The Many Sides of Downtown Nashville: Music, Statues, and Architecture

From dead presidents to cowboy boot warehouses, Nashville has one of the most interesting downtowns I’ve encountered so far. Let’s do this.

The most obvious fun fact about Nashville is that it’s the capital of Tennessee. What I love about this building is that, unlike every other state capitol I’ve seen, this one does not have a giant dome on top. Just a modest little cylinder.

tennessee state capitol

The capitol is surrounded by lots of other government structures with regal columns and statues. Nudity alert! At least he covered himself.

nashville statue

Many of the statues are important historic figures, like 7th President Andrew Jackson, whose mansion the Hermitage can also be found in Nashville.

Andrew Jackson statue

Don’t blink or you may miss another commander in chief, 17th President Andrew Johnson.

Andrew Johnson statue

And then comes the grave of 11th President James Polk. What a shame – Andrew Jackson gets his own mansion and cemetery, while James Polk is just an afterthought behind the government building. What did Jimmy do to deserve such a fate?

james polk grave

Lots of other statues surround the capitol. Look out, it’s a sniper!

sniper statue

The AT&T building shaped like a cell phone is pretty damn cool.

cell phone shaped building

There’s a decent amount of parks and green space in downtown Nashville. In addition to this public square, a park runs along the river.

downtown nashville public square

Broadway is the main street, where tons of bars and restaurants host live country music all day long. Even at 2 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, it’s easy to find live music there. Those who can’t score a bar gig often play on the sidewalk. Keep it up, pal – I’m sure you’ll get discovered one day!

street performer

The city of Nashville was super-excited for its Predators, who were one of the dominant teams in hockey this season. Diners and restaurants across town showed their Predator pride. I thought they were gonna go far in the NHL playoffs, but somehow they lost before the final. What happened, Nashville?

predators diner

The sports culture also includes the Tennessee Titans and LP Field. No Super Bowl championships yet for this franchise, but they try hard, bless their hearts. Someday!

titans LP field

While I’m only a slight fan of country music, I totally love bluegrass, and it’s old-timey, Appalachian feel. The Ryman Auditorium is known as the “birthplace of bluegrass.” The Ryman still hosts concerts all the time, spanning all genres. Upcoming shows include instrumental indie gods Explosions in the Sky, comedic rockers Tenacious D, and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

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Ryman Auditorium

Outside the Country Music Hall of Fame sits a walk of fame. It’s a little confusing to figure out the criteria for inclusion here, because while most of the acts are country music performers, a bunch are not. Officially, the walk recognizes “those from all genres of music who have contributed to the world through song or other industry collaboration and made a significant contribution to the music industry with connection to Music City.”

That means people like Michael McDonald, Peter Frampton, CeCe Winans, Little Richard, and Jimi Hendrix are honored here in addition to the big-name country stars.

jimi hendrix music city walk of fame

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway is a legendary venue. You can’t miss the purple exterior and gallery of stars above the entrance.

tootsies orchird lounge

Get your boots and belt buckles at any of several western wear stores on the main street.

nashville main street

Elvis stands guard outside more than one Broadway shop.

elvis statue

The lazy and well-to-do can relax in a horse carriage. Seems like a good option for those seeking the romantic side of Nashville.

horse carriage nashville

If you find yourself in Nashville, you’ll probably want to spend an evening partying on Broadway. It’s one of those things you just have to do, even though the locals tend to stay far away from Broadway.

nashville night

Which side of downtown Nashville do you find most interesting?


  1. Ahh, Nashville – I’ve looked into it for my RTW next year, but Memphis seems a little bit more “me”, for want of a better description that makes sense to other people. I have to echo what Christy said and say that the AT&T cellphone building is pretty cool!

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