This post is in partnership with Hotels.com.
The home of country music, the home of hot chicken and the home of the only full-size replica of the Parthenon – that’s right, we are talking about the amazing city of Nashville, Tennessee. We want to encourage folks to visit this beautiful city and so we are going to share some of the best things to do, best places to eat and best places to stay in our 3-day Nashville itinerary.
For those that have never visited Nashville, what are you waiting for? If you have been fortunate to experience Music City, you will know that there is a myriad of reasons to want to visit this city…and yes, there are so many more than the aforementioned stereotypes. Whether you have visited Nashville or looking forward to a first-time trip, we are convinced that there is a plethora of experiences that you are yet to entertain.
It goes without saying that 48 or 72 hours in Nashville is nowhere near enough time to explore this city but it will at least give you some time to enjoy some of the highlight experiences that we think makes Music City such an attractive destination in this part of the US.
It’s fair to say that we consider Nashville to be our “home away from home” given that it’s only a 4-hour drive along I-40, also known as Music Highway. Take a road trip across from Memphis to Nashville to enjoy the very best of Tennessee but we want to focus solely on what makes Music City such a growing hotspot for visitors from all corners of the globe.
3 Day Nashville Itinerary Guide
We have been fortunate to visit Nashville and the surrounding suburbs (Franklin, Cool Springs etc.) on numerous occasions and we could easily have put together a view different guide. Each and every traveler is different, but we hope that we are offering an eclectic collection of things to do, some mainstream, some hidden gems in this awesome metropolis.
Let’s take a quick look at an overview of this guide to Nashville, Tennessee.
- Best Places to Stay – Do you want to stay downtown near Broadway to enjoy the heart and soul of live country music? Do you want to stay at the iconic Grand Ole Opry destination – Opryland? Do you have a set budget and ok with staying further afield?
- Best Things to Do – Are you intrigued by the thought of visiting the full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon? Do you enjoy exploring street art murals across a city? Is the thought of visiting the home of country music appealing?
- Best Places to Eat – Where are the best hot chicken restaurants in Nashville? Did you know that Nashville had a great local coffee shop scene?
When it comes to putting together itinerary based posts, rather than giving specific times to experience different attractions and restaurants, we prefer to allow for some flexibility and offer options that we think are feasible to enjoy throughout the time in the destination. This guide is no different, so let’s take a look at some of the best options in each of the above categories.
Don’t worry, if you prefer a little more structure and guidance, check out our suggested itinerary at the end of the post.
Best Places to Stay in Nashville
Downtown Nashville is undoubtedly the place to be when it comes to live entertainment, rich country music history, local culture and heritage associated with this part of Tennessee. There are a number of premium hotels waiting to attract your attention and in terms of location, convenience and amenities, there are not many better than the Omni Nashville Hotel.
Just a short walk from Broadway, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bridgestone Arena and much more, this hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a 3-day Nashville getaway. With epic panoramic views of the Nashville skyline, including the iconic “Batman” building, a wraparound suite overlooking the city is definitely one of our favorite places to stay in the downtown neighborhood.
Of course, downtown Nashville isn’t always the most cost-effective for every traveler. There are plenty of alternative, affordable options available. Consider staying in the nearby neighborhoods of Brentwood, Donelson (near Nashville Airport), or even further afield in Cool Springs for cheaper options. The Hyatt Place Nashville/Brentwood or Hilton Brentwood Suites are great choices, both just a short distance from I-65 and within a 15-minute drive of Nashville’s downtown area.
If you are looking for the ultimate, luxury stay while visiting Nashville, consider staying at the breathtaking Gaylord Opryland Resort which is the perfect spot, particularly if you are planning on visiting the Grand Ole Opry (iconic Nashville experience). These are just recommendations of places we have stayed while visiting Nashville, TN but as with most cities, there are a plethora of options available.
Best Things to Do in Nashville
Nashville’s reputation as being the home of country music is certainly for good reason but don’t let this fool you into thinking this is the only reason to visit Music City. In fact, while embracing the country music scene is something everyone should experience, the myriad of other attractions across the city are why there are so many unique reasons to justify visiting Nashville.
Visit Downtown Nashville
Let’s start in the heart of downtown Nashville along Broadway. At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a bunch of bars and restaurants. It goes without saying that the vibrant Nashville nightlife is epitomized along Broadway but it’s when you learn about the history and heritage of some of the locations that you realize why this part of the downtown neighborhood is so iconic.
Bars such as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge are infamous for hosting “secret” performances from leading country music stars before heading to the original Ryman Auditorium to perform at the Grand Ole Opry series. There are many stories to be heard of how stars would sneak along the back alleys to perform in front of locals and visitors alike who had no idea what was about to happen.
A short walk from Broadway will lead you to Printers Alley which was historically yet another infamous location but for all genres of music. Jimi Hendrix, The Supremes and Hank Williams are just a few examples of musicians that showcased their talents along Printers Alley over the years.
Take another short walk to the banks of the Cumberland River to admire the spectacular Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans and head across the bridge to enjoy a gorgeous panoramic view of the Nashville skyline. This is one of the best spots to visit if you are looking for the best places to take pictures in Nashville.
Be sure to spend some time exploring some of the other downtown Nashville attractions, such as taking a stroll to the State Capitol building and Bicentennial Mall, home to Nashville’s Farmer’s Market which is a great spot to enjoy local produce and purchase handcrafted goods.
Country Music Hall of Fame
If you are ready to learn about the history of the country music genre that is stereotypically associated with Nashville, head over to the Country Music Hall of Fame for a self-guided tour. Whether you are an avid country music fan or simply want to know more about why this genre is so popular in this part of the world, a tour of the Hall of Fame is certainly the place to visit.
With a number of interactive displays and some intriguing information about musicians that perhaps you didn’t associate with country music such as Bob Dylan, the Hall of Fame epitomizes everything there is to love about Nashville.
Learn about how so many leading country musicians shaped not only the music genre but also the culture throughout Nashville and beyond. These iconic stars helped put Nashville on the map for so many reasons and today, visitors from around the world can enjoy this beautiful city thanks to country music stars that have always welcomed people to their home city.
Centennial Park and Parthenon
Dreaming about visiting the beautiful city of Athens, Greece but don’t think you can afford a trip to this ancient destination? If Nashville is a little closer to home, why not head over to Music City and experience Centennial Park to enjoy a full-sized replica of the Greek architectural masterpiece – the Parthenon.
Originally constructed in the late 19th Century and renovated in the 20th Century, the Parthenon in Nashville is not only a spectacular sight from the outside, it’s also home to a 42-feet Greek Athena goddess structure inside. A self-guided tour of the Parthenon offers a detailed look at the history of this construction, along with an inspiring collection of works that serve as Nashville’s Art Museum.
After a tour of this structure that is undoubtedly the focal point of the park, take a walk around Centennial Park to relax away from the hustle and bustle of Nashville’s city life. You will quickly realize how locals fall in love with this city that offers a diverse collection of urban and rural gems that create the perfect living environment, hence why this is such a popular city to visit.
Explore Nashville’s Street Art Scene
One of Nashville’s lesser known attractions is the amazing street art scene that can be seen throughout the city. Exploring the myriad of murals across the city is not only a great way to see the rich culture and local artistry on display, it’s also the best way to get away from the downtown area and experience some of Nashville’s growing neighborhoods.
The eclectic collection of neighborhoods, ranging from the Gulch to East Nashville, and from 12South to Hillsboro Village offer an array of murals that epitomize the inherent beauty of the city. As with any city that has a thriving street art scene, this is a constantly evolving experience given that new murals are always being created across various neighborhoods.
Some of our favorite Nashville murals can be found in East Nashville, just a short distance from the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium. An iconic and historic mural depicting Bill Gates and Steve Jobs collaborating together is certainly appealing for any tech-minded visitors but regardless of your taste, you can be sure there is a mural in Nashville that will likely spark your interest.
Best Places to Eat in Nashville
Culinary aficionados visiting Nashville will find a wide variety of cuisine options available but when it comes to a local favorite, hot chicken is definitely something visitors need to experience. There are several local restaurants that specialize in hot chicken, including Prince’s, 400 Degrees Hot Chicken and Bishop’s. However, in our opinion the best local spot is Hattie B’s.
With two different locations in Nashville and others across the state of Tennessee, Hattie B’s offers freshly prepared hot chicken with a wide range of sauces available. Just how “hot” and spicy you are willing to try is your biggest decision here. A word of warning, even the medium heat level is pretty spicy but for those that are willing to go all the way, “Shut the Cluck Up” awaits.
This “hole in the wall” style establishment is the perfect place to hang out while indulging in a Nashville favorite and perhaps after you will be ready for some dessert at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Sourced from local ingredients and a plethora of unique flavors available, this is a great spot to enjoy a sweet treat after a long day exploring the best of Nashville.
For those of you that love sampling the best local coffee shops in Nashville, there are plenty to choose from. Milk and Honey in the Gulch is a great choice for those that want to explore one of Nashville’s trendiest neighborhoods. 8th and Roast is another popular coffee shop among locals but regardless of which part of the city you are visiting, you can be sure there is a local coffee shop not too far away.
Sample 3 Day Itinerary
As promised, here is a possible 3 day itinerary that you can follow to get the best experience in Nashville. There are plenty of other things to do but these are just a few options that will help you explore Nashville’s rich culture and history.
Nashville is a city that offers so much more than the legendary reputation of being home to country music suggests. While this recognition is one that Nashville should rightfully be proud of, we hope that this guide inspires visitors to explore not only this legacy but also all of the other reasons we have outlined that should justify a visit to Music City.
Whether you are intrigued by the thought of sampling some spicy, hot chicken or perhaps you are an aspiring artist looking for some inspirational creativity through the street art scene, Nashville is home to an abundance of unique attractions that should be explored. Three days in Nashville will barely touch the surface but it will at least give you the opportunity to realize you are ready for a return visit in the not too distant future.