There's something electric about Nashville. It's established itself as one of the South's most dynamic cities, not only for its country-music fame but also for its charming historic sites and funky urban style. Best of all, the city is ready to welcome you even if you don't have a dime set aside for entertainment.
It will be music to your ears to hear that all of Stay Alfred's vacation rentals put you right in the center of the action, within walking distance of dozens of bars, restaurants and attractions, so you don't have to waste money on transportation. And cooking your own meals in the beautiful, fully-fitted kitchens featured in every apartment mean you can feel free to order another glass of wine.
Here are ten of our favorite places to visit in Nashville for free.
Nashville is famous as the home of country music, and there's nowhere better to hear it than the iconic Bluebird Cafe. Every evening at 6 p.m., established songwriters and up-and-coming artists alike belt out tunes from the tiny stage which has been graced by the likes of Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris. There's no cover charge for most acts, although there is a $10 minimum spend for drinks and advance booking is a must.
If you just can't get enough country music, you'll also love the atmospheric Midnite Jamboree, every Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m.. The jamboree is the second longest-running radio show in history, and you don't need a ticket to be part of the live audience. There are performances by legendary artists in an intimate venue, and the musicians often hang around afterwards to chat to fans and sign autographs.
If you're visiting during the warmer months, don't miss Live on the Green, a bunch of events and free concerts in Nashville that take place in Centennial Park every Labor Day weekend, where you can hear the best of the city's emerging music talent as well as familiar national artists.
Nashville has a long and storied history, but of all the historical stuff to do in Nashville the most impressive sight is the Civil War fortifications at Fort Negley. The largest inland fort in the US during the Civil War, the fort was originally built by Union troops in 1862. These days there's a slick new visitor center with interactive exhibits and videos explaining the history of the fort, and a great view of the city from the surrounding park.
For even more insight into what makes Nashville so unique, try the Tennessee State Museum, which just moved into impressive new digs last year. There are six modern galleries with multimedia exhibits which take you through the city's history from the original Native American settlers, a bright children's gallery on the ground floor that encourages kids to explore and play, and a store full of handmade items from local artisans.
The welcoming atmosphere of Nashville Public Library has made it one of the most popular free things to do in Nashville for locals and visitors alike. There are tons of interesting special collections, including artifacts from Ryman Auditorium's musical history and a reproduction lunch counter with information on the Tennessee civil rights movement. There's also a pleasant courtyard garden and a small art gallery with exhibits by local artists and portraits of famous Tennesseans.
Nashville likes to do things its own way, and Fifth Avenue here is not just for shopping but the city's premier art district. Lined with historic buildings, the avenues houses dozens of independent art galleries like the Arts Company and Rymer Gallery where you can browse contemporary art with a Nashville twist. The First Saturday Art Crawl is held every month, with specialist exhibitions, live music and complimentary cocktails at most stops.
If you love hunting for treasures, one of the most fun things to see in Nashville is Nashville Flea Market, where you can shop for knick-knacks and one-of-a-kind souvenirs on the fourth weekend of every month. Naturally there's lots of musical memorabilia for sale, but you can also find furniture, art, jewelry, rugs and everything from weather vanes to antique photos. It's best to bring cash, and arrive early if you want to bag a bargain – the gates open at 7am.
If you're looking for a photogenic view of Nashville's skyline for your Instagram snaps, look no further than the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, crossing the Cumberland River in the center of the city. It is one of the longest pedestrian-only bridges in the world and is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are sensational views over the downtown riverfront, and it's always popular at sunset.
If you're exhausted from all these Nashville activities, take a free tour of the city's major attractions with the Music City Circuit Bus, which departs every 15-30 minutes between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. from locations around downtown Nashville. You can hop on and off at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, Tennessee State Museum and Farmer's Market as well as at tons of other attractions, or just sit back in air-conditioned comfort and admire this gorgeous city.