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When people think of Nashville, their minds drift straight to its legendary music scene — and for good reason. Also known as Music City, it’s known for its rich country music history and its eclectic mix of modern artists across all kinds of genres. Any Nashville visitor’s guide will have this iconic status headlining, but a local’s guide to Nashville and an Old Town Trolley Nashville tour will tell you there’s far more to this vibrant city than just that.
In this Nashville tourist guide, you’ll learn all about the city’s ever-moving culinary scene, its colorful past and the sparkling nightlife, along with much, much more. Each of the local Nashville gems and top off-the-beaten-track spots offers something new to explore the city with. From breweries to bars, shops to outdoor spaces, there’s something to tickle every taste, especially with a Nashville local’s guide helping you from one exciting place to the next. Wherever you go, you’ll immerse yourself in this sprawling city and find it bubbling with small-town charm. Seem too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Read on to find out just how you can experience Nashville like a local.
Looking for a slice of history in your local’s guide to Nashville? Look no further than Cheekwood. This grand estate offers a glimpse into the city’s interesting past and is surrounded by lush greenery that looks as if it’s been lifted from a classic novel. With botanical gardens, an arboretum and a museum on its grounds, it’s no wonder Cheekwood is such a favorite among local Nashville residents and visitors alike.
Built in 1929, each brick and window oozes Prohibition-era charm and speaks to the land’s heritage — but any Nashville visitor’s guide can tell you that. What a Nashville local guide will tell you, though, is that Cheekwood now hosts world-class art exhibits and that, during the spring, over 250,000 glittering glass bulbs are on display for all to see. For those unsure of what season to visit, guests can enjoy strolls through the fall pumpkin patch and a spectacular light display around Christmas. With 13 gardens to discover all year round, it’s no surprise Cheekwood is at the top of any Nashville tourist guide.
There’s nothing better than a dose of fun on any trip — something Nashville has in spades. Topping any Nashville tourist guide is Nashville Zoo, a place perfect for families to enjoy a wild afternoon together. Home to over 350 species of animals, what makes Nashville Zoo special is that the spaces here are designed to mimic their natural environment as much as possible, so they can feel close to their home habitats.
As you wind down each path, take in species from all over the world — no airplane needed! For a truly interactive experience, visit the Lorikeet Landing and the Kangaroo Kickabout, where guests can walk through these habitats, or unleash their energy in the gigantic jungle gym. Older kids can also give the zip line a go and see the zoo from a whole new perspective, setting the excitement for the day in our Nashville local’s guide.
Here’s something not just any Nashville tourist guide will tell you, but a local’s guide to Nashville will: Before Nashville became Music City, it was known most for a unique landmark called the Nashville Parthenon. Built in 1897, it is a full replica of ancient Greece’s most famous classical attraction and was created in honor of Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition. As ‘the Athens of the South’, Nashville became known for its local ties to learning and higher education — but this reputation didn’t disappear with the birth of Nashville’s musical status.
If you visit on your Old Town Trolley Nashville tour today, you’ll find it’s still a cultural hotspot worth a place on any Nashville visitor’s guide. With a beautiful art gallery and a full-scale statue of the Greek goddess Athena, the Nashville Parthenon looks more like the original Parthenon than it ever has. Once you’ve learned all you can, head out to Nashville’s Centennial Park for a walk in the greenery. Although a great spot in summer, take a piece of advice from a Nashville local’s guide and visit in the fall for stunning fall foliage.
Just outside Nashville lies one of the region’s best-kept secrets: Arrington Vineyards. The local Nashville spot for a romantic day out, it’s a mere 25 minutes south of the city and is super easy to reach. Spend an afternoon or early evening taking in the rolling views with a glass of wine or frosé in your hand, together with a partner or even a group of friends. Whether you visit in spring or summer, you’re sure to be met with enough scenery to fill a picture book with — but Arrington Vineyards isn’t just known for its wine and views.
In addition to its wine and scenic views, Arrington Vineyards is also known for its events and activities. The vineyard hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including live music, food and wine festivals, and even a grape stomp during the harvest season. Visitors can also take part in guided tours of the vineyard, led by knowledgeable staff members who can provide insight into the winemaking process and the history of the vineyard.
If you’re looking to enjoy a picnic or a light bite during your visit, Arrington Vineyards also offers a selection of snacks, sandwiches, and cheese plates in their on-site market. And for those looking to take a piece of the vineyard home with them, the market also sells bottles of their award-winning wines, as well as other locally made products such as honey and olive oil.
Overall, Arrington Vineyards is a must-visit destination for wine lovers and anyone looking for a relaxing and picturesque day out in the Nashville area. With its beautiful views, delicious wines, and fun events and activities, it’s no wonder why it’s considered one of the best-kept secrets in the region.
Free Activities to Do in Nashville
Nashville is a brilliant city to visit, even more so when it’s full of free activities to enjoy. Get the most out of this city for as little as you can with these penny-pinching favorites on our local’s guide to Nashville. Start your free adventure in style — this time at the tail end of summer with Live on the Green. Hosting country acts and a mix of other genres, it’s the local Nashville way to immerse yourself in the city’s modern musical landscape. This time of year is also a great time to check out Fannie Mae Dees Park. Also known as the Dragon Park, it has a gigantic mosaic serpent on display in the heart of the park and will surely grab a spot on your social media feed.
Any Nashville visitor’s guide for dancing queens will also feature Big Band Dances, which fill summer Saturday evenings in Centennial Park. When you’re not tapping your toes to tunes in the park, take a walk through Tennessee State Museum, a free snapshot of history that details some of the most important events in Tennessee’s history. This will set you up perfectly for a First Saturday Art Crawl through the galleries of Downtown Nashville, which open their arms for free entry. Some galleries offer free wine or mixed drinks with a suggested tip.
Where Do Locals Eat in Nashville?
No Nashville tourist guide is complete without showcasing some of the local Nashville eateries in their full glory. In a city defined by a mix of local ingredients and regional takes on traditional Southern classics, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something you don’t want to indulge in. Start with Folk, a fine dining restaurant with menus to match the seasons. Here you’ll enjoy innovative dishes created with a range of locally sourced ingredients. Keep the treats coming with a trip to The Optimist. This oyster and seafood restaurant boasts a cool, cozy setting that is perfect for unwinding in. Go for the oysters for the full Optimist experience.
Looking to start your day right? Tap into the local Nashville brunching scene with Biscuit Love. With a unique menu that ranges from your usual breakfast staples to some Love specialties, you might want to take a trip or two here to fully appreciate their offerings. For visitors from out of town who want to try some Southern comforts from a Nashville local guide, rather than any old Nashville tourist guide, head straight to Hattie B’s. Particularly delicious in the cozier winter months, make sure not to scrimp on sampling their delicious Southern sides. For a more upscale Southern experience, discover Husk. Nestled in the heart of vibrant Downtown, you’ll find a luxe twist on all your favorite Southern classics.
Best Time to Visit
Although temperatures begin to drop in fall, Nashville’s offerings certainly don’t. With the heat subsiding, it’s easier than ever to roam around the city and take in the sights. It’s also a time to enjoy the fall foliage, which is a true favorite of this Nashville local guide. If you visit before hurricane season, you’ll also find smaller crowds, with cozier eateries to unwind in as the nights draw in.
Every Nashville tourist guide will recommend a trip to the city in summer, and it’s easy to see why. With the urban greenery lusher than ever and more activities to enjoy, it’s the busiest time to visit. While the days can get hot, you’ll find plenty of respite by enjoying some of the city’s indoor activities and the long summer evenings. Find music floating in the air and people spilling onto the streets as bars and eateries fill up. Sound tempting? Even a local’s guide to Nashville would agree.
Like much of the United States, Nashville has a cooler climate during the winter months. This may make it a more attractive time to visit for tourists wishing to take in some of the indoor cultural pinnacles of Nashville. It also means that, aside from New Year’s Eve celebrations and the lead-up to Christmas, there are far fewer crowds to contend with. It’ll be easier to book all your favorite local eateries and activities. When the rain picks up, rely on a Nashville visitor’s guide favorite, Old Town Trolley Nashville to help you get around.
No Nashville visitor’s guide will recommend spring in the city quite like a Nashville local’s guide. Boasting an abundance of warm evenings and lighter mornings, it’s a time when locals and visitors alike see the city blooming to life. It’s also an ideal time to enjoy a light buzzing atmosphere, without having too many busy crowds around. Couples and solo travelers may wish to visit during this time to truly take in what the city has to offer.
On every trip away, you want every moment to be as stress-free as possible. Nashville is a large city, which means it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings whenever you are in larger, busier crowds. Unlike most large cities, though, you’ll be pleased to know that Nashville is considered to be relatively safe for tourists. This means that, for most activities, the risk you encounter will be quite low. Even so, no Nashville visitor’s guide would be right if they didn’t suggest keeping your most precious belongings safe and secure at all times.
Thanks to its musical and cultural status, Nashville has great places to stay woven into every inch of the city. However, a good local’s guide to Nashville will always recommend staying in lively Downtown to ensure you’re in the heart of the action. Here you’ll be surrounded by plenty of eateries, bars and shops to keep your mood buzzing all vacation long.
For those who want to split their trip across multiple city locations, try Midtown, the nightlife hub of the city, or the Gulch. This part of the city usually tops any Nashville tourist guide, thanks to the ever-upscale feel and chic, high-end hotels. Whatever your taste or budget, there’s something to cater to everyone in Nashville. For a more detailed breakdown of exactly where to stay and why, read our full guide and let your imagination wander.
Any local’s guide to Nashville will tell you that Nashville is a great city to visit all year round, and they’d be right. When Nashville comes to life, though, is during the vibrant summer months. With more musical events, shows and activities to enjoy outdoors during this time, you’ll get more opportunities to explore everything this incredible city has to offer. It’s also a prime time for families to come, thanks to schools being out.
If you would like to avoid the crowds, a Nashville local’s guide will recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring or fall. With almost as many activities and a milder climate, you’ll reap the same Nashville rewards as during the summer. Visiting in the fall before hurricane season also ensures you’ll catch some of the beautiful fall foliage Nashville is known for. Whenever you stay, you’ll be safe from the elements by exploring with Old Town Trolley Nashville by your side. More information about the best times to visit Nashville can be found by reading our full guide.