Best Things to Do In Nashville - Experiences, Eat & More

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ICONIC CITY | What to Do in Nashville

fun things to do in Nashville by ICONIC LIFE

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With a music history stretching back more than 300 years, Nashville proves it isn’t a one-hit-wonder city and there are so many fun things to do.

For a chart-topping vacation with fun things to do, nothing beats Nashville, America’s own solid gold Music City. Tennessee’s capitol city’s soul sings with the beat of a guitar, the twang of a fiddle and the voice of legendary performers from Etta James to Keith Urban. The city pulsates with music of all genres earning it a spot in our Iconic Cities of the World, like Santa Fe, New York and Austin. From where to stay, what to do in Nashville and where to eat, we’ve got the city’s best in our ICONIC City Guide.


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QUICK HISTORY | Marching to its own Drummer
From its founding in the 1700s, Nashville and music intertwined. The earliest settlers fiddled tunes, and in the 1800s the city was already a national center for music. Local act, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were the first to do a world tour, putting Nashville on the world stage for music.

In 1892, Nashville’s famous Ryman Auditorium, dubbed the Carnegie Hall of the South opened. The venue hosted legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, and was the first place Johnny Cash and Elvis ever performed, and for 31 years was the home of the Grand Ole Opry—a must-see fun thing to do in Nashville.

Local act, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were the first to do a world tour, putting Nashville on the world stage for music.

The Opry began as a radio broadcast and is the longest running radio show in the country. The Opry is still staged live weekly.

Besides being a haven for performers, Nashville is also considered the songwriting capital of the world. Writers from around the globe come to hone their craft and debut original works at places like the legendary Bluebird Café or at the annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival.

Today Nashville buzzes with country, jazz, rock, pop and many other styles at more than 180 music venues throughout the city.


Nashville isn’t a cookie-cutter city, and its eclectic hotel scene reflects the uniqueness of the city with lots of fun things to do in Nashville. Despite how challenging 2020 was for the hospitality industry, several new hotels opened in the city giving discerning travelers more luxury options. Here are our Nashville City Guide’s most iconic places to rest your head after a fun day in Music City.


The Joseph

The Joseph
While Nashville is known for music, The Joseph, which opened in August, pays homage to artists. Owned by world-known art collecting family, The Pizzutis, the hotel boasts more than 1,000 works of art, including a collection of Tennessee artists.

stay at 121 Hotel in Nashville Tennessee

121 Hotel

121 Hotel
This five-star, 15-room boutique hotel is the city’s only Small Luxury Hotel of the World. Designed with a residential feel, guests can book individual rooms and suites or entire floors or even the whole hotel.

stay at Virgin Hotel in Nashville TN.

Virgin Hotel

Virgin Hotel
Opened in summer, the irreverent Virgin Hotel is laid-back, playful, and fun. From its rooftop pool, to its restaurant that has the feel of a members only club without the pretension, the 14-story hotel focuses on unfussy service and unique experiences, one of our fave, fun things to do in Nashville.

stay at 21C Museum and hotel in Nashville TN.

21C Museum Hotels

21C Museum
Part boutique hotel and part museum, guests of 21C can take in rotating contemporary art exhibits, cultural programs and indulge in local eats at the chef-driven restaurant.

stay at The Hermitage in Nashville TN

The Hermitage

The Hermitage
The iconic five-star The Hermitage is a historic landmark in downtown dating back to 1908 when construction began. Nashville residents watched in awe as Nashville’s third skyscraper rose to a height of 10 stories. Not a penny was spared to develop Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel. Guest rooms boasted running water, private bathrooms and a telephone, perfect for presidents and Nashville royalty like Patsy Kline. Today, its iconic presence takes you back to simpler times. Make time for high tea when in-person service resumes.


Part of the joy of travel is experiencing the culinary landscape of a destination and Nashville doesn’t disappoint. From local favorites like hot chicken to some of the top tables in the country, epicureans will find a lot to whet their appetite in our Nashville City Guide.

Yolan restaurant in Nashville TN


Opened in summer, 2020, Yolan is the latest from James Beard award-winning and Michelin-starred chef Tony Mantuano. The fine-dining Italian eatery is inside The Joseph hotel. Foodies can choose from the a la carte menu or opt for the tasting experience— one of the many fun things to do in Nashville.

The Optimist restaurant in Nashville TN

The Optimist

The Optimist
Atlanta-based chef Ford Fry’s Nashville version of seafood-focused restaurant The Optimist was designed by New York City-based design house Reunion Goods & Services. The Optimist is a moody yet luxe take on a classic Gloucester fishing village, set in a reclaimed warehouse and anchored by an open kitchen with endless concrete countertops.

cheese curds at Ellington's in Nashville TN


Take a step back in time with classic gourmet fare at Ellington’s. You’ll find mid-century classics like oysters Rockefeller, Waldorf salad and lobster Thermidor all with a modern twist.

Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville TN

Prince's Hot Chicken

Prince’s Hot Chicken
It’s not fancy, but it is ICONIC. Legend has it that Nashville’s famous hot chicken was born in the 1930s when a woman wanted to pay her boyfriend, Thornton Prince, back for cheating on her and served up some blisteringly hot chicken. While the relationship ended, the revenge motivated the Prince family to start its hot chicken empire. Prince’s Hot Chicken is the place to try the local eats when you are looking for what to do in Nashville.

Catbird Seat restaurant in Nashville TN

Catbird Seat

Catbird Seat
The city’s first tasting menu-only restaurant delights diners with chefs directly serving their artistic and unusual dishes to rapt foodies centered around the open kitchen. The 10 to 12 course gastronomic extravaganza is one of the toughest reservations to score in the country, so book early.

Husk restaurant by Chef Sean Brock in Nashville TN


Coming Soon
Chef Sean Brock‘s newest restaurant concept, The Continental, at Grand Hyatt Nashville is open, while we await the highly anticipated opening of Audrey and Red Bird, focused on Appalachian-style cuisine. Brock, the founding chef of Husk, a small group of restaurants that serve Southern cuisine in four locations in the south, including Nashville and ICONIC City Charleston, was named Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2011.

One thing you won’t be in Nashville is bored with so many fun things to do. With a slew of music related attractions and performances, to museums, art galleries, shopping and more, fun things to do in Nashville abound.

Ryman Auditorium a fun thing to do in Nashville

Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

Ryman Auditorium
Tour this National Historic Landmark and learn about the famous musicians that launched their illustrious careers here. Through exhibits featuring memorabilia, from top performers to visiting the Soul of Nashville Theater, a visit to the Ryman sets the tone for a dive into the music culture of Nashville.

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville TN

Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. / Chris Hollo

Grand Ole Opry
Perhaps the most iconic attraction in town, no trip to Nashville is complete without taking in a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. For 95 years it’s been the preeminent country music venue in the country and the premier fun thing to do in Nashville. The Opry also offers backstage tours.

Johnny Cash museum is a fun thing to do in Nashville

Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

The Johnny Cash Museum
Fans of the Man in Black will love perusing the world’s largest collection of Johnny Cash memorabilia in the world. You’ll see costumes, instruments, albums, handwritten lyrics and more.

Lane Motor Museum a fun thing to do in Nashville

Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

Lane Motor Museum
With more than 150 European marks, the Lane Motor Museum boasts the largest collection of European cars in the country. The permanent collection features cars, motorcycles, aircraft, amphibian vehicles and bicycles.

Cheekwood Estate & Garden a fun thing to do in Nashville

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
Explore the 1930s Cheekwood Estate and its 55 acres of lush gardens. Walk the 1.5 mile sculpture trail or stroll through 12 distinct gardens. The mansion is filled with an array of art from the original family’s collection.

Honky Tonk Highway a fun thing to do in Nashville

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Honky Tonk Highway
Don’t miss spending a night in one of Nashville’s many Honky Tonk bars featuring food, live music and dancing. Create your own pub crawl starting at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge where Willie Nelson got his start in songwriting after singing here, before heading to Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar and ending at The Second Fiddle.

No matter if you march to Luke Bryan, Drake or Mozart, you’ll find fun things to do to something to make your heart sing in our ICONIC Nashville City Guide.

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