Nashville is a heck of a town, and if we’re traveling domestically, it’s one of the places we love to visit. Known for its incredible food scene, whiskey, and music history, Nashville, affectionately known as “Music City,”offers a little bit of everything for everyone—from family vacationers, to rowdy college kids, and everyone in between. We definitely think Nashville is a week-long-visit type of city, but on this go around, we only had three days to live it up—and that’s exactly what we did.
Here are 12 Things To Do In Nashville in 72 Hours:
Drink a Bushwacker
When we landed in Nashville, the first thing we did (after checking into the hotel and dropping off our bags) was head up to the bar and ask one of the bartenders what the local cocktail was. After some thought, she recommended a Bushwacker. In a nutshell, a Bushwacker is a boozy concoction that’s pretty much a Wendy’s Frosty with a drinking problem. While everybody’s recipes are different, the booze smorgasbord generally includes rum, vodka, Kahlua, Dark Crème de Cacao, nutmeg, coconut milk, actual milk, ice cream, Bailey’s Irish Cream and more. They’re delicious and approachable, but watch out, because they’ll put you on your ass if you’re not careful. We grabbed ours at 3 Crow Bar in the city’s Five Points neighborhood, but you can grab one of these things damn near anywhere.
Get Off Broadway and Go to the Five Points Neighborhood
Somewhere along the way, Nashville gained the annoying nickname “Nashvegas” due undoubtedly to its famous tourist destination, the Broadway District. And listen, we love Broadway. It’s a great way to experience some real-deal honky tonk without having to travel a million miles in every direction, as well as do some Grade A college-style rowdy bar hopping. But there’s more to what makes Nashville so damn cool than just all the bachelorettes drunk pedaling their way down Broadway. If you’re looking for hip, low-key bars, taverns, restaurants, pizzerias, and other off-the-beaten-path, less touristy things to do, the Five Points area is a great place to start.
Two Words: Hot Chicken
A quintessential Nashvillian food staple, Hot Chicken is essentially fried chicken that makes the hottest Buffalo wings you’ve ever had look like child’s play. We had it twice in one day while we were out there—both from Hattie B’s And Party Fowl—and from what we could discern, the chicken itself receives a spice-filled brine bath, is then covered with a spicy flour mix, is then fried to perfection, and then covered with another spicy sauce to varying degrees ranging from “Oh, that’s pinchy” to “I literally put a roll of toilet paper in the freezer last night, just in case.” Either way you cut it, this stuff is absolutely delicious.
Get a Tattoo at Gold Club Electric Tattoo
This is a little bit of a cop out because we’d tell you go get a tattoo anywhere you travel to, but Nashville stands out because it’s home to several awesome shops. Plus, this is a guide based on what we did in 72 hours, and we got cool tattoos there. We actually killed two birds with one stone. While we were drinking our Bushwacker at 3 Crow Bar in Five Points, we took to Instagram to ask where we should go get tattoos. As we would learn and as fate would have it, one of the city’s most popular shops, Gold Club Electric Tattoo, was located literally right behind the bar. Not one to ignore the serendipitous pleas of the world, we went and did the damn thing. Tattoos are always fun, and the ones from memorable travels are usually the best.
Head to The Johnny Cash Museum
Johnny Cash is one of the most iconic men to ever play music. This Cash family-approved museum is the largest of its kind, and features some incredible and rare artifacts from the Man in Black’s life, from the clothes he wore, to the guitars he played, to the records he made.
Hop Back on Broadway and Get Buck
We said it before, and we’ll say it again: We actually really enjoy Broadway. If you’re looking for all the partying you can handle, this is the place to go. Open-air bars line the streets on both sides, with a cacophony of honky-tonk twangs and guitar licks coming at you from every angle. From 10 am to 3 in the morning, 7 days a week, the party keeps going on Broadway. Just be warned that this place gets absolutely packed on the weekends with tourists, locals, and bachelorette parties from all over—and everybody is looking for trouble. If you’re looking for quiet and low key, Broadway is not the place for you.
Grab a “Recession Special” at Robert’s Western World
Another “locals only” Nashvillian food staple, the “Recession Special” at Robert’s Western World, located on Lower Broadway, is nothing more than a fried bologna sandwich, a bag of chips, and a can of PBR for the low, low price of five dollars. It’s worth doing just to say you did it, and we can tell you from personal experience that Robert’s Western World is home to some of the best live performers in the city. Kick back, enjoy dinner and a show on the cheap, and have some fun.
Check Out The Ryman Auditorium
The Grand Ole Opry is far and away one of the biggest tourist destinations in all of Nashville, and while we definitely recommend checking out the official Grand Ole Opry House less than ten miles away, the Ryman Auditorium is really what people mean when they talk about the Golden Era of the Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium in 1943, and until 1974, it hosted some of the biggest names in country music, including Roy Acuff, Hank Williams (who was famously banned from the Opry in 1952), Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell, Webb Pierce, Elvis Presley and many others. Anyone who’s anyone in the world of classic country probably played the Ryman Auditorium at some point. The Auditorium is still open and still hosts shows, but they also host tours, which are more than worth the admission.
Get Yourself Some Honky Tonkin’ Boots
Since Nashville is basically the honky-tonk capital of the world, it’s only fitting that when you’re here, you find yourself a solid pair of honky-tonk boots. It’s kind of like a rite of passage, and there are boot shops all over the city. During our stay, we made out way over to Boot Country, which is famous for its “Buy 1 Pair, Get 2 Pair Free” special—which we took full advantage of. We don’t know how other stores are set up, but Boot Country arranges boots according to size, rather than style or brand, which made choosing the right boot for our feet pretty gosh dang easy.
Catch a Movie at the Belcourt Theatre
Another highly recommended “locals only”-type thing to do is go check out a movie at the Belcourt Theatre. Also a former home of the Grand Ole Opry, Belcourt is actually the oldest movie theatre in Nashville, having opened in 1925, and it has kept a lot of the original décor and charm through the years. If you’re looking for something to do that’s definitely off most tourists’ radars, this is it.
Head South to the George Dickel Distillery in Cascade Hollow
There are a few requirements that ensure a whiskey made in Tennessee is an authentic Tennessee whiskey. First, it must be made and aged in Tennessee. It must have a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn. It must be aged in virgin charred oak barrels. It cannot be distilled over 160 proof, and cannot enter a barrel over 125 proof. It must be bottled at 80 proof or higher. And most uniquely, it must be filtered through real maple charcoal. We learned that on a tour of the George Dickel Distillery, located about an hour South of Nashville, in Tullahoma. We also drank a bunch of their whiskey. If Dickel ain’t your pickle (lol), you can also check out distillery tours of Jack Daniel’s, Benjamin Prichard’s, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Collier and McKeel, TennSouth, and Fugitive Spirits—some of whom are even located in Nashville.
Visit the Parthenon—Sort Of
We’d be remiss not to include a visit to Nashville’s awkward and confusing full-scale replica of the historic Parthenon in Athens. It’s the center piece of Nashville’s Centennial Park, which is actually an awesome and relaxing way to spend a day if you’re just looking for some quiet time to nurse that gnarly post-Broadway hangover.