It’s easy to mistake Nashville purely for a party city where everything revolves around country music, but that’s not strictly true. Creativity lies at the heart of Nashville, so newcomers will never have a shortage of things to see and do. There is always a buzz about the place and whether one is looking for art, history, food, sports or just to have a good time, there is sure to be a uniquely Nashvillian experience to be had.
Arts and culture in Nashville
The Music City is rich in history and culture. Nashville was once known as ‘Athens of the South’ because of the number of academic institutions in the city. The city’s modern art scene is flourishing too. Join the masses on the monthly First Saturday Art Crawl where visitors can view free exhibitions at a number of downtown art venues, including the Frist Art Museum, the Rymer Gallery and CHAUVET Arts.
Fans of the performing arts will love life in Nashville too. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center is the place to be for everything from touring Broadway shows to ballet and opera. If classical music takes one’s fancy head to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center where one can experience the Grammy-award winning Nashville Symphony in concert.
Sports and outdoor activities in Nashville
Nashvillians aren’t only passionate about their music, newcomers will soon learn that sports teams here have huge followings. Watch local hockey team, the NHL Nashville Predators, in action and one will soon learn why they’ve nicknamed the city ‘Smashville’ in sporting circles. Or experience the thrill of baseball as you watch the Nashville Sounds score some home runs at First Tennessee Park.
For those who’d prefer to be in on the action rather than taking it in from the bleachers, Nashville has plenty to offer as well. Whether it is hitting up a hiking trail at Radnor Lakes State Park, cycling at Clarksville Greenway or zip-lining at Nashville Shores, there is plenty here to keep the most avid outdoor enthusiast busy.
Eating out in Nashville
Nashville’s dining scene is on its way up and new arrivals certainly won’t go hungry in the Music City. Classic Southern comfort food is what Nashville is famous for. So be sure not to miss out local favourites such as hot chicken, which consists of deep-fried chicken doused in fiery spices and served on white bread with pickles. Another Tennesseean institution is the low-and-slow barbecue which, as the name suggests, involves delicious cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken slow-cooked over hot coals till perfectly tender.
But Nashville’s restaurant offerings don’t stop there. Head south to Nolensville Road for Nashville’s most culturally diverse dining experiences. Here diners can get their hands on everything from tacos, torts and burritos at Mexican street stalls, to authentic Turkish cuisine and an array of Latin American fare. East Nashville, where boozy brunches are becoming quite a hit, is the place to be over weekends.
Nightlife in Nashville
As one may expect of the Music City, Nashville truly comes alive at night. The most popular nightlife venues are found in a 20-block area of downtown Nashville known as ‘The District’. Broadway and Printer’s Alley also have their fair share of bars and clubs. New residents shouldn’t miss the opportunity to take in some free live music at one of Nashville’s many bars along Honky Tonk Avenue. No doubt there’ll be many opportunities to catch international music acts at one of Nashville’s more prestigious concert venues too.
Those looking for a more low-key night out can head to one of the city’s many rooftop bars for a craft cocktail or two, or catch a show at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center or the Tennessee Repertory Theatre.
What's on in Nashville
Below is a list of some of the most prominent events held in the Music City throughout the year.
Nashville Restaurant Week (January)
Nashville has quite the eclectic restaurant scene. There is no better time to get acquainted with the Music City’s exciting culinary offerings than during Restaurant Week when some of Nashville’s best local restaurants offer special deals and prix fixe menus to draw in diners.
Tin Pan South (March)
Every March, Nashville hosts the world’s largest gathering of songwriters at the Tin Pan South Festival. A musical extravaganza with hundreds of live performances at various venues, Tin Pan South presents a unique opportunity for music fans to get up-close-and-personal to their favourite musicians.
St Jude’s Rock ’N’ Roll Marathon (April)
With over 20,000 runners taking part, this is one of the top sporting events on Nashville’s calendar. Participants can opt to run the full marathon or take it easy in the half marathon instead. With dozens of music stages set up along the route, spectators and runners alike will no doubt be entertained.
Iroquois Steeplechase (May)
For over 70 years, the month of May in Nashville has been about the Iroquois Steeplechase, drawing in more than 25,000 spectators. Full of pomp and pageantry, the steeplechase sees jockeys from all over the globe travel to Nashville to take part, with the profits of the event being donated to charity.
Country Music Awards Festival (June)
One can’t move to Nashville and expect to avoid country music. The popular Country Music Awards Festival takes place every year in June in the heart of downtown Nashville. It presents a great opportunity to catch some of the best names in country music as well as some up-and-coming acts.
Tomato Arts Festival (August)
What began as a quirky little festival in vibey East Nashville has now turned into a huge event, drawing over 60,000 people each year. The two-day Tomato Arts Festival is an extravaganza of music, food and art revolving around the event’s titular fruit.
Nashville Film Festival (October)
The Nashville Film Festival attracts over 40,000 people each year and dates back to 1969. From insightful documentaries to indie films and Hollywood releases, this is a great occasion to delve into the movie scene. Meet local directors, scriptwriters and producers who all use this event as a platform to showcase their talent.
See and do in Nashville
New Nashville residents are in for a treat, as there is no shortage of things to see and do here. While it may be famous as the ‘home of country music’, new arrivals will soon learn there is much more to Nashville. Here are just some of the Music City’s top attractions:
The Grand Ole Opry
Founded in 1925, The Grand Ole Opry is one of the cornerstones of Nashville’s country music history. Having been home to some of the biggest country music stars such as Johnny Cash, the Charlie Daniels Band, Alan Jackson and Ricky Skaggs, the Grand Ole Opry is a must-see for any music fan.
This full-sized replica of the 42-foot Greek Parthenon may seem a little out of place in Nashville’s Centennial Park. This rather extravagant piece of architecture was originally built in 1897 for the Centennial Exposition. Today though, it is home to an excellent art museum.
Nelson's Green Brier Distillery
Sample some of the world’s favourite bourbon whiskies at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. In the pre-prohibition era, this was one of the largest whisky producers in the South and Nelson’s has remained a family business until today.
Radnor Lake State Park
For a dose of the incredible outdoors head to Radnor Lake State Park in Forrest Hills. With 1,300 acres of peaceful forests, exhilarating hiking trails and wonderful opportunities for wildlife watching, Radnor Lake is an outdoor enthusiast's dream.
Nashville Zoo is set upon Grassmere estate and covers over 200 acres of land. Spend a day gawking at interactive exhibits such as Lorikeet Landing, Kangaroo Kickabout and Critter Encounters, alongside areas dedicated to a variety of creatures. Nashville Zoo is a responsible and reputable rehabilitative sanctuary.
Adventure Science Center
The Adventure Science Center provides some brilliant hands-on educational entertainment for kids of all ages. From understanding anatomy to getting a handle on the universe, exhibits here cover an array of topic areas. The Center’s staff hold regular demos to help visitors engage with the displays.
►Read our Accommodation in Nashville for some useful insights into the city's property market
Are you an expat living in Nashville?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Nashville. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance.
Medical insurance specifically designed for expats. With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.