In the 1960s, downtown Nashville became a haven for bluegrass musicians, and the row of dive bars and saloons on Lower Broadway, now known as the Honky Tonk Highway, was born. Today, the music scene is the city’s main draw for tourists, with clubs and live-performance venues taking over downtown, often blasting songs at ear-splitting decibels.
Though the city is still famous for country music, you don’t need to be a country fan to have a good time. Based at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Nashville Symphony has earned 14 Grammy Awards and counting. A range of historic venues and swanky new clubs offers something for everyone, while two huge sports venues (Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium) hosting A-list acts are both within walking distance of downtown hotels, bars and restaurants. There’s no need to get stuck in traffic when stars like Elton John and Beyoncé are in town.
Here are the live-music venues I most enjoyed in Nashville.