Newbie Guide to Nashville Tennessee & Instagram Hot Spots

I went to Nashville for the first time and OMG I want to go back! I'm not even an avid country music fan, yet was still totally charmed by Music City. I guarantee the unique, friendly and unpretentious atmosphere will enchant you too. Below are highlights on what to see and do in Nashville, Tennessee. 

What to do in Nashville:

Head to the Nashville Visitor Center 

Located inside the Glass Tower @ Bridgestone Arena (501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203) Visit Music City has free maps, discounts and they can answer any questions you may have. Plus, I purchased an adorable Nash t-shirt there and took the above photo.

Shop at Draper James

(2608 12th Ave S) Owned by Southern actress Reese Witherspoon this store is darling, both inside and outside. Inside, you can shop the latest fashions and enjoy a complimentary cup of sweet tea (the best I've ever had!).

Outside, be sure and pose in front of its famed blue and white striped walls or this lovely bench. And when you're done, enjoy a walk along the hipster 12th Ave South neighborhood.

Ride the Hop On Hop Off Nashville Trolley

Sure, it's touristy, but also provides a great overview of the history of Nashville. Your pass will allow you to get out of just the immediate downtown area too like out to Centennial Park, a large urban park located approximately two miles west of downtown Nashville, as well as other spots. You can get your tickets on Broadway or at any of their hop on/off locations.

Get a Goo Goo Cluster Bar

The Original Southern Confection. Luscious caramel, smooth creamy marshmallow nougat and fresh roasted peanuts all covered with a thick coating of real milk chocolate. I liked the Pecan version. I made the mistake of eating mine on the plane, once it was too late to go back and get more! Don't be like me, buy as many as you can. It's that good. The retro looking Goo Goo Shop & Dessert Bar also offers cakes, pies, sundaes, milkshakes and floats.

Walk the Pedestrian Bridge 

On my last day before heading to the airport, thankfully I booked my airport parking ahead of time, I accidentally discovered the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, formerly the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, which connects downtown Nashville to the residential suburbs of East Nashville. It was built from 1907-09 and offers great views of the city and waterfront. I was getting last-minute souvenirs like the Goo Goo bar when I noticed it on my left and decided to take a detour and am so glad I did.

Drink and Drive a Party Bike

Hop on, pedal, sip! Considering Nashville is a mecca for bachelorette parties, you'll see dozens of party bikes going up and down the street, day and night with music blaring, riders screaming and drinks flowing. While fun to watch, I didn't want to spend the $45 each on this experience. However, if I had a group of friends with me, I'm sure it would be a fun time. Check out Nashville Pedal Tavern or Music City Crawler to book your seat.

Find Your Favorite Honky Tonk

Broadway Street has new and old honky-tonk bars offering live music and drinks all day and night long. It's charming during the day, but at night the neon lights hide the grime and you'll feel like you're in old Vegas even.  At the start of Broadway is Tootsies Orchid Lounge, which is likely the most famous of all the spots with a who's who of past country singers having sung there. Plus, a portion of the Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter was filmed inside. However, I thought it was too crowded and expensive.

I preferred Kid Rock's Big Honky Tonk, which has many levels, each offering a different live performance. Head on up to the rooftop for great views, so does Nudies. If you want to avoid the crowds, but still enjoy live music and the electric atmosphere of Broadway, head to Bootleggers Inn, featuring a moonshine of the day and live music throughout the day and night.

During the two nights spent in Nash, I went to probably a dozen Honky Tonks and really, you can't go wrong with any. Just remember, the bands usually play for tips, so don't forget to throw some $$ in their bucket if you're enjoying what you hear.

Take a Vodka Distillery Tour 

Go on a distillery tour of Big Machine Vodka in the heart of downtown Nashville. Tours are offered on the top of the hour Friday-Sunday. $15 for the "Silver" 45 minute walking tour with a tasting flight and mini cocktail or splurge with the "Platinum" tour which includes bottling your own vodka for $69. 

Start Your Night with a Moonshine & Beer Tasting

I've been to Ole Smoky Moonshine's Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge location and was so excited to see they now have a tasting store in downtown Nashville's SoBro neighborhood in the Yee-Haw Brewing Co. building. For $5 you get to sample 13 flavors of moonshine and whiskey. Seriously, you can't beat this deal and it's a really a fun time. Plus, you get the five bucks back toward a purchase if you should choose to purchase some Moonshine or merch.

For $5 you get to sample 13 flavors of moonshine and whiskey.For $5 you get to sample 13 flavors of moonshine and whiskey.

They also have beer flights to try too. After, hang out in the backyard beer garden for live music, corn hole and tacos.

Tour your Favorite Country Star's Museum 

Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and George Jones all have their own museums that you can tour right near Broadway in Downtown.

Or you can get a taste of every famed country singer at the Country Music Hall of Fame. While I know some classic country from my dad, it's not typically my go-to music of choice. Yet, I was still able to enjoy the modern 3-floor building and its interactive elements.

Pose in Front of an Instagram Photo Wall 

Nashville is an Instagram lovers paradise due to the many murals and street art available to pose in front of.

Here were my favorites:

  • Red Lips Kiss Wall - 1814 21st Avenue South
  • Love Ya'll - 2028C Lindell Ave
  • I Believe in Nashville - Right across from Draper James famed blue and white wall.

Where to Eat in Nashville:

Enjoy classic soul food at Arnold's Country Kitchen Cafeteria (605 8th Ave S). This no-frills lunch spot has country fried steak, yummy pies, and more. Food is made fresh daily from scratch. When you walk in, grab a tray and get in line. Now pick your meat, sides and drink.

Martin’s BBQ joint (410 4th Ave S) The food is so amazing and has a very cool atmosphere in downtown. If the wait for a table is long, you can simply eat at the bar or in their Outdoor Beer Garden

Hattie B's is famous for their mild to very spicy fried chicken, Southern sides & local brews in a casual, counter-service eatery. Expect long lines though. Another popular alternative is Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. If you're staying in Downtown you'll have to Uber or Lyft to these locations.

Nashville's Best Spots for Fried Chicken - Food Network

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Newbie Guide to Nashville - What to do, see, eat! Plus, Nashville's Instagramable Hot Spots

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