Sights, sounds, food, and fun!
You might know Nashville as the birthplace of country music and home to SHM’s 2022 annual conference, Converge—but there’s a lot more to see and do in Tennessee’s capital than the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Do you enjoy historical places? Check out the capitol (it’s one of the oldest still in use) and Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Its 11 acres include a 200-foot granite map of the state, a World War II memorial, a 95-bell carillon, the Pathway of History, and the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains.
You might also enjoy:
- Nashville Parthenon—this full-scale replica, built for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Expo, is the centerpiece in Centennial Park. It’s home to the Cowan Collection of American art, and hosts changing art exhibitions in its galleries. Centennial Park sits on 132 acres and has a one-mile walking trail, Lake Watauga, the Centennial Art Center, historical monuments, an arts activity center, a sunken garden, and more. It’s also adjacent to Vanderbilt University.
- Goo Goo Shop—America’s first combination candy bar—the Goo Goo Cluster—was created in Nashville in 1912 by the Standard Candy Company.
- RCA Studio B—where Elvis recorded more than 200 songs—is one of the most famous recording studios. It became part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 1992.
If you’re drawn to the great outdoors, there are lots of opportunities for hiking, exploring, wildlife viewing, and more.
- Radnor Lake State Natural Area—this 1,300-acre park features more than six miles of trails, an aviary complex, ranger-led programs, and more.
- Warner Parks—the Percy and Edwin Warner Parks cover 3,187 acres of wooded hills, open meadows, and streams, with 16 miles of hiking trails. The parks include picnic areas, golf, horseback riding, a ropes course, a dog park, bike trails, and the Warner Park Nature Center.
- Cheekwood Estate & Gardens—this 55-acre, 1930s estate, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was home to Leslie and Mabel Cheek. You might know one of the Cheek family businesses—Maxwell House Coffee. You can tour the home, botanical garden, arboretum, and museum.
There’s no shortage of family-friendly things to do in Nashville.
- Adventure Science Center—explore more than 175 hands-on exhibits on topics ranging from biology, astronomy, and physics to earth science, energy, weather, sound, and space. The center also houses the Sudekum Planetarium, a state-of-the-art, 63-foot dome theatre that hosts planetarium and laser shows.
- Nashville Zoo at Grassmere—the zoo features a host of natural animal habitats housing about 3,000 animals representing more than 350 species. There’s also a petting zoo, a carousel, the Wilderness Express train, a zip line, and more.
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum—called the “Smithsonian of country music,” this campus celebrates everything country music-related. The campus includes galleries, archives, stores, the CMA and Ford Theaters, Historic RCA Studio B, and more. It also includes the Taylor Swift Education Center, a space for hands-on experiences, youth art installations, and activities.
For those who prefer to soak in the arts and social aspects of the area, there’s something for everyone in Nashville.
- Marathon Village—this area was the Marathon Motor Works from 1910-1914. Marathon Motor Works manufactured and sold the first car of the South. These re-purposed historic buildings are now home to retail shops (including the History Channel’s American Pickers, D. Luxe Home, Jack Daniels, and more), restaurants, artist studios, offices, a comedy club, and the Marathon Motor Works Museum.
- Frist Art Museum—the museum is in the former main post office building and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Aside from art exhibits, there’s Martin ArtQuest, a hands-on gallery for drawing, animation, printmaking, and painting.
- National Museum of African American Music—this is the only museum of its kind, dedicated to celebrating the music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans. The museum opened in 2020 and houses instruments, stage costumes, sheet music, recording equipment, photographs, and more. Visitors can explore more than 50 music genres throughout five different galleries.
Aside from trying Goo Goo Clusters, you shouldn’t leave Nashville without tasting hot chicken (a spicy seasoned deep-fried chicken sandwich), meat and three (a typical southern dish with a protein and three sides), biscuits, and Belle Meade Bourbon. A partial list of restaurants to try:
- Prince’s Hot Chicken
- Hattie B’s
- Loveless Café
- Arnold’s Country Kitchen
- Tootsies Orchid Lounge
- Puckett’s Restaurant and Grocery
- White Limozeen
- Rooftop Lounge at the Bobby Hotel
- Margot Café and Bar
- Liberty Common
- Bourbon Steak
- Von Elrod’s Beer Hall and Kitchen
- The Pharmacy
There are plenty of other sights to see and things to do in Nashville; this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Enjoy Converge and have fun exploring the city!