Over the last decade or so, Nashville has progressively become the bachelorette capital of the United States. This, in part, is due to an overwhelming number of large country bars popping up across Lower Broadway.“There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Robin tries to be a ‘woo’ girl,” says Bill Staley, a life-long Nashville resident. “That’s Nashville every day.”While it’s certainly not a bad thing to walk around Nashville and constantly bump into a collection of women in pink satchels shouting “woo woo,” there is still so much more to do in Nashville than its current reputation leads people to believe.
Take it from a local
Unbeknownst to most people outside of northern Tennessee, the greater Nashville area actually has a number of great places to hike. “There’s actually a book [that lists] 60 places to hike within 60 miles of Nashville,” Staley says. “East Tennessee has the Smoky Mountains, and West Tennessee is all plains.”That same area also has several waterways, where visitors can rent a boat or a kayak for the day. This includes Radnor Lake State Park, which is a 1,332-acre nature preserve that lies just outside of Nashville.Within Radnor Lake State Park is, of course, Radnor Lake, where visitors can rent canoes.
Know before you go
“My thing is don’t get caught up in the big name stuff,” Staley says. “There’s lots of other stuff. Right now, the big fad on Lower Broadway is pretty much every country artist is opening their own bars, so you have the FGL House owned by Florida Georgia Line, and Dierks Bentley has Whiskey Row.”Staley isn’t saying that these bars are bad, but they aren’t the cool, historic places to hang out.Instead of only visiting the most popular, try to find a bar that best suits you. Nashville’s bars are as diverse as country music these days. Southern hospitality is alive and well in Nashville, so there’s no better way to find the best sports bars than to ask a local. They will happily oblige. Frequenting the local dive bars will also save you money when you visit Nashville. According to Staley, the new corporate bars owned by country singers might be popular, but that also means they are expensive. So rather than spend $6 or $7 a beer, find a hole in the wall and get a $6 pitcher.
Need to try
When in Nashville, go honky tonkin’.Much of Nashville is full of places where it’s not only acceptable to go out in cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, blue jeans, and a flannel shirt; it’s damn near required.“I recommend that people come to the Wildhorse Saloon,” Staley says. “It’s a big place on 2nd Avenue where you can learn how to line dance.”If you and your friends don’t own cowboy boots or a hat, don’t worry. Staley says that Nashville is full of places that have ‘buy one pair of cowboy boots, get two free’ deals. So you can always pick some up when you get there. Never lined danced before or think it’s not for you? Think again. Many of the most popular wedding and prom songs are actually line dancing songs, such as the "Electric Slide," “Cha-Cha Slide,” and “Cupid Shuffle.”The line dances in Nashville may be a little more traditional, but if you can slide to the left, slide the right, and crisscross, you can have fun doing almost any type of line dance.
Nashville is world renowned as Music City, and that’s a big part of why so many country artists are opening bars there. But while country may be the predominant music in Nashville today, it hasn’t always been that way, and many of the more popular country spots aren’t the ones that locals like to go to. “Bluebirds is nice, and it blew up when it was featured in the TV show Nashville, but I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never been,” Staley says. “There are other cool music venues to visit.”Many of these venues feature performances by non-country artists. Indie rock and bluegrass are also popular genres of music in Nashville, and you can find a show almost any day of the week. “All these upcoming artists play at these small music venues for pretty affordable prices,” Staley says. “You can see them for 25–30 bucks, which is a drop in the bucket compared to Taylor Swift.”
Make the most of your experience
Nashville was named Music City after its successful radio broadcast programs in the 1920s, but it was actually a music city long before that. “In 1860, the Bishop was a Dominican from Ohio, and he asked his Dominican sisters to come with him, so four sisters came down and they founded their congregation,” Staley says. “They are the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia, who is the patron saint of music. So 60 years before we were even given the title of “Music City,” the sisters had already entrusted it to the patron saint of music.”The Sisters of Saint Cecilia are still thriving in the city today. They have a vibrant convent in the heart of Nashville, where roughly 300 sisters live. “It’s downtown Nashville, and if you want to go pray with them, they are always inviting people to do that,” Staley says. Nashville has it all — places to explore, a rich history and tradition, great nightlife, plenty of music options, and access to the outdoors. But perhaps the best part about Nashville are the people, so when you go there, take advantage of the city’s southern hospitality, and don’t be afraid to ask someone for advice on where to go, what to eat, or just how to have a good time in Nashville.