If you’re planning on spending time in Nashville, you should know that Nashville is a very “walkable” city – especially the downtown area. Check out our great guide to the best things to do in downtown Nashville. You can visit the classic “Music City” destinations like Tootsies Lounge, Printers Alley, or the Country Music Hall of Fame. Or, to visit some of the beautiful downtown park areas, you can explore Riverfront Park and Centennial Park. There are so many great things to do and see in Downtown, so use our guide to start planning your downtown Nashville activities today.
1. Centennial Park
Centennial Park is a must-see park in downtown Nashville and it’s easy to see why. With a full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon as the centerpiece, this park also features lush grounds, an artificial lake, play structures, jogging paths, and various sculptures and exhibits. We think Centennial Park is one of the best things to do in downtown Nashville so head on over to check it out!
2. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Another great thing to do in Downtown Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is an amazing tribute to the American music tradition and well worth a visit. The Museum portion is filled with all kinds of rare American music artifacts, like 200,000 rare sound recordings, 500,000 photographs, 30,000 video recordings. Also, there are hundreds of musical instruments on display that were played by famous early American musicians and also thousands of clothing items worn by these historic figures in Country and American music.
3. Adventure Science Center
For a great indoor thing to do in downtown Nashville with kids, we suggest the Adventure Science Center. Featuring nearly 200 hands-on and interactive exhibits that will keep your kids busy for hours, this science center focuses on themes that challenge and excite the imagination from physics, to visual perception, to biology, to air & space, and much more. Adventure Science Center offers families and kids a fantastic educational and entertaining experience. Check out their website for current exhibit and ticket information today!
4. Printers Alley
For a fun thing to do in downtown Nashville, you can walk through the Famous Printers Alley. This famous alleyway is lined with restaurants, nightclubs, bars, and jazz clubs and it’s a fun place to explore at night. The alley used to be home to multiple bustling newspapers and print shops, and quickly gained the name “Printers Alley”. Now, the printers are gone but the alley is full of activity and is one of the more famous nightlife destinations and top things to do in downtown Nashville.
5. Johnny Cash Museum
For another music thing to do in the “Music City”, you can check out the Johnny Cash Museum near downtown Nashville. This fun museum celebrates the life and music of Johnny Cash, one of the most famous country musicians of all time. The facility features hundreds of memorabilia, interactive exhibits, a cafe & coffee shop, and event space. This is a must-see destination in Nashville for music-lovers and Johnny Cash fans alike.
6. Tennessee State Capitol
If you want to see one of Nashville’s most historic buildings, you need to pay a visit to the Tennessee State Capitol building. Sitting on an impressive hilltop location and designed in the Greek Revival style, this capitol building was completed in 1859 and to this day still acts as an official government building. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, the Tennessee State Capitol is a must-visit location for the great view it provides of the city and to learn more about the city’s deep roots.
7. Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park is a great spot on the edge of downtown to picnic or relax with a great view of the Cumberland River and the multiple river bridges. The park features large grassy steps that end down at the river’s edge and since it’s such a picturesque location, many events and concerts are held here throughout the warmer months of the year. Riverfront Park is a great place to watch the riverboats go by and gather your thoughts between your Nashville activities.
8. Nashville Trolley Tour
We think one of the best ways to explore Nashville is by Trolley. These trolley cars with open sides and fantastic tour guides take you on professionally guided tours of the wonderful city. You can choose from various themed trolley tours, like the Hop on Hop Off Tour which lets you set your own itinerary and stop at the places you want to explore, or you can take the Nashville Night Tour on the trolley that’s more focused on the music and nightlife destinations.
There’s a trolley tour for everyone here and we think it’s the best way to see most of the city’s highlights in the shortest amount of time. We’d recommend booking a trolley tour through Nashville Sightseeing Tours as they are one of the largest and highest rated operations in Nashville.
9. Bridgestone Arena
If you are a sports fan, then you’ll want to check out what events are coming up at Bridgestone Arena. Home to the Nashville Predators professional hockey team, the Bridgestone Arena is also used as a venue for top music concerts, comedy shows, and other large events so be sure to check their calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.
10. Tootsies Orchid Lounge
Tootsies Orchid Lounge is arguably the most famous country music venue in Nashville. It seems small, but it has hosted the largest acts in country music, like Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, and hundreds more. It’s even known that the famous country musician, Willie Nelson, got his first gig here and many other musicians have named Tootsies Orchid Lounge as the most important venue in the Country Music world. For a great night of music, drinks, and food, we’d suggest you enjoy an evening here and experience the magic of this special venue.
11. Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
While Nashville is best known for its country music roots, the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum celebrates all types of music and is a great place to visit while you’re in town. The museum features many instruments played by well-known musicians from the early days of American music all the way to the present. There are also various exhibits that highlight the famous music hotspots and music culture from around the country – places like Los Angeles, Memphis, and Motown.
12. The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is a beautiful and uniquely designed pedestrian-only bridge that spans the Cumberland River. Its unique truss design has made it a highly photographed bridge and it’s a popular spot that can be seen in many Country Music videos. The bridge is over 3,000 feet long which makes it one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the whole world. The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is a fun place to visit while you’re in town and it’s especially fun to walk across at night as it’s covered in bright lights for good pedestrian visibility.
13. Frist Art Museum
Located in the building that once was Nashville’s main post office, the Frist Art Museum is one of Nashville’s top cultural destinations that features a truly world-class collection of art. While the museum doesn’t have any permanent collections of art, it features a continuously-changing series of exhibits that feature early and current American art as well as art from around the world. To see what exhibits are currently showing, be sure to check the Frist Art Museum’s website.
14. Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
If you are a sports fan at all, then you need to check out the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Located in the Heart of Nashville right next to the Bridgestone Arena, this celebration of Tennessee sports history features the famous athletes that call Tennessee their home. Athletes like Peyton Manning, Reggie White, and hundreds of others are represented here along with exhibits detailing the history of various sports throughout Tennessee.
15. Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural
For an unusual thing to do in Nashville, you can check out the street murals dotting the downtown cityscape. One of the most famous is the WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural. Located in the Heart of Downtown on 11the Avenue, this mural is a highly photographed public art-piece by local artist Kelsey Montague and features artistically drawn angel wings that visitors can stand between for photographs. The Nashville murals are becoming more popular tourist destinations and the Nashville WhatliftsYou Wings Mural is the most popular, so definitely worth a visit and a photograph if you’re exploring Downtown.
16. Music City Walk of Fame Park
Since Nashville is well known as the birthplace of American music, Nashville has an entire park dedicated to the famous musicians and leaders in the historical Nashville music scene. Music City Walk of Fame Park features a walkway paved with plaques dedicated to these legendary musicians, and grassy areas for relaxing and enjoying the downtown views.