Nashville is widely known as Music City–and for good reason. But music’s not the only thing that makes the city famous. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or simply looking for a fun vacation destination, Nashville offers exciting and unique experiences for all ages and interests. Here are some of the things Nashville is best known for.
Of course, we’ve got to start with the thing Nashville is famous for: Music. Nashville is the hometown of country music and the birthplace of bluegrass, with roots in R&B, and a thriving pop and rock scene. Visitors flock to the city year-round to listen to live music in the honky-tonks of Broadway and to see the famous recording studios on Music Row. With such influence across musical genres, music is a part of the fabric of Nashville.
When you think of Nashville, you think of country music. Famous for the Grand Ole Opry, America’s longest-running radio show which propelled country music into homes across the US, Nashville has been the launching site for countless country megastars, like Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Roy Acuff. Today, it’s the home of a whole new generation of country artists, like Maren Morris, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Dan & Shay. From the honky-tonks to the big stage, country music is part of Nashville’s heartbeat.
Bluegrass music was born in Nashville, right on the stage of Ryman Auditorium, when Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys performed their new sound on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. Today, fans from around the world can see live performances around the city, from Broadway’s honky-tonk row to the Station Inn, a cozy and historic venue in the Gulch.
Nashville has always had a thriving rock scene. Rockers, like The Byrds and Bob Dylan, have spent time in Music City. Now, well-known rock artists, like The Black Crowes and Jack White, and up-and-coming Indie rock groups record in Nashville can be seen on any given night in Music City.
In the 1960s, Nashville’s Jefferson Street was a hub of music and entertainment in the rhythm and blues genre. R&B legends, like Little Richard, Etta James, and Jimi Hendrix, were frequent performers at the area’s clubs and bars. Today, the R&B scene is still strong, with both famous and local artists performing each week throughout the city.
Food & Drinks
Another thing Nashville is known for: Food. Hot chicken is arguably Nashville’s most famous dish, but the city is known for other iconic food and drinks, too. Whether you’re seeking classic southern cooking or a boozy cocktail, Nashville’s got you covered.
When you think of food in Nashville, you probably think of hot chicken, and understandably so. Hot chicken is so spicy, it’s hard to forget! It’s chicken coated with a thick layer of cayenne pepper and other spices, fried crispy, and served with pickles and white bread. Each hot chicken restaurant in town–and there are many–gives it its own unique flair. Not a chicken fan? Try hot fish instead. Prince’s Hot Chicken is a local favorite.
Meat & Three
Before hot chicken, Nashville was known for another iconic meal: The meat and three. With a choice of meat, like meatloaf, ham, or country fried steak, and three sides, like mac and cheese, collard greens, or creamed spinach, the meat and three is a comforting southern meal that leaves you full and satisfied. Visit Arnold’s or Puckett’s for this classic plate.
Goo Goo Clusters
Nashville is the home of Goo Goo Clusters, a chocolate candy invented in the early 1900s. Expect layers of marshmallow nougat and caramel piled high with peanuts and smothered in milk chocolate. Goo Goo Clusters have been incorporated into ice cream, cakes, or can just be eaten the way they were intended, like a delicious, round candy bar. To get your hands on your own Goo Goo Cluster, visit the Goo Goo Shop just off Broadway.
When it comes to drinks Nashville’s got a delicious beverage of its own: Fruit tea. Sweet and made with orange, pineapple, and lemonade, fruit tea is a delicious sip of Music City. Order a fruit tea at locally loved restaurant Calypso Cafe.
For a boozy treat, it doesn’t get better than an ice-cold Bushwacker. Ok, so Bushwackers may not have technically been invented in Nashville, but the city has definitely claimed them as our own. Think of a Bushwacker like a chocolatey milkshake laced with rum or whiskey. Frosty and sippable, there’s no better treat on a hot Nashville day. Our favorites are at 3 Crow Bar and Edley’s Bar–B-Que.
Nashville plays an important role in music history. It’s home to some of the most famous and well-respected music venues in the world, including Ryman Auditorium and the home of country music, the Grand Ole Opry. Many celebrities, present and past, also call Music City home.
The Grand Ole Opry has connected music artists and fans since 1925. Since then, the Opry has launched countless country music careers, including those of Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams. The Grand Ole Opry aired from the stage of Ryman Auditorium for over 30 years before moving to its permanent home, the Opry House, in 1974. Today, fans from around the world can tour the Opry and find themselves in the heart of country music history.
Not only is Nashville known as Music City, but it’s also known for its very own subgenre of music: The Nashville Sound. Birthed in the 1950s, the Nashville Sound shifted country music from its classic honky-tonk style, with fiddles and steel guitar, to a smoother sound, incorporating string instruments, background singers, and crooning lead vocals, as can be heard in Patsy Cline’s hit, “I Fall to Pieces.” This change in sound became a signature of Nashville recording studios, like RCA Victor and Decca Records, and helped country music grow in popularity across the US.
Gaylord Opryland is one of the most popular places to stay when visiting Nashville. It’s more than a hotel; it’s an experience all its own. And it’s huge! Packed with restaurants, shops, gardens, and seasonal exhibits, Opryland offers fun for everyone in the family. Check out Christmas at Gaylord Opryland, one of the resort’s most popular attractions for locals and tourists alike.
When you think of cities for celebrity sightings, LA and NYC may first come to mind. But in recent years, many stars have found homes in Nashville, which offers a coveted blend of city amenities, privacy, and southern charm. Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Taylor Swift all grew up in Nashville. Now, celebrities like Jack White, Steven Tyler, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Jason Aldean, and many others call Nashville home. You never know who you may see on a trip to Music City.
If you appreciate art, Nashville’s got something for you, too. Whether it’s a walking tour of the city’s many murals or a day spent at a world-renowned museum, there’s plenty of beauty to take in around Music City.
It seems like a new mural pops up every day in Nashville. Whether it’s “What Lifts You–Wings” in the Gulch, “Flowers” in 12th South, or the famous “I Believe in Nashville” in 12th South, each Nashville neighborhood offers unique and photo-worthy murals. Bring a camera, ask a friendly passerby to snap your photo (or more realistically, someone behind you in line), and capture your Music City memory in front of the city’s many, many murals.
The Tomato Art Fest happens each summer in the Five Points area of East Nashville. The festival is a celebration of all things Nashville, with live music, events, food and drink, and local artisans. A highlight of the summer, the Tomato Art Fest is a favorite of locals each year.
If you’re looking for local makers, Porter Flea is your spot. Offering an incredible array of artwork, jewelry, clothing, ceramics, and more, Porter Flea is a trendy collection of inspired wares from around Nashville and beyond. The market takes place twice a year, offering both a winter and summer market.
The Frist Art Museum can be found downtown in a white, marble building that, when it was built in the 1930s, originally served as the city’s post office. Today, the Frist hosts world-class exhibits, including works by Picasso and Frida Kahlo. Frist Art Museum offers fun for all ages, including a kid-friendly in-house art studio where visitors can make and take home their own works of art.
Nashville’s got sports fans covered, too. Whether you’re a fan of football, hockey, racing, or baseball, there’s a team for you to root for in Music City.
The Nashville Predators are the city’s NHL hockey team. A member of the Central Division, they’ve played at Bridgestone Arena since 1998. In June 2017, the team made it as far as the Stanley Cup Finals. Attend a game when you’re in town and get your fang fingers ready.
Titan up! Tennessee’s NFL football team, the Tennessee Titans, plays at Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville. The open-air stadium also hosts concerts and other events throughout the year. The Titans play in the American Football Conference South division.
Minor League baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, also reside in downtown Nashville. Located at First Horizon Park in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, the stadium offers open-air seating and fun amenities and is within walking distance of neighborhood restaurants and bars.
August 2021 brings a new sporting event to Nashville: Music City Grand Prix. The Grand Prix is an INDYCAR race that loops race car drivers through the streets of downtown Nashville and over the Korean Veterans Bridge at speeds of nearly 200 mph. The 3-day event also features multiple concerts and food.
Nashville may be the hot city of the moment, but it’s got a long history. And with that history comes a unique architecture all its own. Whatever your taste–historical venues, unique attractions, or iconic skyscrapers–Nashville offers it all.
The Ryman is one of the most famous music venues in the world, in part because of its acoustically perfected auditorium. Built in 1892 as a church, the Ryman was crafted to surround its audiences with full sound. Apart from its acoustics, Ryman Auditorium is famous for its original church pews and iconic stained glass windows, all of which are still present today.
Another nickname of Nashville is The Athens of the South. So, it makes sense that the city would also feature another piece of Ancient Greece: A full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Located in Centennial Park, Nashville’s Parthenon was constructed in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Today, the structure stands as a centerpiece in the park and is available for tours.
In addition to entertainment, Nashville has numerous historical sites. Visit The Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson, located just outside Nashville. With over 30 historic buildings, a museum, and a reenactment of The Duel, there’s a lot to learn about the nation’s 7th president.
The most recognizable building in the city skyline, the AT&T Building is more commonly known as the Batman Building because of the large pillars on either side of the structure that make it look like, well, Batman. Located in downtown Nashville between 3rd and 4th Avenues, the AT&T Building stands 33 stories tall and is the tallest building in the state of Tennessee.
So, what’s so great about Nashville? There’s no place more fun than Nashville. With its array of activities, delicious food, mild weather, and southern hospitality, there’s always fun waiting to be had in Music City.
When it comes to bachelorette parties, Nashville is one of the most popular destinations in the country. The honky-tonks, live music, delicious cuisine, and sheer number of unique hotels make the city the perfect spot for a girls’ weekend. There are many party rentals, from bikes to limousines to party busses, that add an extra element of fun to any bachelorette weekend. Book a table at one of the city’s many rooftop bars, like Blake Shelton’s Ole Red or Dolly Parton’s White Limozeen, and you’re in for a guaranteed good time.
Family Vacation Destination
Nashville offers plenty of fun for all ages. There are many tours to choose from, like a tour of Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry, or an open-air trolley tour all around the city. The city also offers great spots for kids, like the Adventure Science Center and the Nashville Zoo.
Music City is the perfect spot for a road trip or day trip. Centrally located along I-65 and I-40, it’s a quick drive from Louisville, Huntsville, Memphis, Knoxville, Atlanta, and most other major cities in the eastern US. Nashville International Airport (BNA) is also busy, currently undergoing a huge expansion to accommodate all the travelers coming into the city. Whether you’re looking for a family weekend, a girls’ trip, or a romantic getaway, Nashville’s got a spot for you.
There’s so much fun to be had in Nashville. Sign up for email alerts from the Ryman to be notified whenever fun and unique events are announced. See you soon!