It’s no secret that Nashville is a foodie town, and, as the saying goes, a drinking town with a music problem.
But, sometimes you just want to do something that doesn’t involve consuming calories, delicious though they may be. Below is a list of things to do in Nashville where food/drink is neither required nor socially expected, so there is no need to feel awkward by abstaining!
It seems like there is some sort of fair or festival nearly every weekend in Nashville! While many of these are centered around food or drinks, not all of them are. Some perennial favorites include the Tomato Art Festival in East Nash, the Nashville Scene’s Crafty Bastards, and the Spring and Fall Tennessee Craft Fairs. And of course the Nashville Flea Market convenes every fourth weekend at the Fairgrounds. The best resource I know for keeping up with all of these festivals is the Nashville Guru events page.
Nashville has made it so easy – and fun! – to visit its many art galleries and see/purchase local art. On the first Saturday of every month, you can choose between the downtown First Saturday Art Crawl or the WeHo Art Crawl in Wedgewood-Houston. On the 3rd Saturday, head over to Germantown for the 100 Taylor Arts Market.
This former plantation has everything you could want in a mansion tour – a beautifully preserved home, a winery, bourbon tastings, a tour honoring the slaves who worked the plantation – and a very interesting connection to the Kentucky Derby!
If touring historic mansions is your thing, Nashville has no shortage! Tucked away on Belmont University’s gorgeous campus, the Belmont Mansion has a very interesting history which includes housing a Civil War general and a legacy of promoting education for women.
Sure, this downtown museum attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, but sometimes the tourists know a good thing when they see it, and the CMHOF is a very good thing! A world class museum, the Hall boasts one-of-a-kind artifacts that tell the story of country music from its very inception. Whether you like country music, music in general, pop culture, or history, the CMHOF delivers. And with regularly changing exhibits, you can always catch something new.
A little extra: The Nashville Public Library offers community passports you can check out like a book and receive two tickets for free. If you go this route, though, your dates need to be flexible, as there is a long waiting list. The Museum also typically offers a free day one Saturday in December – if you can brave the crowds, you’ll be rewarded with their beautiful Christmas tree, as well.
The Frist Art Museum is arguably the center of Nashville’s fine arts and cultural life. A beautiful museum in its own right (it’s in Nashville’s former main post office!), the museum has no permanent collection, so you know you’ll always find something new and interesting. And, they offer events for the kiddos, as well as special after-hours events, such as film screenings and live music, every Thursday.
A little extra: The Frist is always free for 18 and under. But the first weekend (Saturday/Sunday) of every month, it’s also free for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders! The Frist is the only museum in Nashville to offer this benefit, but there are over 250 museums across the country which participate, so be sure to check it out before you travel, as well.
Just up the road from Nashville is Andrew Jackson’s beautiful estate, Hermitage. Wonderfully preserved, beautiful grounds (the last time I was there I saw at least FIVE deer!), and an informative museum, Hermitage is another touristy spot that still deserves a visit from locals. Parking is free and if you do want to consume some calories, you can tour the grounds with a glass of Natchez Hills wine – there’s no reason NOT to go.
A little extra: The Hermitage hosts lots of special events, like haunted tours, whiskey tastings, vintage baseball games, etc. So follow their socials, and you may also find tips on free and discounted days.
African-Americans and American music are impossible to separate, and the NMAAM is “dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans.” NMAAM is one of Nashville’s newer museums, officially opening in 2001, and features exhibits on religious music, the blues, jazz, and more.
A little extra: NMAAM is another museum available through the Library’s Community Passport program – but again, you’ll need to have flexible dates as these passes are quite popular!
Columbia is a bit outside the scope of the Tip Jar, but if you’re up for a drive, you can visit the home and museum of another President, James K. Polk.
For something a little more out of the box, head west to the Adventure Park near Percy Warner Park. With ropes courses, ziplines, bridges, and more, there’s something for everyone in the family, no matter the experience or fitness levels. And, be sure to reserve your tickets for Glow in the Park, the after-dark experience, in advance as it always sells out!
Arguably the most beautiful gardens in Nashville, Cheekwood is fun to just walk around at any time of year. But, their special events for kids, jazz nights, and the mansion/art museums mean there’s always something new and interesting happening.
A little extra: Yet another in the Library’s Community Passport program, Cheekwood passes are available to check out (special events are excluded). As with the others, you will need to be flexible with your dates to score these passes.
Spend a day touring all the beautiful murals around town. It’s hard to keep up with all the murals, but Nashville Guru has a pretty comprehensive list, or you can search first for neighborhoods and then click on the “mural” tab. The 12South Carriage House also has a helpful public art crawl guide to the many murals in that neighborhood.
One of my favorite things about Nashville is how much we like to make everything aesthetically pleasing. Oh, that old building wall? Let’s paint a mural on it!
There are so many great parks in Nashville, narrowing them down is no easy task. Here are a few of my faves.
For hiking and a more in-tune-with-nature experience, Radnor Lake and the Warner Parks (Percy and Edwin) are great go-tos. But, if you don’t mind heading north just a little bit, Beaman Park in Ashland City also offers some great trails that are a little less crowded.
For a park better suited to reading a book, tossing a frisbee, or a casual stroll, my favorites are Sevier Park (which also has a play place for the kids!), Bicentennial (read about the history of Tennessee on the wall surrounding the park), and Centennial (check out the museum inside the Parthenon, too!).
While the lakes and rivers around Nashville are great for boating, in my experience, that does usually involve consuming calories…Here are a couple of options that don’t have to.
Located just off the highway in Hermitage, Nashville Shores is a convenient and affordable waterpark, and it offers both lake-attractions as well as traditional pools and waterslides.
Opryland hotel’s indoor/outdoor water park is a great option for a staycation. The indoor portion is open year round, and there is an adults-only infinity pool, which sounds like a dream.
Yes, these are gyms with traditional memberships. But, they also offer day passes and host parties and group events.
Goat Yoga – honestly, I don’t get it. But, I also have allergies and am not very flexible, so don’t take my word for it! If goat yoga is your thing, check out Goat Yoga Nashville in Nolensville or Shenanigoats in Madison (which also offers goat painting!)
Regular Yoga — maybe goats aren’t your thing. If not, you’re still in luck, as there are tons of places around town to practice yoga, besides joining a studio. Church Street Park downtown offers free yoga in the park every Tuesday and Thursday at 6, and Centennial Park also offers free classes on Tuesdays through the summer. And, the Library’s various branches offer yoga throughout the week, so check out their events calendar to see the offerings. FitDowntown offers yoga classes for $15 each, which also typically includes a perk like free admission or a special treat at the host location.
If you’re looking for an intense and totally free workout, the Capitol Steps Workout is for you! Join James Crumlin, triathlon coach, Mondays and Thursdays at 6 pm for this group challenge (and you may occasionally run into celebrity trainer, Erin Oprea, too!). While the workout is free, you need to register through Eventbright.
Hot Girl Walks
If a less intensive group workout is more your speed, check out a walking group. These are great ways to meet people in a casual environment – and get your steps in! Be sure to follow City Girls Who Walk for upcoming dates.
Rainy Day Activities
In addition to some of the great indoor activities listed above, here are a few more places to explore on a rainy day.
Located in L&L Market and partly owned by Jennifer Wayne of Runaway June, American Paint Hat Co. provides an opportunity for anyone to create the perfect hat! With seemingly unlimited ways to customize from size to shape to band to accessories, American Paint is a great way to be sure you will not have hat-buyer’s remorse (it’s a thing, I’m certain!) and will leave with a hat you will actually wear.
The much beloved Belcourt Theater is a film-lovers paradise. They focus on indie films and documentaries on a very diverse range of topics, but they also show some classic films and cult favorites from time to time. You just never know what you’ll find!
You know we love the Library here at the Tip Jar. In addition to the vast collections and the helpful community passes (you can even check out a BCycle pass!), they have so many activities available for all ages, including puppets and story time for the kids, and classes, clubs, and book discussions for adults. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – don’t sleep on NPL!
Lib Lab in 5th and Broadway is clearly designed to cater to bachelorette parties. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun thing for locals, too! The create-your-own-lipstick studio allows you to choose the color, finish, name – and even flavor – of your own lipstick! Whether you’re trying to perfectly match a dress or just looking for something fun to do with some friends, Lip Lab is a great option.
An introvert’s oasis, McKay’s in Bellevue has something for almost every hobby. THOUSANDS of books to peruse, used instruments, games (video and board), and a seemingly endless collection of records, it would be easy to spend hours in McKay’s without even realizing it.
Nashville has so many great boutiques, it would be impossible to fully cover them here. But, a cause-based business crawl using my guide will take you to some of the best shops Nashville has to offer – and you can feel good about the money you’re spending!
Appropriately named for Smashville, this rage room is a great way to get out some stress, anger, or just do something different. Grab a few friends and go destroy some things!
What is your favorite thing to do around Nashville that doesn’t involve eating/drinking? Did I miss any? Be sure to leave a comment with your tips!