Free (if you know the secret)
The sprawling Gaylord Opryland Resort is a marvel of lovely excess, with multiple pavilions covering acres of land and almost 3,000 guest rooms. Like a premium casino resort without the clamor of slot machines, it’s a fantastic place to stroll around and people-watch, especially when the resort is decorated for various holidays. Pro tip: Avoid the exorbitant parking fee by parking at the back of Opry Mills Mall next door and walking a couple minutes to the resort’s Cascades Lobby.
Belmont University is famous for being one of the top music and music business schools in the country, so it’s just logical that they should also house a collection of some of the greatest musical instruments ever crafted. The Gallery of Iconic Guitars (GIG) is the collection of guitars from a university benefactor who wanted them displayed and actually played after his death. From acoustic guitars to electric prototypes of famous axes, this is a gearhead’s dream.
Sure, the Bluebird Cafe may have gotten all the screen time back in the day on Nashville the television show, but locals hardly even try to get into that Green Hills stalwart because it’s full of tourists. If you want to see talented songwriters performing in the round, The Listening Room Cafe in SoBro features similar talent, better food and a more casual atmosphere than at the Bluebird. They’re both great in their own ways, but likely to be a bit crowded. For something a bit more underground, check out Nashville's criminally underrated hip-hop scene.
Design your own art crawl down Fifth Avenue
Lots of people hit the First Saturday Downtown Art Crawl, but it can get a bit crowded with patrons packed tightly into tiny galleries fighting for a free plastic cup of box wine. Instead, create your own itinerary by touring some of the eclectic galleries along Nashville’s Fifth Avenue of the Arts some other day of the month. Worthwhile stops include The Arts Company, Rymer Gallery, and Tinney Contemporary.