A First Timer’s Guide to Nashville

first timer's guide to nashville

First time planning a Nashville Trip?  Here are all of the tips and tricks I wish I had known + more!


From restaurants to bars to best hotel to stay at…I’ve got you covered!  I did all of the leg work so that you don’t have to.


There’s a special surprise at the bottom which includes my list (with notes) of the best bars and restaurants in Nashville.  I have included my hotel pick on the list as well.  The best part is that you can download this list right to your Google Maps, and GO!


Must Love Country


I do believe that you need to enjoy country music to truly love and enjoy Nashville.  If you don’t know any country or if you hate it, then you’re really in the wrong place.


Yes, the musicians at the bars will play a variety of music from different genres, but country is KING.



When To Go


Time of Year

Summer is peak tourism season, and it’s gonna be hot.  If you’re hoping to run into any stars, you won’t see them in the summer months either (per our bartender at Jason Aldean’s).  He says they’re mostly out on tour in the summer months (makes a lot of sense).  Also, if I was a famous country singer, I would probably stay away from the massive tourist area that is Broadway any time of the year.  Kid Rock’s bartenders did say that he shows up at his bar sometimes.


Late spring or early fall might be your best bet if you’re looking to avoid the heat and the crowds.


Days of the Week

We went on a Tuesday-Friday.  If you’re looking for things to be less busy/less crowded/less overwhelmed with bachelorette parties, then go on the week days.


My favorite part of travel happens to be meeting new people.  Even though it is busier, I would actually prefer a Thur-Sun in Nashville.


Also, they don’t call it NashVegas for nothing.  You really only need like 3 days/nights.  After that, you’re going to be sleep deprived, hungover, and tired of paying for expensive drinks.



Where to stay in Nashville

We hit the JACKPOT with our hotel.

Click HERE to find out more!


Broadway:  The Bars

You want to be close to Lower Broadway (near the river).  That’s where the big scene is with all the bars and the drinking.


If you have been to Nashville in the past, don’t expect to come back to the same scene on Broadway.


Within the last year or so, quite a few big-name bars have opened up that are changing the dynamics.


The longer standing more iconic bars that you might know (Tootsie’s, Legend’s, Tin Roof, Crazytown to name a few) seem to be falling by the wayside compared to the new and shiny.


Be prepared for A LOT of stairs. Up down, up down, up down 😉



Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar:  Opened June 2018


Located on Lower Broadway, and my favorite spot for live music (rooftop).  This one is 4 stories.  Get the mac and cheese or the nachos inside on the level with the Big Green Tractor.  Sip on an Amarillo Sky cocktail, and enjoy the ambiance and AC.  Then head on up to the rooftop to listen to the live music.


Side note:  You can get to Luke Bryan’s rooftop without having to do down the stairs, out to Broadway, and back up again, which is a bonus.  The two bars are connected on the rooftop level because they’re owned by the same restaurant group.


Another side note:  Watch out because the bar stools are top heavy…and you may be trying to flirt with a cute country singer and then embarrass yourself by knocking your bar stool over.  See the full story below…



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Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge:  Opened July 2018


Lower Broadway (connected to Jason Aldean’s on the rooftop level), rooftop sushi bar, dance floor with a DJ at night, & 6 stories, but don’t expect them all to be open during the day.  There is a lot of crossover between the musicians that play here and at Jason Aldean’s.  Jason Aldean’s was just always where I heard the best musicians.


Not my favorite spot during the day.  The dance floor with DJ was fun at night.  I also really wanted to try the sushi, but never got a chance.



Ole Red: Opened June 2018


EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PLACE IS CLASSY.  This one is associated with Blake Shelton, and it’s right across from Luke Bryan’s and Jason Aldean’s.  Go in from the entrance on 3rd and go straight up to the Lookout Rooftop Bar.  This had my favorite ambiance and seating.  It also had my favorite views and cocktails.  Try the Encounter.  It kind of tastes like an orange creamsicle, it’s a frozen drink, and it has red bull for your mid-afternoon pick me up.  If you go at the right time, you can get some great happy hour prices too.


Ole Red’s is right behind Jason Aldean’s for favorite spot to listen to live music (for me anyway).



Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Rock Steakhouse:  Opened October 2018


The opposite of Ole Red.  If you are a Kid Rock fan, then you know what I mean.  It’s a raunchier place and draws a little bit of a raunchier rowdier crowd.  Picture the bartenders all wearing neon booty shorts and tube tops.  It’s got a fish net tights kinda vibe.


The first and second floor are ALWAYS bumpin’.  I would have liked to spend time there, but the group I was with wasn’t feelin’ it.  The top floor/rooftop bar is a fun spot to hangout too.  Expect small cocktails with large price tags.


There is also an entertaining homeless guy who likes to stand right outside on the street and dance and sing.  He’s got some impressive moves.



Dierk’s Bentley’s Whiskey Row:  Opened January 2018


I have been to the Whiskey Row in Scottsdale, and I liked that one better.  I would say you either want to be on the first floor for music or you want to head up to the rooftop where there’s a DJ.


We tried to check out as many bars on Broadway as possible, and I have to say that the newer bars are my favorite.  I also enjoyed my time at Honky Tonk Central (not to be confused with Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk).


It’s a little bit sad in a way because I wish I could have experienced the old Nashville before the big guys took over.


Tootsie’s and Legend’s were two places that came highly recommended, but I wasn’t feeling the vibe.  Maybe it’s because we were there during the week.  Maybe it’s because Broadway is changing.  I’ll have to go again and then get back to you on that one.


Also, one day we wanted to go to Luke Bryan’s/Jason Aldean’s, but they were closed after 3pm for an event.  This was the day that I wanted to get sushi, and it was disappointing.  Just another reason to go back I guess!



Be prepared for construction EVERYWHERE.  Not that it’s a bad thing, but man Nashville is booming.  I feel like they’re just trying to keep up with the sudden influx of people, tourists, and popularity.


There’s such a striking difference between the old Nashville and the new.  Again, I wish I could have seen the old Nashville without all of the construction and the new developments intertwined.


Bring cash

Seems like a no brainer, but I totally forgot to grab some.  You will want to tip the musicians playing the live music at the bars.  This is especially important if you’re young and single and you want to flirt with them 😉 Go up, put some cash in the tip jar, request a song, flirt a little.


Getting Around

Uber, Lyft, Scooters, and Joy Ride are your best options.


Joy Ride is basically these guys on glorified golf carts who you can call up, and they’ll drive you around for tips.  Just google Joy Ride Nashville or flag one of these guys down.


If you choose to ride the scooters, you’re supposed to ride them in the road.  We saw a girl goofing around and accidentally zip across the opposite lane of traffic.  Just not worth it in my opinion.  I am clumsy


Bring Your Walking Shoes & Bring Sunscreen

If you want to bask on the rooftop bars without getting some kind of weird tan, then lather up.  Also, we walked A LOT.  When you’re walking Broadway, hiking up and down 10,000 stairs, and exploring Nashville you’ll thank me.


Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Yes, Hattie B’s is TOTALLY worth it.  Yes, you need to order a chicken sandwich.  No, it doesn’t have to be burn your mouth off hot.


You can call and order ahead of time, but I say don’t.  The line wasn’t too bad when we went on a Thursday around noon.  We waited maybe 30-40 minutes, and the line moves quick.  They have complimentary cold water coolers stationed along the line too.  When you get inside, the service is SUPER friendly AND fast.  I swear I asked a million questions (I had been looking forward to this for a long time!), and I sampled a few beers too.  I did not feel rushed at all.  Our food was brought out within minutes, but again the place never felt overcrowded.  I never felt rushed.


Because we ordered our food there, we were able to sit outside on the little covered patio.  Those tables are reserved for dine-in guests only.  If you call and order for take-out, then you can sit in the bar stool seats along the patio edge IF they’re available.


After Hattie B’s, head next door to Gigi’s Cupcakes…if you have any room left for dessert!  Wedding Cake and Birthday Cake are the most popular flavors, but they have something for everyone.  You can even do a little 4 pack on mini-cupcakes so you can sample more!


That’s all for now folks!


Grab my Nashville Google Maps List below (special notes and inside tips included!), and let me know if you have any questions.


Nashville Food and Drink Button


To grab my other Nashville list of the most Instagrammable spots, click HERE.


If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, please take a minute to pin it!


As always, thanks for the love and support,

xoxo Alyssa


A First Timer's Guide To Nashville 2 Pin



  1. Jill
    February 14, 2021 / 11:15 am

    Thanks for the tips. Where should one stay? What hotel is good and close to the fun?

    • Alyssa
      February 16, 2021 / 10:26 am

      Hi Jill! I have a post here with my recommendations on where to stay http://partyofalyssamatt.com/where-to-stay-in-nashville/

      I say stay just south of Broadway if you can! We were a little north and the area wasn’t as nice. Our hotel did have a complimentary happy hour each day though with food, wine, and beer, so that was great!

  2. leyley
    May 31, 2021 / 1:13 pm

    thanks for all the tips! Please would you share where the pic with the wings was located?

    • Alyssa
      July 23, 2021 / 1:02 pm

      The wings are located in the Gultch neighborhood of Nashville. In Google Maps, search Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings 🙂

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