10 Things to do in Nashville, TN - Nashville Experiences
Updated: Aug 23, 2022
As many of you know, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville, TN for the first time this past February for the second leg of Rue-La-Palooza (my ultimate birthday celebration) and I have to say Nashville was the perfect bookend to my incredible birthday shenanigans. A complete mix of fun, food and entertainment, Nashville is one of the best travel destinations in Tennessee and truly lived up to its reputation. In this post I will share the details with you, my trusted readers. Check out my three-part series on Nashville to discover 10 things you must do during your next visit to music city.
*This is a non-sponsored post.
I have to say, I was truly blessed during my trip to Nashville in that, my friends were like the unofficial mayors of Nashville and knew all of the must-do, must see and must “goings-ons” of Nashville.
They were also the ultimate party posse so it was a total win-win. This means that I am sharing some of THE most incredible experiences and things to do Nashville. Major shout out to Robin, Chris, Matt and Mom for showing the birthday gal an indescribably awesome time in this beautiful city!
Also, major photo creds going out to Robin who is btw the real MVP and an excellent co-photographer! (She was totally on it with the pics!)
My post on this beautiful city got a bit lengthy so I decided to break it up into three parts:
Nashville Experiences, Nashville Drinks, and Nashville Eats.
During the first installment of this 3-part blog series, I will be sharing some must-do experiences that you should check out when in Nashville.
1. Make Goo Goo Clusters
Everyone knows I am the ultimate tourist, so none of you should be surprised that our first stop was to make chocolate clustered candy bars at the Goo Goo Cluster Factory!
The Goo Goo Cluster is Nashville’s official candy bar and they have one hell of a story. They are the first ever combination candy bar which means you can thank them for the idea of including more than one main ingredient into a chocolate bar. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s genius.
Stepping into the #googoocluster store felt a lot like stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Well, it wasn’t that big, but it definitely had all the feels. Large vats of caramel and marshmallow nougat and a real-life chocolate fountain you can use to make your own candy bars, this place was super cute and very inviting.
We booked (in advance) the Taste of Goo Goo chocolate making experience. During this class you will learn the history of the Goo Goo Cluster, the impact its manufacturing had on the local economy and actually make your very own Goo Goo Cluster to take home with you. This place is definitely Rue approved and if you love sweets, you’re in luck. You get a discount on all things “googoolicious” when you book a class.
They also have wine and spirit pairing experiences which means there’s a lil sumn’ sumn’ for everyone down at the factory.
But, even if you don’t book a class you can always drop in for a pack of clusters, some bon bons, or some sweet souvenirs. It’s a super cute place that’s worth the visit.
2. Backstage Nashville @ 3rd & Lindsley
Backstage Nashville is the cities “Hit Songwriter Show” and it’s where some of the most talented country (among other genres) songwriters grace the stage to perform, and tell the stories behind some of their most popular hit songs.
As luck would have it, we ended up there on a day that the stage was graced with Will Jones, Ray Stephenson, Matt Rogers, and Dylan Altman.
Now, you may not recognize these names, but you definitely know some of the people they have written songs for. Tim McGraw, Kenney Chesney, Willie Nelson, Brett Eldredge, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert just to name a few.
This show, hosted by the fabulous Devon O’Day, (she was everything) featured some amazing songs and stories. I got to hear the actual songwriters perform their masterpieces including Blake and Miranda’s Red River Blue, written by Ray Stephenson. What's even more exciting is, Matt Rogers was celebrating his hit #1 song, Til You Can’t sang by Cody Johnson, which was probably one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard (sounds totally different than the radio version). This #1 hit celebration made the session extra special IMO and speaks to the unique experience you'll get during a visit. I am an artist and creative by nature, so being here and hearing the stories behind these artists making their dreams come true was incredibly special and I would attend this type of show again and again.
As a music lover, this is one of the most fulfilling musical experiences I’ve ever enjoyed while traveling (a close second to me singing karaoke to a bunch of strangers in Cape Town, South Africa, but that’s a whole other story for a whole other post). Anyway, talent was in the air and yes, I somehow ended up on the stage of 3rd & Lindsley as well.
Listen, if you are a true music lover, this is a must! Most of these artists don’t boast IGs with thousands of followers or ridiculously insane popularity, they are just some laid back country boys with a talent for writing good songs, and you just can’t beat that.
3. Go Honky-Tonkin’ on Broadway!
Speaking of great music, it should come as no surprise that Nashville is loaded with some of the most talented people you will ever meet in life. And where can you find some of these most talented people?? Performing in a local Honky Tonk!
Singers and songwriters come to Nashville from cities all across America seeking their big break in some of the cool music venues peppered up and down Broadway, right in the heart of Nashville.
What is a honky tonk, you may ask… if I could explain it to you best, a honky tonk is a night-clubish, dance-hall-y-type venue that ranges in size, most (if not all) of which are several stories high and feature roof-top access. They are open all hours of the day, and feature live country music at a low-to-no cost, and where you will hear some of the most amazing people perform. (Whew, was that a mouthful.)
These places can be as upscale as The Twelve Thirty Club or as grimy as Tootsies (a Nashville staple and must-visit, even if for just one song).
Depending on the time you plan to visit, be prepared for long lines, close contact and some of the most talented performers you’ll ever get to see in your life! Here are a few must-visit spots that are Rue Approved and should definitely make your list of must when visiting Nashville. (Don't forget to take cash for tips. That is how most of these folks make a living.)
This place was my favorite place of all of the live music venues we visited. The band was absolutely incredible.
Music was top notch - Nashville's downtown Rock 'n Roll bar
Venue was super cool a few blocks away from lower Broadway
If you zoom in on the third pic below you will notice all of the bras that have been thrown on the stage. Don't worry, mine is not up there.
Blake Shelton’s restaurant, bar and music venue featuring live music, great drinks and Nashville eats
“Music so good you’ll feel it tomorrow” <---FACTS!
Live music any time of the day, no matter what
Stage perfectly positioned so that every seat in the house is the best seat in the house
Features some of Nashville’s top talent
A Broadway staple and must-visit. So famous they don’t even have a website
Walk in and be ready to jam out!
Several floors (I lost count) with live music on every level
Rooftop bar (seeing a theme here? Rooftop bars are at nearly every venue on Broadway)
4. Pick Up Some Locally Made Souvs
Take a small piece of Tennessee home with you by picking up some souvenirs for friends and family. Below you'll find a list of places that I found some great souvenirs at. This list can at least help you get started:
"Nashville’s Delightful Destination"
Features gourmet food, luxury retail and specialty items
Home to the Made in TN store – a shop filled with items made by Tennesseans
Lots of cute shops to peruse (and it’s indoor so it's great no matter the weather)
Houses a Five Daughters Bakery - see pic, say less!
Yes, American Pickers, the TV show – learned about the show and the store from the uber driver who dropped me off there. Definitely worth the stop
Shop vintage items and collectibles
Find fun and unique home décor
Perfect place to pick up souvs that are unique and useful
Located in Marathon Village
Goo Goo Clusters
Give the gift of Goo Goo
Shot glasses and chocolate
Different flavored Bon bons including the Nashville Hot Chicken flavored
Sassy magnets and signs
Fun, fun, fun souvenir ideas
Whiskey filled chocolate
Spiked coffee grounds and Jack Daniels branded seasonings
Floating shot glasses and Jack Daniels gear
Located in Marathon Village
Locally handcrafted soaps
Assorted selection of hot sauces including the world's hottest hot sauce
Spirit and beverage enhancers
Sells a Hillbilly Nut Scratcher… and yes, I bought three! (I’ll spare you a picture and let your imagination do the work.)
Located in Marathon Village
So, there you have it, 1-4 of the top ten things to do in Nashville as told by yours truly. There is definitely much, much more to come so be sure to check back in next week for part 2, Nashville Eats. I, of course, have much to say about the delectable cuisine in this fine southern city.
Have you been to Nashville? I would love to hear about some of your favorite places. Add them in the comments below or let me know what you'd like to try from my list. Until next week, smooches!