You might also like:

Experience Nashville Off The Beaten Path

By Lisa A. Beach

As an authentically Southern destination, Nashville draws visitors from around the world, thanks to its fascinating musical heritage and thriving culture scene. Also known as Music City, this big city with a small-town vibe boasts a walkable downtown area and diverse neighborhoods showcasing must-see sites and Nashville off-the-beaten-path experiences.

When you’re ready to visit this vibrant destination, you’ll want to check a few top spots off your travel bucket list (read more on Nashville’s top sights here). If you’re a history buff, you’ll love the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where you can trace the lives of iconic country music legends and dig into an unrivaled collection of artifacts. For live music, head to Broadway, downtown’s main thoroughfare, especially the “Lower Broad” section known as Honky Tonk Row — perfect for bar hopping and hot chicken noshing. And your trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Nashville staples like the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium.

But once you whet your appetite for must-see tourist stops, you’ll want to explore some of the more unique things to do in Nashville, too. You’ll find plenty of guided tours, such as haunted pub crawls, walking tours, bike tours, and food tours. But you can also DIY your sightseeing adventure to see the true heart and soul of Music City. After all, there is always more to a city than its major tourist hotspots (you know, the ones you see on a postcard at the airport). Need some suggestions? Check out these Nashville hidden gems.

This 1930s estate masterfully blends beautifully cultivated botanical gardens with an arboretum, historic mansion-turned-museum, and stunning artwork. Enjoy the expansive vistas of the Tennessee countryside on the 55-acre property, whether you’re meandering through the 1.5-mile woodland sculpture trail or the property’s 13 distinct gardens. Cheekwood Estate & Gardens also has an onsite café that offers picnics to go — perfect for spending a sunny afternoon exploring the estate’s unique landscape.

You might not think of going to the public library on vacation, but you should if you’re in downtown Nashville. Why? To check out its  incredible Civil Rights Room, where you can learn how thousands of Nashville’s African American citizens helped spark change in a segregated America. Sit at a symbolic lunch counter representing where area college students sat to peacefully protest segregation. Dig into the exhibit’s powerful photos and videos documenting the city’s critical role in sparking a nonviolent upending to racial segregation during the 1950s and 60s.

If you’ve always wanted to see the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece, but never got there, check out Nashville’s version. Located in Centennial Park, this full-scale replica aims to educate visitors about ancient Greek civilization.  Built over 10 years and open to the public since 1931, Nashville’s Parthenon hosts rotating exhibits, an American Art collection, and educational programs, all providing a cultural twist as one of the most unique things to do in Nashville — which is perfect, considering Nashville has long been nicknamed the “Athens of the South.”

Located in the Green Hills neighborhood, this intimate, 90-seat music venue showcases “the heroes behind the hits.” As one of the city’s great listening rooms, the Bluebird Café regularly features acoustic, singer/songwriter style music performed by the creators themselves, who then share the stories behind their songs. Make sure to check the café’s weekly calendar of events ahead of time, as certain events are on a first-come, first-served basis, while others require advance ticket purchase.

Housed in Nashville’s former post office (in downtown’s upscale Gulch neighborhood), Frist Art Museum boasts no permanent art collection in its fabulous Art Deco building. Instead the museum showcases traveling exhibits ranging from Salon Noir (an homage to the beauty of African American women and their unique hairstyles) to the nature-focused works of Beatrix Potter to vintage automobiles and stunning guitar photography. Tour the museum’s many exhibits with a well-informed docent, or admire its stunning and unique artwork on your own. Stop into the museum’s gift shop on your way out to browse a variety of handcrafted items from around the world. 

At Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery, a 30-acre property dating back to 1807, you can explore the original log cabin, a slave cabin and an enormous 1892 carriage house and stables boasting an extraordinary carriage collection. Take the guided Journey to Jubilee Tour to learn about the stories of the enslaved individuals before and after their emancipation, or take a guided Segway tour to explore the property’s beautiful grounds and arboretum. Afterwards, head to the onsite winery for a complimentary wine tasting or grab a meal at the site’s historic restaurant, Belle Meade Meat & Three.

As “the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans,” the highly interactive National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) first opened its doors in 2021. Housed in a 56,000-square-foot facility, this permanent collection delivers an immersive experience in six different galleries as you explore artifacts, audio and video files, clothing, instruments, photos, and more. Get ready to celebrate spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop, as another way to experience Nashville off the beaten path.

CORSAIR DISTILLERYWhile you can tour the iconic Jack Daniel’s Distillery in nearby Lynchburg, if you’re looking to stay within Nashville’s borders, head to Corsair Distillery. Take a tour of this award-winning distillery, known for its innovative whiskeys, gins, and unique spirits. Not a fan of hard liquor? Then sample Corsair’s craft beer, as they use their local malthouse and smokehouse and tap local farms to put “Nashville in a bottle.” Reservations for distillery tours are encouraged, as this Nashville up-and-comer is a pretty hopping spot.

Hatch Show Print
Ready for a music-adjacent experience? As a working letterpress print shop since 1879, Hatch Show Print has been the go-to poster creator for Music City’s most popular shows, artists, and venues. While you can certainly shop here for only-in-Nashville souvenirs, you can also “get a little inky” with some hands-on experiences. Take a tour for a sensory and educational experience on moveable type, or sign up for the Block Party Workshop where you create your own T-shirt or print using some of Music City’s most-recognized graphics.

Now that you know some of the coolest Nashville hidden gems, you can book your stay at an amazing Nashville resort through RCI and add these Nashville off-the-beaten-path experiences to your vacation itinerary. For some additional off-Broadway sights to see in Music City, check out this handy guide to some of Nashville’s coolest spots.

Nashville is full of unique neighborhoods — to learn more about Nashville’s “nabes,” check out these informative overviews of some of the city’s top neighborhoods:

Hillsboro Village
East Nashville
12 South


Clarion Nashville Downtown Stadium #RN68
Club Wyndham Nashville #3688
Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown - Stadium #RQ05
Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites Nashville near Vanderbilt #RU11
Holiday Inn Express Nashville Downtown #RU93
Holiday Inn Vanderbilt #RM01
Hotel Nashville #1982
Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham - Nashville #DS69
The Capitol Hotel, An Ascend Collection #RN09

NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.