Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 1
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Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024

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Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a day of what to do in Downtown Nashville!

When you say, “How’d you like to spend a day in Nashville, Tennessee?” to most people, they think of waking up the next morning in a whiskey-glazed stupor minus their wallet and plus a strange pair of cowboy boots. But Nashville is more than just guitars, Cadillacs, and hillbilly music.

With a day of what to do in Downtown Nashville, we’ll dive deep into country music, for sure. But we’ll also feast on gourmet treats in one of the country’s best food cities. Join me for these what to do in Downtown Nashville and we’ll be sure to find those friends in low places.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: What to Do in Downtown Nashville

#1 TOP PICK

Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
NASHVILLE FOOD TOUR
✔️ Delicious local treats
✔️ Discover hidden gems

#2 PICK

Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 3

NASHVILLE GOLF CART TOUR
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️ Small group tour

#3 PICK

Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 4

ALL OTHER NASHVILLE TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

what to do in downtown nashville

What to do in Downtown Nashville

Morning: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Nashville is good at many things, but she’s most famous for being the world capital of the country music scene. You can’t spend enjoy a day of what to do in Downtown Nashville without hearing some country. I can hear some Internet Strangers out there saying, “But I don’t like country music! I only like this one Icelandic band no one has ever heard of! Waa!”

Nobody cares about your dislikes! You’re not cool because you think something that a lot of people like is really bad! Even if you think you don’t like country, try to keep an open mind during your time with what to do in Downtown Nashville and learn a little something.

The best place for a country music novice to start their day is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It will teach you all about why country music caught on in Nashville. You’ll also be able to listen to all the best country bands. From Willie Nelson to Shania Twain to Merle Haggard, there’s sure to be a country music singer for you.

You can and should easily buy tickets online here.

Not persuaded yet? Let me convince you further with…

three fun facts: Country Music

what to do in downtown nashville
1) how did country music start?

Many people think that country music evolved in the United States from traditional English and Scottish folk music. This folk music in many parts of the South was combined with gospel and blues music from African-Americans to create a unique American sound.

At first, country music was just the songs of the poor, so it wasn’t too popular. That all changed in 1925, when the radio started broadcasting “barn dance” music. These barn dance broadcasts eventually turned into the Grand Ole Opry shows that are so famous today.

I know country music now has a more glamorous image, but I miss the old days with bands named things like the Hackberry Ramblers, the Possum Hunters, The Fruit Jar Drinkers, and The Gully Jumpers. Guess which ones of those I made up? None, sucker! They are all one hundo percent real.

what to do in downtown nashville
2) who was The first country star?

Sadly, cool bands like the Dixie Clodhoppers have fallen through the sands of time. But country’s first real star was a man named Hank Williams. Despite the fact that he died at the tender age of 29 because of alcoholism and drug abuse, the legacy that he left on country music is indelible.

I can’t imagine it surprised anyone that Williams had a drinking problem because one of his most famous songs is about how sad he is that his bucket has a hole and he can’t buy beer.

Sadly, it seems like it’s more noteworthy if a country star doesn’t have a substance abuse problem than if they do. Maybe singing about whiskey and cheating all day really takes it out of a person. But there will be no cheating during our day of what to do in Downtown Nashville. The whiskey is optional.

what to do in downtown nashville
3) what about the ladies?

Of course we can’t talk about country music without talking about the ladies. From June Carter Cash to Reba McEntire to Carrie Underwood to Dolly Parton, country music is nothing without women. But perhaps my favorite country singer is Miss Loretta Lynn.

If you’ve seen the Oscar winning movie, Coal Miner’s Daughter, you already know her story. She was married to Tommy Lee Jones at the age of 13 and had four kids by 19. But she believed in her singing and songwriting talent, and eventually she became the first woman to be voted Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association.

If you haven’t heard her music before, you are in for a real treat. My favorite thing to do in the Country Music Hall of Fame is to turn on “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man”. Then I hide behind a corner and watch as everyone in the place gravitates to the music. It’s such a good song and more people should know it!

what to do in downtown nashville
24 Hour Treat: The Devil’s Fiddle

My two guilty music pleasures are 80s pop music and country, so by the transitive property, my favorite guilty pleasure album is the soundtrack to Urban Cowboy. And of course the best song on the album is “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band. I know all the lyrics to the song, which is probably my greatest accomplishment in life.

This is why I completely geeked out to see that the Country Music Hall of Fame has one of the black fiddles that the CDB uses to play the role of the devil in the song.

In fact I was tempted to smash the glass and attempt to steal it to add verisimilitude to my karaoke renditions of the song. But I don’t think they’d let me back into Nashville ever again if I did that. Also I don’t know how to play the fiddle.

what to do in downtown nashville

What to do in Downtown Nashville

Afternoon: Walk Eat Nashville Tour

I love food tours so much. If reincarnation is real, I want to come back as a food tour. It combines my two favorite activities, learning random pieces of trivia and eating foods that are bad for me. Nashville is the kind of city that does everything well, from haute cuisine to fried chicken sandwiches in a weird shack.

That’s why I was excited to try the Walk Eat Nashville food tour of what to do in Downtown Nashville. Where else can you try both farm to table broccolini sandwiches and historic candies with a very silly name in the same meal? Only in Nashville!

Approximately top 5: What to do in Downtown Nashville

what to do in downtown nashville
1) Southernaire Market

One of the themes on this food tour was eating local food. That’s why the first stop on our tour of what to do in Downtown Nashville was at a place called Southernaire Market, specializing in regional products. We were served bites of their sandwiches like their roasted turkey and their banh mi, as well as their house made potato salad.

The potato salad had a fun little kick to it, and our guide explained that the secret ingredient is pickle juice. I’m of the firm belief that pickles make everything better.

The banh mi, which is a Vietnamese sandwich, has become popular in the South because so many Vietnamese immigrants have moved to Southern cities like New Orleans and Houston. Apparently the climate of the Gulf Coast and the climate of Vietnam is rather similar.

I like how The Southernaire used benne seeds on the banh mi because benne seeds are a traditional ingredient in Southern African-American cooking. So there was an interesting bit of fusion going on in this sandwich.

what to do in downtown nashville
2) Bakersfield Tacos

I was a little confused that our next stop was a taco shop. That didn’t seem very local to me. But our guide Ad explained that there’s a connection between Bakersfield and Nashville. Bakersfield, California is where the Bakersfield style of country music developed.

This was the music that was supposed to be raw and honky tonk, as opposed to the shiny, poppier Nashville sound. Because God knows I can’t just enjoy some tacos without there being historic significance behind them.

what to do in downtown nashville

The short rib tacos with the homemade tortillas were delicious, but our group thought the real treat here was the margaritas. It felt so decadent to have a marg at lunchtime, even if it was a Mini Marg. There was one member of the group–let’s call her Mona Lisa because she reminded me of an older version of Marisa Tomei’s character in My Cousin Vinny.

Anyway, Mona Lisa ordered a giant margarita on top of the small one, and after that she was definitely the life of the party. Not that I’m complaining! If there’s one thing that makes a food tour interesting, it’s an intoxicated older woman from New Jersey, I always say.

what to do in downtown nashville
3) The Farm House

At first glance, The Farm House seems like one of those trendy farm to table restaurants you can find all over the United States. But the difference with The Farm House is that the chef, Trey Cioccia, actually comes from a family of farmers.

Ad says that Trey never gives the food tour the same tasting twice. For us, we had a fresh broccolini and goat cheese slider. If I had a farm, I might do nothing but grow broccolini and milk goats.

The bonus here was that we actually got to meet Chef Trey and hear about how he sources the finest, US-only ingredients. I think my favorite part of his spiel was when he took out his cell phone and showed us pictures of a pig he had recently been involved in butchering. (Fear not, vegetarians among us. We were not actually required to look at the pig pics.)

what to do in downtown nashville
4) Kitchen Notes

I was once again surprised on this tour when Ad said that we’d be going to the restaurant at the Omni Hotel for our next bite. Usually hotel restaurants are mediocre. After all, you’re kind of their prisoner if you’re staying there. What if you’re exhausted? What are you going to do? Go outside to eat? Pffft!

But fortunately the restaurant in the Omni, Kitchen Notes, is not an ordinary hotel restaurant. Their burger was voted the best burger in all of Nashville. I imagine that’s because it’s covered with melted pimento cheese. Pimento cheese is a Southern specialty, made by mixing cheese, mayonnaise, and pimento peppers. Also, the correct pronunciation is “pimenno”.

The fries were just as good as the sumptuous burger. Ad said that was because they cover them with 21 spices, including dried seaweed and collard greens. I feel like saying that I’m going to track down all 21 spices, including dried collard greens, and make them myself at home is one of those things that sounds like a good idea while I’m on the road. But once I get home, I’ll never actually do it.

Mona Lisa was especially fond of these fries, but I kind of doubt she’ll remember anything she said the next day. It’s too bad because the food was definitely worth remembering!

what to do in downtown nashville
5) Goo Goo Cluster

Hot chicken aside, the Goo Goo Cluster is perhaps the most Nashville taste that there is. It was invented in Nashville in 1912, and it is made with chocolate, marshmallow, and peanuts. It is apparently the first “combination” candy in the United States.

Combination candy means a candy made with chocolate mixed with something else. So we can all thank the Goo Goo Cluster for the existence of things like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

The Goo Goo business has expanded since 1912, and now you can get Goo Goos shipped to you anywhere in the US. They also make gourmet, handmade Goo Goos called Premium Goo Goos. (I’m starting to feel very silly typing Goo Goos over and over again.) I won’t lie; the Goo Goo is a wondrous beast.

When I was clicking on the Goo Goo website to do “research” for this “blog post”, I was very tempted to order 100 dollars worth of Goo Goos and have them shipped to me immediately. The only thing that stopped me is that I think my doorman might judge me if he sees me getting a large package with the word Goo Goo written on it.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: What to Do in Downtown Nashville

#1 TOP PICK

Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
NASHVILLE FOOD TOUR
✔️ Delicious local treats
✔️ Discover hidden gems

#2 PICK

Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 3

NASHVILLE GOLF CART TOUR
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️ Small group tour

#3 PICK

Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 4

ALL OTHER NASHVILLE TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

what to do in downtown nashville

What to do in Downtown Nashville

Evening: Show at the Ryman

The Ryman Auditorium was named after a businessman named Thomas Ryman. He built it as a church after being converted to evangelical Christianity. When the church was converted to a performance space, they named it the Ryman Auditorium in his honor. (That’s why the Ryman is often called the Mother Church of Country Music.)

Sadly for lovers of church-concert hall combos, the Grand Ole Opry moved to a new venue in the 1970s and the Ryman Auditorium fell into disrepair. But like all good things, the Ryman was restored in the 90s and you can see shows there today! Most days of the week, the Grand Ole Opry shows will be located in the new venue.

However, on Thursdays, the Ryman hosts the Opry Country Classics show. So if you’re following this itinerary on Thursday, your Grand Ole Opry show will actually be located at the Ryman Auditorium. That will give you a chance to see a special performance in this historic building!

24 Hour Treat

There’s no way to guarantee which performers will be on when you’re in Nashville. I don’t have psychic powers, Internet Stranger! But my favorite performer I saw at the Grand Ole Opry was the singularly named Sylvia.

Sylvia’s big hit in the 1980s was called “Nobody”, and it combines all my favorite country music topics: cheating, sarcasm, and holding on to a terrible man who is bad for you for no reason. Please listen to the song because I promise the lyrics are funnier than I am, and I almost never think anything is funnier than I am.

24 hours in Nashville

What to Do in Downtown Nashville

Where to Stay?

Nashville hotels are much more expensive than I was expecting. But I suppose that’s not so surprising given how popular Nashville is with tourists. It was a little tricky for me to find a hotel that was in a good location and affordable. That’s why I was grateful to the Fairlane Hotel for showing me such a good time.

The location could not have been better, as it was within walking distance of pretty much everything you would want to see in Downtown Nashville. And the rooms were gorgeous, but the price didn’t leave me broker than a hound dog crying in the rain over your cheatin’ heart. 

If you want a great deal on this hotel, click here.

And if you’d rather explore great deals on tons of other hotels in Nashville, click here.

This search engine will help you find the most affordable and convenient hotel during your time with what to do in Downtown Nashville. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

what to do in downtown nashville

That’s what to do in Downtown Nashville

What do you think would be in a day of what to do in Downtown Nashville? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Nashville? Why is it called chess pie? And is Mona Lisa handling her day drinking okay? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours with what to do in Downtown Nashville.

Show up for 24 hours in Nashville. Get going on a one day in Nashville itinerary. You can add the top things to do in Nashville TN. Go for a one day in Memphis itinerary. Of course, we can always enjoy 24 hours in Memphis. Explore the best Nashville whisky tours.

Best What to Do in Downtown Nashville 2024 8

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