Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Nashville

By Susan Guillory · July 24, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Nashville

If you’re looking for an action-packed family vacation, look no further than the birthplace of country music, Nashville, Tennessee. Not only is Nashville a major center for music events and performances, the city is increasingly known as a cultural hub with tons of restaurants, architecture, and museums.

We rounded up our favorite things to do in Nashville at every price point.

Best Times to Go to Nashville

Nashville has plenty going on year round. But if you want to enjoy that famous sunny Southern weather, plan your trip between April and October. Just know that the summer months can see temperatures in the 90s.

If you’re looking to save money on your trip, go off-season between November and March. Because there are fewer tourists, many hotels and attractions offer discount rates.

Here are a few seasonal highlights to help you schedule your visit:

•  March/April: Tin Pan South, a songwriter’s festival

•  April: Cherry Blossom Festival

•  May: Iroquois Steeplechase horse racing

•  August: Tennessee State Fair

•  October: Southern Festival of Books

•  December: Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas

Hotels can fill up for these events, so plan your trip as far out as possible.

Recommended: The Best Time to Book Fall Travel

Bad Times to Go to Nashville

So are there any bad times for your Nashville trip? It depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you hate crowds or heat, stay clear in the summer. And if you want to visit when everything is green and beautiful, winter might not be the ideal time. Nashville winters are mild but still chilly enough to make walking around the city uncomfortable for some.

Consider planning your visit for a week when “nothing” is going on. You’ll still find plenty of live music (of all genres, not just country), and nationally renowned restaurants.

10 Fun Must-Dos in Nashville

You’ve got almost endless options for things to do, see, hear, and eat in Nashville, and narrowing them all down can be tricky. But here’s one frequent visitor’s highly personal take on the best of the best.

1. Nashville Zoo

This zoological garden and historic plantation farmhouse is one of the top attractions in the state. Located 6 miles from downtown, the zoo houses more than 6,000 animals of several hundred species, including Andean bears, Madagascar fanalokas, and red pandas. Kids will enjoy the 20 animatronic dinosaurs that hiss and spit. Advance tickets required. Adults & teens $23, children 2-12 $19.

2. Tennessee State Museum

The Tennessee State Museum aims to educate visitors about the social, political, economic, and cultural history of Tennessee through permanent and changing exhibits, events, and tours. While the museum has plenty for kids of all ages (and is free to all visitors), its Children’s Gallery is designed for ages three to eight to learn about Tennessee history in a hands-on environment. Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm. Free.

3. Opry House Tour

For the traveler who loves country music, there’s no better place to visit than the Grand Ole Opry House. There are several themed tours — including Backstage and Women of Country — that explore the history of this iconic venue and the singers who have graced its stage. Tours every 15 mins 9:30am-4pm. Adults from $30.

4. Hop On Hop Off Nashville Tours

A great way to see the city with teens is a Hop On, Hop Off bus ride. Live guides give running commentary about the sights and history of Nashville, and you can jump off the bus to explore, then rejoin the next tour, as you like. Helpful maps direct passengers to the various sites at each stop. The Old Town tour has 13 stops and the most frequent service, while the Soul of Music tour includes stories about the music scene, original songs from diverse genres, and recommendations on the latest hot spots. 9:30am-4pm daily. From $43.

5. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

The Hermitage is the former home of President Andrew Jackson and his family. On your visit, you can explore his home, garden, and historic buildings, as well as learn the history of the property, Jackson, and the era he lived there. There is also the Natchez Hills Winery at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage onsite if you fancy an after-tour adult beverage. 9am-6pm daily. Adults $27, kids (5-12) $17.

6. Belle Meade History Site & Winery

Belle Meade is a beautiful example of plantation life in Tennessee. Take a tour of the gorgeous grounds or attend a food and wine pairing at the winery. You can also uncover stories of the slaves who were brought to or born at the plantation from 1807 through the years following Emancipation. 9am-5pm daily. Admission $28+

7. Country Music Hall of Fame

Patsy Cline. Brooks & Dunn. Reba McEntire. Every country musician you know and love can be found in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Learn the stories behind the music, see iconic costumes worn by musicians, and view historical exhibits in the museum. The “Experience It All” tour (adults $72) includes tours of the Hall of Fame admission, an 1800s letterpress print shop, and RCA Studio B, where Elvis, Dolly, and Waylon recorded their hits. 9am-5pm daily. Adults $28+, kids (5-12) $18+.

8. Johnny Cash Museum

From goth teens to grandpas, everyone loves the Man in Black. And the Johnny Cash Museum is not your average tourist spot — USA Today named it the nation’s best music museum in 2023. Here you’ll find the largest collection of Johnny Cash memorabilia. If you’re hungry after your visit, stop by Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ for food and music. 9am-7pm daily. Adults $26, kids (6-15) $22.

9. Nashville Food Scene

In-the-know visitors believe Nashville has surpassed New York City as the country’s foodie capitol. The site Eater lists not 10, but 38 essential Nashville restaurants, covering everything from southern barbecue to vegan cuisine, Parisian-style riverside cafes to recreations of an Appalachian grandmother’s home and meals. You’ll also find fabulous cooking classes, pop-ups, and speakeasies serving craft cocktails.

10. Explore Nashville Neighborhoods

Nashville has several distinctive neighborhoods that are worth a stroll. The Music Row / Demonbreun / Edgehill neighborhood is the heart of music culture in the city. You can also explore 12South, where you’ll find coffee shops, bakeries, and vintage stores. Or dive into the honky tonk scene downtown, where great restaurants, historic buildings, and galleries abound.

The Takeaway

Your trip to Nashville is going to be action-packed and fun for everyone. Get your bearings with a hop on, hop off trolley tour. Hit the Grand Ole Opry, Johnny Cash Museum (named the best music museum in the country by USA Today), and the historical tours at the Country Music Hall of Fame. And leave room for incredible meals at a few of the countless world-class restaurants.

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What are things to do in Nashville for music lovers?

In addition to attractions like the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum, and the Johnny Cash Museum, there are loads of live music events every week in Nashville.

How long should I stay in Nashville?

With so much to see in Nashville, you could stay up to five days. Allow at least a minimum of three days to enjoy the city.

What are things to do for kids in Nashville?

There’s plenty for kids of all ages to enjoy in Nashville, including the Nashville Zoo, Grand Ole Opry, and Hop On, Hop Off tours.

Photo credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

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