Making the most of Music City

There are some things that every Vanderbilt student should do at least once before they graduate, regardless of their typical entertainment scene. Our bucket list is a great place to start.

Andrew Kolondra Jr., Life Deputy Editor

You don’t have to live here for long to know that Nashville is a happening city. There is always a veritable ton of events and activities taking place on any given day, both at home on Vanderbilt’s campus and around Music City. Almost all of these events are worth taking some time to check out, but some are more worth it than others. The Life section is here to break them down for you. Read on for your four-year Nashville bucket list.


For the Outdoorsy Type:

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

This gorgeous 55-acre estate houses an art museum in its elegant Georgian mansion and multiple botanical gardens, once the home of 1930s grocery distribution tycoons Mabel and Leslie Cheek. A short 20-minute drive from campus, Cheekwood also hosts four annual seasonal festivals, including a fall pumpkin patch and a winter holiday lights walking tour. Find out more about Cheekwood’s weekly programming here.

The Warner Parks

The Edwin and Percy Warner Parks collectively span more than 3,100 acres of forest just outside of downtown Nashville and make a perfect day trip for a fun hike or bicycle ride through the woods with friends. Even if you’re not up for a hike, the educational Nature Center makes the park a learning experience far more engaging than a stuffy Vandy lecture hall. Read more at Friends of Warner Parks.


For the History Buff:

The Hermitage

Former President Andrew Jackson may not be the most popular guy in American history, but no matter your opinions about his time in office, his beautiful estate is worth a visit. His mansion, restored with many of his original belongings, sits among acres of tasteful gardens, and you can even visit his tomb, where he rests along with his wife, Rachel, and other family members. Park programming also educates Hermitage visitors about the enslaved families who once lived on the grounds, and many special programs in this area will celebrate Black History Month in Feb. Check out The Hermitage for more event information.

The Nashville Parthenon

Constructed in 1897 as a centerpiece for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, this massive building is a full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon in Athens and houses its own larger-than-life Athena statue within its walls. But you don’t have to be a classical studies major or a devoted fan of the Percy Jackson series to enjoy a trip to the Parthenon, as there’s also an art gallery inside, featuring a permanent collection of American art from the 19th and 20th centuries and extra space for a variety of temporary exhibitions. All this only a short walk away from campus (unless you live on Commons – sorry, first-years). Check out Nashville Parks and Recreation for more information about tour times and museum hours.

Andrew Kolondra Jr.


For the Art Major:

First Saturday Art Crawl

Voted “Best Art Happening” in the Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville 2019, the First Saturday Art Crawl is a free event on the first Saturday of every month when more than 20 art galleries at four locations around downtown Nashville open to the public to showcase both local and world-renowned artists in diverse exhibitions. Many of the galleries serve complimentary refreshments, and a free trolley system connects each of the four gallery locations. Did we mention it’s free? For a list of 2020 dates, visit Nashville Downtown.

The Frist

While you’re downtown, check out the Frist Art Museum, Nashville’s premier art destination, with its wide variety of award-winning exhibitions that change regularly. Additionally, the Martin ArtQuest Gallery, an interactive art-making space housed alongside the exhibitions, lets you bring out your creative side by participating in the craft yourself. Check out a list of current exhibitions at the Frist.


For the Music Lover:

Cannery Row

Between downtown Nashville and the Gulch, Cannery Row’s many music venues are home to all sorts of concerts, showcases and other events. Check out an event schedule at Cannery Row.

The Ryman Auditorium

Concert venues abound in Nashville, but none come close to the mighty Ryman Auditorium, which many call “the place where bluegrass was born.” The venue hosts artists from all around the world and from every music genre, and something just feels different about experiencing the performing arts in such a historic space. Alternatively, take a tour of the hall and see the many exhibits of priceless music memorabilia on display. Explore the calendar of shows and events at the Ryman.

Photo courtesy Travel & Leisure


For the Superfan:

The Nashville Predators

While the Bridgestone Arena certainly gets its fair share of foot traffic as a popular concert venue, it wouldn’t be the arena that it is without its professional hockey team, the Nashville Predators. Whether you’re a football know-it-all, a baseball aficionado or someone who doesn’t care for sports at all, everyone should attend at least one hockey game in their life, and the Predators’ Golden U student program makes it both easier and cheaper to make it to a home game. Sign up for Student Rush tickets at Golden U.