Winter is an enjoyable and festive time in Nashville while the city celebrates the holiday season. The generally mild winter temperatures allow you to enjoy many outdoor activities without the worry of snow covered streets. When planning your trip, keep in mind that temperatures average in the low 50s during the day and can dip near freezing at night. If the weather turns a bit too cold for you, Music City is filled with museums, restaurants, honky-tonks and shopping destinations. Because it’s a low season for tourist travel, you may be able to get better rates on lodging. Consider historic hotels like Union Station and the Hermitage Hotel, which have served as the backdrop for scenes in movies and television shows like Hannah Montana, Nashville and Master of None. Music City does not stop when the thermometer drops; it just takes the fun indoors. Consider the following list of attractions when planning your holiday visit to Nashville.
A Tour of the Sights
Instead of trekking through the cool air, ride the Old Town Trolley to a variety of popular sights and historic attractions around Music City. Covering a city loop with 15 stops, the trolley takes you within just a few steps of several must-see destinations. You will be entertained as the conductors regale you with facts and little-known behind-the-scenes tidbits about the Country Music Capital of the World. The Old Town Trolley also eliminates the hassle of negotiating downtown traffic and finding a place to park. With hop-on, hop-off privileges, you can disembark, explore a particular site more in-depth and then climb aboard the next trolley. One comes by every few minutes, which allows you to pick up the tour right where you left off.
See the best of Nashville at night
Leave the kids, kick back, and cruise through Music City enjoying scenic nighttime views and classic Nashville tunes. On this tour, you’ll not only be taken to popular points of interest, but talented guides will dazzle you with their musical talents and extensive historical knowledge of the city. During the tour, you’ll stop at a world-famous honky tonk and enjoy a drink with new friends. It’s a perfect choice for date night or a group outing and a definite must-do when in Nashville!
Snuggle up to These Indoor Attractions
Nashville has a wide variety of indoor attractions to keep you busy in the cooler temperatures. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and learn about the industry and legends that made Nashville famous. Displayed on two floors, the permanent exhibit explores the history of this uniquely American musical genre from its humble beginnings to its modern status as a major industry. Displays include an impressive collection of videos, audio recordings and photographs as well as other artifacts and memorabilia associated with legendary performers, songwriters and producers.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a non-collecting museum with 24,000 square feet of gallery space. It displays domestic and international traveling exhibits as well as works by local, state and regional artists. These rotating exhibits are housed in the nationally historic former Post Office Building. The Art Deco building was completed in 1934 and features Grecian Moderne-style architectural ornamentation. For those who’d like to explore its eye-catching design, there is an architectural tour offered the first Saturday of each month. And to keep the little ones entertained, the interactive ArtQuest Gallery enables children to make their own artwork.
The George Jones Museum chronicles the hardscrabble childhood, career and drunken escapades of this legendary performer as well as his conversion and sobriety in later life. Artifacts and quirky memorabilia abound as they depict his honky-tonk lifestyle. This includes a replica of the green John Deere lawn tractor that the entertainer drove 8 miles to a liquor store because his brother-in-law hid his car keys.
The Lane Motor Museum features a variety of vintage European cars, military vehicles, aircraft and motorcycles. Oddball vehicles on display include amphibious as well as propeller- and rocket-powered cars. The museum collection also features the Peel P50, which is listed as the smallest street-legal car by Guinness World Records, and a former U.S. Army vehicle, the LARC-LX, which has tires that are 9 feet tall.
The Tennessee State Museum, housed in the James K. Polk Cultural Center, chronicles the natural and cultural history of the Volunteer State from the Paleolithic Period until the Roaring 20s. Exhibits feature mastodon bones, Native American artifacts and relics from other important eras in the state’s history, including the Age of Jackson, the antebellum and Civil War periods, the Centennial Exhibition, Women’s Suffrage and Prohibition. There is also a display dedicated to Fisk University and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
Shopping, Dining and Entertainment to Cool You Down
Nashville is a great place to shop for one-of-a-kind pieces, souvenirs and musical instruments as well as casual country and western wear. The city has antique shops, shopping malls and the exclusive stores of the West End. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Arcade is a two-story shopping mall featuring a variety of art galleries and boutique retail shops. Another national landmark, Marathon Village is a repurposed 1890s warehouse and factory complex that once housed Marathon Motor Works. The complex houses Antique Archaeology, a shop famously run by Mike Wolf, one of the hosts of the History Channel show American Pickers. It is also home to a tasting room and retail outlet for the historic Tennessee whiskey Green Brier Distillery.
Located south of downtown, the Gulch is a renovated historic neighborhood that features upscale restaurants, fashionable boutiques and vibrant entertainment venues. It attracts locals, college students and visitors. The area is also home to Two Old Hippies, an eclectic retailer offering a variety of hipster and vintage clothing and musical instruments. While the walls are lined with memorabilia, the store’s centerpiece is a converted VW microbus. Two Old Hippies contains The Vault, a room, where you can try out a guitar before purchase.
Although the air may be cool, the chicken and music are still hot. Sample Nashville’s signature recipe, Hot Chicken, as well as award-winning Southern smokehouse-style cuisine at popular eateries like Jack’s Bar-B-Que and Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant. Music City also has a variety of coffeehouses, cafes and brewpubs.
Famous music venues in the city include the Wildhorse Saloon, Tootsies Orchid Lounge and the Bluebird Cafe, made famous by the hit television show Nashville. Other popular live music venues include Bobby’s Idle Hour and the Station Inn. The Wildhorse Saloon offers complimentary line dancing lessons and the largest dance floor in the state. Located on Lower Broadway, Tootsies is the queen of Nashville’s honky-tonks. Even if you skip the music, get a picture with the famous neon sign in the alley behind the bar. While Bobby’s Idle Hour is a quintessential neighborhood watering hole with a guitar that anyone can use to play an original piece, the Station Inn is the place to be if you enjoy authentic bluegrass music. A large cowbell is rung after an exceptional performance.
Festivals and Events to Celebrate the Season
When the holiday season arrives, the city lights up. The beauty, joy and magic of the season are reflected in the wide range of events, concerts and theatrical performances. The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center’s performance, A Country Christmas, features the Radio City Rockettes and a dazzling display of nearly 2 million holiday lights. Step back in time to an antebellum holiday at the Belle Meade Plantation and the Belmont Mansion, which don early 19th-century decorations. The Nashville Symphony Orchestra in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and a variety of entertainers at the Ryman Auditorium delight audiences with holiday musical selections that are sure to get you into the spirit of the season.
Grab your jersey and pompoms to celebrate the end of the season for collegiate football. Nissan Stadium hosts the Music City Bowl at the end of December. This annual postseason collegiate football game pits a team from the Southeastern Conference against an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Big 10. Festivities leading up to the game include Music Fest and a Battle of the Bands competition as well as rallies and other activities for fans of both teams.
Say goodbye to the old and hello to the new at the Music City New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway. This free outdoor concert precedes the countdown to fireworks and the Music Note Drop at midnight. The 15-foot-tall, red LED note drops from a height of 145 feet.
And the city doesn’t skip a beat as it two-steps into the New Year. Visitors can enjoy Predator hockey games in the Bridgestone Arena and various Black History Month activities throughout the city. February’s one-day Wine in the Winter tasting event is a fun activity for vino lovers. And for those into theater, don’t miss the Broadway series at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.