Free things to do in Nashville: 13 ideas for your next trip to Tennessee

By Alina GoncharovaMar 5, 2024 09:18 AMBudget trips
Free things to do in Nashville: 13 ideas for your next trip to Tennessee
Nashville illuminated by lights. Source: Image by Garrett Hill/Pixabay

When you think of Nashville, two things come to mind first: the famous spicy chicken and country music. However, in reality, the capital of Tennessee, located on the banks of the Cumberland River, has much more to offer travelers. Besides, it's a great choice for a budget trip, as you'll definitely find something to do in Nashville for free.

From open-air concerts and festivals to architectural gems and scenic Tennessee trails, you can find a great option for every taste. Each neighborhood offers a special flavor and has its style, which will be a great backdrop for future bright photos to remember the Music City. All that's left is to create a route using a selection of the best free entertainment in Nashville.

Honky-tonk in the city center

Live music is a constant on Lower Broadway. To immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of the country capital, you should definitely visit at least a few eclectic bars. Many of them require a paid entrance, but some open their doors to absolutely everyone almost every time. Some of the most popular establishments are the following:

  • Rippy's;
  • Robert's Western World;
  • Legends Corner, and others.

You can immerse yourself in live music and light up the dance floor, but you will usually have to buy at least a drink.

Walking along Lake Radnor

One of the best free things to do in Nashville is to explore the endless trails of Radnor Lake State Park, which covers 1,368 acres. Another feature is that Taylor Swift spoke very warmly about this particular park and noted that she loves walking there. Although autumn is the most attractive season to visit due to the bright colors and pleasant weather, no one will stop you from visiting Radnor Lake in the spring to admire the wild flowers or in the summer to go canoeing. The park's website offers a calendar of events, which may include festive and themed programs, workshops, craft classes, and much more. All events are free and open to everyone.

The Parthenon in Tennessee

Free things to do in Nashville: 13 ideas for your next trip to Tennessee
A piece of Greece in Tennessee. Source: Image by dani_chalkr/Pixabay

To celebrate the state's centennial, in 1897 Nashville unveiled a replica of the Parthenon of Athens. Even though the attraction was planned as a temporary one, the locals liked it so much that they decided to keep the architectural exhibit. Therefore, if you don't know what to do for free in Nashville, be sure to visit this location. More than a hundred years old, the building remains a popular attraction in the state. If you plan to look inside the Parthenon and visit the art museum located in the building, be prepared to pay $10 for the entrance. However, the facade itself is free to see, and afterward, you can stroll along the well-groomed paths of Centennial Park.

Hatch Show Print

Hatch Show Print, located in the legendary Country Music Hall of Fame, is a letterpress studio filled to the brim with antique printing equipment dating back to the 1800s when the shop began its work. The cost of the tour is $20 per person, but you can simply enter the print shop and see how various posters are created. The staff uses hand-carving and a collection of vintage fonts to create unique designs that honor the cultural identity of the United States of America. There is also an interesting gallery featuring some of Hatch Show Print's earliest works.

Dancing in the streets

What to do in Nashville for free in the summer? If you are planning your visit in June, be sure to visit the CMA Music Fest, which is organized annually by the Country Music Association. This celebration lasts for a weekend, offering a lot of free entertainment for every taste – from free-entry concerts at the stadium to meet-and-greets with stars, giveaways, and more. The festival brings together country music fans from all over the world. At this time, the city's central streets turn into a continuous location for a loud party with tens of thousands of visitors.

Tennessee State Museum

History buffs, especially those interested in the South, should definitely add the Tennessee State Museum to their itinerary. This place, which is worth visiting in Nashville for free, provides both permanent and temporary exhibitions dedicated to the Civil War and Reconstruction period, the First People of Tennessee, and reflects the "Andrew Jackson era". The museum is open six days a week and admission is always free. The cultural and educational institution is located on the corner of Jefferson Street and Rosa L. Park Boulevard, next to the Nashville Farmers Market, where you can buy the freshest fruits and vegetables and various snacks.

Take an artistic tour of the city

On the first Saturday of every month throughout the year, the downtown area, which is usually full of music and alcohol, gives up its stage to the artistic community. At this time, numerous galleries and museums organize open receptions, events, and performances. First Saturday Art Crawl is a large-scale event that covers more than ten locations, from churches to studios and hotels. Most of the venues are concentrated in the Arts District, but some events are organized in the Arcade and Sobro. These events are often accompanied by light snacks and drinks, and admission is free, with no prior reservations required.

A special bookstore

Among the free places to visit in Nashville is Parnassus Books. This is the most famous bookstore in the city, run by the famous American writer Ann Patchett, author of such works as Commonwealth, Orange, Bel Canto, etc. The independent bookstore offers an impressive selection of books, and the section with works by local writers is particularly noteworthy. It regularly organizes free readings, book signings, master classes, and various events for children.

Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory

In Nashville, you have the opportunity to look directly at the sun without hiding your eyes behind dark glasses. Vanderbilt University's Dyer Observatory offers free 60-90-minute guided tours every day, except from December to February. During the visit, visitors have the opportunity not only to observe the stars but also to look directly at the sun through a special telescope. The tour also includes an interesting report on astronomy and the history of the museum itself. The giant Seifert telescope in the observatory deserves special attention, as it is also open to everyone. The dates and times of excursions are available on the official website of the institution. Although the observatory is free to visit, the staff will be grateful for donations if you wish.

A game at the Nashville Predators stadium

The vast majority of tourists come to Nashville for country music, dancing, sweets, and the city's signature chicken, but they rarely go to a hockey game. And for good reason. When visiting the city in the fall or winter, it would be a crime not to see the city's professional hockey team, the Nashville Predators, in action. In order not to spend money on tickets, which can be quite expensive, especially for a budget traveler, a great option for free entertainment in Nashville is to attend a training session at the Centennial Sportsplex. The sessions are always open to the public, and you can find the schedule on the official website of the hockey team.

Take a seat at Live on the Green

Among the most popular free entertainment in Nashville is attending various concerts and festivals. However, the favorite event for locals and numerous tourists is invariably Live on the Green. This festival is organized every summer in Public Square Park to once again showcase the love of music and community. Famous performers such as Alabama Shakes, Sheryl Crow, Citizen Cope, as well as newcomers, start their way here.

Public Square Park is located in the heart of the city, so it's easy to get to, and it's close to numerous restaurants and cafes, shops, and popular attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Nissan Stadium, Ryman Auditorium, and more. In addition, the historic Metropolitan Courthouse serves as an amazing backdrop for the festival stage.

Shows in Centennial Park

Nashville's Centennial Park Conservancy constantly offers free entertainment for all ages and tastes: from yoga classes to movie nights and live bands, performances, and more. The park also hosts cultural festivals, food markets, and craft fairs. No matter what event is taking place, you can count on free admission, so check the schedule to find what you like.

Street art tour

Free things to do in Nashville: 13 ideas for your next trip to Tennessee
Murals everywhere. Source: Image Paul Brennan/Pixabay

It's impossible to visit Nashville without taking a photo in front of one of the street art pieces, whether it's with angel wings or a popular music theme. The city is filled with street art, more than 70 of them according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. You can easily find these street artworks, whether they are simple, like a wall with white and blue stripes, or more complex (an ode to aviation in the form of a huge postcard). Keep your camera or phone handy, as you'll want to snap some great photos as you wander around the city center and outskirts.

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