First Timer's Guide to Nashville

People walking across Broadway at night in Nashville, TN

When you think of Nashville, TN, what comes to mind? Country music, sure. Neon lights, yes, we have those, too. But there’s more than just honky tonks and cover bands in this great city. It’s a college town, a sports town, a foodie town, and, yes, a music town. Here, you can catch an NFL game, eat a meal from a James Beard award-winning chef, see a show at one of the nation’s most historic venues, and experience the height of southern hospitality in the midst of metropolitan mayhem all in one day. From the bright lights of Broadway to the lesser-known charms and everything in between, we’re giving you a first-timer’s guide to Nashville that will have you living like a local when you visit.

Music City USA

Large replica of Gibson guitar outside the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN

Beyond the honky tonks of Lower Broadway, Nashville’s music scene is as diverse as it is vibrant. Explore the city’s musical heritage at the Country Music Hall of Fame or the National Museum of African American Music. Catch a show at the famous Ryman Auditorium or the Grand Ole Opry. You can even visit the Bluebird Café or the Listening Room for an intimate writer’s round where you can hear songwriters playing their own music – some of which you probably hear on your radio! From country to rock and even jazz and blues, you can find all genres in Nashville if you know where to look. Be sure to get out and explore when you visit. You may just stumble onto the next big thing!

Nashville Dining

The food scene in Nashville is anything but ordinary. From hot chicken food trucks to elevated cuisine, there’s something to satisfy your every craving. If you’re staying in one of our Nautical Properties Nashville vacation rentals, you’ll be close to tons of delicious options like the Assembly Food Hall at 5th and Broadway, Bakersfield Tacos, Acme Feed and Seed, and more. Across the river in East Nashville, foodies will love trying Audrey or its sister restaurant, June, helmed by culinary maestro Chef Sean Brock. Food Network fans can visit Chef Maneet Chauhan’s restaurants: Mockingbird, Tansuo, and Chauhan Ale and Masala House. For southern classics in the heart of downtown, Puckett’s Grocery and The Southern Steak and Oyster are fan favorites. For a unique culinary experience, consider a wine and cheese flight at Grey’s Fine Cheese and Entertaining; the perfect activity if you’re in town for a bachelorette party!

Historic Sites and Cultural Exhibits in Nashville

slave quarters at Andrew Jackson's home The Hermitage in Nashville

Nashville’s historical roots run deep. From Civil War landmarks like Fort Negley to the Belle Meade Plantation or the Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home, there are excellent opportunities to satisfy the history buffs among you, while visits to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens of the Frist Art Museum showcase both the art and natural beauty of the region.

Outdoor Activities in Nashville

view of the parthenon at Centennial park in Nashville

Whether you’re on a pedal tavern cruising along Broadway or opting for a day in our beautiful parks or along our greenways, getting outside and enjoying Nashville is a great addition to your vacation itinerary. Perhaps the most popular greenspace in town is Centennial Park, home to a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon. This is truly a sight to behold, as its immense size cannot be fully appreciated until you’re standing at the base. There’s also an art gallery inside, as well as a 42-foot gold statue of Athena. With miles of sidewalks that wind around water features and through beautifully shaded areas, Centennial Park is an excellent way to take a break from the bustle of the city. You’re also likely to stumble across a local arts or musical event as you wander the grounds.

For more outdoor fun, consider a sports game! Nashville is home to the Tennessee Titans NFL team, the NHL's Predators, the Nashville Soccer Club professional league, The Nashville Sounds farm-league baseball team, and several universities, so you can always root for the home team when you visit.

Nashville’s Events and Festivals

blurry street market

No matter what time of year you visit, there’s likely a festival or event taking place in Nashville. Some of the most famous include the annual CMA Fest, Tin Pan South, Nashville Fashion Week, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and ½ Marathon, Tomato Arts Fest, Oktoberfest, and Gaylord’s Opryland Christmas. These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Nashville’s annual events, so when you visit, be sure to do a search of the local happenings. Whether it’s a niche music festival or a national affair, the party never stops in Nashville. 

Shop ‘til You Drop in Nashville

two girls window shopping

Nashville’s shopping scene reflects its eclectic spirit. From high-end boutiques to vintage thrift stores, you can find something to fit every taste and budget. Visit the Mall at Green Hills for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany, or drive up the street to the Hill Center for everything from Anthropologie and West Elm to local establishments like White’s Mercantile. Vintage darlings will love exploring the boutiques of 12 South, the Gulch, and East Nashville. If you’re searching for made-in-Nashville shops, L&L Market on Charlotte is great for finding that perfect souvenir.

Beyond clothing, those looking for unique goods, books, or records should add the following to their lists: Parnassus Books, Grimey’s, Third Man Records, and Novelette Booksellers.

Nashville Nightlife

Nashville Broadway lights

If you’ve never been to Nashville, a night out on Broadway is a right of passage. With live music pouring out of every bar, you can simply start at Tootsies and work your way down the street. There are also numerous open-air party buses and wagons that will take you on a tour of downtown. For a more chill night, Nashville's breweries and distilleries offer a taste of local flavor that can’t be beaten. And for those looking for a more elegant night out, visit one of our many speakeasies, but note a dress code is often required for entry to these establishments.

No matter where you choose to unwind – be it the balconies of Honky Tonk Central or the beer garden at Yee-Haw Brewery, you’re guaranteed to have a night you’ll want to remember. (Whether or not you will is another story.)

Booking the Perfect Nashville Vacation Rental

living room of the speakeasy vacation rental in nashville

When you’re looking for a place to call home during your Nashville vacation, Nautical Properties has two amazing vacation rentals that put you close to all the fun. Both properties are located in downtown Nashville and offer 1 bed and 1 bath with sleeping space for four people. The Gibson and The Speakeasy both feature Instagrammable décor, excellent amenities, and are close to the heart of downtown fun. Live like a local when you book with Nautical Properties. Check out these incredible Nashville rentals and book your Nashville getaway today!