, clothing and more artifacts spanning early roots to today’s popular stars.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore permanent exhibits highlighting country music development plus rotating special exhibitions like the Taylor Swift Education Center. Interactive displays, films and daily programs provide engaging education.

Visitor Information: Open daily 9am-5pm with extended hours in summer. Admission starts around $25 for adults, $15 youth. Purchase tickets online to avoid lines. Guided tours and restaurant on-site.

Immerse yourself in country music at the Country Music Hall of Fame whose robust collection traces roots from early Appalachia ballads to modern stadium superstars. Get interactive listening to vintage tracks, strumming different instruments or testing your skills against music legends in exhibits. Fans will fawn over artifacts like Elvis’s gold Cadillac and Johnny Cash’s handwritten lyrics. Catch a stellar on-site show at the state-of-the-art CMA Theater between gallery viewings.

Take in Natural Wonders at Radnor Lake State Park

Name and Location: Radnor Lake State Park encompasses 1,200 acres of preserved forests and wetlands located seven miles southwest of Nashville, Tennessee, minutes from suburban neighborhoods yet so serene that it feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

History and Significance: Deemed an Important Bird Area with hundreds of documented species, the land surrounding Radnor Lake was permanently protected as a state natural area in 1999 due to conservation efforts to offset pressures from encroaching development nearby and provide an accessible wildlife sanctuary.

What to Expect: Guests encounter wildlife of all sorts from migratory birds to beavers, bobcats and even resident barred owls as they traverse nearly 14 miles of peaceful hiking trails that wrap around the serene lake and forested peninsula.

Visitor Information: Open daily dawn to dusk year-round. Free admission with parking fees of $4-8 per vehicle depending on lot location. Leashed pet-friendly. Restrooms, nature center and drink vending machines available on site.

Just 12 miles outside bustling Nashville, Radnor Lake transports you to a peaceful nature preserve perfect for rejuvenating walks hand-in-hand with your sweetheart. Embark on miles of woodland walking trails encircling this protected wetland habitat. Pause to admire waterfowl gliding across the glassy lake or venture up to the Lakeview Overlook Deck perched 110-feet atop limestone bluffs for Instagram-worthy vistas. Rise early to spot white-tailed deer amid morning mists.

Journey Through Time at the Tennessee State Museum

Name and Location: The Tennessee State Museum is a vast history museum located in downtown Nashville that traces the state’s cultural heritage and milestones spanning centuries through exhibits, artifacts and programming.

History and Significance: Founded in 1937 within the War Memorial Plaza, the state museum holds over 160,000 irreplaceable objects in its educational collections and strives to preserve and share Tennessee’s rich history with the public through dynamic, interactive explorations covering art, music, science, military events and more.

What to Expect: Five expansive permanent exhibit galleries guide visitors chronologically through major periods in Tennessee’s development alongside folk art displays, temporary shows and daily programs/demonstrations illuminating various cultural traditions.

Visitor Information: Free admission Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Closed major holidays. Group tours, museum store and cafe on site. Free visitor parking available in surrounding lots.

From prehistoric fossils and dugout canoes to Vietnam War memorabilia and civil rights artifacts, the Tennessee State Museum immerses you in the region’s compelling past. Explore interactive exhibits bringing state history alive through original films, oral histories and artifacts. Stand on the balcony where governors addressed citizens or walk through a life-size replica of Nashville’s 1897 streetscape. Sign up for a museum tour led by engaging docents providing fascinating tidbits.

Cheer on the Nashville Predators Hockey Team

Name and Location: The Nashville Predators are the city’s professional NHL hockey team that plays home games at Bridgestone Arena located at 501 Broadway in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

History and Significance: Originally awarded as an expansion franchise in 1997, the Predators play in the Western Conference Central Division and have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs ten times, appearing in the 2017 finals before immense hometown crowds lovingly dubbed the “seventh man” advantage.

What to Expect: Attending a “Smashville” home game means raucous cheering, fervent chants, spirited mascot antics and fastest-in-the-league action on ice with Southern hospitality in “The Stone” arena providing Nashville’s professional sports scene with tons of points of pride.

Visitor Information: Single game and seasonal tickets available for purchase online. Concessions, Preds team store and nearby downtown parking garages add convenience for match attendees.

Catch feverish NHL action as the hometown Predators skate against rivals in the raucous 17,500+ seat Bridgestone Arena. Arrive early to wander event levels displaying hockey memorabilia and to watch players warm up. Settle into seats to revel in smashmouth excitement as bodies and pucks crash into walls with abandon. Rally towels and rabid cheering reach ecstatic pitch with every nail-biting Predators goal. Between fast-paced periods, keep energy levels high visiting concession stands for hot dogs and cold brews.

Take a Scenic Cruise on the General Jackson Showboat

Name and Location: The General Jackson Showboat offers sightseeing cruises and dining experiences on the Cumberland River departing from downtown Nashville’s Riverfront Park near Nissan Stadium.

History and Significance: As one of the largest showboats in the country at 300 feet long, cruising on the General Jackson captures the romanticism of 19th century river journeys through beautiful Cumberland sightlines showcasing Nashville’s dynamic cityscape and architectural landscapes.

What to Expect: Guests are seated in a vibrant two-story Victorian theatre as musicians perform hits spanning decades while the paddle wheel propels a relaxing ride filled with inspired commentary of passing historical structures and landmarks along the riverbanks.

Visitor Information: Cruise options ranging from brunch to dinner appear on the General Jackson’s online schedule where tickets can be purchased. Group rates and private charters are also available.

For gorgeous riverfront views of downtown, embark on a sightseeing lunch or dinner cruise aboard the elegant triple-decker General Jackson Showboat. Enjoy watching the Nashville skyline drift by as you graze from bountiful buffets. Sit back and tap your toes while a talented band puts on flashy dance revues spanning jazz, country and pop numbers. Consider splurging on special holiday cruises to hear carols at the Captain’s table or countdown to the midnight fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Pay Respects at The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson

Name and Location: The Hermitage estate and grounds is located at 4580 Rachel’s Lane in east Nashville, Tennessee. It preserved the 1,120 acre plantation homestead of U.S. President Andrew Jackson, along with original outbuildings, gardens and his final resting place.

History and Significance: Purchased in 1804 and held by Jackson for over 40 years, The Hermitage is one of America’s best-preserved early Presidential estates. It provides an intimate look into Andrew Jackson’s personal life and career beyond political achievements via meticulously maintained relics and furnishings within the historic mansion.

What to Expect: Guided tours grant guests access to see Jackson’s mansion including the family bedrooms, libraries, parlors and more areas outfitted with period décor and his original belongings, providing meaningful insight into early 19th century Tennessee plantation life.

Visitor Information: Open daily from 8:30am, with tours beginning on the hour. Admission charged. Outbuilding tours, enhanced experiences, and event rentals also available on the expansive grounds by reservation.

History buffs will delight in this beautifully-preserved antebellum mansion estate once belonging to U.S. President Andrew Jackson. Tour the stately Tennessee-stone mansion hearing colorful stories of “Old Hickory” recounted by expert guides. Marvel at intricate parlors adorned with original French furniture or wander lush landscaped grounds. Visit Jackson’s simple church pew paying homage alongside the ornamented tombs of him and beloved wife Rachel in the tranquil gardens.

Shop the Trendy Boutiques at 12South Neighborhood

Name and Location: 12South is an artsy, vibrant neighborhood area located southwest of downtown Nashville, Tennessee, known for its shopping, dining and creative community centered along 12th Avenue South.

History and Significance: Formerly home to country music recording studios, 12South has transformed into one of Nashville’s most walkable districts filled with Instagram-worthy murals, hip boutiques and hot restaurants, establishing an eclectic culture anchored by specialty shops and indie vibes.

What to Expect: Visitors can browse the fashionable clothing stores, gift shops, antiques and design showcases lining 12South while also dipping into trendy eateries like Mafiaoza’s or Five Daughters Bakery in between browsing unique neighborhood finds.

Visitor Information: Free neighborhood parking and metered street spots (free on Sundays) provide easy access. Many shops open at 10 or 11am, closing around 6pm daily. First Saturday Art Crawls occur monthly with extended hours.

Nashville’s artsy 12South district brims with adorable boutiques, award-winning eateries and hip cocktail lounges. Spend an afternoon window shopping the strip’s photogenic converted bungalows showcasing everything from designer Cowboy boots to vintage Fender guitars. Trendy Reese Witherspoon-backed shops like Draper James draw fashionistas in droves alongside local art galleries like Tinney Contemporary representing talented regional painters. Fuel up on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at SCAF before continuing explorations.

Dig Into Hot Chicken at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Name and Location: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is located at 112 19th Avenue South in the Midtown neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee. They specialize in authentic Nashville-style hot chicken served at varying spice levels.

History and Significance: Founded in 2012 by Bishop and Smith, Hattie B’s pays homage to the city’s history of hot fried chicken dishes originating in African-American culture while advancing it to today’s palettes via flavorful Southern renditions focused on quality birds and signature heat you’ll dream about.

What to Expect: Perfectly fried tender chicken is spiced with secret seasoning at six intensity levels from southern (no heat) up to the confrontational “Shut the Cluck Up!” Expect lines but fast counter service in an order-at-the-counter setup with indoor and patio communal seating.

Visitor Information: Open daily starting at 11am, closing around 10pm. Moderate pricing from $9-15 per plate. Limited parking but close to downtown, so rideshares and cabs easily accessible.

No visit to Nashville is complete without sampling the city’s iconic fiery fried chicken coated in cayenne-infused seasoning. Since 2012, Hattie B’s has dished out fan-favorite bird ranked by heat levels from Southern (no spice) to the eye-watering, lip-numbing Shut the Cluck Up! Take on the Damn Hot challenge of polishing off six shattering tenders without reaching for milk. Even mild tastes tantalize taste buds thanks to secret seasoned batter developed by owner Nick Bishop Jr. This hole-in-the-wall doesn’t take reservations so come early.

Relive Your Childhood at Adventure Science Center

Name and Location: Adventure Science Center is an interactive kids museum located at 800 Fort Negley Boulevard in Nashville, Tennessee, dedicated to inspiring lifelong science learning through creative exhibits and programming that unlock curiosity and wonder.

History and Significance: Founded in 1945 as a small planetarium, the non-profit museum has delivered meaningful STEM education experiences to millions of children and families over the years through enriching exhibits, workshops, camps and other initiatives aimed at making science playful and accessible.

What to Expect: From earthquake simulators to laser mazes and mind-bending mirrors, the museum offers awesome, educational hands-on science fun through multi-story exhibit halls, daily demonstrations, seasonal camps and adult learning nights.

Visitor Information: Open daily with timed entry. Admission discounts available online. Onsite parking, food/shopping and Nursing Nook complement the family-friendly attractions.

Recapture the magic of childhood discovery at the whimsical Adventure Science Center featuring awesome dinosaur bones, a planetarium and dozens more STEAM-based exhibits. See slithering snakes, chat with a talking robot or get immersed inside a giant kaleidoscope. Budding scientists experiment with floating magnetic sculptures, design marble runs and make giant bubbles. Adults enjoy arcade halls, the new Weird, Wild West gallery and seasonal festivities like “snow” days bringing winter cheer to the sunny South.


Affable Nashville delivers an outrageous amount of entertainment spanning paddleboats on the Cumberland, lively nightclubs touting future music superstars and enough boot shops and barbecue joints to make you feel 100% country. But this creative capital also serves up stunning parks, fascinating history and one-of-a-kind attractions catering to all tastes. Use these top 12 picks spanning musical icons, presidential homes and fiery fried chicken when planning your Nashville getaway. No matter your travel style, this energetic Southern city is sure to win your heart through toe-tapping tunes and signature Southern hospitality.

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