It’s always a good time to take a road trip to Nashville, home to a plethora of music, culture, delicious food, rich African American history and lots of opportunities to take in the scenery. Here are a few ways your whole family can enjoy the city.
The grandfather of all hot chicken, Prince’s Hot Chicken serves up the flaming stuff to eager locals and travelers alike. Order yours however hot you want it: from plain to mild, medium, hot, XHot and XXXHot. This mouthwatering chicken isn’t for the faint of heart, but it sure will have you coming back for more.
Nashville's first 100% plant-based, southern-style eatery is The Southern V; and it's where you go for comfort food. Gluten-free and vegan options of southern classics include made-from-scratch biscuits, fried chicken, patty melts, chicken salad, Nashville hot chicken, barbecue nachos and so much more. Cap your meal with one of their fresh donuts, biscuits or other sweet treat.
Specializing in whole hog barbecue, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint is a local favorite known for its tender and delicious meats from ribs, chicken and whole pork shoulders. In the downtown Nashville location (there are 9 locations total throughout the South), enjoy the beer garden while savoring smoked wings, barbecue nachos and brisket tacos as well as pulled pork, smoked bologna and fried catfish. You'll also want to try scratch-made sides like baked beans, mac & cheese, green beans, hushpuppies and potato salad.
Dine under the watchful eye of General Francis Nash's life-size sculpture (Nashville's namesake) at 5th & Taylor while savoring dishes inspired by Chef Daniel Lindley's childhood Sunday dinners. The dishes featured are like a warm hug - sausage-cheddar biscuits, bacon wrapped quail and duck wings with spiced honey for appetizers; and entrees like short rib, fried chicken, scallops and beef cheek pot roast with heirloom carrots and Cipollini onions. Save room for delicious desserts including cobblers, house-made ice cream and chocolate trifle.
Founded by celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan, Chauhan Ale & Masala House transports your taste buds to the finest Indian cuisine and cocktails. The menu is a fusion of Indian cuisine with Southern dishes. Start with Nashville hot cauliflower pakoras or pork keema papadi nachos stuffed with pork, tamarind chutney, Provel cheese and cucumber tomato kachumber. Entrees include tandoori chicken, masala braised lamb, tamarind lamb chops and braised pork shank.
Get a taste of Southern heritage with elevated dishes served at The 404 Kitchen. Dine by candlelight on dishes made with the finest ingredients and sip on spirits from craft distillers and winemakers. Savor catfish bites, pork belly, whole smoked fried chicken, rib eye with heirloom tomatoes, snap peas and summer squash, salads, snapper, trout and prime sirloin.
For a sweet start or end to your day, head over to The Cupcake Collection where locals and travelers come for the sugary confections packed with flavor. These aren’t your everyday cupcakes as Mignon Francois and her team craft delicious cupcakes in a variety of flavors from sweet potato, red velvet, cookies n’ cream, strawberry lemonade and birthday cake.
Started by three Nashville natives and Tennessee State University graduates, Slim & Husky’s serves up deliciously cheesy pizza and local craft beers. You can build your own pizza or choose one of the artisan pizzas like Rony, Roni, Rone that has three types of pepperoni on top, Red Light Special, their take on a Margarita pizza or the Nothin But A “V” Thang which includes vegan cheese, onions, peppers, corn and a bean Ragu.
Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish is the place to go when you’re craving catfish, hot chicken, wings, ribs, seafood or sandwiches. You can’t order wrong here. Try the hot chicken sandwich or tenders with potato salad, spaghetti or mac and cheese. The spicy catfish plate is a must-try while the slab of ribs will have you wanting seconds.
One of the world's preeminent listening rooms, The Bluebird Cafe has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter's performance space. The 90-seat venue hosts songwriters who've penned hits by chart-topping artists in all genres of music. Come hear songs performed by the creators themselves and the stories behind how the songs came to be.
The Station Inn is Nashville's bluegrass-hosting concert venue. The music venue has hosted some of the best bluegrass anywhere. Notable artists such as Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis and Reba McEntire have performed at The Station Inn.
One of the most celebrated music venues in modern music, the Ryman Auditorium is a National Historic Landmark. Take a self-guided tour or a guided backstage tour through dressing rooms dedicated to Johnny Cash, Minnie Pearl and Hank Williams. See the immersive "Soul of Nashville," a unique theater experience and you can even make your own record. Cut your rendition of a classic song or bring you own composition to the Ryman's Air Castle Studios to bring it to life.
Some of the world’s most respected artists perform at City Winery. The establishment’s eclectic list gives visitors ample reasons to return. Audio acoustics are prime thanks to Meyer Sound. Guests are treated to an intimate setting and comfortable views of the stage. A full menu and drink list is available for you to make it a concert to remember. A balcony area and attached skybox are also available.
See bands and artists like H.E.R., Tamia, Dirty Heads, Elle King, 6LACK, Kamasi Washington, Jungle and many more at Marathon Music Works, a versatile venue with wide spaces, exposed brick walls and a cool steel beam ceiling. Enjoy an intimate performance from some of your favorite artists while enjoying Tito’s Lounge and William Collier’s which is connected to Marathon Music Works.
Kick back and have a laugh! Go to Zanies Comedy Night Club to catch touring comedians like Brad Sativa, Arnez J, Chelsea Handler, Bruce Bruce, The Hodge Twins, Nick Mullen, Tommy Davidson and so many more. Located on 8th Ave S, outside of downtown Nashville, Zanies is an intimate, phone-free venue. Before each show guests secure their phones and smart watches in Yondr cases, accessing them only at Phone Use Areas in the venue. This ensures a quality comedy experience for everyone.
Kick back and take in a show at 3rd & Lindsley with music like rock, country, Americana, soul and blues. See performances by The Time Jumpers, Kyla Jade, Don Flemons, Emily Hackett, Vinyl Radio, The New Respects, and many more. With a full list of draft beers, wine and cocktails, it’s easy to make this venue your new hangout spot.
See a show at the home of country music, the Grand Ole Opry. The longest-running live radio program in the world features country legends and tomorrow's stars. See the show, then take a backstage tour to see dressing rooms, artists tuning their instruments and hear the history of this national treasure.
Experience the Outdoors
Spend a relaxing day on the green at Ted Rhodes Golf Course located in North Nashville, named after famous African-American professional golfer Theodore Rhodes. Here, the 18-hole course features bunkers, lakes and large greens that provide a great experience for golfers. As you play, you’ll likely see fish, beavers, turtles and more.
In the heart of historic North Nashville is Hadley Park. The park, which opened in 1912, is on 28th Avenue in North Nashville, between Fisk and Tennessee State universities, two of Nashville’s historically black colleges. The park hosts numerous family-oriented activities and community events throughout the year and has a walking track, open fields, tennis courts and plenty of picnic tables. Hadley Park is next to the Hadley Park Branch of the Nashville Public Library and the Hadley Park Community Center, which has a full service fitness center with a dance/aerobics studio, offers exercise classes, and includes an indoor swimming pool with locker rooms.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile route that runs from Mississippi, through northwestern Alabama and ends far west of Nashville. Take a scenic drive along the parkway to experience waterfalls, small towns, historic sites and state parks tucked away in the rural areas surrounding Music City. Start or end your adventure by savoring the delicious biscuits and Southern food served up at Loveless Cafe.
The 55 acres that encompass Cheekwood Estate & Gardens - a circa 1929 estate home originally built by Leslie and Mabel Cheek - are filled with a botanic garden, sculpture trail and art museum, plenty to keep you occupied for a full day! There are 12 distinct gardens to explore along with the Cheek Mansion, now the Museum of Art that has preserved family rooms, galleries filled with Cheekwood’s permanent collections and even traveling exhibitions.
This easy-to-access state park in downtown Nashville, next to the Farmer’s Market, is filled with Tennessee’s history, natural wonders and is a permanent monument to Tennessee’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1996. Here, you can walk the 19-acre park and discover the 200-foot granite state map, a Pathway of History, the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains, a 95-Bell Carillon and a World War II Memorial. Native plant species are planted in 11 planters along the Walkway of Counties. Check the state park’s calendar of events to see if your visit coincides with a concert in the 2,000-seat amphitheater that offers breathtaking views of the skyline or with an event that is hosted on the expansive green space.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum preserves and celebrates the history and traditions of country music from its roots to its form today. Browse the extensive collections full of rich exhibitions, eye-widening artifacts, interactive elements, public programs and more. Also, be sure to visit Historic RCA Studio B - Nashville's oldest recording studio, and Hatch Show Print, a working letterpress print shop since 1879.
The National Museum of African American Music is the only museum dedicated to preserving the legacy and celebrating the accomplishments of the many music genres created, influenced, or inspired by African Americans. Within the 56,000 square-foot museum you can experience the beginnings of American music with Southern religious and blues traditions to today's impactful hip-hop and rhythm & blues influences.
The Johnny Cash Museum is located in the heart of downtown Nashville and is dedicated to the life and music career of the "Man in Black." Exhibits house the largest, most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia. Items include stage costumes, personal letters, artwork, handwritten lyrics and instruments as well as first-hand accounts by family members and friends.
Step inside the immaculate Nashville Public Library and climb the marble stairs to the second floor where you’ll find the Civil Rights Room, a space for education and exploration of the Civil Rights collection which includes black-and-white photographs of the events surrounding Nashville during the 1950s and 1960s. A symbolic lunch counter can be found along with a Ten Rules of Conduct protestors adhered to during their peaceful sit-ins and a timeline of local and national events. You can even see the intersection of Church Street and Seventh Avenue North through the library’s large windows where nonviolent protests against segregated lunch counters occurred. The Room is open during regular library hours to the public.
After the home of Z. Alexander Looby, a lawyer for civil rights cases, was bombed, students and others met and marched to the Davidson County Courthouse where they met with Mayor Ben West who conceded segregation was immoral and the city's lunch counter should be desegregated. Located next to the Courthouse, Witness Walls, created by artist Walter Hood, tells the stories of the events and the people who made civil rights history in Nashville. School desegregation, marches, meetings, Freedom Rides, lunch counter sit-ins and economic boycotts are represented on the concrete walls. Witness Walls was dedicated in 2017 and is a project of the Metro Nashville Arts Commission’s Percent for Public Art Program.
The historical education center tells the story of Nashville’s relationship with the federal government during the Civil War. At Fort Negley Visitors Center and Park guests can enjoy two 20-minute videos, interactive exhibits, self-guided walking tours, and information on the building of Fort Negley. Walk the grounds and enjoy the expansive views of downtown Nashville.
Stop by the Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore & Gift Shop for gifts, African American literature, clothing, skincare products and much more. The shop also hosts lectures by authors, professors and experts of topics like history, culture and more.
Visit Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Fisk University is the oldest university in Nashville. The first African-American university to receive accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Fisk University students were instrumental in many of the sit-in demonstrations throughout Nashville. You can learn about the university’s history and some of its famous alumni including Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Thurgood Marshall (the first African-American Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) and U.S. Representative John Lewis. You can also visit the extensive art collection in the Carl Van Vechten Gallery.
American Baptist College started as a seminary for black students in 1924. It became the center for non-violent training and activity in the Nashville area, especially the Nashville sit-in program during the Civil Rights Movement. Tours are available by appointment only.
The Alma Mater of Wilma Rudolph, Olympic sprint champion, Tennessee State University was founded in 1912 and has a rich Olympic history. Wilma Rudolph was one of the first nationally-famous track runners and was the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. Additionally, former track coach Ed Temple is in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
This historic institution began in 1876, admitting its first 11 students and was the first medical school in the South to have four-year training. Dr. James Monroe Jamison was the South’s first African-American physician to be formally trained in the medical field. Dr. Georgia E. L. Patton was the first female graduate to receive her degree in 1893.
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