Music lovers visiting Nashville for the first time will not want to miss historic Lower Broadway, at the heart of downtown right against the Cumberland River. This iconic street has its historic roots in the furniture and hardware store businesses in the late 19th century, with many buildings eventually being remodeled into restaurants and bars.
You can walk in and out of most bars and clubs without being subject to a cover charge, but be sure to bring your ID and tip the bands because that’s the only way they get paid. (Pro tip- If you’d like to request a song from the band, be sure to put a great tip in their hand or bucket to sweeten the likelihood that they’ll get to it in between their regular set).
“Honky Tonk Highway” features music from 10 am -3 am. If you’re looking for a lighter crowd with fewer party buses, pedal taverns, and people—plan your visit for the daytime or weekdays. If you’re a country music fan, you know what to do—pull on those boots and soak up all the country music covers you can handle. If you’re more of a classic rock or pop lover, there are no worries because “Lower Broad” now caters to you too!
Though some of the old favorite bars and clubs still remain, Lower Broadway is now an ever changing landscape of new bars and restaurants. Local country stars have begun to buy their own namesake clubs, so check out your favorite’s signature style if you feel so inclined. Not to be missed are Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (home to a plethora of past shows from gigantic musical icons) and Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop, the site of the largest running radio show in history, “Midnight Jamboree,” which is still broadcast on WSM Radio.
With the ability to go in and out of so many bars and clubs, it’s best to be sure you visit with a buddy, and make sure you call for a safe ride when you’ve finished your fun. Oh, and if for any reason you can’t find anything that tickles your fancy on Lower Broadway (doubtful), you can go almost to the end and then head up 2nd Avenue for more of the same.
Cover image by Tadson Bussey is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.