Nashville, Tennessee. Say those words, and what comes to mind? A vibrant music scene, perhaps? You’re not wrong. Known as the “Music City”, Nashville is home to some of the best live music in the world – and some of it’s free! That there’s a rich musical culture in Nashville goes without saying, and if you’re planning a visit, you’re in for a treat.
As great as the music scene is, Nashville also has a few other tricks up her sleeve – including some free and fun activities you can do with your kids. If you’re heading that way and looking to keep costs down, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover the myriad of free things to do in Nashville.
Free Stuff to Do in Nashville for the Music Lover
We’ll start with the obvious. When it comes to fun free things to do in Nashville, you can’t leave out the music scene. After all, it is the city’s claim to fame. Here are some of our favorites:
Honky Tonk Highway
Honky Tonk Highway is a famous stretch of street lined with bars located in the historic Broadway district of Nashville. These bars all feature live music, and all offer free cover. (Although it is good etiquette to tip the performer before you leave). Visit in the afternoon with the family, or enjoy a more adult experience later on.
Music City July 4th
If you’re lucky enough to be in Nashville for Independence Day, you’ll love the free Music City July 4th celebration. Think live music, fireworks, games, food vendors – the works! This year’s star-studded line-up includes Lady Antebellum, Chris Janson, Lucie Silvas, Shannon Sanders, and the Nashville Symphony. Where else could you see performers like that for free?
CMA Music Festival
The CMA Music Festival is an annual June event featuring live country music on 11 stages in downtown Nashville. To say it’s a big deal is an understatement – the festival typically includes more than 350 country music artists and an audience of 90,000 or more. Check out the list of recent 2018 performers here. You’ll need to buy a ticket for the big performances, but many of the daytime activities are free.
Music City Walk of Fame
Take a stroll and find your favorite musicians’ star and guitar on the Music City Walk of Fame. This iconic piece of music history can be found on Nashville’s Music Mile, across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Nashville Symphony Community Concerts
Nashville is famous for its country music, but it’s not the only genre in town. During June and July, the Nashville Symphony offers free community concerts. These are often held in local parks and are a great opportunity to take in a high-quality musical performance at zero cost.
Live on the Green
Do you love live music? Do you love free live music? If so, you’ll want to check out the Live on the Green Music Festival. It takes place Thursday nights in August and September, and general admission is free. Check out the 2018 line-up here.
Last but not least! If you’ve been planning a Nashville trip, you’ve probably heard of the Bluebird Café. It’s famous for its exceptional live shows and great food. While food and drinks aren’t free, some of the shows are, including most the early evening shows.
As you might expect, these shows are among the most popular free things to do in Nashville. Tables fill up fast, so make sure you reserve in advance. (A $3 reservation fee applies).
Free Things to Do in Nashville: Parks
Looking to enjoy a beautiful day outside? Spending an afternoon in one of the many parks is one of the nicest free things to do in Nashville. It’s also family-friendly.
Located in the heart of Nashville, Centennial Park is a beautiful place to have a picnic, take a stroll, or go for a bike ride. Throughout the summer, you can catch different performances and events hosted in the park. Saturday nights, check out the big band dances hosted at the event shelter near the back of the park. They include live performances and free dance lessons!
Think of the Parthenon as the centerpiece of Centennial Park. It’s a replica of the building of the same name in ancient Athens, Greece. It also includes a 42-foot statue of Athena, just as the real Parthenon did. You can take in the Parthenon’s majesty from the outside for free. The architecture is beautiful, and it’s a great place to get pictures. For just $6, you can tour the inside, too.
The Warner Park Nature Center
Warner Parks itself is another lovely location for walking, biking, picnicking, golfing, etc. The Warner Park Nature Center is something extra the whole family can enjoy. Admission is free, as are their various programs. The Nature Center included hiking trails, a natural history museum, bird feeding stations, gardens/greenhouses, a teaching pond, and lots of opportunities to view wildlife. Check out their 2018 summer program schedule here.
This downtown Nashville park features artwork and an amphitheater – that means concerts. During the summer, pop in and enjoy a free outdoor show. Even if no one’s playing, it’s a nice place to take a break from your typical downtown activities.
Spend a Rainy Day in One of Nashville’s Free Museums
Tennessee Agricultural Museum
This gem located in the Ellington Agricultural Center features farming artifacts from the 18 and 1900s. It’s closed for renovations until mid-summer 2018, but its new and improved setup will be worth checking out for anyone interested in the history of farming. Self-guided tours are always free.
Grand Ole Opry Museum
The Grand Ole Opry House is an iconic venue for live country music. Alas, its shows are not free. Silver lining: The Grand Ole Opry Museum, just across from the music venue, is. Take a trip back in time while checking out memorabilia from your favorite country music legends.
Browse Nashville’s Unique Shopping Venues
Ok, we know shopping isn’t exactly free. But Nashville offers a couple of shopping experiences that are fun even if you don’t buy anything.
Nashville Flea Market
Touted as one of the best in the country, the Nashville Flea Market has been operating for nearly 60 years. It’s held at the Fairgrounds once a month, and typically includes 2000 booths from 800-1200 vendors. You could absolutely spend an afternoon browsing the selection. Even if you don’t buy anything, you’re sure to have a great time. (But we can’t guarantee you won’t be tempted to buy something).
Visiting the Arcade is more about taking in the Architecture than it is about shopping. The two-story building was built in 1902 and is modeled after an Italian structure. It’s home to art galleries, shops, and restaurants. We recommend taking a walk through even if you don’t have a shopping agenda because the building itself is just so lovely.
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