I've never liked country music.
I can appreciate the genre at times, with classics like Martina McBride (not that FL/GL Line crap...), but that's not why I moved to Nashville. While seeing the honkey tonk bars can be fun for a few hours just to say you've done it (like Times Square in New York or the Hollywood Walk of Fame in LA), that's not where I like to spend my time downtown. Here's a few favorite restaurants, bars, and places to have fun if you aren't a country music fanatic.
There are a number of places you can pay for $10 or more for parking, but here are some more affordable options.
1 - UBER. Depending on where you're staying, Uber can be super affordable. From our house (about 2-3 miles from downtown), it's $5-$6 one way.
2 - Park at the Titans stadium and walk over the bridge. As long as there isn't a game or event happening, this parking is completely FREE!
EAT/DRINKAcme Feed & Seed
This has become my favorite Downtown haunt. They have 3 levels and tons to do! The ground level almost always has live music, a bar, and a great food menu (The Hatchery, Down Home Falafel, and Vegetable Garden are my favorite meals!). You order your food and can take it to any level. Level 2 has trivia some nights, sports games on others. They also serve sushi on this level. Top floor is a roof top with a bar and awesome vibes and views of downtown. Check it out if the weather is nice! Check their event calendar to see what they have going on.
Great upscale southern food. Make a reservation for sure! Whisky lovers, take note - they have some rare ones available (like Pappy Van Winkle! the only place in town I've seen it available).
This group of restaurants might technically be considered the Gulch, but I think it's worth going to no matter where you're visiting in the city! Saint Anejo (mexican), Kanye Prime (steak), Virago (sushi), and Moto (italian) are favorites of mine - but they also own Whisky Kitchen and the Rosewall in their complex (and Tavern tucked away in Midtown). Make reservations at any of them, you won't regret it.
Upscale bar food, great vibe. Amazing beer list and really fun rooftop! The perfect place to grab a drink before going to a show at Bridgestone.
Pinewood is one of a kind - it serves every meal, has an amazing cocktail menu, serves Crema coffee, has a bowling alley, and a pool. Yes, seriously! You can make reservations for all of the above, and I'd suggest it. No matter what you are looking for, Pinewood has something to offer, and they do it well.
The best bread in town. They do great pastry, sandwiches, and breakfast. Additionally, if you are looking for a delicious loaf of bread to bring home this is your place!
The best place for beer in the city. Sooooo many beers on tap!
A local favorite, originally on 12 South, but now has a downtown location. They serve great coffee, beer & wine, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not to mention fresh made pastry and breads all day every day!
One of the best coffee shops in Nashville. Most locals are fans of the Cuban. I am a fan of their coffee soda at the moment, but they had a mulled coffee option that was to die for! Absolutely worth your time.
THINGS TO DO
If you aren't looking for honkey tonk bars, country music, or line dancing.... this is what you'll want to do downtown.
Bridgestone Arena is where all your major players will be - Taylor Swift, U2, Cirque du Soleil, Nashville Predators... you name it, this is where it happens. Check early for tickets, shows sell out all the time!
The Tennessee Titans play here, and sometimes large festivals happen here, too.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
A beautiful place that puts on amazing events! The Nashville Symphony is extremely talented, and I've been lucky enough to be there for the Christmas show a few years ago. They offer discounted tickets on the regular and have really fun events. Check the calendar for events.
Traveling broadway shows, ballet, and other arts will be at TPAC. I've seen Wicked there and it was great!
The "Mother Church" of country music, but really, it hosts great musicians from all around the world. There's something "holy" about being in this space, and musicians live for the day they play the Ryman!
A great art museum in downtown Nashville, there are several different types of galleries to see. One of my favorite places.
The walking bridge will always be a favorite of mine.... because Matt and I went their on our first date, and also got engaged there ;) But even if you're not proposing, the bridge is great! You can park at Titans field and walk across to get to downtown, plus its a beautiful walk. Enjoy :)
At the Titans field-side of the walking bridge, there's a great park. If you have kids, definitely bring them here! If you're just looking for a nice walk, this is also a great spot to check out. They did such a great job of making it an urban green space.
Downtown can be really fun, even if it's not country music fun! You can leave your boots at home and enjoy Nashville for its diversity, great food, and awesome events.
Updated September 2015