From the Road: Music City Magic

If you’re looking to explore Nashville, there’s more to see and do than just the famous country bar scene on Broadway. Nashville is divided into various neighborhoods, which means there is a lot to discover
and explore.

The area’s fascinating attractions include a presidential home, the deep roots of Southern music and, of course, good ‘ol Tennessee fare and libations. From honky-tonks to haute cuisine, here are ways to explore the city’s dynamic fusion of flavor and sound.

A Bit of History

The third most visited presidential home in the U.S., Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is just 10 miles east of downtown Nashville. The tour of the mansion, garden and Jackson’s tomb provides a fascinating look into the life of the seventh U.S. president and the times of slavery and war. A café and the Natchez Hills Winery tasting room are onsite to enjoy. 

For more flora and fauna, Radnor Lake State Park in South Nashville is a stunning nature preserve with unpaved trails that wander around the lake and through the woods. While serene views await at every turn, you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of the bald eagles that live there.

Nashville is also a college town, so if the Music Row neighborhood is part of your visit, consider taking a stroll through Alumni Lawn at Vanderbilt University. Wander the grounds of this storied campus, established in 1873, while you take in the grandeur of its historic buildings and magnificent magnolia trees.

Grand Ole Opry

Music Is Everywhere

Of course, music is the heart and soul of Nashville. For a true honky-tonk experience, head to Robert’s Western World, where there is never a cover charge and musicians pass the tip jug during sets. You won’t see TVs mounted on the walls because people come to listen to world-class musicians perform daily. Indulge in Robert’s infamous “Recession Special” — for $6, you get a fried bologna sandwich, chips, a Moon Pie and an ice-cold PBR. And don’t miss the life-size model of Arizona legend Marty Robbins in the rafters.

Spend an afternoon at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, where you’ll learn about the history of recorded music through rich stories and fascinating memorabilia that includes instruments played by Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and many others. The museum honors the biggest stars as well as the talented studio musicians who played on recordings through the years.

Ryman Auditorium

No trip to Nashville would be complete without taking in a concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium, the “Mother Church” of country music. When you walk in the doors of this hallowed hall, you’ll be taken not only by the architecture and acoustics but also by the fact that you’re standing in one of the most iconic venues in the world.

In 2025, the Grand Ole Opry will be celebrating 100 years. What started as a radio program in 1925 is now a cultural landmark as well as home to today’s biggest country music stars and hottest rising artists. The behind-the-scenes tours are excellent, and taking in a live show is a must. Buy your tickets early — you never know who might take the stage on Saturday night! 

Beats, BBQ & Books

Guitar and stringed-instrument fans will be over the moon with showroom options in Nashville. You can’t miss the gorgeous three-story hand-painted mural on the exterior of Gruhn Guitars, a premier vintage guitar store with an inventory of over 1,100 instruments. Carter Vintage Guitars is a leader in collectible vintage guitars, and Rumble Seat Music offers some of the finest vintage instruments available. While you’re there, stop and say hi to the owner’s friendly dog, Cheyenne.

Edley’s Bar-B-Que has six locations throughout Nashville. Join the line to order when you arrive, then grab a table at this rustic spot with a casual vibe and lively playlist. Offerings are vast and tasty — try the pulled smoked chicken sandwich topped with red and white BBQ sauce, a hit of coleslaw and pickles. And don’t forget the fries tossed in Edley’s signature BBQ rub. If you head to the location in Franklin, make sure you have time to wander through the nearby shops, including the Draper James flagship store owned by Reese Witherspoon.  

Speaking of noteworthy shops, many consider Parnassus Books, owned by novelist Ann Patchett, the literary hub of Nashville. Settle into one of the cozy reading chairs and stay for a spell at this inviting store, which stocks a wide range of genres, art and gifts.

Before an evening concert, head to Margot Café & Bar in the heart of the city’s Five Points neighborhood. The French-inspired restaurant with a Southern twist focuses on locally sourced ingredients and a menu that changes daily. Its location dates back to the 1930s as a Fluty’s service station before being transformed in 2001.

Lockeland Table

For a day of culinary adventure, head out from downtown across the Cumberland River to East Nashville, where the food and nightlife scene thrives. Enjoy a glass of wine or a wine-based cocktail at Parlor Wine Bar, housed inside an 1898 Victorian mansion, and then walk across the street to Lockeland Table Community Kitchen and Bar, a rehabbed storefront, for dinner. Their empanadas of the day, roasted chicken with crystal hot sauce, and margherita pizza are worth a try, but the crown jewel is the Chocolate Chip Skillet with vanilla bean gelato. After dinner, pop into The 5 Spot to hear one of many local, peerless bands that play nightly. And come morning, Sky Blue Cafe is a small, cozy diner with friendly staff serving hearty, down-home meals.

So, saddle up for fun! From iconic music venues to lively restaurants to fascinating historic settings, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy an authentic Nashville getaway. 

Written by Andrea Evans & Lori Appleby Hoke

About Andrea Evans

Andrea Tyler Evans is the Publisher of Frontdoors Media. She can be reached at publisher@frontdoorsmedia.com.
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