Nashville, Tennessee, fondly referred to as “Music City,” offers a vibrant blend of musical heritage, southern hospitality, and rich cultural experiences. A two-day visit to Nashville can be an exciting whirlwind, immersing you in the city’s best attractions, eateries, and live music venues. This travel guide will help you make the most out of your 48 hours in Nashville, ensuring a trip filled with memorable moments.
Day 1: Dive into Music and History
Morning: Breakfast and the Country Music Hall of Fame
Start your day in the heart of downtown Nashville with a hearty breakfast at one of the local cafes, such as Biscuit Love or Pancake Pantry, to fuel up for a day of exploration. After breakfast, make your way to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. This iconic museum houses an extensive collection of country music artifacts, recordings, and memorabilia. The exhibits chronicle the history and evolution of country music, showcasing its impact on the world.
Afternoon: Explore Historic Ryman Auditorium and Broadway
Post-museum, head to the Ryman Auditorium, often called the “Mother Church of Country Music.” Take a guided tour to learn about its rich history as the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. After soaking in the history, stroll down Broadway, Nashville’s bustling street lined with honky-tonks and live music venues. Stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants along Broadway, such as Merchants, known for its southern cuisine.
Evening: Dinner and Live Music
For dinner, venture to the Germantown neighborhood, where you can enjoy upscale southern dining at places like The Southern Steak & Oyster. After dinner, make your way back to Broadway or head to the Midtown area to experience Nashville’s legendary live music scene. Venues like the Bluebird Café or Tootsies Orchid Lounge offer intimate settings for enjoying performances by up-and-coming artists as well as music legends.
Day 2: Arts, Parks, and Culinary Delights
Morning: Art and Nature
Begin your second day with breakfast at a local spot in East Nashville, such as Marche Artisan Foods, known for its European-style brunch.
Afterward, visit the Frist Art Museum, which features rotating exhibits of local, national, and international artists in a beautiful art deco building. If you prefer outdoor activities, consider visiting the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens to explore beautiful botanical gardens and art exhibits.
Afternoon: Lunch and Shopping in 12South
For lunch, head to the 12South neighborhood, a trendy area known for its boutique shops, eateries, and murals. Enjoy a casual lunch at Burger Up or Edley’s Bar-B-Que. Spend the afternoon exploring the shops and snapping photos with the iconic “I Believe in Nashville” mural.
Evening: A Culinary Finale
On your final evening, indulge in Nashville’s culinary scene. The city is known for its “hot chicken,” so consider visiting Hattie B’s for a taste of this spicy delicacy. Alternatively, for a more upscale dining experience, book a table at Husk, where the menu focuses on Southern ingredients with a modern twist. Cap off your trip with a visit to a rooftop bar in the Gulch, like L.A. Jackson, for panoramic views of the city skyline.
Tips for Your Trip
Transportation: Nashville is a walkable city, especially in the downtown area. However, for longer distances, consider using ride-sharing services or renting a bike.
Accommodations: Stay in a downtown hotel or a boutique inn in one of the city’s neighborhoods to be close to the action.
Weather: Check the weather before your trip and pack accordingly. Nashville experiences hot summers and mild winters.
This two-day itinerary is just a starting point for exploring all that Nashville has to offer. Whether you’re a music lover, foodie, or history buff, Nashville promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you wanting to return for more.
Beyond the Itinerary: Making the Most of Your Nashville Experience
While the suggested itinerary covers many of Nashville’s key attractions, the city’s charm lies in its ability to surprise and delight visitors with its hidden gems and spontaneous musical performances. Here are additional tips and ideas to enrich your Nashville adventure:
Embrace the Unexpected
Live Music Everywhere: While Broadway is famous for its honky-tonks, Nashville’s live music scene extends far beyond. Keep an eye out for live performances in unexpected places like local coffee shops, bookstores, and even at the airport.
Neighborhood Exploration: Nashville is made up of several distinct neighborhoods, each with its own character. Areas like The Gulch, East Nashville, and 12South offer unique shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Take time to explore these neighborhoods and discover your own favorite spots.
Cultural Deep Dive
Music Row: Take a stroll through Music Row, the heart of Nashville’s entertainment industry. This area is home to recording studios, radio stations, and music publishing houses. Though many studios are not open to the public, the atmosphere is electric, and you might just bump into a music industry insider.
Historic Sites: Nashville’s history is not limited to music. Visit sites like the Belle Meade Plantation or The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, to delve into the region’s rich history and Southern heritage.
Local Eats: Nashville’s food scene is about more than just hot chicken and barbecue. Seek out local delicacies like meat-and-three diners, biscuit breakfasts, and gourmet southern desserts. Farmers’ markets, such as the Nashville Farmers’ Market, offer a taste of the local produce and artisan foods.
Craft Beverages: Explore Nashville’s burgeoning craft beer scene with a visit to local breweries. For those who prefer spirits, a tour of the Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery provides insight into the craft of whiskey making.
When to Visit
Festivals and Events: Nashville hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and food to art and culture. Check the city’s events calendar before your visit to see if your trip aligns with any special happenings.
Seasonal Considerations: Spring and fall offer mild weather and beautiful scenery, making them ideal times to visit. Summers can be hot and crowded but also vibrant with outdoor concerts and events. Winter is quieter but offers the chance to see Nashville decked out in holiday lights and decorations.
Planning Your Trip
Advance Bookings: For popular attractions and dining spots, consider making reservations or purchasing tickets in advance to avoid long waits or sold-out venues.
Stay Connected: Follow local Nashville social media accounts and blogs for the latest happenings, special offers, and insider tips.
Be Open to Changes: While it’s great to have a plan, some of the best travel experiences come from unexpected opportunities. If you hear about a live show or a pop-up event, consider adjusting your plans to attend.
A visit to Nashville is an immersion in American music history, culinary delights, and warm Southern culture. By following this guide and remaining open to the myriad experiences the city offers, your two days in Nashville will undoubtedly be filled with unforgettable moments and discoveries.
Maximizing Your Nashville Journey: Insider Tips and Practical Advice
To truly embrace the spirit of Nashville and ensure a seamless trip, consider these insider tips and practical advice. They’re designed to enhance your experience, save you time, and help you navigate the city like a local.
Ride-Sharing and Taxis: While downtown Nashville is quite walkable, for trips outside the central area, ride-sharing apps and taxis are convenient and readily available. Consider using these services for late-night transport or when visiting attractions that are further apart.
Public Transportation: Nashville’s public transportation system, including buses and the Music City Star commuter train, offers an affordable way to get around. Check schedules in advance, as service can be limited, especially on weekends and evenings.
Book Early: Nashville has become a popular destination, leading to high demand for accommodations, especially during peak seasons and major events. Booking your stay well in advance can secure you a better rate and more choices.
Consider Location: Staying in or near downtown can be a bit pricier but will save you time and transportation costs. Alternatively, neighborhoods like East Nashville, The Gulch, or Midtown offer unique vibes and may provide more budget-friendly options.
Eating and Drinking
Reservations Recommended: Nashville’s best restaurants are no secret to locals and tourists alike. To ensure a spot at popular dining establishments, make reservations as far in advance as possible.
Explore Beyond the Hot Chicken: While hot chicken is a must-try, Nashville’s culinary scene is diverse. Explore various cuisines, from Southern comfort food to international flavors, by checking out the city’s food trucks, markets, and neighborhood eateries.
Experiencing Nashville’s Music Scene
Check Out Smaller Venues: Big names often play at famous spots like the Ryman Auditorium, but Nashville’s smaller venues, like The Station Inn or 3rd and Lindsley, offer intimate experiences with incredible talent.
Open Mic Nights and Writer’s Rounds: For an authentic Nashville experience, attend an open mic night or writer’s round. These events showcase up-and-coming artists and songwriters, offering a glimpse into the creative process behind the music.
Pack for Comfort: Nashville’s casual, laid-back vibe means comfort is key. Pack comfortable walking shoes and layers to adapt to the city’s unpredictable weather, especially if you’re visiting in the spring or fall.
Stay Hydrated: Nashville’s summers can be hot and humid. Always carry water with you, especially when exploring outdoor attractions or walking around the city.
Local Visitor Centers: For discounts, maps, and personalized recommendations, visit one of the local visitor centers located throughout the city. The friendly staff can offer up-to-date information and help you discover hidden gems.
Embrace the Nashville Spirit
Nashville is more than a destination; it’s an experience that resonates long after your visit. Its blend of historical depth, musical excellence, and southern charm creates a unique cultural tapestry. By diving into the local scene, engaging with the community, and exploring beyond the tourist paths, you’ll capture the true essence of Nashville. Remember, the city’s heart beats in its music, its people, and the stories that make up its soul. Enjoy your journey to Nashville, where every corner has a story to tell and every note played is a call to celebrate life and art in their most melodious forms.