Where to Stay, What to Do, and What to Eat in Nashville

For a mix of local culture, fascinating history, and some of the best food in the South, steal this itinerary.

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Nashville Skyline

Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp.

There’s a reason Nashville’s such a popular tourist destination. Actually, a few reasons: It’s friendly, it’s fun, and the biscuits can’t be beat. Music City’s got plenty of attractions for country fans (the Grand Ole Opry and The Listening Room, come to mind), but as I recently discovered during a long weekend, there’s, even more, to appreciate about the city. If you’re planning a getaway, here’s what I did during a long weekend—and what I recommend:


Four Seasons Nashville

The hotel’s bar and restaurant offer views of the Cumberland River, and they are not to be missed. Depending on your luck (and your level of outgoingness!), you could strike up a conversation with one of Music City’s many songwriters—or write your own ballad with one of the Gibson guitars that the hotel rents to guests.

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.

Lodging at this hotel is an experience in itself. Not only does the property sit on nine acres of beautifully manicured land, but indoors there are thousands of tropical plants and a waterfall. The hotel features upscale and casual dining, bars, a spa, and its own water park.


Henrietta Red


I have one word for you: oysters. Named one of America’s best new restaurants when it opened in 2017, this gem in the city’s historic Germantown neighborhood specializes in fresh, sustainably sourced ingredients, natural wine, craft cocktails, and a raw bar that features a daily cava-and-oyster happy hour.

Von Elrod's

Wednesday night is trivia night at this Oktoberfest-inspired beer hall. (The competition is fierce!) If you aren’t there on a Wednesday, this place is still a vibe and features 38 beers on tap, plus a selection of brisket, pulled pork, sausages, and other smoky, carnivore-pleasing goodness.

Elliston Place Soda Shop

Elliston Place Soda Shop
Elliston Place Soda Shop in Nashville.

For 83 years, this classic soda shop with retro, red-and-white striped decor has served Nashville’s signature “meat and three” plate (a choice of meat and three sides). Finish off your meal with a banana split, root beer float, or classic milkshake (now including boozy options, if you want to have a different kind of night).


Come to Nashville for the biscuits and gravy, stay for Etch’s Argentinian beef tenderloin, which will have you wanting to lick the plate. Named one of Nashville’s best restaurants, Etch serves up dishes inspired by chef Deb Paquette’s favorite regions of the world — Cape Code, The Bahamas, and so many others.


Tour Fisk University

This historically Black college, founded in 1866, is the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville. On the 40-acre campus, which is registered on the National District of Historic Places, you can wander through the Carl Van Vechten Gallery and the Aaron Douglas Gallery (named for an influential patron and visual artist of the Harlem Renaissance) and if you’re lucky, you might catch a performance of the school’s a cappella ensemble, the Grammy award-winning Jubilee Singers.

The National Museum of African American Music

Country music spans across cultures. You’ll see that if you visit the downtown National Museum of African American Music, the only museum that celebrates all the genres and styles created, influenced, or inspired by Black Americans, including jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, hip-hop, and country. Colorful and wildly interactive, it’s a history lesson and a creative experience: Add tracks to your special RFID-enabled wristband to create your own Spotify playlist, record your own music video, or step into a recording booth and write your own rap.

National Museum of African American Music
National Museum of African American Music in Nashville.

Jack Daniel's Distillery and Nearest Green Distillery

One of the world’s most popular whiskey brands, Jack Daniel’s makes its home in Lynchburg, about 90 minutes northwest of Nashville. Trust me, the historical factory tour and whiskey tasting are worth the drive. If you want to learn more about how Jack Daniel got his start in the whiskey business (yes, he was a real person!), swing over to Shelbyville about 20 minutes away. This is where you’ll find the Uncle Nearest distillery (which also offers tastings and tours), named after Nearest Green, the whisky maker who taught Daniel everything he knew about the spirit.

Centennial Park and The Parthenon

The Parthenon of Centennial Park
The Parthenon of Centennial Park in Nashville.

Here’s something you probably weren’t expecting in the Country Music Capital: In the 132-acre Centennial Park is the world’s only full-scale reproduction of the Parthenon in Athens. Surprising, right? It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and remains one of the state’s beloved attractions. Inside you’ll find an art museum and a truly awe-inspiring 42-foot replica of the Greek goddess Athena, the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world. Outside you can take a stroll, feed the ducks, have a picnic, or stop at one of the many outdoor festivals that happen throughout the year.

Shop at Green Hills

If you want to do some shopping, I suggest a day at Green Hills for fancier boutique fare. Reading fanatics will want to hit up the independent bookstore Parnassus, where you might spot co-owner Ann Patchett behind the register. There’s also 12 South, where you’ll find Reese Witherspoon’s clothing-and-lifestyle store Draper James and Imogene + Willie’s, an old-fashioned “service station” turned into a denim shop.

Honky Tonk Highway

A trip to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down the famous Honky Tonk Highway, a.k.a. Lower Broadway. The downtown strip is lined with venues that fill the street with music from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., and entry is absolutely free. I loved every place I popped into, but highly recommend Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for the best in bluegrass from the city’s most promising singer-songwriters. Warning: Dancing becomes contagious there.

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