Top 10 places to experience in Nashville

Scenic shot of Nashville skyline.

Nashville is known for its music and entertainment, but it’s also a hub for a variety of other industries, including sports, health care management, technology, printing and publishing, and tourism. Given its rich history and hospitality, and its diverse culture and rapid growth, it’s no surprise that so many people from across the world choose to call Music City home. 

There are so many things to do around Nashville, but we have pulled together the top 10 list of places to experience. Getting to these places is easier than ever, now that Vanderbilt provides all full-time and part-time students, faculty, staff and postdocs free access to WeGo local and regional buses and WeGo Star when they swipe their physical Commodore Cards. This service is available for any place and time, not just when commuting to and from campus.  

  1. The Sing Off Tour- The Melodores
    The Ryman Auditorium
    The Melodores will be performing at The Ryman for the television series The Sing Off.
    (Daniel Dubois / Vanderbilt University)

    Nashville is home to numerous music venues, from small clubs to large amphitheaters. Many are devoted to music genres beyond country, including rock, jazz, pop, Americana and soul. There are even legendary venues within easy walking distance of Vanderbilt’s campus.

  2. In addition to its 55-acre grounds, Cheekwood Estate and Gardens houses a comprehensive collection of American art, including 600 paintings and more than 5,000 prints, drawings and photographs. They also host activities and events year-round, including Songwriting Under the Stars, Cheekwood Harvest and even dog parties.  
  3. Nearby in The Gulch neighborhood, there are trendy brunch restaurants and a growing range of vegetarian and health-conscious food options. The city also offers casual favorites close to Vanderbilt’s campus, including spots in the Hillsboro Village neighborhood and 21st Avenue’s San Antonio Taco Company, a cherished Commodore gathering spot started by a pair of university alumni.  
  4. The popular Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park with the bell towers is a popular visitor destination in the downtown district

    Closer to downtown, the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park is modeled after the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The park features several tributes to Tennessee history, including a 200-foot granite map of the state, the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains, and a carillon of 95 bells representing the 95 counties of Tennessee. Also nearby is the Nashville Farmers Market, full of restaurants, vendors to buy from and the Gardens of Baylon Garden Center.

  5. Other popular parks within 10 miles of Vanderbilt’s campus include Shelby Park, the Percy and Edwin Warner parks, Radnor Lake and Riverfront Park. The city has developed an extensive greenway network for cyclists and joggers; the greenways connect key parks and make up many of Davidson County’s nearly 200 miles of trails.   
  6. photograph of externior of National Museum of African American Music
    National Museum of African American Music exterior (Joe Howell/Vanderbilt University)

    Just a few blocks away from the beloved Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the National Museum of African American Music, the nation’s first institution dedicated to Black musicians’ innumerable contributions to our country’s soundtrack. A community partnership between Vanderbilt University and the National Museum of African American Music provides free admission to the museum’s galleries and exhibitions for all Vanderbilt undergraduate and graduate students. Students can use the WeGo Public Transit system to travel free of charge to the museum in downtown Nashville. 

  7. Volunteer Toast & Kick0ff Party at Nissan Stadium.

    Looking to cheer on our local sports teams? Nashville has you covered. The Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, Nashville SC and Nashville Sounds all have electric atmospheres that even the not-so-into-sports guests would enjoy. Students can use the WeGo Public Transit system for free travel to events.  

  8. A quick walk from campus is Hillsboro Village, a historic neighborhood and shopping and dining district that offers some of the city’s best options for gifts, home décor and other essentials. The four-block-long stretch between Vanderbilt and Belmont University has a laid-back college town feel and is home to the Belcourt Theatre, which has brought cinema and film programming to Nashville since 1925.  
  9. In addition to the destination shops across Hillsboro Village, 12 South, Germantown, The Gulch and East Nashville neighborhoods, the city also has several marketplaces, neighborhood farmers markets and pop-up events. 
  10. Popular Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee

    Finally, make the short trek across the street from Vanderbilt’s campus to visit Centennial Park. This park has 132 acres of green space and paved trails, a band shell, a dog park and other attractions. Centennial Park also has a rich history as the host site for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and home to Nashville’s Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the classical Greek temple.