Nashville and nightlife just go together — alphabetically and quite literally. The city’s rich music history, legendary honky-tonk bars, and local food scene have made it one of the most unique nightlife destinations in the country. Country fans and bachelorettes alike can’t get enough of what was once just a little town in Tennessee – the after-dark activity options in Music City are endless. Five-star dining experiences? No problem. Dance floors begging to be taken over? Nashville’s got both the dive and upscale variation for your choosing. Live music? Where do we even begin. No matter what, you’re guaranteed to have a night that’s fun, festive, and quintessentially Nashville.
Mixology is the name of the game at Sidebar, our very own craft cocktail bar and the perfect place to start your night off right. Choose from an extensive experimental drink menu or sip on a rotating, locally sourced beer while you and your crew get ready to hit the town.
For the Foodies
From hot chicken to farm-to-table, Nashville’s eclectic food scene is gaining popularity for good reason. The city’s vibrant food scene features a mix of traditional southern favorites, trendy fusion hotspots, and chef-focused dining experiences that go beyond basic BBQ.
Looking for some old-fashioned Southern Comfort? If you can handle some heat then add Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack to your list immediately. This famed Nashville restaurant has been serving the spiciest fried chicken in town for over 80 years and is a favorite of Beyoncé, Anthony Bourdain (RIP), and even Martha Stewart. This no-frills chicken “shack” is known for its spice factor and serves up chicken from mild to XXX hot with traditional sides of coleslaw, fries, or baked beans.
Another Southern charmer is Arnold’s Country Kitchen – a James Beard Award-Winning Nashville institution that’s been serving traditional Southern dishes for over 30 years. This family-run operation is known for its “meat and three” meals – one meat and three sides – with options like fried chicken, meatloaf, and collard greens offered on a menu that changes daily.
No trip to Nashville is complete without a little BBQ, and nobody does BBQ better than Martin’s. This local favorite has made a name for itself and has even been featured on the Food Networks’ Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and was named one of the “50 Best BBQ Joints” by USA Today. Founded by Pat Martin, a legendary pitmaster who studied the technique in West Tennessee and Texas, Martin’s serves up a variety of meats that are smoked low and slow over a signature blend of hickory and oak woods for up to 24 hours. The restaurant also offers a range of sides and sauces, including classic Southern staples like baked beans, mac and cheese, and coleslaw in a laidback, rustic atmosphere that’s about as Nashville as it gets.
If your vibe is a little more upscale then look no further than The Treehouse, one of Nashville’s chicest and most unique restaurants. Located in the trendy East Nashville neighborhood, The Treehouse is known for its eclectic, globally-inspired menu and whimsical décor, designed to look like an actual treehouse. Make sure to order the Korean fried chicken and seared tuna tacos – family style – paired with the "Garden Party" cocktail made with gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, and mint. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
It’s no secret that Nashville is known for honky-tonk, thanks to the city’s rich history and culture of country music that dates back several decades. Legendary honky-tonk performers like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash got their start at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, making the city the "Country Music Capital of the World," and honky-tonk became an integral part of the city's culture and identity. The traditions live on today on Broadway, AKA the home of the honky-tonk bars, where you can catch live music any night of the week. Each venue is small and intimate and features local musicians who bring that authentic Nashville sound to life. Some of the most famous honky-tonks on Broadway include Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Legends Corner, and Robert's Western World – all iconic Nashville institutions known for their country music cred.
Calling all dancing queens (and kings!)
There’s more to the Nashville dance scene than the two-step. The city is known for vibrant venues that cater to all kinds of music genres. The Basement East is one of the city's most popular hotspots, hosting everything from indie rock to hip-hop. The club also has a rooftop bar, making it a great spot for drinks before or after a show. The Cowan is another top tier downtown dance floor. This multi-story club hosts DJs and live bands every night and has plenty of space including a balcony that’s perfect to take in the performances. Nashville's nightlife scene is not limited to just downtown. Other neighborhoods like East Nashville, Germantown, and The Gulch also have their own unique bars and clubs. The 5 Spot in East Nashville is known for its live music and dance parties, while the bars and restaurants in Germantown have a more laid-back vibe.
Make it a music city night
Nashville’s music scene is unparalleled and deserves its own dedication. Make sure to check out our Guide to Music City to learn all about Nashville’s country music roots and the best places to catch a show any night of the week.