- Sarah Lantz
Explore Downtown Nashville, with its historic buildings, cool art galleries and museums, intimate music venues, and best shopping experiences.
Tennessee State Capitol
With guided tours and exquisite architecture designed by William Strickland, The Tennessee State Capitol is not to be missed when you’re exploring Downtown Nashville. On sight, you’ll find statues honoring Sam Davis, Sgt. Alvin York, and Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson. On the capitol grounds, you’ll also be able to visit the tombstones of President James K. Polk and his wife.
Hours: Guided tours Mon-Fri 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm
Watch out for: the tombstones of President and Mrs. James K. Polk
Address & phone number: 600 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-741-2692
Tennessee State Museum
While you’re exploring the Tennessee State Capitol and grounds, be sure to step inside the Tennessee State Museum. The Museum includes permanent exhibits, like the “First Tennesseans” that discusses prehistoric Indian cultures that began about 15,000 years ago and ends with the creation of modern tribes like the Cherokee and the Chickasaw. This exhibit also features the bones of a 10,000-year-old mastodon. Other exhibits include an exhibit on the Civil War and Reconstruction and an exhibit on Andrew Jackson.
Hours: Tue-Sat 10 am-5 pm, Sun 1 pm-5 pm
Watch out for: The Civil War exhibit
Address & phone number: 505 Deaderick Street Nashville, TN USA +1 615-741-2692
Johnny Cash Museum
A favorite museum for many visitors of Nashville, The Johnny Cash Museum is a must for true music fanatics. The museum is well-organized and features the largest collection of artifacts from the Man in Black’s life, including instruments, stage costumes, handwritten songs, letters, and photographs.
Hours: Daily 9 am-7 pm
Watch out for: Johnny Cash’s instruments and stage costumes
Address & phone number: 119 Third Avenue South Nashville, TN USA +1 615-256-1777
The Listening Room Café
Recently reopened in 2012, The Listening Room Café is the local downtown Nashville venue to hear Nashville artists perform. As a bar and café, The Listening Room serves tasty food like ‘Lemon Rosemary Fried Catfish’ with a garnish of apple and waldorf slaw and the ‘Blues Burger’ with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, veggies, and their signature ‘sweet + spicy pickles’ on a brioche bun. They also serve fancy cocktails like ‘So Hot Right Now’ with Maker’s 46 Kentucky Bourbon, raw sugar bitters, and citrus peels served hot and ‘The Seedling’ with Corsair Gin, cucumber, lime, jalapeno, cilantro, and black pepper. Events at this venue include the Song Suffragettes every Monday night, where female artists and bands get to perform, as well as The Movement every Tuesday that draws some of the best musicians and singers around Nashville to their stage.
Hours: Sun 10 am-3 pm, Mon-Fri 4 pm-11 pm, Sat 10 am- 3 pm, 4 pm-11 pm
Watch out for: Song Suffragettes Monday
Address & phone number: 217 2nd Ave S, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-259-3600
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
With fantastic exhibits like ‘Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane, Masterpiece Drawings from the Casa Buonarroti’, ‘Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art’, and ‘Shinique Smith: Wonder and Rainbows’, there’s always something to catch the eye and imagination at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. As a nonprofit art-exhibition center, the center uses its nearly 24,000 square feet of gallery space to present the finest visual local, state, and regional art as well as national and international art exhibitions.
Hours: Mon-Wed 10 am-5:30 pm, Thurs-Fri 10 am-9 pm, Sat 10 am-5:30 pm, Sun 1 pm-5:30 pm
Watch out for: Awesome temporary exhibits
Address & phone number: 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-244-3340
Carl Van Vechten Gallery
Located in a 19th-century Victorian building on the campus of Fisk University, the gallery was established in 1949 when American painter Georgia O’Keeffe donated the collection of works that now makes up Alfred Stieglitz Collection, a permanent exhibit of the gallery. Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Elizabeth Catlett are just a few artists represented in the permanent collection of the Carl Van Vechten Gallery. Current exhibitions include ‘American Art, 1940-2000’.
Hours: Tues-Sat 10 am-5 pm
Watch out for: Its permanent collection of modern painters
Address & phone number: Fisk University, 1000 17th Ave N, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-329-8720
A Nashville favorite as far as music venues go, the Bluebird Café offers an intimate and cozy 90 seat setting to enjoy live, local Nashville music as well as big hit songwriters. With an ‘in the round’ style of presenting music, songwriters sit in the middle of the room where they perform together, tell stories, and accompany each other. A typical night at the Bluebird consists of three or four songwriters taking turns to perform and accompany instrumentally and with vocal harmonies.
Hours: Mon 5:30 pm-11 pm, Tues-Thurs 5 pm-11 pm, Fri-Sat 5:30 pm-12 am, Sun 5 pm-11 pm
Watch out for: Songwriters circles
Address and phone number: 4104 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-383-1461
Downtown Antique Mall
A cool place to browse for just about anything and to stumble upon all sorts of oddities, The Downtown Antique Mall is not to miss while you’re walking around Downtown Nashville. From groovy lamps to cowboy boots to colorful glass vases, you’ll find all sorts of things. With high ceilings and a meticulous layout, this antique mall makes it easier to browse and find what you’re looking for without feeling the usual claustrophobic impression of a time capsule.
Hours: Mon-Sat 10 am-6 pm, Sun 1 pm-5 pm
Watch out for: High ceilings and organization
Address & phone number: 612 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-256-6616
Nashville Farmers’ Market
A year-round farmers market, Nashville Farmers’ Market attracts a variety of vendors from producers to artisans. You’ll find in their Farm Sheds local products like Galena Garlic Company seasonings, Lost River Creamery cheeses, and Foggy Hallow Farm Eggs. The market also attracts plenty of artisans and vendors selling specialty items like Josie’s Teas, oils and soaps from Jasmine Fashion, and unique household goods from One Man, One Garage.
Hours: Daily 8 am-6 pm
Watch out for: Fresh produce and handcrafted goods
Address & phone number: 900 Rosa L Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-880-2001
The Second Fiddle
A Nashville honky-tonk featuring live country music, The Second Fiddle’s a great venue to catch some live music while in Music City. Celebrities to visit The Second Fiddle include Tim McGraw, Larry the Cable Guy, and Trick Pony.
Hours: Mon-Thurs 2 pm-3 am, Fri-Sun 11 am-3 am
Watch out for: Live country music
Address & phone number: 420 Broadway, Nashville, TN USA +1 615-251-6812
By Sarah Lantz