AAA Travel Tips / What’s Fun (and Free) in Nashville

What’s Fun (and Free) in Nashville

iStockphoto.com / Viorika
By AAA Travel Editor Katie McPhee
January 16, 2018
Planning a trip to Nashville and wondering what to do on a budget? Not everyone in Music City has made it big (yet), so we’ve rounded up a few fun things to do that will leave enough money for other important items—you know, like cowboy boots, backstage passes to the Grand Ole Opry or some of Nashville’s mouthwatering (and eye-watering) hot chicken.
What’s Fun (and Free) in Nashville
Photo submitted by Maria White / AAA
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Centennial Park
Summertime means lots of free events at this AAA Approved urban park. Bring lawn chairs and blankets to Musicians Corner, a live music series held on most Friday nights and Saturday afternoons May-June and August-September. And on Saturday nights June through August, enjoy old-fashioned fun with free group dance lessons and live music during Big Band Dances.
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CMA Music Festival
Daytime concerts are free and open to the public during the Country Music Association’s annual multi-day music fest. Multiple stages draw thousands of fans to downtown streets each June during this AAA GEM® event, and if you like what you hear, you can purchase tickets to the festival’s nighttime concerts, meet-and-greets and autograph sessions.
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Hatch Show Print
Visit the legendary print shop that has been making custom posters for artists since 1879. There’s no admission fee to browse the dozens of reproduction posters promoting past performances by Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Mumford & Sons and other big names in music. Peek into the production area through designated viewing windows, or pony up a few bills of your own for a guided behind-the-scenes tour.
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Live on the Green Music Festival
Tens of thousands of music fans pack Public Square Park in late August and early September for this multi-day (and multi-week) festival. Organized by local independent radio station Lightning 100, the free event brings indie and alternative bands to its outdoor stage and is well-loved by locals and visitors alike. Bring a blanket or chair and arrive early to snag a good seat on the lawn.
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Music City July 4th Celebration
Nearly a quarter of a million people attend downtown Nashville’s annual Independence Day celebration. If you’re brave enough to face the holiday crowds, it’s an event not to be missed. Free concerts and family-friendly activities are offered in the afternoon and early evening, while nighttime festivities include a fireworks display choreographed to music performed by the Nashville Symphony.
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Nashville Farmers' Market
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
(615) 880-2001
With daily, year-round operating hours and a permanent building near Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Nashville’s farmers market is not just a weekly affair. Local producers set up shop in covered, open-air stalls, while an indoor space offers more than a dozen restaurants, an international grocery store and a brewpub. Bring cash if you think you’ll want to do more than just browse.
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Nashville Flea Market
500 Wedgewood Ave.
(615) 862-5016
Hunting for treasures is the main activity at Nashville’s big flea market, held the fourth weekend (Friday-Sunday) of every month at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Pros know the best time to go is early in the morning around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. when the vendors first set up. There’s all sorts of things to see here—from home décor and antiques to vintage items and collectibles—and admission is free. (Bring $5 cash for parking, and more if you want to haggle for a good deal.)
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Tennessee State Capitol
Grab your photo ID and join suit-clad politicians and throngs of local school groups at Tennessee’s Greek Revival style capitol. Free weekday tours are offered six times a day and pay a visit to the House and Senate chambers, the governor’s reception room and other offices. Also on the grounds you’ll find the tombs of President James K. Polk and his wife.
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Texas Troubadour Theatre
Stay up late and join this theater’s toe-tapping studio audience for the “Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree,” a live country music show that has been airing on local AM radio since 1947. The jamboree takes place each Saturday at 10 p.m. and is broadcast after the Grand Ole Opry at midnight. Admission is free.
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