Considering the metro area is home to more than 300 recording studios and some of the most famous landmarks in country music, no survey of things to do in Nashville would be complete without a trip into the world of bluegrass, folk, and honky-tonk. Up-and-coming musicians and songwriters step into the spotlight at the clubs along Honky Tonk Row, and greats get their due at the nearby Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which showcases such memorabilia as Elvis’s golden Cadillac, Willie Nelson’s bandanna, and artifacts from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Dylan. The most hallowed site of all, though, may be the Grand Ole Opry House, which is home to the show in which legends and current chart toppers have performed since 1925.
It's a mistake to think that music is all Nashville has to offer, however; visual art abounds as well. At the city's epicenter lies the Frist Center for Visual Arts, which features modern and ancient art exhibitions that rotate through the art deco building every six to eight weeks. Head just southwest of downtown to find the 132-acre Centennial Park, which is adjacent to Vanderbilt University. The city’s premier outdoor space features a full-scale replica of the Parthenon alongside a 42-foot-tall statue of Athena. Inside the faux Parthenon, you’ll find a permanent collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art.
Of course, it's not hard to find natural beauty in the area, either. At Radnor Lake State Park, visitors can hike for miles through the Nashville Basin and explore hills, streams, and other natural habitats. One paved trail runs along the lake, a man-made reservoir that was created to provide water for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad's steam engines.
For a dose of history, roam northeast to The Hermitage, the former home of President Andrew Jackson. The mansion and grounds have been painstakingly preserved, and they maintain a majority of the Jackson family's original artwork, furniture, and personal items. On the southwest side of town, Belle Meade Plantation brings more of the 1800s to life. Tour guides lead groups through the gorgeous Greek-Revival mansion, ending up at the onsite winery for a free tasting.
The Lane Motor Museum explores history through a specific lens: the automobile. The museum arranges more than 150 cars and motorcycles by country and region, and its exhibits highlight how various political, economical, and geographical factors shaped automobiles throughout the 1900s.
Festivals often take over public spaces in the city, especially during the summer. That's when the Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival attracts throngs of music fans to the Bicentennial Mall, the Music City Hot Chicken Festival hosts fried chicken cook offs in East Park, and the American Artisan Festival showcases contemporary American handcrafts and fine art at the aforementioned Centennial Park.