Encompassing 1.2 million square feet, Music City Center is Nashville’s downtown convention and exhibition complex. The work of Tvsdesign, the facility is adjacent to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Bridgestone Arena. Along with stunning skyline views of downtown, the complex features a variety of flexible event spaces, including a 350,000-square-foot exhibition hall, 90,000-square-feet of meeting rooms and a 57,000-square-foot grand ballroom. The structure incorporates numerous eco-friendly designs, such as a four-acre green roof and a rainwater collection tank that is used to irrigate the building’s landscaping. Inside are several works by local area artisans.
The Music City Center is a relatively new space on the Nashville music scene with a four-acre green roof and a rainwater tank that can collect 360,000 gallons. This LEED Silver certified facility makes for an interesting visit while you’re in town.
Although the ground breaking for the new Music City Center took place in March of 2010, the facility did not officially open until May, 2013. The center was a result of the efforts of the Music City Center committee and Mayor Karl Dean who saw the development of a new downtown convention center as a priority. The SoBro neighborhood was chosen as the location, south of Broadway in the heart of downtown. Previously deemed the Black Bottom, the area used to have muddy residue on the streets resulting from periodic river floods. The new convention center brought new life and vibrancy to the area, drawing in music fans and cultural enthusiasts.
After three years and hundreds of thousands of hours of work accomplished by more than 7,000 workers, a two-day grand opening celebration that included a zip-line across the exhibit hall kicked off the center’s presence in the community. Today, Music City Center is consistently filled with audiences enjoying year-round events including the CMA Fest’s Fan Fair X and the Music City Sports Festival, concerts and much more.
Tours of Music City Center offer visitors the opportunity to discover its extraordinary architecture and beauty. One of the most unique aspects of the center is that the building was constructed to be sustainable. And as you tour through, you’ll likely notice many of its “green” features including hundreds of solar panels and energy efficient technology. The building itself is 2.1 million square feet, spanning over 6 blocks, including an exhibit hall, grand ballroom, and thousands of square feet of meeting space. Be sure to check out the four-acre green roof!
The center is also home to more than 100 pieces of public artwork. During the planning and construction period, the center authority partnered up with an art committee of local art professionals and Nashville citizens to select the pieces that would be featured in the center. The artwork you will see are pieces created by Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky residents.
Music City Center is located at 201 Fifth Avenue South in the heart of downtown Nashville. Tours of the facility are complimentary but you must register in advance on their website. Parking is available in the parking garage for a fee.
The best time of the year to visit Nashville’s Music City Center is between April and October because the weather is milder (temperatures average in the 70s) and the entire city is brimming with activity. That being said, prices on flights and hotels are much lower between the months of November and March (except during the holiday season.)
What you’ll need for your Nashville vacation depends on what time of year you’re visiting. But anytime you go, you’ll need a couple of good pairs of walking shoes (for all the sightseeing) and if you’ve got them, some comfortable cowboy boots, of course.
Things to do nearby
Situated in the midst of all that’s happening in downtown Nashville, Music City Center is surrounded by a myriad of things to do and see. Here are some sights and attractions that are within walking distance of the center:
Footsteps from Music City Center, this museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the constantly evolving history and traditions of country music. Their massive collection of country music artifacts, items, exhibits and displays has earned them the nickname the Smithsonian of Country Music. In its 350,000 square feet, visitors can browse through state-of-the-art galleries, retail stores and event space.
Less than a quarter mile from Music City Center, this unique café is exactly what it sounds like—a great place to dine while enjoying live music performed by amazing talent. They’re open Monday through Saturday from 4pm through 11pm and offer brunch on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10am.
Enjoy viewing a great selection of visual art pieces from local, state and national artists. This museum is well-known for its constantly changing exhibits and more than 30 interactive stations where you can create your own original artwork. There’s a café and gift shop onsite.
Also close to Music City Center, Tootsies is one of Nashville’s most well-known honky-tonk establishments. In addition to live music and great food, the memorabilia-lined walls are enough to keep you entertained for hours. Known for being a favorite hangout of celebrities like Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Faron Young, this popular restaurant and bar has been serving guests since 1960.
Home of the Nashville Symphony, this magnificent center is just a few minutes from Music City Center. Concerts featuring jazz, pop and classical music are held throughout the year and provide an opportunity for you to discover a different side to Nashville’s music scene. The center also offers tours of the building to visitors.
A cool collection of bars and nightclubs that many liken to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the famous Printers Alley was once home to Nashville’s top printing and publishing factories. After the industry changed and these companies moved on, the alley became the center of the city’s nightlife, with one section that was known as the Men’s Quarter in the late 19th century. During this time, this was Nashville’s go-to area for gambling halls, speakeasies and similar establishments. Today, the alley draws in those looking for great music, the occasional super star country artist and a totally unique experience.
A nice respite from sightseeing, this scenic park overlooks the Cumberland River and provides pleasant views just a short walk from Music City Center.