What should we do while we are in Nashville?
Generally speaking, our answer is typically based on:
- the type of music you enjoy
- whether you are driving or flying into Nashville (thus, whether you’ll have access to a cab or rental car)
- where you are staying (and if you have a car or not)
- the type of food you like to eat
- whether you’re traveling with kids or not
That said, the following things tend to appear on our Nashville Visitors Must Do List time and time again.
So if you ever get a chance to do these things… you must!!!
Where To Stay…
If you ever get the opportunity to stay at the Opryland Hotel, you should.
I stayed there once during a conference, and I’ve visited the hotel several times since then. (You can never take in everything that there is to see and do there!)
The Opryland Hotel is way off the beaten path, but if you have a car, then you could make your way to downtown Nashville for the nightlife. Or, depending on your time schedule and how much you want to do, you may find plenty to do within close proximity to the hotel. Some of my favorite things to do near Opryland:
- General Jackson River Cruise
- Opry Mills Mall
- Grand Ole Opry
- IMAX Movie Theater At Opry Mills
- Music Valley At Opryland
- Nashville Palace
Here are 8 of the most unique hotels in Tennessee, including 4 in Nashville!
If you’re not staying downtown, then we recommend staying in:
Brentwood, TN – just south of Nashville, there are a handful of nice hotels right near the I65 exit.
Here are some Brentwood hotels worth considering.
Franklin, TN – just south of Brentwood, it’s a real trendy place with plenty of fun things do right there.
Here are some pet-friendly hotels in Franklin. (Psst… if you’re bringing your pet, then you’ll appreciate this link to after-hours veterinary services …just in case!)
Where To Eat…
Our all-time favorite lists of the best restaurants in Franklin and the best restaurants in Brentwood aren’t necessarily the best for tourists who are typically looking for unique eateries in the area. Just keep in mind the places on those 2 lists were chosen primarily because we tend to frequent them regularly as locals. Tasty? Yes. Unique? Not so much.
As far as noteworthy and unique places to eat in the Nashville area, our top picks include the following:
- For breakfast: Pancake Pantry – Get there early, there’s always a line to get in. And you never know who you might see there.
- For lunch: Noshville Deli – A trendy dive where everyone who’s anyone goes for lunch at least once when they’re in Nashville. The Pharmacy is a fun burger joint and soda shop like no other, and the food is de-lish!
- For dinner: Mangia Nashville – It’s actually in Franklin, and only open on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s expensive, but worth it! They serve the most luxurious menu in a super fun & casual atmosphere.
- For dessert: Sweet Cece’s or GiGi’s Cupcakes – Both have super-large servings, ensuring that your sweet tooth will be satisfied!
- Anytime: Loveless Cafe – Combine this with a short drive on the Natchez Trace Parkway, followed by their world-famous biscuits & gravy and some shopping at the Loveless Shoppes. Or, if you’re already downtown Nashville, then try Jack’s Barbeque. It’s sure to be a hit with everyone, and the place is rich in Nashville history. And everyone likes Mexican food, right? Well Sopapilla’s is better than Mexican food – it’s New Mexican food!
- Kids will love: Aquarium Restaurant or Rainforest Cafe. Both are located inside the Opry Mills Mall.
For even more unique places to eat around Nashville, check out The Eater Nashville.
These photos show Jack’s Barbeque from the front, from the inside, and from the back:
Fun Things To Do With Kids…
Each of these provides a great list of things specifically for kids to do in the Nashville area:
- 10 Fun Activities For Kids In Nashville
- Nashville (And Baseball) Through The Eyes Of A Child
- Fun Things To Do With Kids In Cool Springs
- Nashville Shores Waterpark
- 10 Tips For Visiting The Nashville Zoo
- Fun Things To Do For The History Buff
- Nashville Vacation Ideas With Kids
- A Mom’s-Eye-View Of The Adventure Science Center
Outdoorsy Things To Do…
To stretch your legs, enjoy some beautiful nature, and get a little bit of a workout, consider hiking on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
For a nice change of pace, you might enjoy horseback riding in and around Nashville.
If you want to see some wonderful scenery and a peaceful place to get away, then Radnor Lake is for you. There’s a nice walking trail, and the wildlife is plentiful!
Good news: All of the nearby beautiful Tennessee State Parks are free!
Be sure to keep your eye out for celebrities in Nashville when you’re out & about. You may also want to take a drive by some Nashville celebrities’ homes — like Miley Cyrus, Tim and Faith, or Alan Jackson’s house!
Fun Ways To Get Around…
Whether you’re looking for a fun way to spend an extra day in Nashville, or you’re just in need of a change of pace, some of these alternative travel options might meet your needs:
- Tips For Seeing Nashville By RV
- Nashville Parking 101
- Visiting Nashville On Bicycle
- Nashville Segway Tours: A Fun Way To See Downtown Nashville
- Take A Scenic Drive On The Natchez Trace Parkway (more tips for visitors here)
- Nashville Trolley Tours
- Grayline Bus Tours Of Nashville
- Take A Leisurely Drive Through Percy Warner Park
- Fun Trips & Tours IN And Around Franklin, TN
- Getting Around Nashville By Taxi Cab
Unique Places To Shop…
Franklin Factory – a 12-building dining, retail, and entertainment complex that’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places. There are a few shops inside that sell really unique Nashville souvenirs.
Opry Mills Mall – nearly 200 stores and restaurants all under one roof… definitely something for everyone! We call it the ‘guy mall’ because even guys who don’t care for shopping enjoy their time here thanks to guy-friendly stores, massage chairs, big-screen TVs, and local bands.
Main Street / Downtown Franklin – more than 150 unique places to explore in the 15-block downtown National Register District, including trendy shops, antiques, and restaurants. Here are all the best antique shops in Franklin, plus 4 places to bargain shop in Franklin.
10 Best Places To Shop In Nashville – these shopping spots are the ones that are most often favorited by locals and tourists alike.
Hatch Show Print – take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir: an official Hatch Show Print poster! Even if you don’t buy anything, you absolutely must step inside this unique shop on Broadway. I have several of their super cool posters.
$10 Boutique – looking for a cheap Nashville souvenir?… This is the place to start while you’re downtown!
Nashville Flea Market – you never know what you’re going to find at this indoor/outdoor event that takes place monthly.
Spirit of Nashville – they have some of the most unique pieces of artwork, home decor, and souvenirs I’ve ever seen around here — all with a unique Nashville flavor.
Best Music In Nashville…
- Ryman Auditorium – You can even tour the Ryman! Take a self-guided tour, or get a behind-the-scenes backstage tour of the Mother Church. View their upcoming events.
- Grand Ole Opry – Get a backstage tour of the Opry House or check their upcoming events calendar. (The tickets are expensive, but worth it!)
- Classic Country Music Locations – These are less expensive alternatives to the Grand Ole Opry.
- Best Small Music Venues – If you’re looking for small and quaint, then you’ll love these intimate settings where you can see some of the best talent in Franklin & Nashville.
- Pub Crawl At Downtown Nashville Bars – We usually stick to the honky tonks on Broadway, but there are lots of fun options here for a Nashville bar crawl!
Seasonal Fun Things To Do…
Most of the above events and activities can be enjoyed any time of year.
The following things are purely seasonal:
Nashville Sounds Baseball – The Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, and a minor league baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL).
Franklin Main Street Festival – A free event featuring more than 200 artisans & crafters, 3 stages, 2 carnivals and an international food court to round out a full weekend of entertainment.
Iroquois Steeplechase – Drawing an average crowd of 25,000, this is one of Middle Tennessee’s top sporting & social events.
Tips For Viewing Nashville’s 4th Of July Fireworks – If you’re in town over the Fourth of July, here are some insider secrets for viewing the fireworks.
Franklin Rodeo – Fun for kids of all ages, and a great opportunity to wear your favorite cowboy and cowgirl attire!
Leaf Peeping In Tennessee – From late September through late October you’ll see the most colorful leaves in Tennessee.
Nashville Corn Mazes – Venture into some of the most amazing corn mazes located in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
Holiday Lights At Opryland Hotel – Many people make this an annual family tradition.
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland – Another popular holiday light show that happens to be very near the Opryland Hotel.
Franklin Trolley Holiday Lights Tour – A fun way to see all of the Christmas lights is to let the locals chauffeur you through town to gaze at all of the glittering decorations.
Even More Fun Things To Do In Nashville…
- Here are 365 things to do in Nashville, plus 365 more fun things to do!
- See all of the upcoming events in Franklin, TN & Nashville right in one place.
- Mrs. Cheap’s personal picks for 102 fun things to do in Nashville.
- Here’s an itinerary to help you see the best of Nashville and Memphis.
- Don’t miss what others said about Nashville after their first visit to Music City!
- Check out Jimmy Carter’s Nashville Guide. After all, he’s you’re source to the stars.
- Here’s a guide to sophisticated fun in Nashville, with tips from Gwenyth Paltrow.
- And just for fun, check out the most overrated and underrated things to do in Nashville.