The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

The ultimate guide to the top 10 art, food and nature sites in Nashville

Not taking advantage of the art, food and nature in Nashville? Here are the top 10 must-ventures in the area.
Sean Onamade
The Parthenon at sunset in Centennial Park, as photographed on Nov. 11, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sean Onamade)

In one of America’s fastest-growing cities, it is understandable that Vanderbilt students may be torn with how to best spend their free time. Nashville is known for its world-renowned arts, food and nature, yet the surplus of venues leaves tourists confused about where and how to get the most out of their experience. Like many of you reading this article, as a new Nashville resident, I too wanted to get the most out of this city, leading me on a six-month exploration of the “must-see” sites in town. I created this article as a means of guidance for those “bored in Nashville,” because that statement should be an oxymoron! I have narrowed down this list to the 10 best activities in the three categories of art, food and nature, with each visit leading you a step higher on the Nashville cultural ladder. 


Country Music Hall of Fame 

The Country Music Hall of Fame is a two-hour experience that simultaneously educates and entertains their audience. What exactly should one expect for their $27.95 adult ticket, you may ask? First, there is a permanent exhibit that takes the viewer through a timeline of country music, consisting of artifacts such as instruments, stagewear, vintage videos and audio recordings. The viewer is taken from a pre-country music society to the modern day where it is now flourishing. Other exhibits include the lives of country singers such as Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley told through mixed media. The Hall of Fame is near the Broadway strip of bars and restaurants, meaning one can easily go on a fun tour at the Country Music Hall of Fame and then a night out on Broadway!

Frist Art Museum 

The Frist Art Museum is a Nashville must-see due to both its location and rotating exhibitions. Not only is it a grand architectural structure, but it was built on the site of the Nashville post office, a historical landmark. The Museum opened in 2001, but the history of the land plot is of unchangeable significance as it has been central to the life of the city since before World War II. Furthermore, every few months, they change their 12-15 exhibitions allowing art lovers a newfound experience with each visit. As a non-collection institution, they ensure that with each rotation they display only the best exhibits shipped from collections worldwide. They also offer an array of events, ranging from tastings of drinks from South America to modern embroidery and guided meditation.  Additionally, college students receive free admission on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. and a $5 discount any other time. 

Ryman Auditorium 

When in Nashville, going to a country music concert at Ryman Auditorium should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list. Ryman Auditorium is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, which holds titles such as the “home of country music” and the longest-running radio broadcast in U.S. history. Although no longer the home of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium is what Nashville can credit its Music City name to. Furthermore, the most famous musicians of the past and present like Hank Williams and Dolly Parton credit this stage with their success stories. Even if you are not a fan of country music, the Ryman is well-known for the unique acoustics that make the musical experience itself incomparable to that of other theaters. The viewer is ensured to feel like a part of history while occupying these seats!



Assembly Food Hall

While it only opened in 2021, the largest food hall in the United States has gained incredible popularity as both an entertainment venue and a collection of some of the best food Nashville has to offer. For entertainment, the rooftop has grown its reputation as one of the premier places in Nashville for live music, sports watch parties, dancing and more. If you are looking for some authentic Nashville barbecue, HoneyFire Barbeque Co. is the place to go. Don’t get too filled up on barbecue, though, as there are 30 other incredible restaurants in the building. My personal recommendations are Thai Esane, PokeNash and Velvet Taco, with an added trip to Donut Distillery for dessert. After a day out in the city, Assembly Food Hall is the perfect place to refuel and experiment with the best of Nashville cuisine!

Butcher & Bee

Located at 902 Main Street near East Nashville, Butcher & Bee is a delicious restaurant offering Mediterranean cuisine. Despite Nashville being known for its kicking barbeque, it is my first instinct to take any out-of-town guests to this location for their first meal. Their menus change occasionally as they use only the freshest of seasonal items, but their whipped feta, hummus, shawarma and avocado crispy rice are permanent to their brunch and dinner menus and a personal favorite. The ambiance is both classy and fun, making it the perfect place for any special occasion, or simply no occasion at all. 

Proper Bagel

Because I lived in New York for 18 years, it may shock readers that a Tennessee bagel shop is making an appearance in this article. However, Proper Bagel’s handmade, kettle-boiled bagels truly take me back north. There are 16 cream cheese options ranging from lavender honey and blueberry pie to the classics like scallion dill and fresh veggie. They have an outstanding array of breakfast sandwiches and to top it all off, their sliced-to-order smoked fish is flown in from Brooklyn! Their high demand has led them to offer three separate ordering methods: in-house, online and delivery — this means obtaining their products is never too much of a hassle.

Martin’s Bar-B-Que

The first time I went to Martin’s Bar-B-Que, the waiter asked my family and me if we wanted to “see how the food was made.” I readily accepted the offer, landing myself in the smoker room surrounded by an array of full-sized cows, pigs and chickens in the smoking process. Although quite gruesome, the kind man explained the 24-hour smoking process, detailing the exact care and cuts utilized to produce the restaurant’s award-winning meats. Their entire menu is made from scratch every day, including all of the sauces and sides. I had never witnessed such deep care and enthusiasm for a process until I went to Martin’s, and the flavors truly reflect that. Make sure that you are hungry before you visit as Martin’s portions embrace the phrase “bang for your buck”!



Centennial Park 

Why go to Greece if you can see the only Parthenon replica in the world right in the center of Nashville’s Centennial Park? Nashville’s first public park is a short five-minute walk from Vanderbilt’s campus which makes it a great place for students to have a picnic, go on walking trails or utilize their tennis and volleyball courts. By simply walking across the street, one encounters the Centennial Sportsplex where those interested can go ice skating or take a quick dip in the swimming pool. The park itself was created in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood, giving it that historical significance that many appreciate. 

Percy Priest Lake 

Percy Priest Lake is a personal favorite of mine as it offers a fun activity foreign to many out of the area… cliff jumping! For those brave enough to make the jump off the 15 to 50-foot cliffs, they can enjoy a day away from their screens in return for a much more fulfilling outdoor excursion. They also offer a variety of activities and sites: camping, fishing, wildlife grounds and a marina. Their camping grounds are open from April through October, and possibilities are plentiful, ranging from basics like primitive tent campsites to electrical hookup campsites. For those who like fishing, there is an array of sought-after fish in the lake, with the most notable being their array of bass.


In a growing city like Nashville, the 55-acre botanical garden at Cheekwood is a much-needed escape from the high rises. A two-hour venture through the estate’s 13 distinct gardens is a great way to get in a nice walk while appreciating Tennessee’s natural beauty. Built in 1929 as a home for Leslie and Mabel Cheek, the landscape reflects the style of a 1900s country estate house in Great Britain. The building itself has been turned into a world-class art museum, and in a single trip, one can experience and appreciate the nature, art and architecture of the estate.

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About the Contributor
Sean Onamade
Sean Onamade, Digital Director
Sean Onamade (‘25) is from Calgary, Canada, and is majoring in computer science in the School of Engineering. When not staying up late to work on code, Sean snaps photos, hits the gym and takes some time to learn a new language. He can be reached at [email protected].
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2 months ago


Candace Cohen
2 months ago

So informative and well written! Cannot wait to try all!