When I decided to visit Nashville in 2009, I thought I'd need to wear a cowboy hat and boots to fit in. After all, Nashville is the home of country music. Isn't Nashville the birthplace of country artists like George Jones, Johnny Cash, and Garth Brooks?
Yes, but “Music City” is so much more than that. When Musicians Hall of Fame founder and songwriter Joe Chambers moved to Nashville in the 1970's he had to immerse himself in country music to be successful. It's not the case today. Nashville is the home of all genres of music.
Do Nashville Bars Only Play Country Music?
No! Nashville bars play all genres of music. You shouldn't think of Nashville as being only about country music. Although many bars on Broadway are run by country artists, most have multiple floors featuring different genres of music on each floor. Also, check out Printers Alley, Nashville's hidden gem, where you'll find Blues and Jazz. Or take a ride up Broadway, where you'll find modern rock and DJs in the trendy neighborhood of Midtown.
Here is a list of bars that play music that isn't country:
- Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row. Experience three levels of live music. Each level plays a different style.
- The Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman is not solely a country music venue. In fact, they strive to provide an eclectic mix. They recently hosted Harry Styles – definitely not country! 😉
- Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar. It is located on the famous Printers Alley and just a short walk from Broadway.
- Acme Feed & Seed.
- The Hampton Social – live acoustic music.
- 3rd & Lindsley. Popular for jazz.
- Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Classical music like Mozart and Beethoven.
- Exit/In – Rock'n'roll.
Should I go to Nashville if I Don't Like Country Music?
Yes, you should visit Nashville if you prefer something else to country music. There's music of many genres in Nashville. Nashville also provides experiences without anything to do with music. Explore the history of Tennessee by visiting one of the many museums or landmarks, visit one of the many parks, or enjoy the unique food and drink that Nashville offers.
What to do in Nashville if You Are Not a Country Music Fan?
Nashville is more other than just country music. You'll find jazz, rock, blues, classical, and acoustic in Nashville. But, of course, Nashville is steeped in history if you're not interested in music. Check out the Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson's house, or Belle Mead, an 1840s plantation house. Or, explore the vibrant foodie scene and experience authentic hot chicken or BBQ.
Here is a list of popular, non-country music places to visit in Nashville:
- Bicentennial Capitol Mall. In this 11-acre park, you can experience Tennessee history with a 200-foot granite map of the state, a World War 2 Memorial, and a 95-bell Carillon.
- Nashville Parthenon. Within this Greek replica stands a 42-foot statue of Athena. Originally built in 1897, it stands in Nashville as a monument to classical architecture.
- Visit a brewery or distillery. Nashville is brimming with local brews. Some favorites are Ole Smoky Distillery, Jack Daniels Distillery, and Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery.
- Visit a museum. Popular (non-music) museums include the Lane Motor Museum, the Tennessee State Museum, and the Frist Art Museum.
- Try authentic Southern food. For a full list of the best hot chicken and BBQ restaurants in Nashville, click here.
- Check out our list of the top Nashville attractions.
Where Are the Country Bars in Nashville?
The country bars in Nashville are located chiefly on Lower Broadway. In fact, almost half of the bars on Broadway are owned by country artists. Walking down the honky-tonky highway, you'll see the names of Jason Aldean, Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan Kid Rock, and more. Garth Brooks is even set to open a “Friends in Low Places” bar.
In my opinion, the three best country bars in Nashville are Roberts Western World, Tootsies, and AJ's Good Time Bar. Roberts is consistently voted the best country bar on Broadway. AJ's has been voted the number on honky-tonk in Nashville. Tootsies backs up to the famous Ryman Auditorium would be the most famous.
Outside of Broadway, I suggest making your way to Division Street in Midtown where there are bars within easy walking distance of each other and provide an excellent atmosphere of live music.
Are There Non-Country Music Bars in Nashville?
Yes, there are lots of bars that don't just play country music in Nashville. Nashville has over 150 live music bars and restaurants. If you are not into country music, check out the following: Whiskey Bent Saloon, Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, Famous Live Music Venue, Kid Rock's Honky Tonk, Honky Tonk Central, Dierks Bentley's Whisky Row, and Exit/In.
The good news is that finding these non-country bars is easy, too. For example, there are over 30 bars on Lower Broadway, most with multiple levels. If you don't like music on one floor, walk up to the next and see what's playing.
The Ryman Auditorium is purposeful about booking an eclectic group of artists, so chances are you'll be able to see a non-country show while you're here.
Where Do They Play Hip Hop in Nashville?
The best play to enjoy hip hop in Nashville is WKND Hang Suite, Play Dance Bar, The Valentine, Nudie's Honky Tonk, Tribe, Ibiza, and Pharaoh's Lounge. Nashville has enjoyed a “renaissance” in hip-hop music in a town dominated by country music. Hip hop has been making a comeback since the 80s in Nashville as it steps out of the shadow of country.
More notable hip-hop bars include:
- The Back Corner. It's a tucked-away spot with cool DJs.
- Big Shotz. A mixture of hip-hop, rock, and country.
- Vibes Bar & Lounge. Cool restaurant and live entertainment.
- Nashville Underground. Live music and hot chicken.
- The 5 Spot. Hip-hop, karaoke, food, and beer.
- L.A. Jackson. Swanky bar with hip hop and cocktails.
- Aladdin's Hookah Lounge and Bar. Hookah bar with a relaxed ambiance.