Tips for Exploring Nashville’s Music Scene

Nashville may be known for many things, but nothing more than it’s music scene. Travelers from all over the world head to Music City for the nightlife, classic venues, and chances to see some of your favorite artists on a small stage.

Nashville is a unique place to listen to some of your favorite songs, catch a major artist at the Opry, and fall in love with new ones. My favorite part was listening to the writers behind some of my favorite hits perform their songs.

As you head to explore Nashville’s music scene here are some of the spots you shouldn’t miss and how you can get the most of your nights out.Tips and tricks to explore Nashville's Music Scene. Finding the best spots in Music City.

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The Classic Can’t Miss Venues

The Grand Ole Opry

Getting to watch a live recording of the Grand Ole Opry radio show is a one of a kind experience you can only find in Nashville’s music scene. On Saturday and Tuesday nights you’ll find the stage filled with country classics and today’s biggest stars. Even from the “cheap seats” you have a great view of the stage where you can watch artists perform in the original circle from the Ryman stage.

Tips and tricks to explore Nashville's Music Scene. Finding the best spots in Music City.

The Ryman

The home of the Opry for over thirty years, this beautiful historic venue still hosts some of the biggest names in music. You can tour the venue during the day and learn the history of the place. Or keep an eye out for what shows are playing during your visit and grab a ticket. Even some of the smaller shows they host are worth a chance to see a performance in this historic venue.

The Cover Bands on Broadway

If you’re looking for a rowdy night out, Broadway is the place to spend an evening but it is also a relaxing place to spend your afternoon. On a weekend or weekday, almost every bar along the strip will have cover bands playing through the afternoon. It’s a perfect time to explore the area without having to deal with the crazy, often drunk, crowds.Tips and tricks to explore Nashville's Music Scene. Finding the best spots in Music City.

A few spots I particularly enjoyed along broadway were Legends Corner, Tin Roof, and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. All offered great bands, relaxing environments, and a good drink.

Finding the Singer Songwriters

Bluebird Cafe

Recently made popular by the TV show Nashville, the Bluebird Cafe has a long time history in Nashville as one of the best opportunities to see singer-songwriters perform. This tiny venue is a fun spot but not that easy to get into. The Sunday and Monday night shows are first come first serve, you’ll want to get in line about 2 hours early and that doesn’t even guarantee you a spot. For other nights you can make reservations but you’ll have to stalk the tickets online the week before. With all that said it was one of my favorite things to do in Nashville and entirely worth the line.

Tips and tricks to explore Nashville's Music Scene. Finding the best spots in Music City.

The Listening Room

A great alternative to the Bluebird is the Listening Room out in Franklin. Here you can purchase tickets ahead of time for a chance to enjoy one of their dinner shows or Saturday brunch shows. You’ll have a chance to relax and listen to some top notch artists.

Whiskey Jam on Monday Nights

While the other two venues will often bring your aspiring songwriters. At Whiskey Jam you’ll find a group of folks who’ve written many of the songs you love on the radio. It was refreshing to see the people behind the songs I love. If you’re in town on Monday night it’s a can’t miss event.

Tips and tricks to explore Nashville's Music Scene. Finding the best spots in Music City.

Making the Most of Nashville’s Music Scene

You’ll want to stay up late

I’m not a person who stays out past midnight, or even to it, all that often anymore. With that said we didn’t make it in before 1:30am on a single night in Nashville, and often later. I basically stayed on the Pacific Time Zone and slept in and stayed up late. Not that there aren’t things to do in Nashville during the day but if  you’re looking to explore the music scene you’ll want to make sure you’re ready to last all night.

Get a good meal in 

It will likely have a long night out, you might want to drink a bit, and there is even a good chance you’ll spend some time standing on line. The one night I skipped a meal since I figured we’d get one a little later but never did. I was dying by the end of the night. So much so that we made our driver take us to the Wendy’s by our hotel.  There is so much good food in Nashville that you don’t want to make this mistake and miss a chance to explore another spot. Check out a few of my favorite Nashville bites.Where to eat in Nashville including can't miss items like hot chicken, BBQ and biscuits.

Find the best spot for that night of the week

While you can always find good music each night of the week you do want to plan a little to make the most of it. The different bars and listening rooms do different things each night. You’ll want to plan ahead be able to hit the best of the best of Nashville’s music scene. You’ll also want to look to see what bigger acts and ticketed events are in town.

A perfect example is the Whiskey Jams, my favorite show we saw, is only Monday nights. We made sure the hit the Bluebird on Sunday so we wouldn’t miss it.

To help figure out what’s going on you can check out sites like Nashville Guru, Nashville Scene, Now Playing in Nashville or, even better, ask a local! They seem to all be tapped into what is going on whether they are in the music scene themselves or not.

Plan Your Trip to Nashville Now!

If this excites you, starting planning your own trip to Nashville. You can spend a weekend or a week in the area and have plenty to do. I’d recommend at least three nights if you can help it since the evenings are the most fun.

Where to stay is a huge factor in your trip to Nashville. The Gulch was one of my favorite areas to visit and would have loved to stay there. It’s a short walk to Downtown, Music Row, and more. For a splurge that’s worth it, consider the Hotel Thompson. If you’re on a budget the Fairfield Inn & Suites in the same area has some great deals.  Near Music Row I love the Kimpton Aertson Hotel and Downtown, take a look at Hotel Indigo.

If you’re staying a little longer, think about a stay at Opry Land. Think Disneyland meets country music. It’s a crazy resort and a fun spot to splurge on.

Have you had a chance to explore Nashville’s music scene? If so what were your favorite parts? Leave a comment below. 

Tips and tricks to explore Nashville's Music Scene. Finding the best spots in Music City. Tips and tricks to explore Nashville's Music Scene. Finding the best spots in Music City.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the political world in California, but on evening and weekends spends time exploring the West Coast and more. All while encouraging others to join in on the adventures.
  • All my best friends live in Nashville and rave about the music scene. I’ve yet to make it out there myself but definitely need to soon.

  • Brianna @ The Casual Travelist

    Nashville, along with Austin, is one of my favorite cities in the country. Whether its music or food, there is so much soul here!

  • Laura Hutchins

    We have a country music festival in Tamworth in Australia. Other than that, most of Aus isn’t all that much into country music.

  • Dana

    So many great places to listen to music in Nashville. I’d have a problem staying up late. If I made it to 11pm, it would be a miracle 🙂

  • globetotting.com

    I’ve only recently started thinking that i must get to Nashville. Having never really been a country fan I didn’t think that there’d be much there for me. But, in recent months, I’ve been reading more and more about it and it just sounds like such a FUN place to visit. I’ll bookmark this post for when I eventually get there!

  • Yup Nashville is on our list, Will seem strange to be visiting a US city and not my home since I moved to UK 🙂 But we want to go for a good Piss Up as they say here, loads of fun fun music bars and a great nightlife, I don’t think we will make it in before 1am ourselves when we do go. Good tips on getting in a good meal, so important!

  • Our daughter is a musician and we’ve always talked about visiting Nashville to experience the music scene. There are some great suggestions here, will keep these recommendations in mind for when we visit.

  • Jennifer Dombrowski

    I visited Nashville while attending a business conference a few years ago. I was never in to country music, so I didn’t give Nashville much thought. But I ended up having a great time at the places I had a chance to visit while there. I’d totally go back!

  • They said that a trip to Nashville is the ultimate pilgrimage for country-music fans and wannabe songwriters all over the world. Which I could agree more! Someone who would visit Nashville would definitely feel the strong and vibrant music scene.

    Outstanding is the best world to describe the Grand Ole Opry. If you are a music history buff and love to listen to all types of music, then you’ll love Nashville and what it has to offer.