Nashville tourism broke 2015’s record with over 13,000,000 visitors in 2016. That number will likely go up again once 2017’s totals are tallied. Travel to our home base has increased by a whopping 45% in the last decade.
A hidden gem no longer, Nashville has garnered quite a bit of national and international attention over the last year:
- One of the “50 Best Places to Travel in 2017” by Travel + Leisure.
- “Where to Go in 2017” by AFAR.
- “Best Places to Go in 2017,” according to Frommer’s Travel Guide.
- One of “8 Essential Trips That Should Be On Your Bucket List” in 2017 by the New York Post.
- “Hottest Vacation Destinations” of 2017 by The Daily Beast.
2018 will likely be no different. Booking.com has ranked Nashville #2 in the world for the top “up and coming” destinations to visit. But Nashville isn’t just a top spot for sight-seers. It’s a destination for business travelers.
Where to Meet
50% of the US population lives within 600 miles of Nashville, and it boasts two award winning convention centers – the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center and the Nashville Music City Center. For your trade show or event, you can’t go wrong with either.
The Music City Center is a state-of-the-art, 2.1 million square foot facility in the heart of Downtown Nashville. Conventions and meetings are offered a host of meeting rooms, exhibit space, attendee accommodations.
Gaylord’s Opryland Convention Center offers 700,000 square feet of flexible meeting space within 10 miles of Nashville International Airport. The real draw here, though, are the pools, gardens, shopping, dining, and entertainment on location.
Where to Stay
With the spike in tourism, Nashville’s hotel supply has had to play catch-up quickly. There are now, however, more than 100 hotel projects underway in Nashville. Most of them will be in and around the downtown area.
Both convention centers have adjacent hotels. If you’re looking to stay on site, you can’t go wrong with The Omni or Opryland Hotel. The Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown is a good option, as well, just a five minute walk from the Music City Center.
Where to Visit
If you’ve got a free evening or a few hours to see the sights, what else would you do in Music City than find some good music. The iconic Grand Ole Opry is now within walking distance from the Opryland Resort and Convention Center, but the original site was the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The Ryman is the “Mother Church” of bluegrass and country music and still one of the best places in the world to see a show.
You’ll like what you hear at a few different venues in town. The intimate Bluebird Cafe is where some of the town’s best songwriters, many of whom have written chart-topping hits, perform their own ditties. The Station Inn in the Gulch neighborhood is widely regarded as one of the best bluegrass venues around, and The Schermerhorn Symphony Center is one of Nashville’s architectural and acoustic gems.
Broadway is the mecca for live music, with world famous honky-tonks like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western World, or Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, and AJ’s Good Time Bar. You won’t find many Nashville natives hitting these spots, but you can’t really get the full Nashville experience without a trip down Broadway.
If it’s music history you prefer, you’ll want to visit the Country Music of Hall of Fame and Museum’s RCA Studio B, where Elvis Presley Roy Orbison, and Dolly Parton all have cut tracks.
Nashville has more to offer than just music. Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art offers sanctuary from downtown’s bustle with multiple walk-thru gardens, water features, art installations, and a sculpture trail, as well as the art museum, housed in the original Georgian-style Cheek family mansion.
Where to Eat
And now for the most important part of our guide: where to eat on your visit to Nashville. You can’t dine in Nashville without trying the city’s famous hot chicken. You could find a hot chicken dish at almost in place in town, but Prince’s Hot Chicken and Hattie B’s are the two godfathers. So which one of the two? Flip a coin.
The restaurant scene has exploded along with tourism and population growth in the last 10 years, so there are almost too many good options to choose. Biscuit Love will have a line out the door for breakfast, and deservedly so, but we think Barista Parlor, just two blocks away, serves up some darn good biscuits too, with shorter lines, better coffee, and a selection of Five Daughters Donuts.
Speaking of coffee, skip Starbucks and get your caffeine fix where the locals do: Fido, Eighth & Roast, or Crema.
No shortage of good burger options for lunch, either, but in our best attempt to narrow it down, you can’t go wrong with Burger Up or The Pharmacy.
Dinner options may just depend on which part of town you’re in, but your shortlist should include Husk, The 404 Kitchen, City House (order the pork belly pizza with egg), Rolf & Daughters, and Josephine.
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