13 of the Best Fun & Free Things to Do in Nashville

July 17, 2019

It’s no secret that tourism in Music City is on the rise.

From families to bachelorette parties, everyone is coming to Nashville for music, fun, and vacation entertainment. But, with the rise of travelers comes the increase in hotel, activity, tour, and attraction prices.

This leaves you wondering, “Are there any free things to do in Nashville?”

The answer is of course!

You can explore a great deal of Music City’s history, live music, and landmarks without spending a dime. The next time you find yourself in Nashville, check out these free things to do and see!

1. Broadway

While parking may put a hole in your wallet (which is why you should park or ride-share to downtown Nashville!), walking down Broadway doesn’t cost a thing. Along this infamous strip of NashVegas, you’ll find historic bars, restaurants, and live music venues such as:

  • Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
  • Robert’s Western World
  • Legends Corner
  • Merchants Restaurant

Stroll down Broadway any time of day and you’re bound to hear everything from rock and roll to country classics booming from every venue. One of the best free things to do in Nashville is to walk along this road and listen to all of the insanely talented musicians that call the city home.

Relateed Post: Walking Tours - Nashville

If you time your trip during the NHL Stanley Cup run and the Predators made the playoffs, you may be able to catch a free Preds Plaza Party downtown, too!

angled photo of entrance of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge showing view of street in Nashville, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge via Facebook

2. Live on the Green

There’s no shortage of free live music in Nashville. One of the biggest and most popular free music festivals is Live on the Green hosted by Lightning 100.

Each summer, the radio station brings iconic acts to Public Square Park along with food trucks, vendors, and more for an epic music festival. Previous acts have included Michael Franti, Ingrid Michaelson, Moon Taxi, Ben Folds, Dispatch, Sheryl Crow, and more.

If you plan on attending the festival, do your best to show up early and claim your spot on the lawn!

3. Edwin and Percy Warner Parks

Are you the outdoorsy type? If so, there’s plenty of free things to do in Nashville for you, starting with Edwin and Percy Warner Parks.

The Warner duo of parks are home to sprawling hiking trails, nature and wildlife sightings, golf courses, equestrian trails, and other exciting outdoor activities. Between the two parks, you’ll have 3,100 acres worth of woodlands to explore… for free!

4. Tennessee State Capitol Tours

For travelers interested in government and history, a free tour of the Tennessee State Capitol might be of interest.

Free guided tours of the grounds and building are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on the hour. All tours start at the Information Desk on the first floor across from the main stairwell.

On this tour, you’ll learn more about Tennessee’s history, government, notable figures, and architecture.

exterior view of the capitol building on a sunny day in Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Take a free tour of the Tennessee State Capitol building.

5. Tennessee State Museum

Speaking of Tennessee history, the Tennessee State Museum is also among the top free things to do in Nashville.

The museum is free to visit year-round and features a wide variety of permanent and temporary exhibits dedicated to educating visitors about the state. You can also join in on a free highlight tour of the museum every day at 2:00 pm.

This free museum is sure to be the highlight of every history buff’s Nashville trip!

6. Centennial Park

When you need a break from the downtown Nashville crowds, head towards Vanderbilt University and into Centennial Park. This sprawling park is home to everything from music and art festivals to a gigantic replica of the Parthenon, a lake, and several gardens.

It’s easy to spend several hours strolling the grounds, lounging in the grass, or enjoying one of the park’s many events. Parking can get a little tricky during popular events such as Musician’s Corner, but if you arrive early enough, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot.

7. Hatch Show Print

Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, visiting Hatch Show Print is still among the coolest free things to do in Nashville.

Hatch Show Print is a letterpress and design company founded back in the late 1800s. Their rise to fame from the 1920s to 1950s was rooted in posters for country music performances around Nashville. They’ve created posters for music icons like Duke Ellington, Hank Williams, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and more.

When you visit their shop, you’ll find ample posters, pins, signs, and so much more detailing their history and legendary work. You’ll also see the letterpress equipment used to make these designs. If you’re interested, pick up a souvenir to take home!

Also, guests are invited to hop on tours of the facility. However, these tours do require an admission fee.

close up of Pekka Rinne goalie for Nashville Predators NHL hockey team in Nashville, Tennessee, USA8. Nashville Predators Practices

All sports fans know the Nashville Predators’ underdog story in the 2017 Stanley Cup finals. While the team didn’t clinch the title, they did gain a loyal global following (increasing their already prominent local fanbase) as a result.

The team hosts open practices free for the public at the Centennial Sportsplex and Ford Ice Center just outside of Nashville. If you’re lucky, you might get the chance to meet one or more of the players and get their autograph!

Check out the Nashville Predators practice schedule and see which days align with your trip.

9. Nashville Murals

Everyone knows Nashville is home to some of the world’s most outstanding artists. As a result, one of the best free things to do in Nashville is to go on a hunt for murals around the city.

From East Nashville to the Gulch, Germantown to Lower Broadway, you’ll find an assortment of captivating murals depicting scenes, abstract works, and so much more. You may recognize the iconic “What Lifts You” mural in the Gulch by Kelsey Montague or the “I Believe in Nashville” mural by Adrien Saporiti in the 12 South neighborhood.

Go on a scavenger hunt for all of Nashville’s murals using this quick guide. And remember to bring a phone charger for all the pictures you’ll end up taking!

10. Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge

Whether you’re walking to a Tennessee Titans game at Nissan Stadium or want an epic view of the Nashville skyline, the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge is a popular spot for visitors. This free pedestrian bridge is the gateway to the stadium, the other side of the river, and several parks too.

But best of all, the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge provides the best view of Nashville’s cityscape. For that picture-perfect Instagram shot of the city, this is where you’ll want to head!

downtown skyline at Cumberland River during daytime with clouds in Nashville, Tennessee, USA

digidreamgrafix / Getty Images

11. Riverfront Park

While you’re over by the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, take some time to visit Riverfront Park, too. This scenic little park is a great spot to stop and take in the city sights and vibe (or the best place for a break from the Broadway crowds!)

The park is also home to concerts and events a few times throughout the year, due to its prime location along the water. Plus, football fans will be able to capture a great snap of Nissan Stadium from this spot.

12. Nashville Public Library

Built in 1897 and opened to the public in 1904, the Nashville Public Library plays an integral role in the history of Music City. As a result of its notoriety and architecture, visiting the main library branch downtown (which opened in 2001) is among the best free things to do in Nashville.

Although you don’t need to take out a book, take the time to marvel at the library’s halls, rows upon rows of books, and art gallery. For the little ones, the library is also home to a Puppet Theater!

13. Open House Days at Dyer Observatory

If you’ve ever been curious about space, stars, planets, and moons, the best place to go is Dyer Observatory at Vanderbilt University. On select days throughout the year, the observatory offers free tours and Open House Days led by the university’s astronomers.

While the events are free, you’ll need to do a bit of planning before your visit as tickets/reservations are required. These reservations become open to the public one month before the respective Open House Day.

Free Things to Do in Nashville: Endless Fun Within Your Budget

With so many free things to do in Nashville, you’ll have more money left in your travel budget to explore the rest of the city’s offerings!

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