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One of the most well-known spots in the city, Printer’s Alley in downtown Nashville is a must-see when planning your Nashville vacation. Tucked away between Third and Fourth Avenue, an array of nightclubs and restaurants beckons visitors and locals alike—and holds a vibrant reminder of the city’s rich heritage.
Besides the name, you’d be hard-pressed to find any remnants of the printing business that was once the center of activity in this historic district of downtown Nashville. But before becoming one of the city’s hottest nightlife hubs, this stretch of city streets was a thriving epicenter for printing and publishing companies. In its heyday, around 1915, Printer’s Alley was home to Nashville’s largest newspapers, The Tennessean and The Nashville Banner, as well as 13 publishers and 10 printers.
In the 1940s, nightclubs began to emerge in the area, giving many performers a stage—and helping them to launch their careers—including Waylon Jennings, Dottie West, Hank Williams, Jimi Hendrix, Chet Atkins, The Supremes, and Barbara Mandrell among others. Printer’s Alley was also home to the city’s first parking garage, first skyscraper and several other historic buildings.
Live music is a must while in Nashville—after all, this western wonderland is fondly known as Music City! While you’re visiting Printer’s Alley, you’ll have a multitude of opportunities to experience some of Nashville’s top nightclubs where honkey tonk and country take the stage to eager and appreciative crowds.
There’s also numerous restaurants and other entertainment venues. Here are some of the top clubs you’ll want to be sure to check out:
(222 Printers Alley)
Founded in 1948 and originally a striptease, this Printer’s Alley landmark has had many evolutions, including jazz, blues, burlesque, country and roll-n-roll. After a major renovation, the new Rainbow Room now serves award-winning cuisine in an elegant atmosphere along with live music nightly.
(220 Printers Alley)
Known for its legendary live blues performers and live blues all day long, this New Orleans themed bar is an iconic spot in Printer’s Alley. Enjoy Cajun cuisine and signature cocktails and jamming to artists performing on the same stage that B.B. King, James Brown and other celebrated blues artists have performed in.
(162 Printers Alley)
Good ol’ fashioned drinks and great music are on tap at this Printer’s Alley speakeasy. Featuring live music seven days a week in a low-key, friendly atmosphere, Alley Taps is a great spot for hanging with friends and enjoying great local bands and performers.
(308 Church St.)
Why have an ordinary evening when you can have your food and cocktails served up with a song? At Lonnie’s Western Room, the number one Karaoke bar in Tennessee, some of the best local talent are servers—performing for you as they serve. And, of course, you can always take the stage and showcase your own pipes!
(207 Printers Alley)
Another Karaoke bar, Ms. Kelli’s is known for their extensive song choices and expansive stage to strut your stuff! There’s also always cold beer and cocktails on tap and delicious pub fare.
(217 Arcade Alley)
For scrumptious eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Back Alley Diner is just the ticket. It has a casual, friendly atmosphere with live music on Saturdays, as well as Singer Songwriter Nights. Enjoy burgers, salads, soups, sandwiches and an array of appetizers as well as happy hour specials.
(21c Museum Hotel, 221 2nd Ave. N.)
Eclectic and hip, this downtown restaurant offers an array of market fresh cuisine as well as an artsy atmosphere. Stop in for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner and enjoy flavorful dishes like pork chops and chicken, steak, salad and soups—all with a masterful twist.
(113 2nd Ave. N.)
Known for their creative mason jar cocktails and brick-fired pizza, The Stillery is a great spot to stop and fulfill your cravings for comfort food with an upscale vibe.
(417 Union St.)
Family-owned and operated, 417 Union serves up favorites like flat-iron steak, fried green tomatoes and more in an atmosphere dedicated to America’s war veterans. The first floor dining room features War World II memorabilia and the second floor features artifacts from the Civil War.
(401 Church St.)
For coffee lovers, it doesn’t get any better than this locally owned café. Hand-crafted coffees are brewed in small batches. They also serve teas and smoothies and breakfast and lunch eats to go.
Things to See and Do Close By
In the heart of downtown Nashville, Printer’s Alley is close to many of the city’s top attractions including Ryman Auditorium, the Tennessee State Museum and many more. To see and do it all, take the Old Town Trolley Tour which transports you to more than 100 points of interest and allows you to hop off and on as much as you wish—giving you the time you need to enjoy and explore Music City at your own pace.