The very word “Nashville” is music to the ears of anyone with a love of the great American songbook. Yet, this is also a city that’ll tantalize foodies and fascinate history lovers. So, here are the best things to do in Nashville, other than tapping your feet to hot tunes after midnight.
Want to delve into the nation’s past? Then the Hermitage has to rank among the top places to visit in Nashville. This grand mansion was once the home of Andrew Jackson, one of the most significant yet controversial of all US presidents. Today, you can tour the impeccably preserved rooms to get a taste of life in Old Hickory’s household, and even get close to his handsome tomb. It’s a fascinating look at a man who still triggers heated debate to this day.
You can’t come to Nashville and not pay homage to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. And where better to do that then RCA Studio B? It’s in this magical place that Elvis Presley made hundreds of recordings, helping change the course of American culture. Icons like Dolly Parton and the Everly Brothers also sang here, so a studio tour really is a must for music fans. Wannabe Hound Dogs can sit down and play the very piano the King used.
Enjoying some Shakespeare may not be among the most obvious things to do in Nashville, but the Nashville Shakespeare Festival Apprentice Company puts on quite a show. For decades, Shakespeare in the Park performances have wowed audiences in Centennial Park, but the event has now been moved to the exciting ONEC1TY development. Each show is free of charge, so you can just sit back, get cozy under a blanket, and take in the some of the greatest tales ever written.
Take a wander through the 132-acre Centennial Park, and you’ll come across a surreal sight. A full-sized, exact replica of the Parthenon of Ancient Greece, built right here in the United States back at the end of the 19th century. The exterior is jaw-dropping, but step inside and you’ll discover an exhibition of paintings by America artists. There are also replicas of Parthenon Marbles, as well as an exquisite, gold-covered recreation of the statue of the goddess Athena, which once stood in the original Parthenon.
Notably lacking a dome, the Tennessee State Capitol makes up for that with its stately, Greek Revival façade and eye-catching hilltop location in the heart of the city. Step beyond its sleek porticos and columns, and you can tour the corridors of power and take in over 160 years of history. Take a walk of the grounds, and you’ll see monuments including the tomb of President James K. Polk, and a statue of his mentor, President Andrew Jackson.
Culinary adventurers have plenty of places to visit in Nashville. Arrington Vineyards should be on the itinerary, for its idyllic setting as well as the tasty things it does with grape juice. The rolling, emerald-green landscape rivals the more well-known wine country of California, while the tasting rooms let you sample the wine flights and discover the taste of Tennessee. There’s also Music in the Vines, a series of jazz and bluegrass performances which take place on the grounds, best enjoyed with a glass in hand.
Eager to relax in a green space while in Nashville? You can take a break from the buzzing bars and live music venues by chilling out in Cheekwood Botanic Garden. It’s a beautifully landscaped realm of neat lawns, terraced gardens, and delicate fountains. The historic Cheekwood estate is also a haven for art lovers, with its ever-changing calendar of exhibitions showcasing classic paintings and bold, contemporary works. Guided tours of the gardens and the Cheekwood Mansion are a great way to take it all in.
How’s this for a truly unexpected gem in Nashville? Hatch Show Print is one of the oldest printmaking shops in the country, having started life back in the 19th century when the founders created a poster announcing the arrival of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother. The shop still produces work for celebrities and events to this day, and a tour will reveal the time-honored intricacies of letterpress printing, and you’ll even get to try your hand at printing designs yourself.
As this list shows, there’s a wealth of things to do in Nashville, from tasting local wine to checking out spectacular architecture. So why not book your trip to Nashville now, and challenge your expectations?