The biggest city in Tennessee, Nashville is home to some of the top attractions in the state. Famous as the home of country music, Music City is famous for top attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Tennessee State Museum. But in many ways, it's in the bars and music joints where you'll encounter the real Nashville. Although it has embraced the tourism that comes with its status as Music City, Nashville still remains a place where people come to make it big in country music. Downtown Nashville hums with the sound of music at all hours of the day and night, making this one of the best cities for nightlife in all of the United States.
Visit Nashville, and you won't be able to ignore this energetic atmosphere. Almost from the moment you arrive at Nashville Airport, you'll find yourself caught up in the vibe, the free live music that's everywhere in the city, and the delicious food and fun activities Music City has to offer.
Unfortunately, Nashville doesn't come cheap. A recent property boom has made Music City more unaffordable than ever for the hopeful musicians who come to the city to break into the industry. And that has had a trickle-down effect on the top tourist attractions. Still, with a little research, it's still possible to find great bargains in Nashville and enjoy a budget trip.
To make things easier, make sure you drop off your bags at a Nashville suitcase storage. Traveling light will make it far easier to enjoy free attractions like Centennial Park and the endless live music options you'll find in the city. And knowing your bags will be safely looked after until you return means you can focus on enjoying everything Nashville has to offer when you visit Music City.
Cheap places to stay in Nashville
Downtown Nashville hotels can quickly get expensive, especially during the busy summer season. However, there are a few good ways to save money on your accommodation since it's likely to be the most expensive single item on your Nashville vacation budget.
One way to save money is to consider staying a little further from the center of town. Nashville has a decent public transportation system that can make it easy to get to where you want to go. Plus, outlying areas, like East Nashville, offer a different atmosphere than you'll find in the heart of the city and can be the best places to encounter the exciting cultural life of Nashville on a budget.
If you're wondering where to stay in Nashville, check out our neighborhood guide to the city. And if you're looking for great places to stay in Nashville on a budget, consider one of these more affordable options for lodging in Music City:
The Capitol Hotel Downtown
If you're looking for a cheap place to stay in downtown Nashville, you could do a lot worse than this hotel. Just steps from the Country Music Hall of Fame, Music City Walk of Fame Park, the Johnny Cash Museum, and Nashville Farmers Market, this hotel is close to so much of what you want to see when visiting Nashville. It's also within walking distance of some of the best museums and art galleries in town, and you'll have your pick of live music venues here, as well as great places to eat. Take a self-guided tour of this neighborhood, and you'll encounter just about everything you want to see in Nashville on a budget.
You can get a room for $145 here, even in the height of the summer tourist season. You can choose from a room with a king-size or queen-size bed for the same price or can choose a room with two queen-size beds for only a few dollars more. The room rates also include a hot breakfast, making this one of the best deals in downtown Nashville and a place you can't afford to overlook if you want to explore Nashville on a budget and be close to the heart of everything.
Knights Inn Nashville
Located just across the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville, this two-star hotel may not be fancy, but it's certainly affordable. With Cumberland Park and the redeveloped river area close by, this hotel also offers a great location, and it's easy to cross over to downtown to see local attractions like the Ryman Auditorium and Music Row.
Even in August, you can get a room here for less than $100 a night. $90 gets you a room with two twin-size beds or a single queen-size bed, and you'll also be provided with free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV, and a refrigerator and microwave so you can even prepare your own meals to make it even easier to see Nashville on a budget. The rooms also offer air conditioning, which is an absolute godsend in a Nashville summer, and there's plenty of on-site parking available. That makes this hotel a great no-frills option if you want to stay cheaply in the city.
Waymore's Guest House & Casual Club
Located in a quirky neighborhood of East Nashville, this three-star hotel is surrounded by great restaurants, bars, and other fun things to do. This boutique hotel has a rooftop bar and the Casual Club, which is a 4000-square-foot creative space dedicated to nurturing the arts in the local area. Waymore's is really plugged into the lively cultural scene in Nashville, and it shows in every detail, even down to the paintings by local artists on the walls.
The hotel has an impressive range of rooms to suit just about any style of travel, from solo to couple to family to groups of friends. You can get a room with a king-size bed and views of downtown Nashville or a room equipped with bunkbeds to sleep the whole family in a single place. Many of the rooms are more like suites, with a full refrigerator and a kitchen sink so you can cook your own meals.
In August, the cheapest room is a Guesthouse King, which costs around $170, so it's hardly the cheapest option for visiting Nashville on a budget. However, the room features floor-to-ceiling windows, a king-size bed, a work desk, and a snack tray, so it's a surprisingly luxurious place to stay when you visit Nashville.
Cheap things to do in Nashville
Nashville has plenty of things to do, whether you're a country fan or not. And among the city's best-known attractions, you'll find some good bargains. In fact, some of the best things to do in Nashville are totally free, and others are surprisingly affordable. So leave your bags behind and check out these budget-friendly places to see while you're in town.
This Tennessee park is one of the top attractions in Nashville, free or not. Home to the Parthenon, a reconstruction of the ancient Greek temple in Athens, Centennial Park is where the people of Nashville come to socialize, exercise, hang out, and of course, enjoy music. Virtually any time you visit Centennial Park, you'll find free live music in the air provided by the local street entertainers and aspiring country music stars. You'll also find a one-mile walking trail, a sunken garden, and a dog park. The park is also the setting for many of Nashville's top free events, including the Kidsville Family Festival, the Taco Festival, and Musicians Corner, one of the biggest events on the Nashville annual calendar, where you can enjoy free concerts and other entertainment in this beautiful outdoor setting.
Tennessee State Museum
One of the top cultural attractions for anyone looking to visit Nashville, the Tennessee State Museum tells the story of the state's founding from its earliest frontier times up to the present day. You learn about indigenous people who once called the area home, the first homesteads that led to the establishment of the state, the role of Tennessee in the Civil War, and beyond. The museum tells this fascinating story through photos, displays, and interactive exhibits, making this a great place to learn more about local history. Plus, the museum is completely free to visit.
Nashville Flea Market
Held at the end of every month at The Fairgrounds, this is a great place to look for unique gifts and souvenirs. There are hundreds of vendors here selling everything from camera lenses to vintage clothing to toys, and just browsing the stalls is a great way to spend a few hours. Parking costs five dollars, but admission is free, so all you'll spend will be whatever price you negotiate with the vendors.
Cheap places to eat in Nashville
Nashville is a fantastic place to eat. Southern soul food meets recipes from across the nation and around the world in this increasingly cosmopolitan city, so whatever you like to eat, you'll find it here. And in a city known for its high population of starving musicians, it's not hard to find cheap food in Nashville. Check out the best street food in the city at one of Nashville's many food truck events, or give one of these restaurants a try:
Mas Tacos Por Favor
This perennially popular Mexican joint serves delicious tacos at bargain prices. Choose from pulled pork, chicken, tilapia, or vegetarian options at this busy food counter. Most of the tacos cost three dollars each, so you can have a filling and delicious meal for very little money here.
Practically nothing on the menu at this local favorite costs more than $10. Feast on true classics like hot chicken or cheesesteak, all of it comparable to fast food prices.
I Dream of Weenie
This food truck is based out of a converted VW camper van and serves some of the best hot dogs in the city. All the hot dogs are five dollars or less, and they are substantial meals in themselves, so you won't leave here feeling hungry.
Cheap bars in Nashville
Nashville has always been a drinking town. It's not hard to find cheap beer in the city, and more often than not, you'll also get free entertainment courtesy of an up-and-coming band.
Celebrate the weird side of Nashville at this iconic karaoke bar. This cash-only bar located in a bona fide trailer doesn't do cocktails or wine but serves beer from the fridge at three dollars a pop and all the amateur music you can handle.
Dee's Country Cocktail Lounge
The front door of this bar may, in fact, be a genuine time portal back to the 1970s. Shag carpet, wood paneling, and a disco ball re-create the atmosphere of a bygone era, and the prices help. Cans of beer cost $3.50, with cocktails around the seven dollar mark, and happy hour runs from 3 to 6 PM, when you can get two drinks for the price of one.
Wilburn Street Tavern
Over on the East Side, this hip bar offers daily specials where you can get handcrafted cocktails for less than $10. They also have an extensive menu of bar food, all of it available for five dollars per dish.
Bonus budget tips for Nashville
Explore the city by foot or bike: Walking or biking is a great way to explore Nashville without spending money on transportation. There are also several bike rental companies in Nashville that offer affordable rates.
Eat at local food trucks and markets: Nashville is known for its food scene, but restaurant dining can be expensive. Consider trying some of the city's food trucks or visiting a local market, such as the Nashville Farmers' Market, for affordable meals.
Attend free events and concerts: Nashville is, above all, a music city, and there are often free concerts and events happening around town. Check out the Nashville Scene's event calendar or visit the website of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation for more information.
Buy tickets in advance: If you plan to visit popular attractions like the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman Auditorium, buying tickets in advance can help you save money and avoid long lines.
There's no limit to the amount of money you can spend in Nashville. But at the same time, you can take advantage of free things to do, cheap places to stay, and bargain bars to make your dollars stretch further on your Nashville trip. Leave your bags behind and get ready to explore a more authentic side of the city while saving money simultaneously.