Whether you live in Nashville or you’re making a visit there, it’s always great to have things to do. What’s even better is when those things are free. Here’s a list of things to do in the great city of Nashville that won’t cost you an admission fee!
10 Free Things to do in Nashville
Warner Park Nature Center
The Nature Center serves as a starting point for exploring the vast 2,684 acres in the Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks of Nashville. It is a place for people and nature to come together. There’s a wide range of education programs, workshops, fieldtrips, and other fun and educational activities for guests of all ages (children’s workshops are free!).
The Nature Center is a large recreation park that is filled with and surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers. You can visit the gardens, play around with your kids, and gain some knowledge from the historical museums. It serves as a resource for organic gardening and plant landscaping and aims to foster respect and enthusiasm for the surrounding environments. The best part about the Nature Center is that it’s free! Visit the Nature Center and then wander around the parks and you have yourself a quick admission-free day in Nashville.
Walk of Fame Park
The Walk of Fame Park is located across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame and is where you will find the Music City Walk of Fame. Along the walk there are in-laid granite stars that are featured there to honor legendary figures in the music industry. It serves as a landmark to pay tribute to those who have made major contributions to the music world through song or industry collaboration with connection to Music City.
When inductees are added to the Walk, they are announced at a special ceremony and honored with a permanent sidewalk marker of a star and guitar. There aren’t many yet, but the walk is ever growing. The Walk of Fame Park is located in a central spot, so it is a nice place to take a break and relax on your way to the Country Music Hall of Fame or the Music City Center.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
While it’s obviously not free to stay in a hotel, the Gaylord is great even for visiting because it is so visually stunning. The inside is climate controlled, which means it can sustain a year-round garden full of a variety of flowers and trees. You’ll also find rivers and waterfalls, all of which are contained under an expansive glass ceiling.
The Gaylord is like its own little city. The complex has a little bit of something for everyone. There is a wide selection of restaurants to choose from and some great shops to browse. Even if you don’t feel like buying anything, you can just spend some time admiring the scenery, listening to the waterfalls, and watching the fish in the pond.
The Arcade isn’t an arcade at all, it’s actually a small strip mall. It was the first mall-style building built in Nashville and it dates back to the early 1900’s, which makes The Arcade full of rich history. The whole building is a step back in time and is filled with small shops. You’ll find shoe repairs, convenience stores, cupcake shops, hair salons, restaurants, and more.
Take the time at this hidden gem to stroll around the original flooring and admire the little piece of history. You’ll feel like you are in a small town as you overlook The Arcade and all the little shops that are within it. It’s a step back from the big suburban malls and touristy places.
Centennial Park might just be the best one to visit in Nashville. There is a lot to do to keep the whole family occupied for an entire afternoon. There’s plenty of green space to allow for team sports, areas for picnicking, paths for walking or jogging, play areas, and bikes available to rent. The park is full of beauty and tranquility with lots to see and do.
There are a variety of activities that take place for people of all ages. Check in periodically for entertainment, such as yoga, symphony performances, arts and crafts, Shakespeare performances, and music concerts. Don’t forget to check out the locomotive and fighter plane and the to-scale replica of the Parthenon with the art gallery.
Tennessee State Museum
The Tennessee State Museum will offer you a couple of hours to learn about Tennessee and the state history. The museum reviews all time periods and offers an excellent summary of each. You’ll find artifacts from that time and displays with authentic and relevant objects throughout. This is a great resource open to the public, and it’s certainly a place to visit, whether you live in Nashville or somewhere out of town.
Walk through prehistoric times, Native American, Spanish, French and Engligh occupations, pioneering days, antebellum, slavery, civil war, and post war. There is also lots of information on socio-economic and political situations and how it changed over the years. Reading real-life and everyday stories will help bring the history to life. Admission is free, but they do take donations to help keep the museum going.
Downtown Public Library
The Nashville Public Library is more than just books, so if you are in the area, make sure to take some time to stop in. The library building itself is gorgeous, aesthetically pleasing, and has stunning architecture. There are murals throughout the hallways, and a patio with a beautiful water fountain. You can download a self-tour guide online if you want some historical background information before visiting free of charge.
Make sure to check out all three floors, as each one offers something a little bit different. Stop by the courtyard on a nice day, the Nashville photo history, civil rights room, and more. There is an expansive children’s section full of books and activities for kids by the courtyard. That makes a great place for you to relax while the kids are playing and learning in the library.
Nashville Flea Market
The Nashville Flea Market is a large collection of booths with local merchants. No matter what your style is, you’re sure to find something that you’ll want to take home with you! The indoor-outdoor market is massive, and it would take you all day to walk around to each of the booths. That makes for a great day of browsing and seeing what the merchants bring to the community. There are a lot of vintage items and antiques, as well as modern and handmade items.
While you don’t ever have to buy anything, you’ll always be able to find a great deal. If you plan to spend the day there, you can find food vendors with traditional carnival type foods. Note that while it is free to browse the market, it does cost $5 to park your car.
Honky Tonk Highway
The Honky Tonk Highway is a stretch of bars in Nashville known for their atmosphere and music. You’ll find establishments such as Robert’s Western World, Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, Second Fiddle, and Legends Corner. Wherever you end up on the Honky Tonk Highway, just remember one thing. There isn’t a cover change to get in and the music will be live performances. The bands get paid based on tips that customers leave on their way out. Music starts early in the afternoon when you’ll find collections of families with their children enjoying the music. Later in the evening (usually starting at 8 or 9 p.m.) most of the establishments will start to enforce the 21+ only rule at the bars. This certainly is a stretch of bars you don’t want to miss when in Nashville.
Hatch Show Print
Hatch Show Print might just seem like an old letterpress shop, and well, that’s pretty much what it is. It is a really cool and unique one-of a kind retro-style print stop with a neat history, and that makes it worth the time to stop in. You don’t even have to buy anything to make the trip worthwhile, the hanging prints can be admired on the wall.
You can get a tour of the studio and learn about the old letterpress machines. The staff will be able to teach you about the shop and it feels like a quick step back in time. You can purchase some of the prints and photos to take home with you. They have postcards, notecards, and other fun little gifts. Take home a little souvenir of an iconic event as a little piece of history and a way to remember Nashville and Hatch Show Print.