I'm not against enjoying a bit of luxury now and then. But… I do like a bargain.
I like to pay fairly for things and also save money when I can so that I can travel farther and longer.
When it comes to tipping in places like Nashville where the people in the service industry absolutely depend on tips (many don't get paid otherwise) I like to be generous.
At the same time, when there are ways to save money, I like to do that too.
So here, as part of my 32 Free and Low-cost Tips series, are my suggestions for Nashville.
Save Your Money Getting Around Nashville
- Take Nashville Transit. With the help of the bus driver and using their computerized system, you can buy a bus ticket on the bus with cash in any value you want. You then simply slide your ticket through the system for future rides.
- The Music City Circuit bus is free and takes you all around the downtown area and a bit beyond to other points of interest.
- The local bus service is $1.70 for a regular bus and $2.25 for an express bus. Watch for the hours of service as some buses don't run late into the night.
- The bus from the airport to town and back is $1.70 as well and only takes a half hour. Even if you're not staying downtown, it's worth the fare and then transferring to another bus.
- Need help? Have a question? Ask a downtown ambassador. Look for the people in the yellow shirts and they'll have the answer to your question.
Free and Low-cost Music and Entertainment
- Walk the length of Broadway. Take in both sides of the street. Listen at the doors and take in the country vibe.
- Go to a Honky Tonk on Broadway. For the price of a drink and tips to both your server and the entertainment, you'll have a great few hours.
- Dance like no one is watching. Few people actually dance at the Honky Tonks but they do have space for a few people to get up and go for it.
- Buy a Music City Total Access Discount Attraction Pass. For the price of this $60 pass you'll get free entry into four attractions.
- Go to the Country Music Hall of Fame. This museum is a must for any trip to Nashville. I could have spent hours more in it. It's not cheap – $24.95 for adults. But there are a couple of options:
- Google “discount tickets for country music hall of fame”. When I did I found a Groupon price of $10.99
- Use your Music City Total Access pass to get in.
- Go to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. Located on Broadway, a visit to this shop will get you just about any country album (CD and vinyl) you're looking for as well as great information from the staff.
- Ask their opinion on where the best music is playing on Broadway while you're there.
- Be sure to get a coupon for $4 off the Johnny Cash Museum.
- Check out their Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree & Special Events listings.
- Go to the Johnny Cash Museum. The life of the “Man in Black” is fascinating and worth an hour or more of your time at this museum. You saved $4 getting in here from your coupon at Tubb Record Shop. Pick up a coupon here to save $2 off entrance to Ryman Auditorium.
- Go to the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman is the “mother church of country music.” You have two ways to save.
- Use your Music City Total Access pass to get in.
- Use your coupon from the Johnny Cash Museum.
- Cut a record. Yes, you too can record in Nashville. Just $20 for a solo recording in a studio with an engineer.
- Take the Redneck Comedy Bus Tour. Get your country on, learn how to talk redneck and see Nashville in a hilarious light. And don't forget to tip. It seems that anyone serving the public in Nashville doesn't get paid so tipping more than just a couple of bucks is important. The tour is $35. The best way to save on this is to use your Music City Total Access pass. The tour is worth more than half the cost of your four-attractions pass.
- Take in a hockey game. If you live in a hockey town and are willing to try to take in a game without much advance notice, you'll find the tickets in Nashville affordable. When I popped into town, the tickets for a game that night started at $15 – too bad I couldn't take advantage of them.
- Free museums. The Tennessee State Museum, Tennessee State Capitol and War Memorial Buildings are all free to the public.
Things to Do in Nashville that are Cheap
- Check out Nashville Guru. Recommended by a local Nashville Guru is where you'll find everything that's happening in Nashville that's Fun and inexpensive.
- Walk the bridge. The Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge crosses the Cumberland River and offers fantastic views of the Nashville skyline.
- Talk to a local. Is everyone in the south this friendly? I chatted with many people. I even met one woman on a local bus on the Wednesday and then met two of her co-workers on the Thursday. It's a small, big city.
- Wander through Music City Walk of Fame Park. Yes, see the stars honoring Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and other greats.
- Support a musician. The musicians in all the Honky Tonks on Broadway are playing for your tips and in hopes that you'll buy their CDs. For $10 this makes a great and inexpensive souvenir while giving a musician more of what they really need.
- Drink a local beer. Small local breweries reflect the communities they come from. Try a Yazoo beer for $4.75
- Wander neighborhoods beyond downtown. The two that were recommended to me repeatedly are the Gulch and Germantown.
- Take a self-guided walking tour. The Nashville Historical Commission publish a number of brochures you can download that give you free walking tours of the downtown and driving tours of greater Nashville.
- Eat a Goo Goo. A Nashville original, the Goo Goo Cluster is a candy bar. There is a store dedicated to all things Goo Goo at 116 3rd Avenue South.
- The Gardens at Gaylord Opryland Resort. If you don't have the pleasure to stay there you can still go and enjoy the amazing indoor gardens in this resort.
- Are you driving? I was told that the library parking lot is the best deal for parking downtown.
- If you're driving. Make your way to Arrington Vineyards where the visit, a picnic (bring your own) and tastings are free.
Eat on the cheap in Nashville
- Food Truck Thursday. On Thursday the food trucks are located between 4th and 5th Avenues on Deaderick Street. That's when I went. The biggest line was at The Grill Cheeserie. My sandwich of smoked gouda, caramelized apples and onions, fig mustard and crispy organic kale did not disappoint. To find out where the food trucks will be at any given time check out the interactive map on roaminghunger.com.
- The Honky Tonks. They all have bar food but don't expect to see a vegetable – unless it's deep fried. Roberts has a decent vegetarian burger.
I’d like to thank the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau for some support with this trip.