What Are the Most Fun & Unique Things to Do in Downtown Nashville?
If you’re looking for unique and fun activities to do in Nashville, you’re in the right place. Many people are aware of the popular tourist spots in the city, but there are plenty of hidden gems worth exploring for an unforgettable experience in Music City. Crafted by locals who are in the know, here are the most unique and fun things to see and do in Nashville.
Music City is vibrating with live music. It’s everywhere you turn: at sporting events, at brunch, even at the airport. This city is made for music lovers. You probably know of the more popular places to see a concert, but for the more adventurous, here are three things music lovers must do for a unique musical experience.
There’s nothing like watching a concert at the famous Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman is a bucket list venue for performers and fans alike, with music lovers traveling from around the world to catch a show. For an even more unique experience, book a guided backstage tour of the Ryman on the same day you attend a concert. Stand on the stage, see the backstage dressing rooms, and hear the secrets of Ryman’s past, then watch it all come to life during a live performance.
Bonus Idea: After the show, retrace the steps of your favorite performers by walking to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for a drink. This walk through the Ryman alley, from the backstage gate of the Ryman to the back door of Tootsie’s, is a tradition for performers at the Ryman. Willie Nelson even mentions these “17 steps” in one of his songs. Look carefully as you walk and you’ll see the footsteps of this journey immortalized on the alley’s pavement.
Known as the true home of country music, the Grand Ole Opry has hosted concerts and live performances of the Grand Ole Opry radio show since the mid-1970s. This impressive building is open daily for self-guided and backstage tours along with a full events calendar. Something unique about the Opry? There’s a post office backstage where all active Opry members (think Dierks Bentley and Emmylou Harris) receive mail from fans. To mail your favorite member a letter, send it to them care of the Grand Ole Opry at 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214.
If you’re visiting Nashville in the fall, check out Lightning 100’s Live On The Green, a weekly, outdoor concert series in Public Square Park downtown. The best part? It’s completely free. And we’re not talking about bands you’ve never heard of; The series features performers you know and love. Past acts include Band of Horses, Ben Folds, Sheryl Crow, Lake Street Drive, and more. Live On The Green takes place each Thursday from mid-August to Labor Day Weekend.
Nashville offers many museums, plantation homes, and other historical sites that capture the city’s rich and storied history. But for curious visitors who want something a little different, here are some unique and fun ways to experience Music City’s history.
Tour Ryman Auditorium
Ryman Auditorium is more than a concert venue, it’s an active museum. Offering self-guided and backstage tours, visitors can learn about the Ryman’s 130-year past, its decades as the home of the Grand Ole Opry, and understand its role in turning Nashville into Music City. Plus, the museum is full of fun photos and memorabilia from the Ryman’s most well-known performers. Locals recommend you tour the Hatch Show Print Gallery on the building’s second floor. It displays Hatch’s unique, hand-designed concert posters from decades past.
Featuring three floors of art and historical artifacts, the newly-constructed Tennessee State Museum is a favorite stop for history buffs. Visitors can see objects left behind from the state’s first peoples and reproductions of a pioneer cabin and an antebellum parlor. For a unique experience the whole family will enjoy, check out the Children’s Gallery, a colorful space where kids aged 3-8 can explore, play, and learn about history in an interactive way.
Fort Nashborough was the original stockade along the Cumberland River settled by James Robertson and his pioneers in 1780. Eventually, it grew into the city of Nashville. Now surrounded by the bustling streets and tall buildings of downtown, Fort Nashborough is open daily for self-guided tours. For a unique experience, be sure to tour the reconstructed log buildings on the site.
Whether it’s in front of a mural, the city skyline, or at the honky-tonks, you’re going to want to commemorate your visit to Nashville with a social post. Here are some of locals’ favorite, most Instagram-worthy spots in Music City.
The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge spans 3,150 feet across the Cumberland River making it one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. Locals also know it’s the perfect spot to snap a selfie with the Nashville skyline in the background. Spanning from East Nashville’s Cumberland Park to downtown’s 2nd Ave, the pedestrian bridge is also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air during your visit.
Nashville is well known for the beautiful murals painted all around the city. Some of the most recognizable are the “I Believe In Nashville” mural on 12th South and the “What Lifts You–Wings” in the Gulch. Be prepared to stand in line; These murals are hot spots for visitors to stop for a photo. Looking for a more hidden photo opp? Search for the “Nashville Looks Good on You” mural in 12 South tucked behind the Frothy Monkey coffee shop.
With professional football, hockey, and soccer teams, Nashville’s no slouch when it comes to sports entertainment. Whether you’re attending a pro game or looking for something more unique, Music City has plenty of options to choose from.
Tucked away inside Bridgestone Arena, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is a museum curated to honor athletes and coaches for their achievements on and off the field. The museum also aims to educate and inspire young athletes to pursue healthy habits and make a positive impact in their communities. The hall of fame honors over 500 inductees from every sport, including football, golf, basketball, soccer, baseball, track and field, and more.
Music City is packed with passion for its professional sports teams. Head to Bridgestone Arena to watch the Nashville Predators take the ice in a pro NHL game or snag a seat in Nissan Stadium to watch the Tennessee Titans. On a warm night, head to First Horizon Park to catch a Nashville Sounds game – the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. At the game, Nashvillians will direct you to The Band Box, an outdoor bar and restaurant in right field serving the most refreshing bourbon slushies in town.
The Game Terminal Super Arcade & Bar is jam-packed with fun. Nashville’s largest arcade, the Game Terminal has more than 250 games that span over 40 years to fit every person’s interest. With a full bar and food menu, it’s easy to have a full night of fun. A favorite feature? In the winter, the Game Terminal has heated igloos with room for up to eight guests to reserve and enjoy an evening on the patio.
Nashville is bursting with delicious food, from James Beard-nominated restaurants to incredible food trucks. This city built on entertainment also features many restaurants with a twist, offering games, bowling, and other activities while you enjoy your meal or cocktail. Here are three of Nashville’s most unique culinary experiences.
Pinewood Social is a social club featuring delicious food, craft cocktails, and indoor and outdoor entertainment. The Pinewood patio has lawn games, an outdoor bar, and even rentable pools for small groups to lounge in. For a unique experience, rent a lane at Pinewood’s bowling alley. With a retro vibe and full service, it’s the perfect spot for bowling and brunch with friends.
The Listening Room Cafe is a favorite of local performers and songwriters. It’s a restaurant with live music as its centerpiece. Performers love the cafe because it was designed with music in mind, including acoustics that enhance the music rather than treating it as something for diners to shout over. Who knows, you might even spot a famous face during your visit; Country star Kelsea Ballerini has been known to attend songwriters’ nights at The Listening Room from time to time.
Taste the bounty of the city at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Founded in the early 1800s, today’s market features two open-air sheds for local farmers to sell fresh produce and foods, a 24,000 garden center, and an international food hall with more than 20 restaurants. Nashville Farmers’ Market also houses shops and crafts from local artisans, truly offering something unique for everyone.
Many visitors think Nashville is all hot chicken and country music. While there are a good bit of those things available for those who are interested, the city offers so much more with deep history and cultural roots. For those looking for a unique experience, try a visit to Nashville’s most prized art museums.
Check out the Frist Art Museum
Housed in an impressive 1930s-era art-deco building, the Frist Art Museum is home to Nashville’s largest collection of art. See works from recognizable artists, like Picasso and Frida Kahlo, and check out the museum’s many rotating exhibits. Local parents love the Frist’s unique offerings for kids, including a children’s art studio where kids of all ages can explore art and even create their own masterpieces.
Fisk University houses the Carl Van Vechten Gallery, located in a 19th-century Victorian building on campus. Established in 1949, the gallery was built to house Georgia O’Keeffe’s donated collection of Alfred Stieglitz works. Pieces from Picasso, Cezanne, and other artists can also be found in the gallery’s permanent collection.
Packed with date-night restaurants, rooftop bars, and beautiful parks to take a sunset stroll, Nashville is full of romantic things to do. But for couples looking for something truly unique, here are a few lesser-known gems to spark some romance.
For a Nashville experience you’ll remember forever, why not propose to your love at Ryman Auditorium? This landmark is so beloved by music fans that the Ryman actually offers a proposal package. It includes a tour for two of the Ryman and a photographer ready to capture the big moment with a keepsake picture.
Looking for a romantic way to experience downtown Nashville? Why not hire a horse drawn carriage! Make a reservation or take a walk-up ride downtown for a fun, open-air ride around the city’s bustling honky-tonk row and beyond.
One of Nashville’s hidden gems, Love Circle is a scenic overlook and lovers lane perfect for romance. Hidden above West End, Love Circle gives visitors an almost unobstructed view of Nashville’s gorgeous skyline. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset over Music City with someone special.
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