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Nashville Vacation Ideas for Planning an Itinerary
Check out our vacation ideas, which lift the lid on best places to visit in Nashville and link to some amazing footage from our Nashville Vacation Travel Guide video.
Ideas of places to Visit in Nashville
While Nashville’s honky-tonks and music museums are the main draw for vacationers, not far from Lower Broadway and Music Row visitors will find plenty of non-musical ways to fill their days here. From world-class galleries and plantation-era mansions to gracious gardens and parks to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, you’ll find no shortage of attractions to fill your Nashville itinerary.
(1:12 in the video) Start your Nashville trip at Fort Nashborough, a recreation of the original stockade where settlers built their log cabins high on the banks of the Cumberland River in 1779. Set aside at least an hour in your travel plans to explore the Fort Nashborough History Center. It’s a great place to learn more about Nashville’s early settlers, and the Native Americans whose culture and society were forever disrupted.
(1:37 in the video) No vacation to Nashville is complete without spending some time at the city’s historic plantations and antebellum homes. Just a twenty-minute drive south from Downtown Nashville, visit the estate of one of Tennessee’s founding fathers, John Overton. Spend a couple of hours exploring the estate and learn about the plantation and slave trade which fueled Nashville’s early prosperity.
(2:18 in the video) Another plantation home that should be on every Nashville itinerary is The Hermitage, the former home and final resting place of Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. President. The Hermitage is also the final resting place of dozens of Jackson’s former slaves, whose memories are honored in the evocative Enslaved Memorial.
(2:33 in the video) If you only have time to visit one estate on your tour of Nashville’s plantation homes, be sure to add Belle Meade Plantation to your itinerary. Once stretching away for miles in every direction, the remaining 30 acres of this once sprawling estate are packed with must-see attractions, such as the historic mansion and museum, slave quarters, and carriage house. Belle Meade also features a winery where visitors can enjoy fine reds and whites pressed from southern grapes and blackberries.
(3:00 in the video) Nashville’s plantation era was brought to an eventual close by the Civil War. Stretch your legs on the climb to Fort Negley, which played a pivotal role in the Battle of Nashville and helped turn the tide of war. Fort Negley Park is also a great vantage point for some of Nashville’s best views, so pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery!
(3:19 in the video) History buffs can learn more about the Civil War at the Tennessee State Museum, which houses an impressive collection of battle flags, uniforms and weapons. Take a walk through the Tennessee Time Tunnel, which will guide your visit through the state’s rich history, from the stories of its First Peoples to the struggles of African Americans during the Civil Rights era and beyond.
(3:49 in the video) Don’t miss one of Nashville’s most unusual and popular attractions. In 1897 the city, known as The Athens of the South, fully embraced its growing reputation as a sophisticated center of the arts and higher learning with the construction of a full-sized replica of Parthenon. Don’t just admire the fine Doric exterior, be sure to step inside and take a selfie with the towering statue of Athena!
(3:58 in the video) Housed in the former factory of the Marathon Motor Works, Marathon Village is a great way to spend a few hours of your vacation to Nashville. Tour the museum and learn the fascinating history of the only motor car entirely designed and built in the South. Then explore artist studios and shops, such as Antique Archaeology, and pick up a unique, one of a kind souvenir to commemorate your Nashville trip.
(4:38 in the video) Fans of the hit television series, The Dukes of Hazard, should add a spin down memory lane to their Nashville itinerary and visit Cooter’s Place. The museum is packed with collectables and fun exhibits, while parked outside is the show’s four-wheeled star, The General Lee.
(5:16 in the video) Country music lovers will find many things to do in Nashville. Take a tour or catch a concert at Ryman Auditorium. For fans, this former tabernacle is as close to heaven as it gets. In the early 1940s, The Grand Ol’ Opry radio show was broadcast live from the Ryman’s stage, kicking off a run of wildly popular shows that would sell out weekly for the next 30 years.
(5:44 in the video) Cramped backstage conditions and limited seating at the Ryman Auditorium forced the Grand Ole Opry radio show to relocate in 1972 to a larger, modern venue. Your Nashville travel plans should include booking a ticket for a show at the Grand Ole Opry House. This famous attraction is where today’s country music stars gather around a circle cut from the Ryman’s original stage and take part in the longest-running radio broadcast in US history.
Nashville’s Music Museums
(6:33 in the video) Music lovers of all genres should set aside a couple of days in their itineraries to soak up the incredible riches of Nashville’s music museums, big and small. From James Jamerson’s bass to Hal Blain’s drum kit, get close to instruments which have taken on an almost mythical status, at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. While nearby at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, join country music devotees from all over the world who’ve ‘walked the line’ to pay homage in this incredibly popular Nashville
(8:15 in the video) After meeting the giants of country music past and present, hear the stars of tomorrow in the honky-tonks and roof top bars of Lower Broadway. The music kicks off each afternoon and continues through ‘til 3am, so be sure to pace yourself! Best of all, there’s no cover charge, so you can boot scoot from honky-tonk to honky-tonk to your heart’s content while on vacation here (but be sure leave a lil’ something in the band’s tip buckets).
(9:33 in the video) If country music’s just not your thing, there are still plenty of fun things to do in Nashville. Head to Printers Alley. Once the home of Nashville’s newspaper and publishing houses, today this is the place to find iconic Nashville jazz and blues clubs like Skulls Rainbow Room and the Boogie Bar.
(10:03 in the video) Take the time to include some of Nashville’s best neighborhoods in your vacation itinerary too. Give your credit card a workout in the upmarket boutiques and stylish cafes of the Gulch. Saddle up for the half-mile ride through 12 South, the place to sample some of the South’s most daring dishes, clothing designs, and street art. Then head north through the hipster hangouts of Five Points and finish up with a plate of hot chicken at the legendary Pepperfire.
Parks and gardens
(11:07 in the video) Taking in Nashville’s attractions by day and music by night can be a little exhausting, but thankfully the city offers plenty of riverside parks and green spaces to catch your breath. Travelers who enjoy mixing nature and art should set aside an afternoon at the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. While those who prefer things wild should pull on their running shoes and hit the forest trails of Radnor Lake State Park.
Inspiration for traveling to Nashville
We hope you enjoyed these ideas for getting the most from your next Nashville vacation. If you need more inspiration before booking your flights and accommodation check out our Nashville images.
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This article was originally published on September 12, 2019. If you’d like to stay updated on new videos of the beautiful destinations that our planet has to offer, subscribe to Expedia’s YouTube channel.
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