Best Time to Visit Nashville
The city of Nashville, Tennessee is one of the most beloved and celebrated towns in the United States for its music scene, culture, and entertainment. Since Music City draws about 14 million visitors every year, it is no wonder tourists want to know: when is the best time to visit Nashville? Since the city is busy pretty much all year, the answer lies with the weather conditions and the calendar of events taking place.
Nashville is an easy vacation that is guaranteed to have plenty of entertainment happening no matter what time of the year. From iconic country music performances at the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium to The Parthenon and the Country Music Hall of Fame, there's always something to do.
Maybe you want to partake in Nashville's famous meat and three restaurants in the city for authentic Southern comfort meals, or experience the multitude of free music concerts with top-name acts, or be a part of the yearly spectacle of major music industry events like the Country Music Awards. Nashville will not disappoint.
Whether you are headed to Nashville for the music venues along Broadway or hoping to catch a glimpse of a country music legend at an out-of-the-way guitar shop, you can make your plans around some of the best times to visit the city.
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Best Time of Year to Visit Nashville
The spring and fall are the best times of the year to visit Nashville, when the weather is nice and the temperatures are comfortable. You will also encounter slightly less tourists on either side of the booming summer season, which is a relief. This means, more availability for tickets at places like the Grand Ole Opry, and easier access to other music venues. Hotel rates will be slightly lower in the spring and fall than they are in the summer when prices are inflated.
The spring and fall weather is nice enough to enjoy the many outdoor concerts around the city and patio dining at local restaurants. Spring is the start of fun free outdoor events like Musicians Corner with live music at Centennial Park. There are concert dates in the fall also. If you cannot decide between spring and fall it is best to scout out the Nashville festival scene and pick dates based on what strikes your interest.
While summer has some exciting events in Nashville like the CMA-festival, if you are not going for a specific reason during this window of time then it is best not to. Summers in Nashville are sweltering. In contrast, the spring and fall temperatures average in the 70s.
Even in the more comfortable months there can be occasional unpredictable storms and high humidity, so you are advised to pack to accommodate various types of weather conditions.
Cheapest Time to Go to Nashville
The cheapest time to visit Nashville is from November to March, when you will find deep discounts on hotel rooms and airfare. This is a great time to score big discounts at top hotels and resorts that may be out of reach during the booming tourist season, when rates are highly inflated. The only exception to this time frame are the days surrounding the mainstream holidays when the rates will briefly go up again.
Otherwise, you can enjoy the festive decorations downtown and at the Opryland Hotel. Winter weather can be a bit damp and gloomy, but the attractions and music scene are still thriving, so you will not miss any of the Nashville experience. Just pack a jacket.
Best Month to Visit Nashville
There's so much activity available in Nashville all the time that if you are not dependent on a specific festival or event then October is the month to go. The October weather in Nashville is pleasant and cooler. It is a drier time of the year, and the leaves are still on the trees. There is lots of entertainment available both indoors and outdoors, and it is a more comfortable time of the year to enjoy festivals, sightseeing, and walking tours of the city.
October is a great month to enjoy the First Saturday Art Crawl in downtown Nashville. With the crisp fall air, it is nice to walk to the galleries and experience the local social scene. This is one of many local events that you can enjoy beyond the music throughout the city.
There are a couple of other top months to consider in Nashville for their unique opportunities in the city.
April: You might need to pack a raincoat and umbrella for an April visit to Nashville, but if you want to enjoy an old-school Nashville experience, this is a nice time to go, when there are fewer tourists visiting the attractions. You will have more elbow room at the places that provide some historical understanding about Nashville, like The Johnny Cash Museum, which has costumes and memorabilia from the country music legend.
An evening at the historic Ryman Auditorium for a show is a worthwhile experience in Nashville, and since the intimate venue often sells out shows far in advance, visiting in the slower season of April will make it easier to book tickets.
May: Nashville weather can be finicky any time of the year, so you will want to pack a light jacket in May, but late spring is a great time to visit, when you can enjoy outdoor attractions like the Nashville Zoo in a comfortable climate. The grey skies of winter are gone, and the stifling heat and tourists that come during the summer have not yet arrived. It is a great month to visit some of the popular museums like the Country Music Hall of Fame, where the lines will be shorter to see the exhibits.
June: The month of June is a targeted month in Nashville because of the CMA Music Festival. You will need to plan ahead because it is an annual event for some country music fans, and thousands of tourists flock to the city to enjoy it. If you are a tried-and-true country music fan this is the best month to go to see Nashville's famed music scene on full display.
Best Days of the Week to Visit Nashville
If you want to avoid a crowd and find ticket availability for shows then Sunday through Thursday is your best bet. While you can find music and events any day of the week, it is easier to get into the shows of your choice during the weekdays. If you are concerned that musical acts at the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman are not as good during the week as on the weekend, you will be pleasantly surprised to see that the Nashville music scene is "on" all of the time, so top acts are performing consistently.
A Sunday through Thursday Nashville visit can also get you better hotel deals and packages. While Fridays and Saturdays are the most popular days of the week to visit Nashville, hotel rates are higher and there are huge crowds at venues, restaurants, and on the streets.
Best Time to Visit Nashville for Music
As you might have guessed from the Nashville insight already, there is always music playing in Music City, but indeed, there are times of the year that are better than others for enjoying it. The best time to visit Nashville for music is from April to October, with summer being the pinnacle of the music scene.
Lower Broadway is where many of the music venues come alive. Follow the neon lights and the blaring honky tonk into whatever venue speaks to your musical taste. Nashville is an incredible city to experience top-rated music from established and up-and-coming artists, most of the time with no cover charge.
The crowning music event of the summer season is the CMA Music Festival that takes place every June. This multi-day festival draws thousands of fans to watch the top country artists perform on multiple stages. It draws the who's who of country music, and it is the place to be to knock off a bucket-list goal for many music fans.
Nashville also has many free outdoor concerts that are great to enjoy in the summer. Some of the top ones include the Full Moon Pickin' Party, which showcases live Tennessee Bluegrass in Warner Park on the Friday closest to the full moon from May through October, and the Live on the Green performances at Public Square Park in August and September, oftentimes with big name acts.
Worst Time to Visit Nashville
The worst time of year to visit Nashville is January and February, when the weather is damp and gloomy. It gets dark early during these winter months, so your daylight for activities will be shortened. Winter is a slow season in the city, so you will be able to get big discounts on hotels and airfare. There is still plenty of iconic Nashville music happening at the local venues, but you will miss some of the great outdoor concerts that happen during other times of the year.
Some might argue that July and August are the worst times to visit because Nashville can be miserably hot, and these months are in the height of the busy tourist season. Summer is a double-edged sword because it is when the biggest events happen, but the sweltering hot temperatures and high humidity can make it unbearable for the casual tourist.
Best Overlooked Nashville Attractions
Most visitors to Nashville have the most popular things to do, like the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Belle Meade Plantation on their must-see list, but one of the charming things about the city is the tucked-away attractions that most people never even know about but are worth the visit. Besides, in Nashville, you never know where you might rub elbows with a famous musician.
The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum: If you are a music fan, then the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville should be on your itinerary. It is the only museum of its kind in the world that pays tribute to the top studio musicians who are behind some of the greatest recording hits in the country. The museum spotlights the musicians who played for famous artists like Elvis, The Beach Boys, and Jimi Hendrix, and features exhibits with the instruments used in famous recordings.
The Carl Van Vechten Gallery: The Carl Van Vechten Gallery is not known among many people who visit Nashville, unless they are on the campus of Fisk University. This tiny gallery is the former home of New York photographer Carl Van Vechten and is now a stunning showcase of his photographs, artwork by American artists, and changing contemporary exhibits representing some of the most renowned artists in the past 300 years. Of note is the Steiglitz collection, with work from Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, and Pablo Picasso.
Carter Vintage Guitars: A visit to Carter Vintage Guitars is like going to a museum. The 8,000-square foot store deals in consignment collectibles and has a showroom of unique and rare instruments. Stop in to see some vintage Gibson guitars, banjos, base guitars, and other instruments. Celebrity musicians shop at Carter Vintage Guitars all the time, so you may just run into a Grammy-winning artist trying out an instrument in the store.
Lane Motor Museum: Car enthusiasts will definitely want to go see Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, located in a 40,000-square-foot former bakery. The single-owner collection has more than 300 rare automobiles, including one-of-a-kind cars. You will see the unusual-looking 1950 A. Morin Scootavia Tripousse, a three-wheeled 1953 Ardex, and the 1953 prototype Manom Company Manocar. This non-profit museum continues to collect and preserve unique automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, boats, and aircraft.
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Where to Stay in Tennessee: There are so many Nashville hotels that you can find options from luxury hotels downtown or more budget-friendly lodging just on the outskirts of the city. There are also a number of nice resorts in Nashville that have extra amenities, like spas or rooftop pools. If you are looking for hotels to compliment a special occasion, like a romantic getaway or family vacation, there are many in the city that cater to these needs.
What to Do in Tennessee: If you are looking for other things to do in Tennessee, you can take your pick from day trips from Nashville to places like Gatlinburg or theme-based trips like a fly fishing vacation in the Smoky Mountains.