Nashville offers so many different attractions that it can be overwhelming to determine where to begin. Whether a local resident or a visitor to Music City, it seems like the options are endless on where to go, what to see and where to eat. Yet, among all the countless options, most people have their Nashville favorites. Here is a sample of the most popular attractions and destinations for people visiting Nashville and a more “off the beaten path” sample of things our Nashville locals love.
What Tourists Love
Visitors love to enjoy the famous Loveless Café any time of day. The Loveless Café offers authentic Southern food that is made entirely from scratch. Chefs arrive at 3 a.m. to begin preparing the food for guests. The savory, homemade biscuits have been drawing in hungry customers for over sixty years.
Manager Ashley Elder says there is a “secret ingredient the biscuits are made with. We make about 9,000 to 10,000 a day.” That’s a lot of biscuits! Elder thinks so many people eat here while visiting Nashville because “the Loveless Café has been on the ‘Today’ show, Paula Deen and other shows, so people around the country know about us.”
Nashville is aptly named “Music City” for good reason. The Grand Ole Opry has produced some of country music’s biggest stars – hence their slogan, “The Show That Made Country Famous.” Opry backstage tours are among the most highly revered tours in all of Nashville.
One wouldn’t visit Washington, D.C and not see the White House. So it is with Nashville. Another celebrated stop for tourists and residents alike is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The CMHOF preserves the history of past and present country music legends while sharing it with guests from around the world. Their many programs appeal to young and old, tourist and resident alike.
Another way to soak up the spirit of Nashville is to take in a tour or two. Echoes of Nashville Walking Tours is unique in Nashville. Owned and operated by professional historians, the routes take guests on a leisurely stroll through the city to explore the vast history that led Nashville to become so popular. Owner and historian Jeff Sellers explains, “Nashville is for sure ‘Music City,’ but it is also one of the most historic cities in the South.
People don’t realize that Nashville has such a rich history beyond music. They come knowing the music. We hope they leave knowing Nashville on a deeper level.” Sellers says that people on his tours come from all over but “most recently a couple from Perth, Australia stands out as one of the furthest trips to get here.” Tours like this are making guests more knowledgeable about our city’s roots.
Another draw for tourists is the Parthenon in Centennial Park, known around the world as being the only full-size replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. Nashvillians are quite proud of our Parthenon, which also boasts the tallest indoor statue in the Western Hemisphere with a statue of Athena standing 41 feet 10 inches tall. An art gallery also lies inside that houses over 60 original paintings.
Another option that tourists love to try is ziplining, a unique, sporty attraction that many visitors do not have in their hometowns. With multiple locations in Nashville, including Treetop Adventure Park at Nashville Shores and Music City Ziplines by Adventureworks at Fontanel, it has definitely gained popularity. “There are so many things Nashville has going for it,” says Brian Davis, managing partner at Music City Ziplines. “Nashville is a city that appreciates its outdoor recreation. Former Mayor Karl Dean has pushed an outdoor, healthy lifestyle.” The zip-tour guide even inquires where everyone in the group is from!
Come nighttime, the bright lights of Broadway attract visitors from all points of the compass. Walking up and down Broadway listening to live music and hopping from honky-tonk to honky-tonk is a favorite for tourists. Countless bachelorettes choose Nashville to celebrate their impending nuptials on Broadway.
There are plenty of unique bars, but the world famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a popular attraction with, of course, great live music. Tootsie’s also grants patrons access to a rooftop bar across from Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators. Another great nightlife favorite is the three-story Honky Tonk Central that offers a different live band on each floor. The view of Broadway from the third floor of Honky Tonk is certainly unique. Visitors can even grab a margarita at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville before heading back out onto Nashville’s most lively street.
What our Locals Love
Brunch is a favorite of Nashville locals, and there is no shortage of brunch options. One can find great brunch deals all around town, but one place in particular is Mad Donna’s in East Nashville. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday feature a “Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar” and two-for-one mimosas that come in a variety of flavors: black raspberry, peach, pineapple, pomegranate and white grape. Not only are the drinks spicy at Mad Donna’s, but they spice up the typical French toast by coating their Captain’s French Toast with Cap’n Crunch and drizzling it with maple syrup and berries and serving it with bacon. It’s not hard to see why locals love Mad Donna’s! You can’t miss a brunch around town, be it traditional and refined or trendy with a twist. We Nashvillians love our brunch!
The First Saturday Art Crawl Downtown is a well-liked free monthly event that draws 1,500-2,000 people a month according to Susan Tinney, owner of Tinney Contemporary which is one of the three founding galleries of the art crawl. Art galleries throughout downtown are featured with exhibits changing out each month. “With over 20 galleries and growing open for this fun monthly event, the ability for collectors to be exposed to great art is present up and down 5th Avenue,” Tinney explains.
“All price points and collectibility exists within our galleries. Because the galleries are all so different from each other, we are able to offer a broad and unique art experience.” This art crawl is a spectacular way to feature Nashville as a center for art and to invite locals to celebrate our city’s artistic side. “That is what is so exciting about Nashville today versus when we started,” Tinney elaborates. “There are a lot more people interested in sophisticated contemporary, collectible work in Nashville. And that makes me very excited for our future.”
Whether it’s football, hockey, or baseball season, Nashvillians enjoy supporting their home team. In the fall, Nissan Stadium is booming with Tennessee Titans fans cheering on the team. Titans fans are especially excited for this season, due to new draft picks including Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. After football season ends, hockey fans “get ready to rumble” as they make their way to Bridgestone Arena. Fans have been cheering for the Predators since their inception in 1998 and are considered the “sixth man.”
Hot dog and Cracker Jack lovers enjoy cheering on the Nashville Sounds AAA baseball team at the new First Tennessee Park. The park features a one-of-a-kind, guitar-shaped scoreboard that could only be pulled off in Music City. Tickets for stadium seating were a hot commodity selling out fast during the inaugural season at First Tennessee Park, and spectators could also bring a blanket to sit in the grass or sit at one of the couches at the bar to watch the action.
Nashville residents also enjoy spending leisure time in the outdoors during pretty weather. One such place is Arrington Vineyards for dinner on the lawn or a relaxing day. “Locals love the rural ambiance of the vineyards and the consistent excellence of the wines. It’s also a great place to bring a picnic to enjoy with your family or your date or your friends, and just chill out and enjoy life,” President Kip Summers explains.
“We’re close enough to downtown for a quick visit during the day but far enough away to enjoy an escape from city life.” Once there, locals pick out a bottle or two of local Arrington Vineyard wine to enjoy with the sunset and the vineyards below. Arrington Vineyards also offers wine tasting inside for wine connoisseurs. The ‘picnic tasting’ allows visitors to sample their choice of four wines and take it outside to enjoy at their own convenience. Locals enjoy Arrington year-round, with fireplaces on the deck making cold winter days pleasant.
While Broadway is one of the first stops for visitors to Nashville, Midtown and Demonbreun are where most of the locals experience their nightlife. Here you will find Vanderbilt and Belmont students taking a break from schoolwork and young professionals having a fun night out with friends.
Tin Roof on Demonbreun has live music every night of the week and frequently hosts concerts that bring in bands and artists like Run DMC, Billy Currington, Jessie James Decker and Vanilla Ice. Other popular hidden spots that only locals tend to know for great nightlife and live music are Douglas Corner, the Commodore Lounge and 3rd and Lindsley.
Tourists and Locals Alike, We all Heart Nashville
No matter if you’re visiting Nashville, if you’re a recent transplant or if you’re a multi-generational Nashvillian born and raised, we all have one thing in common. We all love Nashville in all its glory. It may be the “It City” that draws visitors in, but many of those visitors love it so much that they decide to stay! To us locals and those who decide to stay, Nashville is home.