Summer Activities to do in Nashville, TN
Are you thinking of taking a trip to the Music Capital of the United States? There is certainly more to Nashville than its country music roots and its boozy ‘NashVegas’ reputation.
However, if you need another reason to visit this blooming city, know that it’s the epitome of raw, organic musical talent and boasts the perfect concoction of urban landscape meets natural green space.
Although there are TONS of diverse experiences in Nashville, my recommendations are all outdoor activities, simply because this Canadian was delighted to spend time outside in a warmer climate and soak up some Vitamin D. So, if you’re still with me, take a peek below for some summer time recommendations in Nashville!
If you haven’t been to downtown Nashville before, you can expect to encounter a vast array of characters from authentic cowboys decked out in tall hats and belt buckles, to tourists clad in plaid with their camera in hand, or bachelorette parties disrupting the peace in matching tank tops — and of course locals who seamlessly blend in or steer clear of the madness all together.
Go for a Stroll:
With the Cumberland River running alongside the downtown core, it was so easy to get lost in nature and forget about the hustle and bustle happening just a stones throw away on Broadway. On a sunny day, get in some miles by walking along the river and up onto the Cumberland footbridge, also known as Nashville’s ‘pedestrian-only’ bridge. Here you will have scenic views looking out across the river and back onto the downtown area.
Pro tip: Be sure to pack some sunscreen and lots of water! I always travel with my platypus waterbottle because it folds down flat when empty to save space.
Prefer a stroll at night? The bridge lights up, proving to be just as beautiful after dusk.
Check out a Rooftop Patio:
Enjoy the warm weather and sunshine with some lunch on a roof top patio! Maybe it’s those Canadian winters I endure every year, but there is something so uplifting about enjoying a nice meal while basking in the sun. During my stay in Nashville, I visited “ACME Feed & Seed” two separate times for food and drinks!
They have a large rooftop patio, perched up on the corner of Broadway and 1st Ave S, where you have the option of gazing out across the river or down on the main strip. If you need to seek some shade, ACME also boasts 2 lower floors of indoor seating.
Get the Local Foodie Experience:
Escape the hoards of tourists and head on over across the river to East Nashville for the local experience. If you are seeking a quiet meal or an alternative ambiance from the boozy, live music venues downtown, look no further – East Nashville houses tons of great restaurants. We went to the ‘The Wild Cow’ for a vegetarian/vegan lunch and it was honestly some of the best vegan grub I have had dining out …ever!
If this doesn’t suit you, how do lime margaritas out on a funky patio, surrounded by colourful art and Japanese lanterns sound? Check out RosePepper for Mexican food, Mexican beers and margaritas on their large patio (or indoors). Supposedly, their margaritas have been voted BEST in the city for the last ten years.
Head on Over to a Honkey Tonk:
I was feeling a little thirsty after the long road trip from Ontario down to Nashville, so I took a stroll down ‘Honkey Tonk Highway’ and popped into the infamous Tootsie’s Orchard Lounge. Everyone seems to know about Tootsies or rave about going to Tootsies – but to be honest, the place is so busy its slightly claustrophobic.
With that said, the vibe was cool and it has a great rooftop patio, so I think it’s definitely worth checking out – just go early to get a spot so you won’t have to worry about standing room or wiggling through the crowd.
Buckle up for Some Fun on a Bicycle Bar:
If you are strolling around the downtown area, you are sure to notice the many bicycle bars peddling their way up and down the main streets, pouring beers and playing lively music.
If beers, bikes and music for a few hours in the sunshine sound like it might be your thing, definitely check out “The Sproket Rocket”. Much like a jacked up version of the soapbox racer you made as a child, the Rocket has a BYOB style model, where the bartender puts your beverages on ice and serves you during the ride.
“But isn’t it hard work?”…Don’t worry, you barely need to pedal – there is a motor that kicks in. For 30 bucks I had a lot of fun on this thing!
Extra Tips: Where to Stay
Like most major cities, Nashville has a ton of accommodation options ranging from cozy apartments to unique or themed hotels. Some of the best boutique hotels in Nashville can be found near major points of interest like the Grand Ole Opry, or in more up-and-coming neighbourhoods like Gulch.
Of course your options will depend on your budget and the purpose for your trip! In my backpacking days, I usually opted to stay in hostels where I was sure to be right in the thick of the action and to meet other travellers, but these days AirBnb has become my go-to while traveling to have access to a kitchen and wifi.
We travelled to Nashville by car, so getting around was relatively easy for us. However if you plan to stay downtown, it can be tiresome to consistently drive and park due to traffic and the incredible masses of pedestrians flooding the streets. If you do need to park downtown, metered parking can be found up along the riverbank on Gay Street for 1.50$ per hour– note that this is free from 6pm to 7am Monday – Saturday and Free Sundays. There is also a municipal parking lot across the street from these meters on Gay Street, which is free on weekends as well.
Otherwise Uber is a great option to get around for a relatively inexpensive price when we didn’t want to drive or wanted to have a few bevies. Our Uber drivers were locals and tended to be super knowledgable about the city, imparting tidbits of history and local culture into the conversation while they gave us a lift.
If Uber isn’t your cup of tea, you will also see golf carts zipping around the downtown area – they work on a tip only basis which makes a quick ride a few blocks down way less expensive than a regular taxi. There are also big, green electric buses that frequent the downtown area that are a free ‘hop-on, hop-off’ style ride.
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