It's not hard to visit Nashville on a budget but it's gotten more challenging, as the city is quickly becoming one of America's hottest destinations.
Over the last few years, there's been a massive rise in music lovers making the pilgrimage to the city's legendary venues, foodies getting their fill of Tennessee barbecue and Nashville hot chicken, and bachelor and bachelorette parties flooding Broadway bars in search of a good time. Naturally, this all means that as Nashville's popularity has gone up, so have prices for things like hotels, flights, and entertainment.
Still, a trip to the Music City doesn't need to break the bank, as long you know where to look. So whether you're looking for the best live music, free things to do, or the city's tastiest cheap eats, here are our top tips for visiting Nashville on a budget.
Free and cheap things to do in Nashville
Dance down the Honky Tonk Highway
The Honkey Tonk Highway stretch of Lower Broadway is world-famous for being packed with live music bars. Fortunately for those visiting Nashville on a budget, these bars don’t charge a cover fee! So pop in, enjoy the tunes, and save that couple of bucks for the band’s tip jar.
Catch free live music in the Music City
You might come to Nashville for the Honky Tonk, but remember that there’s so much more to the Nashville music scene than country music. From 2nd Ave to SoBro and beyond, there are countless bars, venues, and even public parks offering every genre of free live music in Nashville, especially if you’re lucky enough to visit during one of the many free music festivals and events.
Visit Music City has some really helpful guides on where to find free live music in Nashville and free music events throughout the year.
Get a taste of ancient Greece at the Parthenon
When visiting Nashville’s beautiful Centennial Park, you have to check out The Parthenon, an incredible full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The replica is complete with its own imposing 42-foot statue of the Greek goddess Athena. The Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum and costs $10 to visit.
Play history buff at the Tennessee State Museum
The Tennessee State Museum provides a rich, detailed look at the history of Tennessee. This large museum is filled with exhibitions, artifacts, artworks, and so much more dating all the way back to the first peoples of Tennessee. The Tennessee state museum is completely free to visit and definitely worth a trip, especially if you’re on a budget.
Explore America's military past at the Tennessee State Museum's Military Branch
Located in the historic War Memorial building just a few blocks away from the Tennessee State Museum, the Military Branch of the Tennessee State Museum is also free to visit. This small museum is filled with exhibitions that explore America’s overseas conflicts, beginning with the Spanish-American War in 1898 and ending with the Global War on Terror.
Snap a selfie at one of Nashville’s many murals
If you know someone who’s been to Nashville, chances are you’ve seen them pose in front of one of Nashville’s many Instagrammable murals. So if you've always wanted your own mural shot or just can’t resist hopping on the trend, this is another one of the many free things to do in Nashville (minus the cost of your Uber). When you're ready to start mapping out your photoshoot, check out this list of the best murals in Nashville.
Catch a show at the famous Blue Bird Cafe
Surprise, another Nashville music pick!
The iconic 90-seat Bluebird Cafe is one of America’s most famous music venues. Aside from the star-studded list of past and present performers, it’s the listening room’s highly intimate setting that makes it so special. Most shows at the Bluebird Cafe don’t have a cover fee or require a ticket. However, because the seats fill up so quickly, you’ll need to make a reservation. There is a $10 per person food and beverage minimum.
Enjoy local art at First Saturday Art Crawls
Nashville’s free first Saturday art crawls are a great way to get a taste of the city’s arts and culture on a budget.
During the FirstBank First Saturday Art Crawl, art galleries throughout Downtown Nashville open their doors and invite the city in for receptions and art openings. Feel free to bounce between the 20+ galleries, admiring pieces from local and international artists, while enjoying free refreshments. The art crawl place from 6-9 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month. No admission fee.
The popular WeHo Art Crawl also takes place on the first Saturday of every month, starting at 6 p.m. Here, you can walk between more than a dozen galleries, studios, artist-run collectives, pop-ups, and more. You can even take a load off and stop by some of the city’s coolest craft distilleries and taprooms along the way. The WeHo Art Crawl is completely free and open to the public.
Get a great skyline view from the pedestrian bridge
Looking for one of the best spots to see the Nashville skyline? You’ll need to cross the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge (formerly the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge), one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. The bridge, which crosses the Cumberland River and connects downtown Nashville to East Nashville, is also a favorite among local photographers.
Take a tour of the Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville visitors can either take a free guided self-guided or self-guided tour of the Tennessee State Capitol, one of the oldest working capitols in the country. Outside the Capitol, you’ll find statues of confederate soldier Sam Davis, WWI soldier Sgt. Alvin York, and Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, as well as the tombs of President and Mrs. James K. Polk.
Where to stay on a budget in Nashville
Staying in downtown Nashville will be significantly more expensive than elsewhere in the city.
Music city hostel
Music City Hostel is arguably Nashville’s best place to stay on a budget. You’re more likely to feel like you’re staying at a laid-back friend’s house here – in a good way. Rooms are clean and the large common areas are great for meeting other travelers.
Nashville downtown hostel
Located 1 block from Broadway and the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville Downtown Hostel lets budget travelers stay right in the heart of Nashville’s hottest area. As the sister location of Music City Hostel, you can rest assured that this place meets the needs of even the most discerning travelers.
SoBro Guest House | Black Swan
Conveniently located within walking distance to many of downtown Nashville’s biggest attractions, SoBro Guest House is a budget friendly boutique hotel that feels like home. SoBro Guest House offers spacious apartment apartment-style units that are decorated in a tasteful style fit for the millennial crowd.
Hotel Preston is located a bit further out near Nashville Airport, but just a few minutes from downtown, making it much more affordable than most downtown Nashville hotels. The newly renovated hotel is adorned with eclectic, stylish decor, making it a great option for those looking for a boutique hotel stay on a budget.
Cheap flights to Nashville
Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Nashville. On average, our members spent $67 on their tickets to Nashville and saved over $135 per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.
Dallas (DFW) to Nashville (BNA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $97
Average Price: $170
New York City (JFK) to Nashville (BNA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $43
Average Price: $129
Minneapolis (MSP) to Nashville (BNA)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $89
Average Price: $160
Best cheap eats in Nashville
The best Nashville Hot Chicken
The iconic Nashville hot chicken is one of the best things you can eat in Nashville on a budget. It’s delicious, filling, cheap, and easily found all over the city. Some of the must-try hot chicken spots include Prince’s (the original), Bolton’s, Hattie B’s, and Pepperfire.
Not only does this famous broadway institution do Nashville Barbecue right, but they still do it affordably. When you’re done with the honky tonks, head to Jack’s Bar-B-Que and treat yourself to the famous Tennessee pork shoulder with 2 sides.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Martin’s Bar-B-Que-Joint is another can’t miss Nashville barbecue hot spot with multiple locations. This budget friendly eatery smokes whole hogs for over 20 hours, which makes for true melt-in-your-mouth goodness. They also have smoked brisket, wings, and delicious housemade sauces.
Start planning your trip to Nashville
Nashville has exploded in popularity over the last few years and it's easy to see why. But that doesn't mean there isn't still plenty of value to be found in the Music City. With tons of free attractions, endless live music, and some of the best budget eats around, you can still plan an incredible trip to Nashville on a budget.
So when you're ready to put on your dancing shoes and hit the Music City, be sure to save this budget travel guide, and sign up to receive cheap flight deals today!
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.