Planning Your Visit
Need help planning your visit to Nashville? Consider these 5 key criteria and you’re on the road to a great trip.
1. Choose the time of year for your Nashville trip.
Nashville never goes dormant but things do change seasonally. April-October bring on a slew of outdoor concerts and festivals. Sometimes we back off a little on outdoor events in July and early August because humidity can be rough but things keep rolling.
November and December are filled with seasonal concerts including Nashville Symphony performances with guest artists and the annual Christmas residency at the Ryman with Amy Grant and Vince Gill. Even with our unpredictable weather in January and February (our most affordable months to visit), Nashville is hopping with all the regular indoor live music options, plus the museums and tours.
2. Where should I stay?
Depends on what you’re planning to do while you’re here. Most visitors cram as much as possible into their time in Nashville. In observing tons of tourists, I’ve discovered most Music City visitors fall into two general categories:
Almost everything you’re interested in is either downtown or within a few miles. Maybe you’re coming in town for a Titans game or a big concert. Nashville is foot-friendly because from the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue, you’re within six blocks of a ton of options. Venues including Bridgestone Arena, the Ryman and Ascend Amphitheatre. Within this zone are 25+ honky tonks, plus a ton of more low-key listening rooms. You can walk to more than a half-dozen museums including the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Frist Art Museum, Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, and National Museum of African American Music. Bridgestone Arena is right there and Nissan Stadium is just across the bridge.
You’re likely to hit at least a few downtown destinations but you’re eager to branch out. Maybe you want to experience the Grand Ole Opry or visit a historic home such as Andrew Jackson’s The Hermitage or Belle Meade Mansion?
Want to shop and dining in our buzzed-about hotspots? 12South, Germantown, The Gulch and East Nashville are within a three-mile radius.
If you’re a Civil War buff, Fort Negley is only a few minutes from downtown or you can venture 22 miles south to Franklin to walk battlefields as well as shop along its quaint Main Street. Willing to go 70 miles or more? Mosey down to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg or check out some of our beautiful state parks.
If you’re planning to make a series of excursions, having your own transportation will likely become more economical and convenient.
3. What’s your budget?
Your Nashville trip can be kind to your budget or cost you a bundle. Some people save all year just to afford an Opry performance, stay in an outlying motel and grab a few moderately priced meals. Others might spend more than that on a single dinner.
Along the Honky Tonk District, you don’t pay a cover charge but a draft beer typically runs around $8. One beer. And you need to drop some dollars into the tip jar because musicians aren’t paid by the bars.
You want free? Many outdoor celebrations are free or have a nominal charge. Most feature live music. One of the finest stops if you enjoy history is the stellar Tennessee State Museum where there’s no admission fee.
Aside from possibly airfare, your largest expense will be lodging.
4. Choose your lodging.
The spectrum runs from scary to spectacular so set your budget and your priorities. Your time is valuable. That’s why I wouldn’t want a 30-minute commute every time I wanted to head to an attraction.
City-centric folks should, if at all possible, stay in or near downtown. You can avoid the hassles of parking and the expense of ride-shares or taxis. Plus, you can make the most of every minute instead of slogging through traffic.
Explorers may prefer lodging away from the central city area where parking is likely free, traffic is less congested and room rates are generally lower.
5. How are you getting around?
Flying in? The Nashville International Airport (BNA) is in a state of constant construction but it’s easier to navigate than many airports of similar size. All the major airlines and a growing number of budget companies land here.
What will you do for in-town transportation? If you’re the city-centric type, you can get by cab fares or rideshares. Last time I checked, a ride downtown from the airport was a $30 flat fee. Ride-shares have typically been slightly less but surge pricing seems to be a more frequent occurrence.
If you’re bringing your own car or renting and staying downtown, two things to note: it can be pricey and not all hotels offer free in-and-out privileges. Check with your hotel to avoid sticker shock. If staying in a downtown AirBnB, see if it offers dedicated parking.