There’s no shortage of things to add to your Nashville itinerary, but chief among them are food, music, and history. Nashville’s become a hotbed for Bachelorette parties, and with so much happening in the city, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that brides-to-be flock to the home of honky-tonks before tying the knot.
The country music scene has been the driving force of Nashville for a century now and live music is still the city’s beating heart. Whether it’s big-name stars at the Grand Ole Opry, or passionate players earning their callused fingers on Broadway, there’s no shortage of talent in this city, and seeing it as an essential part of any visit.
Here’s how to spend two days in the buckle of the Bible Belt, while praising at the Mother Church of Country Music. Read on and find out how Nashville earned its nickname as the Athens of the South, while getting the lowdown on romantic things to do in Nashville, Nashville must-eats, and the best time to visit Nashville.
Day 1 of your Nashville itinerary
When you’re in a new city, there’s two essentials that are worth thinking about ahead of time: food and entertainment.
With that in mind, here are some breakfast basics in Nashville that you need to know about.
Best breakfast in Nashville
We’ve broken it down by Nashville neighborhoods, so no matter where in the city you are, you can start the day with a full stomach and tantalized taste buds.
Before talking breakfast, a quick introduction to meat and three is necessary. This Nashville favorite has its roots in the city, and its as simple as it is delicious. You pick one meat and three sides. It might not sound like much, but magic takes place inside these Southern kitchens, with choices like fried chicken, country-fried steak, meatloaf, and mouthwatering side dishes including mac and cheese, vegetables cooked in a way that will make you love your greens, potatoes, and plenty more.
Biscuit Love Gulch
You’ve had donuts, you’ve have cronuts, but how about bonuts? That’s fried biscuit dough tossed in sugar, and topped with lemon mascarpone. If sweet isn’t your style, then try out the East Nasty – a buttermilk biscuit with buttermilk-fried chicken thigh, sausage gravy, and aged cheddar.
Milk & Honey
Pork confit poutine, burrata and fig, and chicken and waffles. The menu at Milk & Honey is as varied as it is delicious.
Meat and three is as essential to Nashville as country music, in fact down here they even have it for breakfast. Silver Sands Café has been serving the city for 50 years, and if you want a soulful start to the day, then you’ll be able to tuck into fried chicken, catfish, mac and cheese, and okra (to name just a few southern kitchen staples) at this Downtown location.
Another acclaimed meat and three, Monell’s serves skillet-fried chicken with every meal. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, then the Victorian-style stately home it’s located in will charm you inside.
Find out what Nashville is known for
With breakfast taken care of, start discovering why Nashville is known as the Music City.
Music is the main ingredient that gives Nashville its flavor, and visiting musical hotspots is an essential part of any Nashville itinerary. There’s no better place to appreciate Nashville’s prestigious music history than at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Country Music Hall of Fame
There’s no shortage of space, or musical trinkets, at the Country Music Hall of Fame. With 130,000 square feet of museum floors, and over 2.5 million artifacts that chronicle the evolution of country music from 19th-century folk tradition to multi-million dollar music business, it’s a country fan’s paradise.
The star of the show is the Sing Me Back Home exhibition which brings together original recordings, archival films, interactive touch screens, and instruments that were plucked by genuine country stars.
From honky tonk to rockabilly and everything in between, the exhibits at the Country Music Hall of Fame will remind you what a hotbed of talent Nashville is.
If you can’t get enough of country, then make sure to join the RCA Studio B tour. This is where Elvis, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Roy Orbison recorded some of their greatest hits. Who knows, maybe you’ll catch some luck from that aura of greatness.
Hatch Show Print
Located inside the Country Music Hall of Fame, this famous print design studio has been producing letterpress posters for some of the biggest names ever since country stars started hitting the airwaves.
The studio has made posters for the likes of Elvis and Hank Williams, and even in the age of technology, Hatch Show Print still makes everything by hand. Keep an eye out for presses that date back as far as the late 1800s!
Nearly a century after the events of the Battle of Franklin, tumult was once again in Tennessee. Despite a Union victory, Jim Crow ruled in the south. By the 1960s the civil rights movement was gaining traction and Nashville’s African American community played its part with sit-ins across the city.
You can find out more about the fight for change during the Nashville civil rights movement tour. Visit key locations and learn about the strong leadership that helped bring about change.
If country isn’t your cup of tea, then check out the Music Legends Museum Trolley Tour. You’ll get to explore every genre that helped shape US culture inside the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum. There’s also another chance to give country a try, at the Glen Campbell Museum & Rhinestone stage. Inside, you’ll explore the life and hits of the Rhinestone Cowboy himself – including guitars, garments, and even the golf clubs of an American legend.
Want the trolley tour without the musical pitstops? Then there’s always the Nashville Old Town Trolley. This 90-minute tour around the Old Town includes 100 points of interest, including Lower Broadway, Music Row, Centennial Park, and Marathon Village. You’ll get filled on the city’s rich history covering everything from the Civil War to the rise of the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium. If you’re looking for a taste of southern hospitality, you’ll find it onboard.
Kids activities in Nashville
Kids might not share your love of country, but rest assured there’s something to fit in for kids on your Nashville itinerary.
Nashville Shores Waterpark has 20 attractions, including eight waterslides, an aquatic obstacle course, and themed pools perfect for younger kids. If you visit, make sure to tackle Mega Mayhem! This huge hybrid waterslide sees you launch off from a platform that’s six stories tall – hop in your tube, then slide back to earth passing through a tornado funnel and climbing a 40-foot-tall wave wall along the way.
The park’s location beside Percy Lake opens up a world of possibilities for waterside entertainment, so while you’re there you can relax by the beach and even go banana boating.
As for the Treetop Adventure Park, there’s four ropes courses and two giant ziplines. The 100 aerial obstacles in the park to take on – including suspended bridges, giant zip lines, cargo nets, Tarzan jumps, and more – will have you screaming notes even Dolly Parton can’t reach.
After exercising the body and lungs, give your brain something to work on with a trip to the Adventure Science Center. Inside, you’ll find a planetarium, motion simulator rides, and over 175 hands-on interactive exhibits that bring learning to life.
Day 2 of your Nashville itinerary
National Museum of African American Music
The star of Nashville’s museum scene, the NMAAM chronicles how African American music has helped shape the American soundscape.
Start in the Roots Theater and learn about West and Central African culture and the confines of slavery that created a uniquely African American experience. Next, discover the evolution of musical traditions in the main thread connecting the museum, the River of Rhythm Pathway. Touch panels will help you charter the changes from Southern gospel and blues to R&B and hip-hop. Alongside tons of fascinating musical insight, expect to see famous instruments, stage costumes, sheet music, and more.
If you went to the Grand Ole Opry the night before, then visit its ‘ole’ home at the Ryman Auditorium.
The Ryman Auditorium harks all the way back to 1892. It took a radical turn from its original purpose as a venue for revivalist preacher Samuel Porter Jones. From 1943 to 1974, country stars like Patsy Cline would stomp across its stage.
If you visit now you’ll find historic memorabilia across five exhibits, including stage outfits, and short films hosted by the likes of Sheryl Crow.
The Johnny Cash Museum
You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking the Man in Black was a Nashville native; his backing band was even named the Tennessee Three. The Johnny Cash Museum is to Nashville what Graceland is to Memphis (museum-wise, not mansion house-wise).
A walk through the museum chronicles Cash’s early life, his time during the Korean War, and his rise to stardom and the highs and lows that accompanied it. There’s around 1,000 artifacts inside, including stage costumes, props from Walk the Line, handwritten letters, platinum records, Grammy awards, and guitars.
Goo Goo Shop
Right across the street from the Cash Museum is a true Nashville original (not like that misleading Arkansan, Johnny Cash). The Goo Goo has a real claim to fame – it’s the world’s first combination candy bar. Somehow, prior to 1912, nobody had thought to combine anything with chocolate, so a debt of gratitude is owed to one Howell Campbell whose brain worked wonders and mixed milk chocolate, marshmallows, nougat, roasted peanuts, and caramel.
Inside the store you’ll be able to design your own treat, pig out at the full-service chocolate bar and pair it with wine and whiskey, and even sip on a boozy milkshake. If you want something sweet to add to your Nashville itinerary, this is it.
John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
While you’re in this part of town, you might as well walk the extra five minutes from Goo Goo and visit another Nashville landmark:
Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.
Nashville isn’t New York, but if you’re looking for a good spot to appreciate the city’s skyline, then this bridge is the perfect place to enjoy an eyeful. Make sure to stop and appreciate the Ghost Ballet sculpture on the east bank.
Civil War Tours
You can’t turn a blind eye to the past if you really want to paint a full picture with your Nashville itinerary. After taking in modern Nashville’s cityscape, cast your eye back to the past. While the city has blossomed into an Eden for country music, there’s no getting past the fact that it has a complex history.
Homes that were in the heat of crossfire between Union and Confederate forces are still standing, and relics of Antebellum Tennessee like Belle Meade still exist in and around Nashville, a sobering reminder that the south’s polite society carried with it a dark undercurrent.
Civil War day trips from Nashville
If history is a passion, then you can spend a day studying Nashville’s battle scars with Franklin’s Civil War Tour. This day trip will take you just outside the city limits to nearby Franklin.
In the mid 19th-century, Franklin’s population numbered just 750, but it was the site of one of the Civil War’s most bloody battles. On the morning of 1 December 1864, the city’s residents woke up to 9,500 casualties resulting from the clash of Union and Confederate forces.
The tour includes transport will take you to key sites of the conflict across seven hours, including the Carter House, Carnton Mansion, the McGavock Confederate Cemetery, and Lotz House.
Photos, stories of soldiers, and visits to homes that were at the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin are all part of the tour. The chance to see blood-stained floors will serve as a reminder that this battle of ideals was also filled with human tragedy regardless of belief.
This trip to Franklin also includes free time to explore historic Downtown Franklin at your own pace, so if you’re looking for another slice of Americana, this is your chance to indulge.
If you don’t want to devote an entire day to Franklin’s past, you can also visit just one historic site. The Lotz House guided tour takes 60 minutes but offers insight into how one family’s life was upturned as a result of the battle. Inside the 1858 home, expect to see dented wooden floors from falling cannonballs, antique furnishings and instruments made by the German immigrant Johann Albert Lotz, whose home just happened to be in the wrong place, and various other trinkets that date back to the time of the war.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
The $20 president began his political career in Tennessee before making his impact on the national stage. Jackson was part of the planter class, and the 1,000+ acre Hermitage was both Jackson’s home and a cotton plantation.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is now a museum and is considered to be the most accurately preserved early presidential home in the USA. There’s more than 30 historic buildings to explore, as well walking trails, gardens, and even Jackson’s tomb.
Tips for planning your Nashville itinerary
The best time to visit Nashville
Tennessee is very much in America’s south, so summers are hot and humid. On top of that, you’ll find the city at its busiest during June, July, and August. The bottom line is that summer might not be the best time to visit if you want to get the most from your Nashville itinerary.
So, if your goal is avoiding peak season, then you can enjoy smaller crowds in spring and fall. The weather stays fair during both seasons, without the dread of high humidity and even more heat from the crowds as you hopscotch around honky-tonks.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Southern food is a major part of any good Nashville itinerary. There’s plenty to choose from, but here’s the cream of the crop.
Hot chicken joints to add to your Nashville itinerary
Get ready for meat sweats as you chow down on the heat of hot chicken. Hot chicken is part of Nashville’s DNA and there’s no shortage of joints to choose from, and certainly no shortage of debate as to which restaurant reigns supreme.
While the debate on who deserves the crown may never be settled, these are the main contenders and you can’t go wrong with any of them:
- 400 Degrees – 10 minutes’ drive north of Downtown Nashville
- Boltons – Historic Edgefield, East Nashville
- Hattie B’s – Broadway, Downtown Nashville
- Helen’s – locations close to Fisk University and Vanderbilt University
- Slow Burn – East Nashville
- Pepperfire – North Gulch
- Prince’s – 15 minutes’ drive south of Downtown Nashville
If you’re looking for the original, then head to Prince’s. This is where hot chicken was born.
And if you can’t decide which restaurant to eat at, then make the most of southern hospitality and simply ask a local.
Meat and Three to add to your Nashville itinerary
If you want to try a Nashville staple, then you can always go back to Monell’s and Silver Sands Café, but if you’re looking for a new option then duck into any of these:
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
For a lot of folks in Nashville, it’s got to be Arnold’s. Like any good meat and three, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but what truly matters is the magic that goes on inside the kitchen.
Dandgure’s Classic Southern Cooking
Less than a ten-minute walk from Arnold’s Country Kitchen, you’ll be able to spot Dan’s by its mural (it looks sort of like the cover art of a diner tycoon game from the late 90s, but with food this good, who are we to judge?). Locals love it, so you’re in good company if you’ve got a hankering for some of the city’s best soul food.
Johnny Cash Museum Restaurant
Inside you’ll find food from Nashville meat and three institution Swett’s, so if you’re feeling hungry after your tour, don’t be so quick to rush off.
Barbecue to add to your Nashville itinerary
The South is synonymous with BBQ, so you better make sure to add it to your Nashville itinerary and treat yourself to some smokey goodness.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint – The Gulch
Try the pulled pork.
Peg Leg Porker – The Gluch
Try the ribs.
Edley’s Bar-B-Que – East Nashville
Try the brisket and the tuck.
Looking to add some upmarket dining to your Nashville itinerary, then look no further than Husk.
It’s gonna cost more than BBQ or meat and three, but if you still want Southern flavors, then this is the place to go. They live by the rule that if it doesn’t come from the South, then it can’t go on the plate.
Sure, you’ll pay more than you will for hot chicken, but you’ve got to treat yourself while on holiday and this is where to do it. Produce arrives daily, so the menu changes based on what’s in season, or on the best ingredients the restaurant can get their hands on.
Nightlife for your Nashville itinerary
The Grand Ole Opry calls itself the true home of country music, and having ushered stars like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash onto its stage, there’s weight behind their claim. The Opry also holds the impressive title of longest-running radio broadcast in US history – in 2025 it’ll be celebrating its centenary!
To get to the Opry you’ll have to travel east from Downtown Nashville. If you travelled back in time to the days when Johnny Cash and June Carter were playing, then you’d have found it in the Ryman Auditorium in Downtown Nashville, but the Opry stopped playing there in 1974.
Bars to add to your Nashville itinerary
There’s a reason folks flock to Nashville to party, and here are just a few.
Honky Tonk Highway
Lower Broadway is awash with neon and stepping into one of the honky-tonks promises a hit of live music and an atmosphere that will remind you of why you came to Nashville in the first place.
The honky-tonks on Broadway stay open until 3am, but you’ll find live music there all day. The real treat is that it’s free to come inside! But this is America after all, so make sure to tip the band.
Bar hopping is the name of the game, so you can’t go wrong in terms of where to start! If you like the music, stick around.
Step away from Broadway’s packed crowds and duck into Printers Alley and enjoy different sounds in Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, and Skull’s Rainbow Room.
This is where Taylor Swift was discovered and if you’re looking to treat your ears, you’ll want to try and make a reservation for a show, because the Bluebird is popular for good reason.
If the jam-packed nature of the Bluebird Café isn’t for you then head to the Station Inn. Open every night, this is the place to be to listen to world-class bluegrass, classic country, Americana and roots music.
Romantic things to do in Nashville
Located beside the Cumberland River, Pinewood Social is a hangout heaven. From good food and a healthy offering of beer on tap, to the old-school bowling alley, you needn’t look much further for an easy-going date location.
Can’t afford a first-class flight to Greece? Treat your date to the Athens of the South. Originally built as part of Tennessee’s centennial exposition, the Nashville Parthenon wasn’t intended to last, but due to its overwhelming popularity it ended up being converted to a permanent fixture of the city. This full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens even features a colossal statue of the goddess Athena, complete with golden armor.
After you’ve finished ogling the architecture, you can admire American art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Nashville Farmers’ Market
Can’t decide where to have lunch? Thank God for food halls. The Nashville Farmers’ Market has a plethora of options, including a global array of national favorites. Think Neapolitan pizza and Southern BBQ alongside Jamaican, Indian, Chinese and Korean cuisine.
The farmers’ market is also located right beside the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, so you’re in the perfect place for a romantic walk after lunch. And that’s how easy a date can be, just add “romantic” before the word “walk”. It works for everything. Romantic parasailing, romantic falconry, romantic juggling, romantic beekeeping.
If you aren’t in the mood for romance, or prefer crying about the past to a catchy synth beat, then you can always head back to the Parthenon and listen to some Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. And if that should fail, there’s always hot chicken.