Free Things to Do in Nashville TN – 16 Can’t-Miss Activities

Buzzing Honky Tonks filled with silver-tongued country crooners, heaps of tangy sweet BBQ, and a hearty helping of history make Nashville Tennessee a destination on everyone’s radar.

However, one too many whisky shots and it’s all too easy to blow your Music City budget on designer cowboy boots or five-star meals. If you are looking to keep things thrifty, follow along to discover the 16 best free things to do in Nashville.

From surprising your kiddies with free entry to the Country Music Hall to stretching your legs on history-soaked hiking trails, there’s endless amounts of low-cost fun to be had in the heart of Tennessee.

Brush up on your Volunteer State knowledge with a guided tour of the Tennessee State Capitol, or educate your palate on tannins and viscosity with a vineyard visit.

Whether you are craving the comforting strains of a steel Banjo, or just want to lay eyes on the place that Mr. Cash called home, Music City is always a marvelous idea.

Nashville Hotels

Howdy there! Ready to chow down on some hot chicken and show off your best line-dancing moves? Before you can take on all of the incredible free things in Nashville, you’ll need to secure some accommodations. While we have yet to figure out the magic trick to obtaining gorgeous city suites for free, we can offer you the best rates for Nashville Hotels.

Sleep in the heart of downtown Nashville, just minutes away from major attractions such as Broadway, the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and more. Or relish luxurious perks such as complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies, 24-hour fitness centers, and outdoor pools. Wherever you book, rest easy knowing you are always guaranteed our lowest rates online.

view of skyline along river in Nashville, Tennessee, USAFree Things to Do in Nashville TN

Put away that wallet! Let the city of country music and sweet southern hospitality treat you like a VIP for free. From Civil War forts to bountiful farmer’s markets overflowing with produce and local wares, there’s something to uncover for every type of traveler in Nashville.

Free Live Music

Bluegrass, gospel, and rock oh my! Keep the good times rolling when you take advantage of all of the free live music that flows through Nashville. From the Honky Tonk Highway to Lower Broadway, there’s a slew of venues that offer live music sans cover charges.

Stash away a few extra dollars to tip the band and you’ll be well on your way to having an incredible concert experience. Hightail it to Tootsies Orchid Lounge to enjoy three stages of live music entertainment, or swing on by Tequila Cowboy for an authentic taste of Honky Tonk.

Hit the dancefloor in Printer Alley’s Wildhorse Saloon or stop by Music Row for a sweet serenade courtesy of a songwriter’s night.

Music City Walk of Fame

Who says you need to go to Hollywood to see the stars? Pay homage to the musical legends of past and present, when you visit the Music City Walk of Fame. Located on Nashville’s Music Mile, this landmark serves as a loving tribute to all the musicians who have made their mark on Music City.

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Take your time strolling through this unique Nashville experience,as you pause by stars honoring Trace Adkins, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and more. The Walk of Fame is always open and all are welcome to attend the free induction ceremonies.

night view of lights on buildings with cars on streets at Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Country Music Hall of Fame

Do you go gaga for guitars, music memorabilia, and the origins of folk music? Let your inner country music nerd go wild, when you make a pit stop at this ‘can’t miss’ Nashville attraction. The Country Music Hall of Fame is one of the world’s largest museums and research centers.

Since 1964, the museum has been on a mission to educate, excite, and inspire others through the preservation and interpretation of American vernacular music. Containing a vast collection of archival video recordings, stage costumes, and instruments, the Country Music Hall shines a light on the lives of the many performers who shaped American music history.

Follow the journey of country music from its pre-commercial roots, or take a peek at mandolins played by Chris Stapelton. While regular Music Hall of Fame entry will cost you, the museum is happy to provide free admission for children under 5 and local families.

exterior of Country Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennesse, USA
photo credit: Downtown Nashville via Facebook

Hatch Show Print

Don’t scurry away after your Country Music Hall of Fame trip! Be sure to carve out ample time to admire the works of one of America’s oldest working letterpress print shops. The Hatch Show Print is an iconic print shop whose posters have made a lasting impact on the Southern music scene.

Since 1879, Hatch has continued the handmade tradition of vintage type and hand-carved imagery. Throughout the 20th century, Hatch’s posters served as glowing advertisements for icons such as Minnie Pearl, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley.

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Ogle posters made for everyone from ZZ top to Kasey Musgraves. Today the Hatch Print Show still executes up to 700 jobs a year, including posters, prints, and T-shirts. Please note that both tours and additional hands-on print experiences will require payment.

Psst..looking to bundle your day of country music fonts and fun? Spring for a Hatch Show Print Studio Tour & Country Music Hall of Fame Combo and enjoy both of these all-star attractions for one low price.

Fort Negley

Stone fortresses, sweeping verdant fields, and a dash of Kentucky history come together at Fort Negley. This fort built during the Civil War can be found just 2 miles south of the city center The largest inland fort built in the country during the war, it was constructed shortly after the capture of Nashville.

Today both two and four-legged* visitors flock here to partake in self-guided walking tours, interactive exhibits, and sweeping city views.

*Please note that dogs must be kept leashed while on park grounds.

What's left of a old stone wall at Fort Negley with an American flag flying behind it.
Photo Credit: The “Friends Of Fort Negley” via Facebook

Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

Give those quads a stretch when you prepare to swing by one of the city’s most popular state parks. Located in the shadow of the Capitol building in downtown Nashville, the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, features lush landscaped grounds, World War II memorials, and a 95-Bell Carillon.

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Visitors can take their time exploring the 11 acres dedicated to the state’s fascinating history, geography, culture, and musical heritage. Stop for a selfie in front of the impressive Rivers of Tennessee Fountains, or try to identify native plant species that pepper the planters along the Walkway of Counties.

Relish a laid-back hike when you complete the almost 1-mile paved Bicentennial Trail or check out free events offered throughout the year such as ranger-led guided tours.

Nashville Farmers Market

Calling all foodies! Let your taste buds be tantalized as you peruse the array of local goods, products, and produce available at the Nashville Farmers Market. Founded in the early 1800s, this historic market has long been a pillar of the downtown Nashville community.

Visitors and locals alike intermingle here as they meander through a 24,000-square-foot garden center, a culinary incubation center, and an international food hall. Strike up a conversation with a local beef farmer or partake in the greenery and gimmicks of a Turnip Green Festival.

Feeling peckish? Set a few bucks aside, and indulge in a mouthwatering strawberry shortcake cookie from Pink Door or some seriously spicy chicken from Lily’s.

close up of cherry tomatoes at farmers marketTennessee State Museum

Originally constructed to consolidate World War I mementos and other state collections in 1937, today the Tennessee State Museum has grown to encompass 137,000 sq. ft. of administration and gallery space. The state museum is always free, and welcomes visitors to take a closer look at the intriguing history, culture, and art of the Volunteer State.

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Wander through a number of immersive exhibits as you spot ancient fossils from a Red Panda-like creature or learn about the unique biodiversity of the Great Smoky Mountains. Admire historic artifacts from Tennessee leaders such as Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and David Crocket. Or, observe period dresses and a 12-pounder brass Napoleon cannon from the Civil War era.

Traveling with mini munchkins? The museum even has a Children’s Gallery which encourages hands-on learning and play.

Gaylord Opryland Resort

Think you need to shell out big bucks to revel in the lush grounds of the Gaylord Opryland Resort? No way! Even non-resort guests are permitted to wander around the palacious resort’s expertly manicured grounds. Tourists of all ages will enjoy the fairytale-like atmosphere of Gaylord’s nine acres of indoor garden atriums, waterfalls, and curved pathways.

Willing to part with some coin? The resort loves to cater to kids and provides a bevy of family-friendly activities including scavenger hunts, craft options, and Delta Riverboat rides.

Aerial view of the inside of the Gaylord Opryland Resort garden area under a huge glass roof
Photo Credit: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center via Facebook

21c Museum Hotel Nashville

Cutting edge and contemporary, the 21c Museum Hotel Nashville is proud to be one of the largest multi-venue contemporary art museums in the United States today. Located in the charming Gray & Dudley space, this museum has been created to showcase a wide variety of curated exhibitions and installations.

Open every day and always free, guests can encounter an ever-rotating array of contemporary art experiences. Absorb the moving impact of mixed media pieces illustrating female anatomy, or gaze in wonder at ceramic sculptures that meld both human and animalistic traits.

Frist Art Museum

Art in the heart of Nashville? Yes, please! Housed in the former historic U.S. Post Office building, The Frist Art Museum has been engaging and educating the public for over 20 years. This spacious art exhibition hall was specifically designed for families, and hosts a slew of interactive kid-approved events.

Guests can enjoy photographs that document the electric energy of Nashville’s music scene or enjoy gratis musical events in the museum cafe.

For a hint of childhood nostalgia, don’t forget to reunite with everyone’s favorite rabbit. Check out the Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Life exhibit. It features letters, photographs, sketches, watercolors, and more from this beloved British author.

Aerial view of First art museum at sunset in Nashville, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: First Art Museum via Facebook

First Saturday Art Crawl

On the hunt for a Nashville date night that won’t leave you in the red? Satisfy both your creative and romantic urges, when you hit up the First Saturday Art Crawl. Artistically inclined visitors can enjoy open receptions and art openings on the first Saturday of the month.

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A rotating list of galleries opens their doors for an evening of free art, wine, and refreshments. From 5 – 8:00 pm, guests can take a gander at diverse exhibitions featuring works from both local and world-renowned artists.

Arrington Vineyards

Nothing hits the spot like an icy frose on a hot Nashville day. Escape the city for a day of vino sipping and sampling, when you pack up a homemade picnic and head to Arrington Vineyards. Located just 25 miles outside of Nashville. This laidback winery has made a name for itself by producing heaps of both excellent and affordable wines.

While tasting flights or picking up a bottle of their famous Syrah to go will cost you. You can take yourself on a guided tour of the grounds for free. Or spring for a $15 tasting flight of four of their award-winning wines. Depending on when you visit, you could even be treated to food trucks or entertainment by Music in the Vines.

friends clinking wine glasses together at La Belle Amie Vineyards in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USALoads of bourbon, buttery biscuits, and the comforting chords of your favorite country song. Whether you grew up with spurs on your feet or have never ventured South of the Mason-Dixon line, everyone can agree that there’s something special about Nashville.

However, that doesn’t mean your Music City getaway should come with an extravagant price tag. Thankfully all can take advantage of tons of things to do in Nashville for free.

Set your sights on commemorative stars that honor Little Richard, Tim McGraw, and Elvis. Or, discover the intricacies of hand-pressed posters at Hatch Show Print.

Visit a real Civil War-era fort and revel in sweeping city views at dusk. Or ogle pieces of Mississippian Coral at the Tennessee State Museum.

From farm fresh eats to showing off your two steps at Tootsie’s, there’s no end to the memories you’ll make in Music City.

Tell us, Did We Miss Any of the Best Free Things to Do in Nashville Tennessee?

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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