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A guide to everything you can see and do while visiting Riverfront Park Nashville including the best restaurants, bars, and things to do on your trip.
Perched along the bank of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville, Riverfront Park is home to some of Music City’s most popular open-air concerts and events. It’s also a popular spot to sit and take in the gorgeous views of the river—especially in the fall when the weather is cool. Of course, with its ideal location just steps from Broadway, this lovely urban park is close to many popular Nashville sites and attractions. Here’s a guide to everything you can see and do while visiting Riverfront Park.
About the Park
Riverfront Park was established in the early 1980s to celebrate the rich history of the city’s river which dates back to the first settlers arriving by boat and land. A replica of the first settlement, Fort Nashborough stands in the park’s Bicentennial Park and is worth a visit while you’re there. Today, the park is known for its amphitheater and is a favorite outdoor venue for visitors and locals like. Also here, several pieces of unique public art are on display, including the striking Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks, located on the east bank of the Cumberland River. The sculpture is made of arched, red steel trusses that twist upward creating a disconnected spherical shape. At night, the sculpture’s center is illuminated by a neon fixture, giving it a gorgeous, eye catching glow.
Things to do Nearby
Because Riverfront Park is a short walk from Broadway and many of the most popular sites in Nashville, there is much to do and see within walking distance. Take a look:
If you’re a country music fan, this journey through superstar Johnny Cash’s life is something you won’t want to miss. The Johnny Cash Museum is just a short walk from Riverfront Park, located in the heart of downtown Nashville, and is home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world. There are videos, shows and many fascinating items including clothing, letters he wrote, his military papers and much more. Be sure to grab a coffee, pastry or sandwich at the café and pick up unique Johnny Cash gift items at the shop.
Considered by many to be the greatest country music star the world had ever seen, George Jones was known for his incomparable voice and quirky personality. In this museum, you can learn all about the man and the legend and get an up close look at many really unique artifacts and items; and while you browse, you’ll be treated to his greatest hits playing throughout the museum. Be sure to check out the John Deere riding mower that Jones rode eight miles through town to get to the liquor store and other similar items that tell his story.
Once home to the city’s largest newspapers, The Tennessean and The Nashville Banner, Printer’s Alley is now the hub of Nashville’s nightlife. Here, you’ll find a multitude of bars where musicians take the stage carrying on the tradition that began when clubs began to emerge in the area, giving little known stars like Hank Williams, Dottie West and Waylon Jennings a chance to launch their careers. There are clubs that offer everything from country and honky tonk to jazz and blues and everything in between. Restaurants abound and make it easy to enjoy a hearty meal or light snack.
Although it may appear to be just like many other musical venues, the historic Ryman Auditorium is anything but. It’s here that many say bluegrass was born and where numerous country music stars got their start. It was also the original home of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 30 years! Today, you can enjoy every kind of live music imaginable, from country, blues and bluegrass to alternative rock, pop and even classical. The Ryman also hosts musical theater and stand-up comedians. While you’re here, take a guided or a backstage tour. You’ll discover so much about country music and the history of this incredible place.
Located above the Johnny Cash Museum, the Patsy Cline Museum celebrates the life and music of this country music legend. You’ll get an up close view of many personal items, artifacts, videos and much more. Check out the museum store for a variety of Patsy Cline merchandise and clothing.
Second only to Nashville’s music scene, dining in Music City is a treat for everyone’s palate. From breakfast and lunch to dinner and late-night, you’ll find everything from mouthwatering barbecue, steaks and burgers to sushi, Italian, Asian and more on practically every corner. Here’s a list of some of the top restaurants within walking distance to Riverfront Park:
More than just an amazing place to catch a great band, Wild Horse Saloon has earned several awards for its delectable eats. Their signature smokehouse cuisine includes a variety of succulent Sammy’s, BBQ burgers, fried pickles, low country crab cakes and much more.
Another local eatery that serves up more than Southern hospitality, BB King’s Blues Club will appeal to everyone in your family. From skillet shrimp and catfish bites to vegetable spring rolls, chicken tenders and wings, the menu is about as great as the live entertainment! A visit to this legendary local favorite is not complete without hearing the BB King’s All-Star band.
Perched atop the George Jones Museum, this rooftop bar is not only an ideal location to take in the gorgeous views of the Cumberland River, but also to enjoy your favorite cocktail and a tasty meal. The Smokehouse menu at the George Jones features everything from lite bites like hummus and veggies to smoked brisket sandwiches and hot chicken bites. Of course, there’s usually a country band playing; so feel free to get on your feet and dance the night away under the stars.
When you’re hungry near Riverfront Park, head over to the Stillery and dig into brick oven pizza, juicy burgers and fresh salads. Wash it all down with one of their signature mason jar cocktails. Casual and comfortable, this local restaurant is also known for its selection of local beers.
Downtown Nashville’s largest multi-level venue, Nashville Underground features 40,000 square feet of live music, dining and dancing. Serving delicious specialties created with locally sourced ingredients, this restaurant features southern-inspired cuisine as well as locally crafted beer, wine and spirits. With three stages, a working fireplace, mechanical bulls and karaoke, a floor dance club with an LED video dance floor, and a green-roof, you can enjoy a different experience every time you visit.
Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind gift to take home, the perfect pair of cowboy boots, Nashville memorabilia or anything else, you’re sure to find it in one of the many shops near Riverfront Park.
Located on Broadway, this specialty store sells everything you’d ever imagine when it comes to Nashville souvenirs, gifts, knickknacks and more. Perfect not only because of its ideal location, but also because it’s packed from floor to ceiling with items for everyone in the family.
Founded by Grand Ole Opry star Ernest Tubb, this legendary record shop has been serving music lovers since 1947. They feature classic and contemporary country music—they even have LPs! And they pride themselves on providing some of the most obscure, unique and rare music. Even if you’re not looking to buy an album, DVD, CD, book or country music memorabilia, a stop into this cool shop is something you shouldn’t miss.
Built in 1903, the Arcade Nashville is a mall that’s just minutes away from Riverfront Park. Here, you’ll find an assortment of great shops, art galleries, restaurants, pubs, salons and more
While in Nashville, you just have to stop into Big Time Boots and try on a pair! They have a vast selection of boots, western wear and accessories.
If you’ve ever tasted a Goo Goo cluster, then this sweet shop in downtown Nashville needs no explanation. For a delicious departure from sightseeing, head over to The Goo Goo Shop and Dessert bar to grab up some of these tasty treats—as well as a variety of others, including retro candies and many unique Nashville-themed items to take home. The dessert bar serves up coffee, pie, milkshakes and much more.
Whatever time of year you’re taking a Nashville vacation, you’re sure to find a concert, event or festival going on in Riverfront Park—and if you’re there in the summer, the Park’s 4th of July celebration features the city’s most popular fireworks show.