There are so many great things to do in Nashville, but unfortunately most of them require cash to experience. Luckily for you, however, Nashville is also brimming with all kinds of free things to do, from music to art to historic tours. Check out the options below whenever you’re looking to spend some time without dipping into your savings.

Soak up culture and knowledge at free museums

The massive Tennessee State Museum in Germantown is always free to explore. (Well, if you pay taxes in Tennessee, you’ve kind of paid it, but just a tiny bit.) A combination of permanent and rotating exhibits show just a fraction of the incredible collection of Tennesseebilia Museum, and it’s organized by theme so you can always discover something new on multiple visits. The Governor’s Residence is another state history repository that offers free tours by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If fine art is more your thing, the 21C Museum Hotel maintains a large collection of modern art that it rotates among several Southern properties. The galleries at their Nashville location are open daily at no charge, and guided tours are offered every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The Frist Art Museum does not have a regular schedule of “free museum days”, but they do occur occasionally. Follow their social media to know when can visit thanks to generous sponsors.

Listen to amazing musicians without paying a penny

Few appreciate the fact that downtown Nashville’s honky-tonks don’t charge for cover and feature some of the most talented musicians on the planet performing at various Broadway venues. They intentionally place the stages near the front door facing the back of the building so you have to walk in to see the bands, and it’s worth at least buying a drink from the bar if you’re going to listen to a full set. This is also why you cannot transport a drink from one bar to another, as you are supposed to consume the equivalent of a cover in each place. But there’s no rule that says you can’t hop from club to club to check out the variety of music that’s happening downtown. Remember to always tip the group.

Greenways for Nashville
Greenways for Nashville

To take a walk

If the great outdoors are calling you, opportunities for free nature trips abound in Music City. A system of greenways provides protected paths for hiking and biking around the city in both urban and natural settings. The city is working to connect many of these paths, so you will have even longer routes to walk in the future. Percy Warner and Edwin Warner were two brothers who got revenge on bullies who probably made fun of their names in the late 1800s by donating the land for two huge parks in West Nashville, contributing more than 2,500 acres to green spaces filled with miles of trails for hikers. and mountain bikers as well as equestrian trails for the equestrian complex.

Capitol Mall Bicentennial State Park
Capitol Mall Bicentennial State Park

Walk through history at Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park

Adjacent to the Nashville Farmers’ Market, the Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park is an ingenious physical manifestation of the state’s history and culture. A carrillion of 95 bells plays tunes like “Tennessee Waltz” every hour, with one bell for each county in Tennessee. A history trail runs along both sides of the park with chronological signs marking significant events in history. Planters feature native flora and gushing fountains are fun for kids as they learn about the state’s rivers. Snap a photo standing atop Nashville on the state’s 200-foot granite map for a meta-selfie.

Hatch View Print
Hatch View Print

Visit the music world’s favorite print shop

If you’ve ever seen your favorite band advertise a show using these old-fashioned typographic posters, chances are it’s from Hatch Show Print, the iconic printing company that started making flyers. for minstrel shows and circuses. They used to sell themselves by saying “advertising without posters is like fishing without worms”, and since 1879 Hatch has designed and created thousands of art prints. Now located in the same building as the Country Music Hall of Fame, you can watch them work through large windows and shop for souvenirs in their excellent gift shop. You can also take a ride, but it will cost you $20.

Participate in a gallery exploration

The First Saturday Art Crawl is an opportunity to visit several downtown galleries and see artists at work. No RSVP or admission is required; Just show up and hop from place to place while tasting some of the best boxed wines in town. You might even find something to hang above your couch to replace that college tapestry. The WeHo Art Crawl also takes place on the first Saturday and features a slew of galleries, all within easy walking distance of just a few blocks from the trendy Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood.

Arrington Vineyards
Arrington Vineyards

Have a picnic in a vineyard

Arrington Vineyards is the hobby project of country music superstar Kix Brooks, and the property’s idyllic hills are a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic you’ve packed with you. You can also buy food from the caterers and food trucks and wine from the winery, but they’re cool if you just want to spread a blanket and eat a sandwich while you listen to free music from jazz bands and bands. bluegrass.

See the best of public art on a mural walk

You’ve probably seen one of the “I Believe in Nashville” murals somewhere on social media, and maybe even stood in line to get your picture with the angel wings in the Gulch, but Nashville has much more to offer in the way of public art. Visit Music City has compiled a list of murals and their locations to make it easy to map your own walking “art journey”.

Downtown Presbyterian Church
Downtown Presbyterian Church

Discover a remarkable neo-Egyptian church

Since 1814, Presbyterians have worshiped at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Church Street, even before the streets had those names. The downtown Presbyterian Church was designed in the mid-1800s by William Strickland, the same architect behind the State Capitol Energy. Egyptian archaeological discoveries were all the rage at this time, filling the pages of Western media, so the architect opted for an Egyptian Revival style for the new church. The sanctuary walls and stained glass depict scenes of Egyptian life, with palm trees in Nashville’s decidedly non-tropical climes, and the exterior features a winged sun disk and lotus columns. The overall effect is striking and a bit mind-blowing, and guests are invited to take guided tours of the shrine at noon on the second and fourth Fridays of the month.

Exercise at Fort Negley

Fort Negley was the largest stone fort built inland during the Civil War, dominating downtown Nashville. Built by the Union as a symbol of conquest after the Battle of Nashville, today it is an outdoor park with walking paths that circle the ruins of the old fort walls. Take an easy ride to see some of the best views downtown, then stop at the visitor center to check out interactive exhibits that share the site’s history.

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

Get your twinkle at the Gaylord Opryland Resort

The Gaylord Opryland Resort is a sprawling hotel and convention center located off Briley Parkway in Donelson. Divided into several pavilions, the resort offers more than nine hectares of open space under glass roofs. Lush landscaping lines walking paths and an indoor river runs through the resort. Guests are welcome to stroll through the gardens even if they are not staying at the property. They really do it for the holidays with millions of twinkling lights set up all over the field, inside and out. Park at the adjacent Opry Mills mall and walk to save on high parking fees.

Take a walk in the city center

Nashvillesites.org offers a wide variety of routes for free self-guided walking tours around Nashville, organized by neighborhood or theme. Lace up your walking boots and learn about the city’s key role in the civil rights struggle or the story of how Tennessee put the 20th Amendment above ratification, making women’s suffrage the law of the day. country. Other tours available share the seedy side of Printers’ Alley and various so-called haunted sites downtown. Of course, music is the centerpiece of several tour options while others showcase the city’s architectural marvels.

Goo Goo clusters
Goo Goo clusters

Visit Nashville’s version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

The Goo Goo Cluster was America’s first combination candy bar, a mix of chocolate, caramel, marshmallow nougat and peanuts invented in 1912 by a Nashville confectioner. The company is celebrating 110 years of delighting kids of all ages, and the Goo Goo Candy Shop at SoBro is a whimsical tribute to the company’s history. Strips of bright color cover the walls as baskets of goodies pass overhead in baskets on a conveyor belt. Informative exhibits tell the story of Goo Goo and the whole place is eminently Instagrammable. If you’re willing to dig into your pocket for a few bucks, you can even design your own personalized candy bar as an edible keepsake.

Be part of the show at the Station Inn

If the Ryman Auditorium is “the mother church of country music,” the Station Inn in the Gulch is definitely the Tabernacle of Bluegrass, and the greatest pickers on the planet grace the stage every night. Well, every night except Sunday, because that’s when the little club holds a free weekly bluegrass jam. You are welcome to simply enjoy old music played as before with musicians seated in a circle of chairs calling out songs one at a time. Or bring your own guitar, violin, bass, mandolin or dobro and have fun. Even if you only know a few chords, musicians are always happy to welcome beginners into the bluegrass fraternity.

Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink and travel writer based in Nashville, where he has lived all his life except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned to handle chopsticks. He is a regular contributor to Nashville Scene, Nashville Lifestyles, Local Palate, Edible, FoodRepublic.com and Conde Nast Traveler. He likes beer, bourbon and bacon but is not fond of them.