Whether you’re here for a short visit or you are a long-time resident of Nashville, there’s no reason that you should have to empty your wallet in order to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. Here are 15 different ways to keep yourself busy and entertained in Music City.
From Thursday through Sundays in Nashville’s Centennial Park, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival Apprentice Company stages free outdoor performances. The 2016 showings will take place from mid-August to mid-September and include modern-day twists on Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors. Visit the Nashville Shakespeare in the Park website for a list of exact show times.
If you enjoy Bluegrass music and happen to find yourself free on a Sunday evening, check out one of the legendary Station Inn’s Sunday Night Bluegrass Jam. Every Sunday at 7pm, musicians from around the city gather for informal jam sessions in a small, intimate venue that’s recognized by many Nashville natives as one of the “best bluegrass venues around.”
If you happen to be in Nashville in August or September, be sure to make your way downtown to experience Nashville’s free annual outdoor music festival held every Thursday from August 11-September 3. Acts this year include Band of Horses, Young the Giant, Passenger, Borns, and Dawes – just to name a few.
Every Friday at 2PM, the popular Nashville-based coffee shop Frothy Monkey hosts a free coffee cupping (a form of coffee tasting) event at its roasting facility. The event lasts approximately one hour and is open to the public. Whether you’re in the restaurant industry or you merely have a fondness for coffee, this event is enjoyable and immensely educational.
The first Saturday of each month, art galleries across town are open to the public for free from 6-9PM. Enjoy free wine and hors d’oeuvres and experience firsthand exhibitions from a wide variety of artistic genres.
While Nashville may be known for music, it also boasts many vibrant and well-preserved parks and hiking trails. Take a scenic walk around the perimeter of Radnor Lake or hike through one of the many trails at Percy Warner Park and leave behind the bustle and noise of the city – even if only for an afternoon.
Since the late 19th century, Hatch Show Print has been one of the leading printmaking shops in the city. Today, Hatch Show Print posters can still be found nearly everywhere in Nashville. While for $13 you can take a tour of this legendary print shop, visiting the shop is free – and still allows you a firsthand, behind-the-scenes glimpse into his renowned print shop.
A photo posted by Hatch Show Print Est. 1879 (@hatchshowprint) on
In-Store Shows at Grimey’s
Ask any Nashville resident about their favorite record store in the city, and chances are, they’ll answer Grimey’s. This record store not only offers a huge and constantly growing selection of records (as well as new and used books and records at their location next door, Grimey’s Too/Howlin’ Books), but it also periodically offers free in-store performances. Check out Grimey’s website or follow them on Twitter to keep up-to-date on show announcements.
About once every month, the Adventure Science Center in Nashville hosts a free “Star Party.” During these events, astronomers and astronomy-enthusiasts across Nashville join to observe the night sky. All are welcome to the Star Parties—whether you’re a practising astronomer or a novice star-gazer.
Interested in learning more about the history of Tennessee? Admission at the Tennessee State Museum is always free, and the museum offers a group of core permanent exhibits as well as rotating temporary exhibits that offer visitors an in-depth glance into the state’s rich history.
Take a free guided tour of the Tennessee State Capitol and see firsthand one of the oldest state capitol buildings in the country. Built in 1859, the state capitol was modeled after an ancient Greek temple and still stands as a breathtaking monument to both classical architecture and to the state of Tennessee itself.
Parnassus Books, co-owned by author Ann Patchett and publisher Karen Hayes, offers a number of free in-store author events every month. Drop in to hear acclaimed authors read their work – and if you have a few extra minutes to spare, spend some time browsing the store’s wide selection of books.
The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, colloquially known as “the pedestrian bridge,” is located on the edge of downtown and stretches across the Cumberland River. As one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world, it is a popular destination for visitors and residents alike. Great for walking, jogging, or merely stopping to admire the breathtaking view of the Nashville skyline.
Whether you’re an aspiring comedian or you enjoy watching others brave the open mic, Nashville has a growing comedy scene that offers a plethora of opportunities for free entertainment (or practice). Nashville Stand Up offers a detailed breakdown of free open mics across town for every night of the week.
Love Hill, or Love Circle, is nestled in the suburban Hillsboro neighborhood southwest of downtown. The hill offers a one-of-a-kind view of the entire city, and it is a popular destination for Nashville residents all year round (many even sled down its slope during Nashville’s few and far between periods of winter snow). Bring a blanket and a picnic basket and watch the sunset for a quiet and affordable night in Nashville.