Tennessee travel guide: What to see and do in Nashville and throughout the state (2024)



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With rolling hills that echo country and blues music and a palate-pleasing combination of hot chicken and whiskey, Tennessee is an irresistible destination for music lovers, nature enthusiasts and history buffs.

Recognized for its Southern hospitality, its people charm visitors with easy conversations and a willingness to lend a helping hand.

Foodies traveling to Tennessee will not be disappointed. With its mouth-watering barbecue and Nashville's acclaimed hot chicken, every food enthusiast will have plenty of choices to immerse themselves in the culture through their stomach.

What to do in Nashville

Nashville, a thriving spot for bachelorette and bachelor parties, music enthusiasts, food aficionados and nature lovers, ranks high on the list of top tourist destinations nationwide. Its lively streets and establishments pulse with music, offering an exhilarating experience for every visitor.


Cultural landmarks, professional sporting events, outdoor adventures and an abundance of other activities fill the city for everyone to enjoy.

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The state of Tennessee has a rich history, beautiful nature and changing seasons. (Education Images/Universal Images)

Walk around one of Nashville’s parks

Centennial Park, a Nashville site that hosted the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, now houses a serene man-made lake, well-maintained landscaped areas and the Parthenon replica, which includes a 42-foot statue of Athena.

Radnor Lake is a 1367-acre natural reserve, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, with 7.75 miles of hiking and wildlife observation trails. Nature lovers might spot owls, herons, waterfowl or amphibians.

Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Center has almost 1,300 acres of diverse terrain and offers free public nature and environmental education programs, according to the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. The park features 10 miles of paved trails and 7 miles of unpaved trails.

Love Circle Park, located between Natchez Trace and West End, offers a stunning vantage point of Nashville. Friends, lovers and individuals may enjoy the sunset views over the city, accompanied by a picnic or a relaxing drink.

See a show at a well-known music venue

Aptly labeled "Music City," Nashville caters to music enthusiasts of all genres with its diverse musical landscape.


Intimate singer-songwriter spots like the Listening Room Café and The Bluebird Café are among numerous venues that should be included on any Nashville itinerary.

Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is an attraction that has been the stage for the greatest country artists for nearly 100 years. Founded in 1925 as a radio station, it has evolved into a sensational live performance hub. Guests can embark on a daytime tour or enjoy a performance by their favorite artists.

Ryman Auditorium

As a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame landmark, the Ryman Auditorium, referred to as the "Mother Church of Country Music," is an essential landmark of music history.

In this spot, Johnny Cash first encountered June Carter when it served as the original home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, according to the venue's website.

The auditorium's architecture lends a spiritual essence, and the building's acoustics guarantee an extraordinary concert experience. The theater has hosted musical legends like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. Open for tours and shows daily, the Ryman Auditorium invites guests to immerse themselves in its rich legacy.

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From sold-out shows to honky-tonks, Nashville is recognized as the "the country music capital of the world." (Jason Kempin)

Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame

A haven for country music lovers, Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum houses a collection of 2.5 million artifacts on two floors. The museum allows guests to trace the evolution of this esteemed American musical genre.


Visitors can delve into the lives and contributions of past and present icons, such as Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Alabama and Garth Brooks, through intriguing exhibits, video recordings and galleries.

"The museum is filled with rich history spanning from the roots of country music to current artists."

— Country Music Hall of Fame volunteer

"I love the little stories I learn about artists, their upbringings and their ability to evoke emotions through creative songwriting and music," said Carly Nelson, a volunteer at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Recommendations for Broadway Street, Nashville's main strip

When travelers think of Nashville, Broadway filled with the twang of honky-tonks and giddy brides-to-be dressed in white dresses and cowgirl boots likely comes to mind.

Every weekend, the Broadway Historic District, more commonly known as Lower Broadway, teems with country music fans from all over who are drawn to Nashville’s celebrated nightlife.


Honky-tonks, like the classic Tootsies and The Stage, line the street, interspersed with a myriad of bars and grills. Some favorite country singers, including Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert, own rooftop bars.

An integral part of Nashville, Broadway offers an abundance of bars and music venues that have been instrumental in launching numerous legendary country music careers.

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Broadway Street was originally used as a connection between businesses and the port of Nashville. (iStock)

Lower Broadway's appeal includes more than its honky-tonks. The area consists of landmarks such as the Ryman Auditorium and cultural centers like the Frist Art Museum, offering exploration of diverse art forms.

With plenty of shops along the way, tourists can collect plenty of souvenirs. Since Broadway requires visitors to be partially outdoors, the optimal visitation period is from April to October. However, visitors should prepare for hot and humid summer conditions.

Top spots to visit in other parts of Tennessee

The Volunteer State promises an exciting time for all travelers, whether the trip is geared toward a historical education or musical experience.

Although Nashville is the primary focus for many tourists, there is much to see throughout the state.

Elvis Presley’s Graceland

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Elvis Presley purchased Graceland for $102,500 in 1957, according to the History Channel website. (Michael Ochs Archives)

Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion, located in Memphis, offers visitors a journey into the life of the king of rock 'n' roll. Guests can explore the mansion, walk through the tranquil gardens, visit the aircraft used by Elvis for traveling to shows and experience Elvis Presley's Memphis entertainment complex.

The Graceland mansion is the primary attraction on the 120-acre property.

However, the estate offers abundant experiences that celebrate Elvis Presley's life and legacy. Various tour options are available, beginning at $30 per person.

Dollywood, a theme park with Southern charm

Dollywood, the seasonal park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, celebrates the legacy of country music icon Dolly Parton. Though Dolly is the main focus, this theme park intertwines elements of the Smoky Mountains and Southern culture.

The park offers a mix of thrilling rides, concert stages and an array of southern food delicacies, extending a unique experience to fans of the stars and general visitors.

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Dollywood employs a special team of "lighting bugs" in June to get the theme park ready for the holiday season. (George Rose)

Moonshine tasting at Ole Smoky

The Ole Smoky Moonshine distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is the state's first federally licensed moonshine distillery. As visitors approach, they are greeted with the distinct aroma of cooking grains.

Comprehensive tours engage all senses, from observing and understanding the whiskey-making process to optional tastings. After the tour, visitors can ask questions about the production process and explore the souvenir shop.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Located on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg is the country's most visited park.


The park welcomes more annual visitors than the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone combined, according to the park's website.

As guests explore the park, they will encounter nature’s scenic splendors, ranging from cascading waterfalls to diverse wildlife, presented through various nature walks amid wildflowers or along the Appalachian Trail.


Although fall is the park's most popular season, Tennessee’s changing seasons bring unique experiences, making the Smoky Mountains a year-round attraction.

Bucket list-worthy waterfalls

Tennessee is home to 908 waterfalls, according to Tennessee Landforms, with a substantial number accessible to the public, despite some being on private lands or off trail. Among these, several waterfalls stand out across the state:

  • Ruby Falls is found within Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga.
  • Laurel Falls is a striking 25-foot waterfall in Beersheba Springs, that transforms into a winter spectacle with snowfall.
  • Burgess Falls is an enchanting cascading waterfall in Sparta.
  • Fall Creek Falls claims the title of the tallest waterfall in the state and is located in Spencer.
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There are more than 800 miles of hiking trails in Smoky Mountains National Park. (Wolfgang Kaehler)

What's the best time of year to visit Tennessee?

Tennessee is an excellent year-round destination.

Given the possibility of sudden weather changes, it is recommended to pack layers no matter the season.


Summer is the busiest time of year for tourism in Tennessee, according to Frommer’s. However, spring and fall are the most temperate seasons for outdoor activities. Although snow falls only once or twice a year, winter temperatures often dip below freezing.

Visitors should plan their trip based on their vacation goals and the purpose of the trip. Given Tennessee's vibrant music scene, syncing a trip with a concert or show can significantly enhance the overall experience.

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Tennessee travel guide: What to see and do in Nashville and throughout the state (2024)


Tennessee travel guide: What to see and do in Nashville and throughout the state? ›

Start your visit with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Not only will you experience the evolution and growth of one of the fastest-growing music genres, but you'll also see how country music has influenced so many other genres of music and why Nashville is the epicenter of the country music industry.

What is not to be missed in Nashville? ›

12 sites not to be missed in Nashville
  • Patsy Cline Museum.
  • Johnny Cash Museum.
  • Glen Campbell Museum.
  • Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • National Museum of African American Music.
  • Musician's Hall of Fame.
  • Tennessee State Capitol.
  • Tennessee State Museum.
Feb 15, 2023

Where should I go for the first time in Nashville? ›

Start your visit with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Not only will you experience the evolution and growth of one of the fastest-growing music genres, but you'll also see how country music has influenced so many other genres of music and why Nashville is the epicenter of the country music industry.

What is the most visited place in Nashville Tennessee? ›

Top Attractions in Nashville
  • Grand Ole Opry. 14,149. Theaters. ...
  • Ole Smoky Distillery & Yee-Haw Brewery. 5,872. ...
  • Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery. 8,031. ...
  • Ryman Auditorium. 13,797. ...
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. 15,471. ...
  • RCA Studio B. 4,043. ...
  • Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. 5,861. ...
  • Gaylord Opryland Garden Conservatory. 6,146.

How many days do you need to enjoy Nashville? ›

They book up in advance so don't try to do them last minute, especially if you're going on a weekend. I think Nashville is an ideal destination for 3-4-days. While most people come here to party, Nashville is a city that's more than just a weekend party destination. Spend some time here doing the non-party stuff.

How not to dress in Nashville? ›

Visiting Nashville: How to NOT Look Like an Inexperienced Tourist
  1. #1 – We Don't All Wear Cowboy Boots. ...
  2. #2 – Leave the Stetson at Home, Unless You're Going to the Wild Horse Saloon. ...
  3. #3 – Don't Be Afraid of East Nashville. ...
  4. #4 – Don't Try to Speak Our Language… ...
  5. #5 – Order Sweet Tea the Right Way.

Where to avoid in downtown Nashville? ›

Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Nashville
  • Bordeaux. Bordeaux is the most dangerous neighborhood in Nashville. ...
  • College Heights. College Heights is a small and dangerous neighborhood located in west Nashville. ...
  • Osage-North Fisk. ...
  • McKissack Park. ...
  • Elizabeth Park. ...
  • Buena Vista Heights. ...
  • Capitol View. ...
  • Cleveland Park.
Oct 30, 2023

Is it better to stay downtown or music row in Nashville? ›

Both areas are super fun, but Downtown is generally where to stay in Nashville if you want uninterrupted access to the city's best nightlife. On the other hand, Music Row offers a (mostly) quieter environment outside of its many venues.

What month is best to go to Nashville? ›

When to visit Nashville: find the right time for your trip to Music City
  • May and June (plus October) are the best times for great weather. ...
  • May to September is the best time for music. ...
  • January to March is the best time for budget travelers. ...
  • June to August is the best time for water adventures.
Apr 11, 2023

What is the main attraction street in Nashville? ›

Nothing exemplifies everything Nashville has to offer like Broadway Street. Running through the heart of downtown Nashville, Broadway Street is home to some of Nashville's best music, restaurants, and bars. To explore this area fully, you'll want to spend a few days in this increidlbe city.

What is the number one tourist destination in Tennessee? ›

Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What part of town is best to stay in Nashville? ›

Best areas to stay in Nashville
  1. Downtown. Downtown is Nashville's economic and tourism hub, as well as the geographic center and home to Lower Broad. ...
  2. Music Row. Music Row is where the business of Nashville gets done. ...
  3. The Gulch. ...
  4. East Nashville. ...
  5. SoBro.
Sep 18, 2023

Is Nashville a walkable city for tourists? ›

According to the study, Nashville is the second-most walkable city in U.S., with tourists taking approximately 33 minutes and 3,150 steps to explore Music City's most iconic landmarks on foot.

Do you need a car in Nashville? ›

Although Nashville doesn't feature terrible traffic, there's enough to make you wonder if you really need a car to get around. Fortunately, you don't! Nashville's public transportation is very usable, and depending on where you stay, you can even walk or bike to most places with ease.

How do I prepare for a trip to Nashville? ›

During peak tourist seasons or for popular events, it's recommended to book accommodations and purchase tickets in advance. This applies to attractions, live music shows, and even restaurant reservations. Plan your itinerary and secure necessary bookings to avoid disappointment or long waiting times.

What is Nashville most known for? ›

Nashville is widely known as Music City–and for good reason. But music's not the only thing that makes the city famous. Whether you're a foodie, a history buff, or simply looking for a fun vacation destination, Nashville offers exciting and unique experiences for all ages and interests.

When not to go to Nashville? ›

But inflated prices and crowds are just part of the challenge when visiting Nashville in the summer. Temperatures regularly hit 100 degrees over the summer, and 100% humidity is the norm. To beat the heat, miss the crowds and save on travel costs, we recommend visiting Nashville in the spring and fall instead.

Where to walk around in Nashville? ›

Where to Go for a Walk or Hike in Nashville
  • The Downtown Loop.
  • Bicentennial Park.
  • Centennial Park.
  • Radnor Lake.
  • Richland Creek Greenway.
  • Percy Warner Park.
  • Edwin Warner Park.

What's so great about Nashville? ›

The New York Times recently included the city on its list of “52 Places to Go.” In addition to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville offers trendy shopping, live music venues and an up-and-coming food scene. It also boasts heritage architecture, fine art and a unique culture.


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