Centennial Park in Nashville during the fall

There’s never a bad time of year to visit Nashville. (Photo: Marriott International)

Weekend Getaways

Plan a Music Lover’s Weekend in Nashville, Tennessee

Travelers know this energetic city as a hub for country music, but Nashville, Tennessee, has so much more to offer — from great museums and public parks to a formidable restaurant scene with everything from bibimbap to barbecue and elevated nouvelle Southern cuisine.

Growing at warp speed, this welcoming city is also home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, a modern-day iteration of the Parthenon and a network of fun, eclectic neighborhoods that radiate out from downtown. Want to see it all? Try our three-day itinerary — and be prepared to hit the ground running.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Fill Up on Country Music and Classic Barbecue

Spend your first day exploring the sights and sounds along Lower Broadway. Even if country music isn’t your thing, don’t pass up the chance to tour the Country Music Hall of Fame and learn how this influential genre shaped radio, fashion and history and helped put Nashville on the map.

Among the memorabilia on hand: Johnny Cash’s iconic black suit, Elvis Presley’s “Solid Gold” 1960 Cadillac limo, Taylor Swift’s bedazzled acoustic guitar and glittery stage costumes worn by the likes of Dolly Parton.

Nashville BBQ platter with sides and pulled pork
Nashville is home to some of the best BBQ. (Photo: Marriott International)

Afterward, stroll over to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint on Fourth Avenue South for lunch. Founder Pat Martin smokes a whole hog daily, and everything from sauces to sides is made from scratch. The pulled pork and ribs are bestsellers, but don’t skip the beef brisket or the beloved mac and cheese.

From there, drive a few miles north to Centennial Park, home to the Parthenon, a life-size replica of the original in Greece, and Nashville’s loveliest landmark. Relax in the shade, walk off lunch on the pedestrian loop or dip into the museum to catch a glimpse of the 42-foot-tall gilded statue of Athena inside.

Craving more music history? Tour Ryman Auditorium (affectionately referred to as the Mother Church of Country Music), the original home of the Grand Ole Opry and now an intimate concert hall that hosts diverse artists, ranging from Jason Isbell and Patti Smith to Kaleo and Yola. (Insider tip: Book tickets in advance to ensure your seat at any Ryman event.)

While dozens of bars on the main drag blast music all day and night, you’re most likely to find locals at Robert’s Western World, a honky-tonk featuring live country performances seven days a week — no cover charge, ever. Hungry? Head to the mezzanine and order a local classic, the fried bologna sandwich and a PBR. (P.S. Kids are welcome to enjoy the music daily until 6 p.m.)

Before you head home, stroll across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which spans the Cumberland River at the bottom of Broadway. It’s a great spot to snap a selfie in front of Nashville’s skyline, which is especially sparkly after dark. Bonus points if you can spot the 33-story AT&T skyscraper. Hint: It’s known locally as the Batman Building.

Saturday: Explore the City’s Greener Side

Nashville has a quieter, greener side — which is best enjoyed by starting at Radnor Lake State Park, about 9 miles south of downtown. Largely shaded, the easy, 1.35-mile Lake Trail traces the edge of the park’s 85-acre lake, where you might catch sight of herons, geese, turtles and the occasional country music star.

Afterward, it’s a quick drive to 12 South, a leafy residential neighborhood whose busy main drag is populated with upscale boutiques and restaurants. Grab a coffee and breakfast (think pimento cheese and smoked country ham biscuits) at Frothy Monkey, a popular neighborhood eatery with outdoor seating that’s great for people-watching.

Want to dress like a famous musician? Check out the casual-cool clothes and premium denim at Imogene + Willie, a beautifully styled shop housed in the old Granny White Service Station. Have a glass of complimentary sweet tea at Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s flagship clothing store.

Then, carry on to White’s Mercantile, a chic general store owned by singer-songwriter Holly Williams, the granddaughter of country legend Hank Williams. The store stocks everything from camo bags and swanky dog leashes to ironstone serving platters.

People holding gourds at the Nashville Farmer's Market
See what you can find at the farmer’s market. (Photo: Marriott International)

Next stop: Germantown. Start at Bicentennial Capitol Mall, an 11-acre state park dedicated to Tennessee history (there’s a sculptural 95-bell carillon that plays on the hour), then wander around the Nashville Farmers’ Market, a city landmark since 1801.

Inside the busy food hall you’ll find artisan goods as well as plates of jerk chicken, gyros, biryani, wood-fired pizzas and cult favorite Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (the Brown Butter Almond Brittle is nearly perfect). Outside in the open-air shed, area farmers sell pasture-raised meat, seasonal produce, small-batch pickles, artisanal cheeses and more.

Spend the balance of the day across the street in Germantown proper, a historic neighborhood of Victorian-era family homes, boutiques and restaurants.

Need a pick-me-up? Hit Barista Parlor, a popular, locally owned coffee chain, for a shot of caffeine, or walk along the Nashville Greenway to the Bearded Iris Brewery, where you can sit in the beer garden and sample a few of the brewed-on-site IPAs.

For dinner, stay local. The neighborhood hosts several of the city’s award-winning restaurants, including chef Julia Sullivan’s Henrietta Red, with its breezy patio, oyster bar and seasonal menus; and City House, a buzzy, Southern-inspired Italian eatery helmed by native son Tandy Wilson, the city’s first chef to snag a James Beard Award.

Order a cookie plate to go; they’re made daily by pastry chef extraordinaire Rebekah Turshen.

Sunday: Find Trendy Shops and Tasty Bites

People eating donuts and coffee
Enjoy a sweet treat while in town. (Photo: Marriott International)

Start your last day in East Nashville, a hip residential neighborhood across the river from downtown.

Drop by East Park Donuts & Coffee for a steamy cup of joe and mind-blowingly tasty cake doughnuts. The shop offers vegan, gluten-free and even keto-friendly iterations, but barring any dietary restrictions, order the Dutch Chocolate, Brown Butter with Maldon Salt and/or the Maple Bacon for the win.

Work off the carbs at the 960-acre Shelby Bottoms Greenway. You can walk or cycle — free bike rentals are available at the Nature Center — along 10 miles of trails that meander through wetlands, forests and fields.

East Nashville’s many stellar options for a quick lunch could make your head spin: In an effort to narrow the search, consider super-affordable Mas Tacos Por Favor (order one of everything, including the amazing chicken tortilla soup); Eastside Banh Mi (for Vietnamese sandwiches and noodle bowls); or Joyland, chef Sean Brock’s thoughtfully sourced foray into fast food.

Try the gooey Crustburger, the Joystick (an organic fried chicken tender on a stick) and the daily fruit hand pie. Living large? Add a chocolate-malt shake.

Afterward, check out some of the many independently owned shops on the east side. Vintage lovers shouldn’t miss Anaconda Vintage for handbags, home goods and clothes, including some great picks from the 1970s, or High Class Hillbilly, a retro gem of a shop curated by stylish singer-songwriter Nikki Lane, aka the First Lady of Outlaw Country.

Love old-school audio or the thrill of discovering up-and-coming artists in the stacks? Heaven awaits at Grimey’s New & Preloved Music & Books. The laid-back shop specializes in new and vintage vinyl, CDs and cassette tapes and also hosts frequent in-store performances.

Wind down the weekend at the 5 Spot, a grungy Nashville hangout, where the beers are cold and the live music is dependably excellent. If you’re lucky enough to be in town on the second or fourth Sunday of the month, don’t miss the bar’s Sunday Night Soul, a showcase of Nashville’s soul and R&B artists.