Nashville, Tennessee has exploded in popularity for girls’ getaways and bachelorette parties. But with great Southern food, a powerful sense of community, and rich music and arts scenes, you can have an amazing day trip here as a solo female traveler. This itinerary for one day in Nashville, chock-full of advice from locals, will help you experience the best of Music City without the party-hard crowds.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission from any purchase you make, at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
Table of Contents
Best Time to Visit Nashville
Nashville is a great year-round destination, but the city is most lively in warm weather. Summer is the most popular time to visit, particularly when Bonnaroo Music Festival takes place in nearby Manchester in June. (Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bonnaroo 2021 has been moved to September 2-5.)
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly music festival, Musicians Corner in May and June and Live on the Green in August both offer free outdoor concerts each year. (Note: These festivals may be cancelled in 2021.)
If you are visiting other parts of Tennessee on your trip, definitely go in the fall! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has amazing fall foliage. Nothing says autumn more than sipping a moonshine or Tennessee whiskey under gorgeous red, orange and yellow leaves.
I recommend avoiding the height of the summer crowds and visiting Nashville in April and May or in September and October.
How to Get to Nashville
Nashville International Airport (BNA) has a number of direct connections to major cities all over the US and Canada. To get from the airport to downtown, you can take a taxi for a flat rate of $25 or you can take bus #18 for $1.70. Lyft and Uber also serve the airport and are legal.
Nashville is also very well-connected to US highways, sitting at the intersection of I-65, I-40 and I-24. Navigating highways around Nashville can be stressful, but it is still the best way to get around.
Getting Around Nashville
Nashville is one of the few places I consider it worthwhile to keep a car, but if you do need to rely on public transportation, WeGo Public Transit offers all-day unlimited bus passes for $4 per day.
All major car rental companies are represented in Nashville and you can secure a ride at the airport.
Where to Stay for One Day in Nashville
Music City Hostel is your most budget-friendly option with 4-bed female dorms costing about $33 per night, which is a typical price for hostels in the US. Rooms are basic, but clean and comfortable. The location is about a 20 minute walk from Music Row.
Hostelling International has a downtown Nashville location on 1st Avenue N, just a couple blocks from Broadway and Ryman Auditorium. This is a more convenient location if you’d like to spend your evening strolling the Honky Tonk Highway but you get far less bang for your buck. A 12-bed female dorm is $40 per night on weekdays and $50 per night on weekends.
Tips for Solo Female Travelers in Nashville
Nashville is reasonably safe for solo female travelers, particularly in more touristy areas near Broadway. In most cases, you can walk by yourself at night, but if you are in a dark, sparsely populated area and have more than 5 to 10 minutes to walk, it’s best to call a rideshare service.
Your biggest risk as a solo female traveler in Nashville is simply feeling like a sore thumb. There are plenty of things to do and most restaurants won’t bat an eye at your requesting a table for one. But especially in the popular tourist areas, you may feel surrounded by vacationing families and bachelorettes in search of the nearest hangover. All the more reason to get a little off the beaten path. Nashville is an incredibly friendly city and you’ll be welcomed in a lot of local hotspots.
What to Pack for 1 Day in Nashville
For a full list of everything I travel with, read my complete packing list for solo female travelers. These are a few items I consider must-haves for Nashville.
Nashville style is pretty laidback. You can do without the cowboy hat and boots, but it’s worth wearing a good pair of jeans. My favorite brand of denim right now is Everlane.
If you’re traveling in summer and not used to hot weather, stick to breezy sundresses.
Like most destinations, you’ll need comfortable walking shoes in Nashville. For summer travel, Teva Ysidro Sandals are a popular choice for stylish comfort. (You may want to get half a size up from your usual size.)
What to Do on 1 Day in Nashville
Brunch at Saint Anejo
Kick off a Saturday in Music City the right way — with a serious glass of sangria and a breakfast burrito the size of your head. Saint Anejo is the best brunch in Nashville (and there are a TON of great brunch places in Nashville!) and is conveniently located a short walk from Broadway, the main sightseeing strip downtown. The uniquely Latin-inspired menu with dishes like horchata French toast and classic huevos rancheros is a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
Dig into Country Music History
From Saint Anejo, walk to Broadway where you’ll find Nashville’s iconic string of honky tonk bars… and a sea of people sightseeing. I don’t recommend spending a lot of time on Broadway due to the crowds. Just take a brief stroll to get a taste of the area and then head for one of the country music museums nearby.
I was admittedly not impressed by the Johnny Cash Museum. I love Cash’s music and many of the exhibits were high quality, but during my visit in 2017 the museum seemed poorly managed. The ticket buying process was confusing due to very long, very disorganized lines. A staffer, desperate to speed up the line waiting to enter the museum, took me and a few others in through a back door, which was a nice gesture in theory, but it meant we saw all the exhibits out of order. It was hard to get my bearings and it negatively impacted my experience. I would recommend this only if you’re a big Johnny Cash fan, and if you can visit early when the museum opens right at 9am before going to brunch. Tickets are $21.95. (Note: The Johnny Cash Museum is open as of July 2020 and face masks are required. There are markers on the floor to aid social distancing.)
So what museum IS worth visiting in Nashville? Ryman Auditorium, home of the original Grand Ole Opry, has a fabulous self-guided tour with high quality multimedia exhibits showcasing the history of Nashville’s greatest attraction. The Grand Ole Opry began as a radio program in 1925 and is responsible for launching some of the biggest names in country music. The Grand Ole Opry still broadcasts performances from a new venue, but the Ryman is its birthplace. Even if you’re not a big country music fan, this is a must-see and you’ll walk away with a better understanding of Nashville’s history and deep love for music. Tickets are $25.95. (Note: As of March 8, 2021, self-guided tours are available at Ryman Auditorium. Masks are required and capacity is limited to allow for social distancing.)
Eat Nashville Hot Chicken at Hattie B’s
Nashville hot chicken has been a staple of Nashville’s Black community since the 1930s, but it only became a darling of the mainstream foodie world about 10 to 15 years ago. The recipe is about as simple as it gets — it’s fried chicken, but extra spicy. I mean, bring tears to your eyes, make you question your morals spicy.
Hattie B’s is the most popular spot for tourists to get a hot chicken fix, but Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the OG recipe, and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish has also been serving up the cayenne-packed birds for decades. Hattie B’s has a couple locations around town. You can visit Broadway or Midtown, but the slightly less busy, more locally frequented shop is on Charlotte Avenue.
A word to the wise: do not ever tempt the fates by ordering the extra hot. I’m pretty sure the spice levels above plain old hot exist only for folks in Nashville to laugh at clueless tourists.
Work a Letterpress at Hatch Show Print
Call me a nerd but this is the coolest tour in Nashville. Hatch Show Print is the country’s oldest running letterpress, in operation since 1879. The shop, now moved from its original location into the Country Music Hall of Fame, has created posters for classic country stars, rock shows, circuses, tent revivals, and political campaigns all with its well-worn vintage aesthetic. On a tour, you’ll learn about the history and operation of the shop, see some of their most iconic posters, and make your own souvenir print. Tours are $20 and capacity is pretty limited so it’s best to book online or call ahead. (Note: Tours are available with limited capacity. Masks are required and your temperature will be checked upon entry.)
Have Dinner (and So Much More) at Pinewood Social
Pinewood Social might be hipster paradise. The expansive property in an old renovated trolley barn is an uber-trendy cafe and workspace by day and blossoms into an upscale bar and restaurant at night. The dinner menu is basic American fare and the cocktails are amazing in quality — the mezcal-based concoction I tried may have been the first time I took a sip of a drink and thought “Yeah, that’s worth $13.”
What really sets Pinewood Social apart, though, is its recreation. Inside is a full bowling alley (albeit with steep prices), and outdoors is a huge patio with table tennis, bocce, and a swimming pool. You can really spend an entire day here. (Note: Pinewood Social is open, but online reservations are encouraged for the dining room, bowling lanes and living room.)
Sing Karaoke on Printer’s Alley
If you care to take the mic yourself, there are a lot of karaoke joints in the city. I recommend heading to Ms. Kelli’s Karaoke Bar on Printer’s Alley. It’s just down-to-earth enough to feel a little divey without drifting into sketchy territory.
Printer’s Alley is an attraction in its own right. Over a hundred years ago, this historic district was home to printers, publishers and newspapers galore. It’s been a nightlife destination for a long time, bridging the decades from saloons to nightclubs.
What to Do with More Than One Day in Nashville
Cheekwood Estate boasts 55 acres of botanical gardens and a gorgeous historic mansion. (Note: Cheekwood is open with social distancing protocols and masks are required.)
Nashville is full of mouthwatering Southern eateries. Try one of these self-guided Nashville food tour itineraries.
A replica of the Parthenon presides over Centennial Park, but many visitors don’t realize you can actually go inside! (Note: The Parthenon museum is open with social distancing guidelines and masks are required.)
Get to know the local watering holes on Elliston Place like EXIT/IN, Corner Bar, and Hurry Back. (Note: Live music is scheduled to resume at EXIT/IN in April 2021 as the club celebrates its 50th anniversary. Corner Bar is open daily from 3pm to midnight with masks required. Hurry Back is closed during the pandemic.)
About 30 minutes from Nashville, Hop Springs Beer Park is a craft brewery experience worth day tripping for with dozens of taps, a sculpture garden, nature reserve, disc golf, and live music twice a week. I especially recommend the unique brews from Mantra Artisan Ales like Saffron IPA and Japa Milk Chai Stout. (Note: Hop Springs is open with 5 outdoor draft stations, 5 outdoor beverage stations, and 33% capacity in its taproom. Masks are required and guests are given strict social distancing zones for their visit. Upon entry to the property, you will have to answer a short questionnaire to ensure you are not experiencing any symptoms of illness and that you have not been recently exposed to COVID-19.)
Enjoy Music City after dark with one of these 21 things to do in Nashville at night.
Is One Day in Nashville Enough?
Nope. But if you are on a big fat Southern road trip and have super limited time, this one day itinerary is a perfect amuse-bouche to Music City and all it has to offer.