A few years ago my sister Ann and I, entertained our California cousins, also two sisters, while they visited Nashville. Their parents had grown up, met and married in Nashville, but moved west after WWII. The sisters had passed through, but had never really visited Nashville. Both Ann and I love Nashville and its history and we wanted to let the cousins experience as much as possible. Many of the places we took them were favorites to visit when our children were young, especially the free ones. There is a lot to do in downtown Nashville and this list only scratches the surface. It is a little much for one day. Walking in the area would be easy for anyone in decent shape. There is a free shuttle, the Music City Circuit, that carries passengers around the downtown area. You can download and print this free *map*. There are interactive links to the sites throughout this post. Just click on the name of the attraction to view the website.
Tennessee State Capitol - Guided tours of the capitol building are provided free of charge by staff of the Tennessee
State Museum. These tours leave from the Information
Desk on the First Floor of the Capitol every hour, on the hour. The first tour
begins at 9 a.m. and the final tour begins at 3 p.m. Visitors can also learn
about the Capitol on a self-guided tour using the informational pamphlet
available at the Information Desk. If you are coming to the Capitol with a
large group and are interested in a guided tour, you are requested to schedule
your visit in advance with the Tennessee State Museum by calling (615)
741-0830.Located on Charlotte Avenue,
between Sixth and Seventh Avenue.
Tennessee State Military Museum - The Military Branch is open 10
a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday.Closed Sundays and Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day,
Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The entrance is on the
south end of the War Memorial Building on Legislative Plaza, near Seventh
Avenue and Union Street,
Tennessee State Museum - Open: Tuesday - Saturday: 10 a.m. to
5 p.m.; Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and
Christmas. Fifth and Deaderick Streets, in the lower level of
the James K. Polk Cultural Center. Admission to the museum's permanent exhibits, the
Military Museum and the State Capitol is always free. Most
temporary exhibits are also free although admission may be charged to some.
While you are in the area check out the Hermitage Hotel, just across Union Street from the
Legislative Plaza. Don't know if tours are offered, but
it is well worth asking.Go inside and
take a look at the beautiful lobby.Ask
if you can take a peek into the very unique art deco men's room. Be sure to give a warning before entering. http://www.thehermitagehotel.com/homepage.aspx
When you leave the Hermitage Hotel, head south on Sixth Avenue to Church Street and turn left. The Downtown Presbyterian Church is at the corner of Church Street and Fifth Avenue. Downtown Presbyterian Church offers self guided tours of the very unique interior. The church has a rich history, dating back to 1816. The current building is the third one on the site and was completed in 1851. Enter the church through the side door on Fifth Avenue. http://www.dpchurch.com/history
As you exit the Downtown Presbyterian Church walk south on Fifth Avenue to see the famous, Ryman Auditorium, home for many years to the Grand Ole Opry. You can tour the Ryman for a fee, if you wish. On leaving the Ryman continue south on Fifth Avenue.
Cross Broadway, continue south on Fifth Avenue and you will see the County Music Hall of Fame ahead. The Country Music Hall of Fame is worth the admission price for music fans and anyone who appreciates the history of Nashville's music. There is a lot to see, and many interactive exhibits, so plan several hours.
Walk over to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, just across Fourth Avenue from the Hall of Fame. The symphony center offers free guided tours, most Wednesdays and Saturdays. Call ahead, as there may be changes in the schedule. https://www.nashvillesymphony.org/about/tour Leave the symphony center and head north on Fourth Avenue to Broadway. Turn left on Broadway and walk through the famous Nashville honkytonk district. You might want to step into one of the bars and listen to some music or have a beer. When you reach Fifth cross over and head back own Broadway past Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Be sure and look up to see the facades of the historic buildings along the street. When you get to Second Avenue, take a left and stroll past some of Nashville oldest buildings. At the top of the hill on Second Avenue is the historic Davidson County Courthouse, built in 1937, and Nashville's Public Square park. You might be lucky enough to find a concert going on the park. There are many good restaurants in this area of downtown, along every street. Lots of places to draw you in along the way. Before you leave downtown Nashville there is a short side trip filled with history, art and great architecture. Christ Church Cathedral is
located on Broadway, a few blocks out at Ninth Avenue. The church is located across from the Frist Art Center and Union
Station. The church is beautiful, inside and out. The Tiffany stained
glass windows and the magnificent wooden altar, carved by Mechior Thoni make this stop worthwhile. When you finish your tour, take time to visit Union Station Hotel, located in the 1900 train station.The lobby is restored and is beautiful. Check the Frist Center website for information on current exhibits, admission fees and operation hours.