Partying on Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway is so much fun. The rowdy Broadway strip has over 30 bars featuring live music, drinks, karaoke, bull riding, topless waitresses, and dancing. Most bars have multiple floors of the best live music in the world that include rooftop experiences. The whole street is walkable so bar hopping from place to place is easy.
What is the Most Famous Bar in Nashville?
Tootsies Orchid Lounge is the most famous bar in Nashville. It’s famous because “Tootsie” Bess supported up and coming stars who would play at the Grand Ole Opry when it was located next door. Tootsies has been a Nashville icon, equivalent to the Ryman Auditorium, since the 1960’s. Today, you’ll still find the “Wall of Fame” featuring photos of the music icons who have played there.
Why is Tootsies in Nashville famous?
The connection of Tootsies to the Ryman Auditorium is undeniable. There’s a saying in Nashville that goes “Tootsies is the front door to the backdoor” meaning the Ryman. In the picture above you can see the Ryman Auditorium, butted up against the building.
The Ryman was the home of the Grand Ole Opry from between 1943 – 1974. During that time, struggling and up and coming artists were drawn to Tootsie Bess by her generosity and care. Famous Country Artists still frequent the bar. This includes such names as Loretta Lynn, Keith Urban, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Faron Young just to name a few. To this day, Tootsies has remained as it always has. Steve Smith, who bought Tootsies in 1992 has kept the honky-tonk in it’s original form, except for the third rooftop floor that has been added.
Country Artists who come to Nashville must first earn their chops playing to the crowds on Broadway in Nashville, and Tootsies is the most desirable location. It’s where artists can network with songwriters on Music Row and practice entertaining before they get to a bigger stage. Tootsies are a breeding ground for new talent, even today.
What’s Tootsies Like Today?
Tootsies is still a must-visit place in Nashville. If you were to ask any local in Nashville which bar you should visit, they would say Tootsies. They’re open 7 days a week from 9:30am to 3:00am. The world-famous bar features 3 floors of live music, including a rooftop with a stunning view of Nashville. When you step inside, you can feel the history of Nashville music. The Wall of Fame is still there, and the bands are top-notch.
It’s well known in Nashville that there are the day time crowds and the night time crowds. If you’re a day time kind of person we suggest you get there early as the bar fills up quickly. If you are a night time person who likes to party, it doesn’t matter what time you get there. Each floor will most likely be packed and hopping. Something to be aware of is that bands in Nashville is that bars don’t have a cover charge. As a result, bands survive mostly from tips. Be prepared to tip the bands.
As far as Nashville is concerned, when entering Tootsies you are stepping on hallowed ground.
What is the Best Bar on Broadway?
The best bar on Broadway is AJs Good Time Bar. AJs was voted the number one honky-tonk in Nashville by Billboard Magazine. Founded by country music superstar Alan Jackson, it’s the oldest building on Broadway. Each floor represents a facet of Alan Jackson’s career. It’s steps away from the Ryman Auditorium, and Tootsies. It also has a rooftop bar with a view of the city.
Like Tootsies, you’re stepping into more than just a bar. The building used to be a civil war hospital, Nashville’s first used record store and the home of the Bullet Records. Bullet was a record label during the 1940’s that recorded the stars of the Grand Old Opry.
The drinks and atmosphere are fun and the live music on every floor is the best in Nashville. Plus, every night of the week there’s karaoke on the third floor starting at 7pm.
What is the Second Best Bar on Broadway?
A close second to AJs Good Time Bar is Nudie’s Honky Tonk. This is just a fun place. Nudie was a Ukrainian tailor who came to America and designed rhinestone-covered suits known as “Nudie Suits”. He also customized cars including a silver-dollar studded dashboards and piston door handles. One his cars, a Cadillac El Dorado is now on the wall of the main stage.
The hanging lights, two stages and rooftop deck create a really great atmosphere. It’s located in another, historic, 100 year old building.
How Many Bars are on Lower Broadway In Nashville?
There are over 32 bars on Nashville’s Broadway strip. It’s known as the honky-tonk highway where music pours out onto the street at all hours of the day, 7 days a week. County music is not the only music on offer, either. Honky Tonk central features 3 floors of music, each with a different genre. The music and food is world class and a lot offer rooftop patio’s with great views of Nashville.
Of course, my recommendations for the “best” or “second” best bar on Broadway are completely subjective. You should come on down and judge for yourself. When out of town visitors come I also recommend Roberts Western World and they have a blast. It depends what your preferences are.
I prefer the more chill, laid back bars where I can enjoy a beer and appreciate the skill of the musicians. You may want to get drunk and party – each to his own. Rock on.
Tennessee and Nashville in particular are steeped in history. Not only music history but American history.
I can’t think of another place that has attracted musical talent in the way that Nashville has. Broadway isn’t for everyone, but you should check it out just once before you leave. Hope this guide has been helpful, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Eddie G. says
Thanks, That was very helpful information and we will experience it ourselves August 26/28 2023
arriving from Houston, Texas
Alex Hawker says
Hope you have a blast, Eddie!
Shelly Friedland says
Thanks for the info. We’ll be there on Monday, 3/13 for 4 days. Do any of the honky Tonks serve food??
You don’t mention it.
Alex Hawker says
Yep! Most of the honky-tonks serve food, great food! Some are better than others. Ole Red and Luke’s 32 Bridge are excellent. There is also Jacks BBQ on lower Broadway which is excellent.
Jim F says
Very useful article. What’s are your favourite (my spelling gives away my Scottish location) “ chill, laid back bars”
I’ll be in Nashville from Monday for 6 days and will want to experience the raucous and the chilled.
Alex Hawker says
Thanks for reading, Jim! My recommendations for laid back bars are: The Station Inn – it’s a bar with a listening room. The Patterson House – a speakeasy-style bar. The 5 Spot – a dive bar in East Nashville. These a just a few suggestions. Hope you have a great trip!