Nashville Travel Guide

USA  #11 in Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.
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Free Things To Do in Nashville

If you have extra time, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is worthwhile.
  • #7
    Things to do in Nashville
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    #7 in Nashville
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located on an expansive stretch of the Cumberland River about 5 miles east of downtown Nashville, the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway is a sprawling green space where visitors can learn about the local landscape and take advantage of outdoor recreation opportunities. When you visit, start at the nature center, where you can view cultural history exhibits and artwork. You can also rent a bicycle to explore or participate in an environmental education program and learn about things to do in the greenway. When you're ready to get outside, the 950-acre Shelby Bottoms Greenway has more than 10 miles of paved and unpaved pathways (perfect for strolling and biking) that pass through wetlands, streams, forests and fields. Recent visitors said the atmosphere is relaxing and quiet and the trail system is easy-to-follow and clean. 

    The entire area is free to access, with the Greenway open from dawn to dusk daily. The Shelby Bottoms Nature Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from either 9 a.m. or noon until 4 p.m. (check this website for official hours and additional information). You can get within walking distance of the park using the MTA bus route 4, or you can drive your car and park at a trailhead lot. The best time to visit the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway is the fall, when the weather has cooled off and the foliage is gorgeous. 

  • #8
    Tennessee State Museum
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    #8 in Nashville
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located in downtown Nashville next to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, the Tennessee State Museum preserves the unique and storied history of the Volunteer State. The large museum showcases permanent exhibits that display the heritage of Tennessee's natural history; Native American history; military and sporting history; and Civil War history. Plus, there are rotating temporary cultural and art exhibits on display as well. A number of attractions at this museum specifically cater to children, and the museum hosts many events and educational programs on-site throughout the year. Recent visitors said the attraction is beautiful and informative, with many recent reviewers saying they appreciated the free admission.

    The museum is located near multiple shops and restaurants, and it is within walking distance of other attractions like the Tennessee State Capitol and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. The Tennessee State Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursday) and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., though hours vary depending on the day of the week. Free parking is available near the attraction and there are a number of bus stops nearby. For more information, visit the Tennessee State Museum's website.

  • #10
    Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
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    #10 in Nashville
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    After a day exploring the roots of the "Country Music Capital of the World," why not experience the sounds of Music City first-hand? If you're looking for an authentic atmosphere with top-notch performances, Tootsie's "World Famous" Orchid Lounge is the place to go. Since the days when the Grand Ole Opry still sought refuge at the Ryman Auditorium, this downtown bar has been featuring performances by both world-renowned and up-and-coming artists.

    Recent visitors suggest abandoning your inhibitions and hitting the upstairs dance floor, but you'll find the largest crowd congregated downstairs around the bar and stage. Though some travelers bemoan the bar's cramped atmosphere, others say that's just part of the Tootsie's experience. You can stay at Tootsie's until the wee hours of the morning, and luckily there's no cover charge. The lounge is also a featured stop on many of Nashville's best guided tours. For a list of upcoming performances, check out the lounge's website.

  • #11
    Radnor Lake State Park
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    #11 in Nashville
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though Nashville is a bustling metropolis, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors right on the outskirts of town. Located 9 miles south of downtown, Radnor Lake State Park is a calm and serene getaway for those looking to go for a walk and observe nature. The 1,368-acre park features a unique ecosystem of plants and animals, including owls, water fowl and herons. Plus, there are numerous jogging, hiking and biking trails in the park, many of which provide impressive lake views. If you're looking to learn more about local birds in the area, check out the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary Education Center for interactive displays, ranger-led programs and panoramic views of the surrounding hillside.

    Recent visitors said they loved going on peaceful walks in this park, but some reviewers warn that limited parking is available and the attraction gets crowded, especially in the summer and fall. The park office and visitor center is open Thursday through Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and rangers are available to answer any questions you may have about the area. Trails are open daily from 6 a.m. to sunset, and the Aviary Education Center is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 1 p.m. to sunset on Saturdays. The entire area is free to access, and travelers can reach the park from downtown Nashville by car. For trail maps and additional information, visit the Tennessee State Parks website.

  • John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
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    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Closed to automobile traffic in 1998, the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge provides outstanding views of the Cumberland River and the Nashville skyline. The bridge connects downtown Nashville with the suburb of East Nashville, and is a reliable way to cross the river. It brings out the inner photographer in most tourists, as various points along the bridge allow travelers to capture different angles of Nashville.

    Visitors come here for the panoramic views and to escape the busy downtown crowds. From the bridge, travelers can see Nissan Stadium (home to the Tennessee Titans) and any happenings on the Cumberland River. Though there are not many places to sit on the pedestrian bridge, it can be a good spot to enjoy the sunset with a loved one, according to travelers. Visitors also note that it is worthwhile seeing the view from the bridge during the day and at night to get the full effect.

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