How to Experience Nashville Like a Local

Heading to Music City and looking for the best things to do? Avoid tourist traps and experience the best-kept secret attractions that Nashville locals love.

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Get to know the real Nashville when you skip the tourist stuff and check out the things to do and places to go that are Nashville folks’ favorites. Some of these activities and attractions have been around for decades, some are brand new, but all of them rate high with the locals. Try a little of everything to get a true Music City groove on and have yourself a blast.

Germantown

If you’re ready to lace up your kicks and check out a neighborhood that’s made for walking and fun, head to Germantown, due north of downtown Nashville. You can enjoy cool historic architecture, bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants (including a sausage house) and events like street festivals and the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Up for catching a baseball game? First Tennessee Park is the home stadium of the Nashville Sounds in Germantown.

A close-up of a woman in a yellow shirt clinking white coffee cups with her friend at a coffee shop in Nashville, TN on a bright morning.

Headquarters

Do you fancy yourself a coffee connoisseur? Join the West Nashville locals getting their morning energy boost at Headquarters, a tiny and delicious coffee shop with a courtyard out back. Check out their seasonal coffees, like the high-octane Cherry Refresho, made with espresso and Mexican Coca-Cola, and munch on one of the awesome pastries prepared by local bakers.

A serving basket with red and white checkered paper serves a fried chicken platter on top of a stainless-steel table on a bright afternoon in Nashville, TN.

Prince’s Hot Chicken

Dig into the Nashville specialty known as hot chicken — that’s juicy fried chicken sprinkled with spices and peppers that give it an extra kick. It all started with Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack nearly a century ago. In the last few years, the hot chicken trend has really taken off, but Prince’s Hot Chicken is one of the originals, making it a must when visiting Nashville. Choose from two Nashville locations to give your taste buds a spicy thrill.

A close-up shot of a man in a red and black plaid shirt playing the banjo in Nashville, TN on an early evening.

Five Points

East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood is a great place to explore. It’s where a lot of artists, songwriters, and musicians hang their hats — and open up restaurants and businesses for you to enjoy. Five Points has a reputation for being an area where a new shop or restaurant opens nearly every week. Prepare yourself for great pizza, barbecue, and taco places, hoppin’ nightlife, and loads of live music. In other words, a Nashville recipe for a good ole time.

Radnor Lake State Park

Soak up some nature at Radnor Lake State Park, and you might spy a superstar or two hanging out among the park’s 1,332 acres. It’s where the locals, including some country music stars, like to go for walks around the lake, and it’s also an excellent place to hike, bike, and spot wildlife and wildflowers.

Franklin

Book it to the town of Franklin, Tennessee, just 14 miles south of Nashville, for a quick day trip getaway (a favorite trip for locals). If you’re looking for a small-town vibe, you can find it here. Chow down on tasty pizzas and barbecue at some of the many restaurants, take in live music, and swing by Early’s Honey Stand. Locals have been snapping up Early’s local hams, honey, sausage, barbecue sauce, and jams since 1925.

Leiper’s Fork

Also in Franklin, Leiper’s Fork is a cute little village where you can find a top-notch local farmer’s market on Thursday afternoons, from late May through late October. Live music, cool shops, a hoppin’ arts scene, and down-home restaurants, like Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant, pack a ton of fun into a small burg. Puckett’s is a longtime local favorite, with open mic nights that have drawn top country music talent for years.

An external view of the neon Rotier's Restaurant sign, illuminated on a summer night.

Rotier’s Restaurant

If you like old-school diners, then Rotier’s Restaurant near Vanderbilt University has been the Nashville go-to for tasty chow like grilled cheeseburgers and homemade chips since the 1950s. Hearty choices like hot chicken fingers, shrimp baskets, super-thick milkshakes, and local country ham sandwiches mean you won’t leave hungry. This spot is a must for those who love American diner classics served with a southern flair. (And who doesn’t?)

Are you ready to experience Nashville like a local on your upcoming trip? What are you looking forward to most? Let us know by tagging us on Twitter.

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