Electrifying guitar riffs, heavy basslines, and powerhouse vocals are tantalizing words to a music lover's ears, and you can find all three and more in Nashville, Tennessee.
There's a reason why Nashville, affectionately dubbed Music City, has become one of the top tourist destinations in the United States, with 15 million visitors expected to flock to the city in 2023 alone, according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.
Nashville has become one of the top destinations to visit in the US
Nashville is synonymous with country music and is home to some of the biggest artists in the genre; there is no better place to visit if you want to soak up the history of this influential city.
However, while music and creativity are undoubtedly its heart and soul, Nashville has something for everyone whether you're a foodie, culture buff, sports lover, or shopping enthusiast.
Check out our top recommendations below for what to do, where to stay, and what to eat in Music City, for a trip that's totally unforgettable.
Where to stay in Nashville
The JW Marriott boasts breathtaking views
If you're looking for true luxury and a prime location, you can't go wrong with JW Marriott, located in the heart of downtown, just two blocks to Broadway and the Gulch and adjacent to Music City Center. Plus, it has Nashville's only Bourbon Steak by Michelin-star chef Michael Mina.
Every room and suite boasts breathtaking views of the downtown skyline from floor-to-ceiling windows, stylish contemporary furnishings, luxe bedding, and spacious bathrooms.
Additional thoughtful amenities include a stunning and expansive rooftop pool deck enveloped by stylish cabanas and a sophisticated pool bar and grill, a full-service spa, a 24-hour fitness center complete with Peloton bikes, gourmet café and artisan bakery and artfully crafted cocktail lounges spread throughout the property.
What really makes JW Marriott stand out, besides all the above, is its attentive and friendly staff who will go out of their way to make sure you have an enjoyable stay. From the bellhops and front desk to the bartenders, housekeepers, and everyone in between, you will always be met with a smile and a helping hand.
Rooms at the JW Marriott Nashville start at $359 a night with packages and deals offered throughout the year. For more information, visit marriott.com.
Bobby is located near Printers Ally
If you're looking for something a little different, then the Bobby is a vibrant lifestyle hotel unlike any other. Residing on historic Printers Alley, it is the perfect location to experience the wildness of Downtown Nashville, but without the lines, yet far enough away to enjoy the peace and comfort of your hotel room.
The comfortable and spacious rooms and suites feature high-quality bedding, in-room safes, eclectic bathrooms with rainfall showerheads and luxurious bath amenities, and unexpected treasures and trinkets. Additional onsite perks include a luxury spa, room service, round-the-clock gym access, concierge services, and more.
You will be spoilt for choice with the food and drink options with a variety of eateries to choose from, including Union Tavern, Bobby's Garage Bar – adorned with neon art by LA street artist Risk – Rooftop Lounge – where you can have drinks in the back of a 1956 retrofitted Greyhound bus – and Café at Bobby.
Another enticing draw of the Bobby is its one-of-a-kind style. Alongside a giant hubcap chandelier over the two-story lobby staircase and inviting room décor, you'll also see original art from local, regional, and national contemporary artists adoring the wood-paneled walls.
A stay at the Bobby Hotel Nashville starts from $329 per night. For more information visit bobbyhotel.com.
Where to eat in Nashville
Bourbon Steak is unforgettable
It's not hard to see why Bourbon Steak by Michelin Star chef Michael Mina has been rated the best steakhouse in Downtown Nashville on TripAdvisor. Not only is the food otherworldly, but the attentive service and 360-degree views of the city skyline from the 34th floor of the JW Marriott make for an unforgettable dining experience.
Befitting its tagline, 'A rare experience, well done', Bourbon Steak specializes in high-quality cuts of American beef, Kobe beef, and Wagyu, but it is also home to the freshest seafood and shellfish.
If that wasn't enough, to complement the deeply satisfying dishes there is an award-winning wine program that features over 800 selections representing iconic vintners from the world's most renowned wine-producing regions.
Elliston Place Soda Shop
The soda shop is a Nashville staple
No visit to Nashville is complete without a meal at Elliston Place Soda Shop, an iconic, family-style spot where you will be greeted with a friendly smile before you tuck into delicious southern fare while soaking up the intoxicating history of this city staple.
Despite its future looking uncertain in 2019, the soda shop was restored to its former glory by Tony and Lisa Giarratana, who reopened its doors in May 2021 – and thank goodness they did.
One part soda shop and one part meat-and-three, Elliston Place offers classic diner eats, including all-day breakfast, mouth-watering desserts, and some of the best milkshakes Nashville has to offer that will keep you coming back again and again.
House of Cards
Dinner and a magic show
One of the greatest venues to open its doors in Downtown Nashville is House of Cards, which offers a truly unique dining and entertainment experience. With its speakeasy vibes, guests are transported into a world of decadence from the moment they enter the room.
It's impossible to not feel like you've stumbled onto a hidden secret at House of Cards. There is so much glitz, glamour, and show-stopping magic to witness from some of America's top magicians who perform on the restaurant floor at all times, as well as multiple nightly magic shows.
To add to its dramatic flair, House of Cards features several unmissable collections, including a handcuff device created, owned, and used by Harry Houdini, playing cards dating back to 1490, and European antiques from the 1700s and 1800s.
Don't let all the magic distract you though, as the restaurant serves up classic American cuisine and special creations by the chef. There's also a bar featuring one of the largest liquor and cocktail selections in the region, and a beautiful, secluded garden centered around a stunning 19-foot water feature.
The Twelve Thirty Club
A 'one-of-a-kind' dining experience
The brainchild of restaurateur, Sam Fox, and music icon Justin Timberlake, The Twelve Thirty Club is a three-story, dapper-as-hell Supper Club that captivates from the moment you arrive.
Featuring two restaurants and five bars, the street-level offering is dubbed Honky Tonk and pays homage to "Nashville's rustic roots and trailblazing style". The Supper Club offers a "one-of-a-kind" dining experience, and the Rooftop boasts Instagram-worthy views of the bustling streets below.
No matter which level you choose, you'll find inventive cocktails, delicious food, live music and so much more.
Skulls Rainbow Room
Tasty dishes and Burlesque await you at Skulls Rainbow Room
Another must-see during a trip to Music City is Skulls Rainbow Room, Nashville's only downtown jazz lounge.
While the nightly live jazz bands are enough to beckon you in on their own, the weekends see a packed house as patrons are treated to live Burlesque by several multi-talented and beautiful women.
Located on the cornerstone of Printers Ally, Skulls Rainbow Room also boasts signature craft cocktails and an award-winning dinner menu, which makes it the perfect recipe for a memorable night.
Assembly Food Hall
Take your pick from 30+ eateries
A relatively new spot that opened in Fifth + Broadway in June 2021, Assembly Food Hall is a multi-level, culinary and entertainment hub featuring bars and over 30 eateries from all over the globe, including Sixty Vines restaurant. Whether you're in the mood for Asian, Mexican, or American, there is a tempting dish to suit even the pickiest of eaters.
Plus, to keep you entertained, there are three live performance stages and Skydeck on Broadway, the largest rooftop entertainment venue in Nashville which offers up some spectacular views.
What to do in Nashville
You can have your photo taken on the Ryman stage
Known as the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium is another famous attraction in Nashville – it's even walking distance to the honky tonks on Broadway, which are also not to be missed.
The historic venue offers a diverse line-up and thriving concert schedule with over 200 shows per year, and the iconic stage has seen performances from the likes of Dolly Parton, James Brown, and in recent years Bruce Springsteen, Harry Styles, and Lizzo.
To really soak up the venue's impressive history, there are several different daytime tour options that run year-round, and all include a professional souvenir photo taken on the Ryman stage!
National Museum of African American Music
A new appreciation of American music awaits you
NMAAM is the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans.
The museum's expertly curated collections share the story of the American soundtrack by integrating history and interactive technology to bring the musical heroes of the past into the present.
You will leave feeling inspired, educated, and with a new appreciation of American music.
Explore Centennial Park and The Parthenon
Experience Greece in Nashville
The world's only full-scale reproduction of the famous Greek temple, Nashville's Parthenon stands on the beautiful grounds of Centennial Park.
While the exterior is undoubtedly splendid, a visit inside is also worthwhile as you'll find the city's art museum and Athena Parthenos, the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world measuring almost 42 feet in height.
Johnny Cash Museum
A must-see for Johnny Cash fans
Fans of Johnny Cash and his music could no doubt spend hours in this compact museum, which contains the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of photos and memorabilia of the music icon.
Special pieces like handwritten lyric sheets, marriage licenses, clothing, records, instruments, and stage props directly tied to Johnny's life can all be found here.
Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
All the country music history under one roof
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has been called the 'Smithsonian of country music' – and it's not hard to see why.
Following a $100 million expansion in 2014, the museum now includes 350,000 square feet of dynamic galleries, archival storage, retail stores and event space, performance space in the CMA Theater and Ford Theater, and the Taylor Swift Education Center for students, teachers, and families.
A one-stop destination that will not only entertain but educate you with its unrivaled collection of historically important artifacts.
Historic RCA Studio B
Elvis and Dolly Parton recorded at RCA Studio B
If you're going to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, then you can't miss out on a tour of Historic RCA Studio B, the former recording studio of Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, and so many more.
You'll be transported back in time with the help of a knowledgeable tour guide and stand in the very room where some of the most iconic songs were recorded, including Dolly's timeless classic, 'I Will Always Love You'.
The Bluebird Café
The intimate venue where some of country music's greatest stars were discovered
The famous Bluebird Café is where some of country music's biggest stars honed their craft. In fact, it's the very stage where Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, and Faith Hill were discovered.
Described as "a songwriter's venue", it's best known for hosting shows in the round, where the "heroes behind the hits" share their stories and perform their original songs. An intimate experience not to be missed.
Grand Ole Opry
One of the world's most famous stages
Much like the Ryman, which is the most famous former home of the Grand Ole Opry, this notable music venue showcases country music's past, present, and future.
A cultural landmark, the Opry show presents superstars and rising stars with an ever-changing line-up, so you'll never see the same show twice. If you really want to soak up everything Opry has to offer, then a guided backstage tour is well worth your time and money.
You'll get to hear some fascinating stories, get an exclusive look behind the scenes, see the dressing rooms, and stand on the world-famous Opry House stage.
For more information on visiting Nashville go to visitmusiccity.com
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