Nashville is perhaps best known for its country music scene, but you certainly don’t need to be a country music fan to enjoy this friendly, fun-filled city. Tourists are increasingly flocking to Nashville for its burgeoning culinary scene, trendy neighborhoods, hip restaurants, and intriguing historic sites. Better still, a trip to Music City can be surprisingly affordable. Here are some of the best free things to do in Nashville.
Photo via Flickr by kla4067
Catch Some Live Music at a Honky Tonk
Listening to live country music at a honky tonk is a quintessentially Nashville experience. The original honky tonks were fairly low-class establishments often linked with prostitution; however, they’ve evolved over the decades into casual bars that feature live performances by up-and-coming and established musicians, attracting buzzing crowds of locals and tourists alike. Most of Nashville’s honky tonks feature live music every day, and there’s rarely a cover charge.
You’ll find the largest concentration of honky tonks on Lower Broadway: a street nicknamed the Honky Tonk Highway. This neighborhood is also home to some of the city’s top attractions, along with quality shopping and dining, making it an ideal spot to look for great hotels in Nashville.
Check Out an Event at Parnassus Books
Co-owned by author Ann Patchett and publisher Karen Hayes, Parnassus Books is one of the few remaining independent bookstores in the region. The store is named for Mt. Parnassus, a Greek sacred site associated with literature, learning, and music. In addition to being a wonderful place to browse for a new book, this small bookstore is the heart of Nashville’s literary scene. It hosts regular free in-store events, including author readings, book signings, children’s story times, and book club meetings.
Neighborhood: Green Hills
Take a Tour of the Tennessee State Museum
Learn about the history of Tennessee from prehistoric times through to the present at the Tennessee State Museum. One of the largest state museums in the country, it houses more than 6,000 artifacts, including an impressive collection of Civil War relics. Other highlights include a display of over 300 quilts dating as far back as the 18th century, President Andrew Jackson’s inaugural hat, and a replica of an 18th-century print shop. There’s also a superb collection of Native American handicrafts and some interesting instrument exhibits. Admission is always free.
Enjoy the Fresh Air at Centennial Park
Photo via Flickr by butler.corey
Centennial Park is a beautiful 132-acre urban park, that offers excellent playgrounds, scenic walking trails, pleasant picnic areas, and lovely gardens. The park hosts a wealth of free events throughout the year, including the popular Shakespeare in the Park productions, as well as movie screenings, festivals, and live music.
The park’s showpiece is its stunning replica of Greece’s Parthenon. It was built in 1897 as part of Tennessee’s centennial celebration, and residents liked it so much that it became a permanent park monument. There’s an admission fee for the museum inside, but you can take photos and admire its striking façade for free.
Neighborhood: West End
Don’t miss these exceptional free attractions during your next trip to Nashville.