The Best Places to Visit on Printers Alley in Nashville

From the Author: I've lived in Nashville for 12 years, and my wife was born here. Alex worked downtown for five years. We love Printers Alley and know it well. If you have any questions, we respond quickly to comments!

Printers Alley is Nashville's best-kept secret. I've been coming here for years and consider it a magical spot. It's packed full of incredible history.

Its cobbled streets have honored the likes of Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, United States presidents, and dignitaries worldwide.

The bars and restaurants in the alley have been open through the prohibition years of the United States and remain the home of burlesque, jazz, and karaoke.

You'll have a great time!

Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar 

Under its iconic neon sign, Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar has been a Nashville favorite for decades. Legends like James Brown, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and even Jim Belushi have graced its stage. Seven nights a week, the bar pulses with fantastic live music, making it a staple of Nashville’s vibrant entertainment scene.

The bar serves authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine, offering a full menu of New Orleans-style seafood, sandwiches, baskets, and desserts. Pair your meal with a cold beer or a handcrafted cocktail.

Skull’s Rainbow Room 

Founded by David “Skull” Schulman in 1948, Skull's Rainbow Room has hosted legends like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Etta James, Paul McCartney, and Bob Dylan. McCartney even mentions Printers Alley in his song “Sally G.”

Tragically, Schulman was killed in a 1998 robbery, leading to the club's closure for 18 years. Today, Skull's Rainbow Room is open and continues its legacy with nightly live jazz and burlesque shows on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The burlesque shows start at 11 pm, with a $20 cash cover charge and standing room only.

The venue also serves award-winning food, beer, wine, and cocktails, making it a must-visit spot in Nashville.

Bobby's Garage

Connected to the Bobby Hotel, Bobby's Garage Bar is a hidden gem in Printers Alley. The bar boasts a unique garage theme with neon lights, wall graffiti, and salvaged car parts. The staff wear denim work shirts and wipe down the concrete bar with mechanic rags, adding to the authentic feel.

The atmosphere is laid-back, perfect for enjoying food and drinks while people-watching through the windows overlooking the alley. It’s a quirky, relaxed spot that captures the eclectic spirit of Nashville.

The Climax Saloon

Opened in 1887 by George Dickel and Company, this historic building became a primary outlet for their whiskey. The first floor and basement featured Can Can dancers for entertainment. The second floor housed a pool hall, while the third floor catered to men seeking prostitutes. Today, it's known as the Embers Building.

Interestingly, the building has managed to retain much of its original charm and structure, making it a fascinating spot for history buffs. It stands as a testament to Nashville's vibrant and sometimes rowdy past, offering a unique glimpse into the city's rich cultural history.

Miss Kelli's Karaoke

This family-owned and operated karaoke bar is one of the largest in Tennessee. Catering to guests 21 and over, it offers a no-cover-charge policy. With an extensive list of songs, a variety of beers, delicious pub food, and plenty of space to dance, it’s the perfect spot for a fun night out.

In addition to its vibrant karaoke scene, the bar's welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff make it a popular destination for both locals and visitors. Whether you're a seasoned performer or a first-timer, this bar provides an unforgettable karaoke experience.

The Whiskey Shot

The Whiskey Shot offers a unique blend of alcohol and laser gun target practice. Enjoy an upscale dining experience with Southern classics prepared by their chef, served in a historic dining room.

Their diverse menu includes salads, sandwiches, chicken, brisket, and a wide selection of drinks. It's the perfect place to indulge in great food while testing your aim in a fun, lively atmosphere. Whether you're there for the dining or the target practice, The Whiskey Shot promises a memorable visit.

Alley Taps

This lively spot offers live music every day of the week and happy hour every night. Enjoy local craft beer and cocktails alongside standard pub fare, including meat and cheese plates, and chips and dip.

The welcoming atmosphere, combined with a diverse menu and constant entertainment, makes it a must-visit destination. Whether you're there for the tunes, the brews, or the bites, this place promises a great time every visit.

Fleet Street Pub

The Fleet Street Pub, British-owned and operated, offers authentic dishes like fish and chips in three styles, bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, and beef and lamb burgers. Everything is made on-site, including sausages, sauces, batter, and fries.

Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 am to 1 am, and Friday to Saturday from 11 am to 2 am, it’s perfect for lunch or dinner. Note, you must be at least 21 years old to enter. Enjoy a genuine British dining experience right in Nashville!

Daddy's Dogs

This hot dog joint is open only from 9 pm to 2 am, offering about a dozen different styles of hot dogs. Popular menu items include the Music City Hotdog and the Mexican Coke. They proudly claim to serve the best hot dogs you've ever had. Whether you're craving a late-night snack or looking for a unique dining experience, this place is a must-try for hot dog enthusiasts.

Printers Alley History

Printers Alley, named for Nashville's historic printing and publishing hub, remains a hidden gem even to locals. At the start of the 20th century, it housed two major newspapers, ten print shops, and 13 publishers. The area also had a bustling banking industry and later became the epicenter of Nashville's nightlife, serving the restaurants and hotels on Fourth Avenue.

Long before the high-rises, this land was donated to Nashville in the late 1780s by Michael Deaderick, a Virginia businessman. By the early 1900s, Printers Alley had transformed into a nightlife hotspot, filled with speakeasies during Prohibition, where legends like Chet Atkins and Hank Williams performed.

Walking through Printers Alley feels like stepping into a different era. Its rich history, from speakeasies to showbiz, makes it an integral part of Nashville’s cultural tapestry. The alley, with its storied past of debauchery and sin, recalls a time of horse-drawn buggies, cobblestones, and the Prohibition era.

What You Should Know Before You Go

Most areas of Nashville, like the famous Broadway strip, are open all day, every day. Printers Alley is not. If you go during the day, you're likely to be disappointed.

Printers Alley comes alive beginning at 6 pm at the earliest. Some of the bars and restaurants don't open until 9 pm!

The area gives you the feeling of the 1940s debauchery without the huge crowds and loudness of the Lower Broadway honky-tonks. It also has an artistic and eclectic feel, regardless of the time of day. Also, you may find that the quieter times suit you.

Interesting History Fact

Jimi Hendrix's Stage from Printers Alley

In the 1960s, there were numerous clubs located in Printers Alley that have since closed; The Rainbow Room, The Carousel, Black Poodle Lounge, Luau Room, The Embers, Voo Doo Room, and The Jolly Roger, to name a few.

Jimi Hendrix was a regular performer here; he used to play with the band the King Kasuals. Hendrix is quoted as saying of Nashville that it's “One of the hardest audiences in the South. Everybody knows how to play guitar. You walk down the street, and people are sitting on their porch playing their guitars…That's where I learned to play, really, in Nashville.

Pictured above are the actual stage, back wall restroom doors, and ceiling rafters from The Jolly Roger. The photo at the front was with the King Kasuals on that very stage in the 1960's.

The stage has been preserved in the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Downtown Nashville.

Leave a Comment