Nashville Travel Guide

USA  #4 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
Credit

Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto

3-day Itinerary in Nashville

Explore the best things to do in Paris in 3 days based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #5
    Ryman Auditorium
    View all Photos
    #5 in Nashville
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    There's no better place to start absorbing Nashville's musical heritage than the Ryman Auditorium. It's no longer home to the Grand Ole Opry, but the auditorium continues to host contemporary acts like Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton and Luke Combs. Recent visitors suggest opting for a tour to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the legendary music venue. Sit in on the "Soul of Nashville" screening for a multidimensional experience that uses archival images and footage of performers from the Ryman's past to illustrate its role in music history. Plus, you can learn about the auditorium's backstory with its "Workin' on a Building" exhibit, which displays artifacts from the Ryman's construction. What's more, you can test out your own pipes at the Ryman's recording studio and record a CD to take home as a souvenir.

    Recent travelers enjoyed touring the Ryman Auditorium, but many say the best way to experience it is at a concert. Check the concert hall's website for upcoming shows to see if an artist you enjoy is playing during your visit. Shows often sell out, so be sure to book far in advance.

    Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, the Ryman Auditorium is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Self-guided tours cost $21.95 for adults and $16.95 for children ages 4 to 11 (there is an additional charge for the guided Backstage Tour option). For more information on the Ryman Auditorium, its exhibits and its events, visit the website.

    ...Read More »
    5 minute walk
  • 2
    #4
    The Johnny Cash Museum
    View all Photos
    #4 in Nashville
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Uncover the enigma behind The Man in Black with a visit to The Johnny Cash Museum. The museum, which opened in April 2013, boasts the world's largest collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia, including films, handwritten notes and letters penned by Cash himself along with more than 25 costumes made famous during the music legend's career. Exhibits spotlight different periods in Cash's life, including his years in the Air Force, his marriage to June Carter and his famous prison concert tour. And because the museum is officially endorsed by the Cash family, you can bet you'll stumble across other personal mementos not available to the public anywhere else, like a stone wall excavated from Johnny and June's Hendersonville Lake House that's been repurposed into one of the exhibits. Johnny Cash fans loved the wealth of information on display at this museum.

    Not much of a Cash devotee? Recent visitors said you should still make time to see the museum. Some do warn, however, that it can get crowded. The Johnny Cash Museum welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission for adults costs $19.95; seniors, students and members of the military pay $18.95 and youths 15 and younger can get in for $15.95. Children younger than 6 enjoy free admission. For more information, visit the museum's website.

    ...Read More »
    5 minute walk
  • 3
    John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
    View all Photos
    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.

    You'll find the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge just a short walk south of downtown Nashville; there is no fee to access the bridge. There are ramps, stairs and elevators on both sides of the bridge. If you drive, visitors suggest parking in the Nissan Stadium lots, where free parking is available on certain levels. The bridge is also just a short walk from the Johnny Cash Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame. For additional information on the history of the bridge and its architecture, visit its website.

    ...Read More »
    5-10 minute walk
  • 4
    #10
    Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
    View all Photos
    #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. For a list of upcoming performances, check out the lounge's website.

    ...Read More »

Day 2

  • 1
    #16
    The Parthenon
    View all Photos
    #16 in Nashville
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Nashville is a city of many nicknames; most of them have to do with music. Still, the city is also known as the "Athens of the South" thanks to the numerous higher education institutions established there. This identity is realized with the construction of the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the one found in Athens, Greece. Although the Parthenon was only meant to be temporary – it was built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897 – it has since become a beloved attraction, housing models of the statues found in the original structure as well as an impressive art collection. Recent visitors praised the well-kept grounds, peaceful atmosphere and magnificent building, recommending an evening visit to see it illuminated. Others rave about the surrounding green space, which is free to access and great for picnicking. However, parents warn that kids' attention can quickly wane.

    Located a little more than 2 miles southwest of downtown Nashville in Centennial Park, the Parthenon is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission costs $6 for adults and $4 for seniors (older than 62) and children ages 4 to 17. However, you can tour the perimeter and exterior of the attraction and its grounds for free. For more information, visit the Centennial Park website.

    ...Read More »
    10-15 minutes by car
  • 2
    #6
    Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
    View all Photos
    #6 in Nashville
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Music and history lovers can mix and mingle over the exhibits found at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Peruse the plaques dedicated to country music's finest – from Patsy Cline to Johnny Cash – and walk among artifacts like Jimmie Rodgers' guitar and Elvis Presley's solid gold Cadillac limo. If you have time, stop to browse the two-story wall plastered with every gold and platinum country record produced, and then head to Studio B. One of the world's most influential recording studios and a Music Row Landmark, Studio B produced more than 35,000 songs by legends like Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and Roy Orbison. For an interactive history lesson on the roots and evolution of country music, take a self-guided walk through the "Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music" exhibit, which spans two floors of the museum.

    Recent visitors said they were impressed with the amount of country history, lore and memorabilia at this museum, adding it is a well-thought-out venue and very organized. Travelers said true country fans will really enjoy every aspect of this attraction, though some warned those less enamored with the art of country music may not find it as engaging.

    Sitting in the heart of downtown Nashville – across the street from the Gaylord Entertainment Center – the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $25.95 for adults, $15.95 for youths ages 6 to 12 and free for children ages 5 and younger. Tours and entry to Studio B cost extra. For more information, check out the official website.

    ...Read More »
    10 minutes by car
  • 3
    Historic RCA Studio B
    View all Photos
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Through its tours, educational programs and events, the Historic RCA Studio B remains a landmark that humbles those who walk through its doors. It contains the essences of the legends who have made music in the building, including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton. Opened in 1957, it became the home base of "Nashville Sound" in the 1960s. The studio and its artists' unique sounds helped put Nashville on the map as an internationally known city for recording music. Today, the studio teaches young students the technology of recording music and the science of sound.

    Not a country music fan? You don't have to love country music to enjoy the tour, visitors say. If you appreciate music, you'll enjoy the tour. Music geeks can stand where Elvis sang countless songs, listen to music in the studio setting and view original instruments used to record smash hits. For many, the tour brings nostalgia and memories of early days of country music. Visitors say the tour guides are knowledgeable, friendly and timely.

    The Historic RCA Studio B is located less than 2 miles southwest of downtown Nashville. Tours are only available as a package deal that includes admission to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as well. (Make sure to book early and show up on time, visitors warn, or the tour will leave without you.) Tours depart hourly between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum daily and transportation to the studio is included in the admission price. You can book your tickets and find out additional information on the attraction's website.

    ...Read More »
    20-25 minutes by car
  • 4
    #2
    Grand Ole Opry
    View all Photos
    #2 in Nashville
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    It was this radio show, which began broadcasting in the 1920s, that put Nashville on the map as the "Country Music Capital of the World." Although its venue has changed over the years, the Grand Ole Opry continues to host top country performers like Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. And a trip to Nashville isn't complete without stopping by the Grand Ole Opry House for a tour to look back through the ages. Get a behind-the-scenes look one of three ways: with a daytime backstage tour, a post-show tour or a VIP tour. During a daytime tour, your guide will share stories of music legends who have walked the venue's hallowed halls, show you photos from the Opry's venerated history and possibly bring you on to the iconic stage. Recent visitors were very pleased with the tours, noting the guides were energetic and offered many fun facts about the institution.

    The Grand Ole Opry is located northeast of downtown Nashville and tours are offered seven days a week, although availability depends on concert schedules. For more information and to purchase advance tickets, visit the Grand Ole Opry website. Admission for adults (ages 12 and older) for a daytime backstage tour costs $27, while children's (ages 4 to 11) admission costs $22. Post-show tours and VIP tours cost extra.

    ...Read More »

Day 3

  • 1
    #9
    Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
    View all Photos
    #9 in Nashville
    Museums, Parks and Gardens, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Parks and Gardens, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Art aficionados and nature lovers alike should plan on making a stop at the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. With its greenhouses, sculpture trail and chromatic flower display, the 55-acre Botanical Garden offers sanctuary from downtown's bustle. The on-site art museum is just as beautiful: Housed in the original Georgian-style Cheek family mansion at the heart of the grounds, the museum boasts an impressive collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art, as well as antique furniture, temporary exhibitions and artifacts from around the world.

    Recent visitors recommended a spring or summer visit since that's when the gardens are at their most beautiful. Some who visited in the winter and fall were disappointed with the limited blooms to see; however, many said the December holiday lights display was enchanting. Overall, travelers said Cheekwood offers lovely walking trails and well-manicured gardens.

    Located approximately 8 miles southwest of downtown Nashville, Cheekwood is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for adults costs $20, seniors (older than 65) pay $18 and children ages 3 to 17 enter for $13. The museum also hosts numerous festivals; for more information, check out the Cheekwood website.

    ...Read More »
    10 minutes by car
  • 2
    #3
    Belle Meade Plantation
    View all Photos
    #3 in Nashville
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Constructed in 1853 in a breathtaking Greek Revival style, the Belle Meade Plantation is known as the "Queen of the Tennessee Plantations." At the center of the plantation is the mansion (its columns are peppered with bullet holes from the Civil War), where guides dressed in period costumes offer tours of the mansion's antebellum-style interior. You're invited to explore the grounds, which are home to the country's first and best thoroughbred breeding farms (the visitor center is modeled after a traditional Southern paddock) as well as the renowned Iroquois Steeplechase, the oldest in the United States. During the summer and fall, the Belle Meade Plantation hosts numerous events, including Easter egg hunts and antique auctions.

    Travelers highly recommend a tour at Belle Meade Plantation, citing the knowledgeable and friendly tour guides as a highlight of the visit. Many also praised the tours that included a wine tasting and lunch.

    Located about 8 miles southwest of downtown Nashville, Belle Meade Plantation is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to both the mansion and the grounds costs $24 for adults and $13 for children ages 6 to 18. For more information, check out the Belle Meade Plantation website.

    ...Read More »
    15 minutes by car
  • 3
    #15
    Belmont Mansion
    View all Photos
    #15 in Nashville
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you love history, slot some time for a tour of Belmont Mansion – the largest house museum in Nashville. This beautiful Italian-style villa was constructed in the 1850s for Adelicia Acklen, one of the wealthiest women in the country at the time and, according to some, Nashville's own Scarlett O'Hara. Although it was originally built to be a summer home, Ms. Acklen did not skimp on the details. A tour of the 19,000-square-foot mansion leads visitors through rooms ornately decorated with 19th-century antiques and lavish art. Recent visitors praised the beautifully preserved interior and knowledgeable docents, but warn that parking around the mansion is limited.

    Sitting on Belmont University's campus, a little more than 3 miles southwest of downtown Nashville, Belmont Mansion is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission costs range from $15 for adults to $5 for children ages 6 through 12. Tours of the mansion, which typically last about an hour, are also available. For more information, consult the mansion's website.

    ...Read More »
    10 minutes by car
  • 4
    The Frist Center for the Visual Arts
    View all Photos
    Museums, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Before it was The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, this art deco-style building was a U.S. Postal Service office. Now it holds works of art from the region and from around the world, and new art rotates through every six to eight weeks. Past and present exhibits include Roman art, Australian Aboriginal art, collections by Nashville-born artists and more. The museum also promotes learning through creating art in its Martin ArtQuest Gallery, with 30 interactive stations. In this experimental art space, guests can create works of their own. The admission to Martin ArtQuest Gallery is free with adult general admission tickets and free for those 18 and under.

    The Frist gift shop and cafe are also popular, as guests like to take a break between exhibits and shop around for collectible pieces to take home. The cafe receives high marks because it offers a variety of menu options, and it caters to what many museumgoers want: good coffee or a glass of wine.

    Visitors say the museum is kid-friendly and there are activities for children on the upper level in the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. Additionally, travelers appreciated the free Wi-Fi in the museum and the free app that offers an audio tour; the docent-led tours are also informative, according to visitors.

    The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is located on Broadway, just west of downtown Nashville. The 3, 4, 5 or 7 bus stops near the museum; parking is also available on-site for those who drive. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; it's open from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $9 for seniors and students with ID; children 18 and younger can enter for free. You can only purchase tickets in the museum lobby. See the website for additional information.

    ...Read More »

Explore More of Nashville

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019