The capital of Tennessee, Nashville is a lively and fast-growing city home to a huge number of exciting historical sites. Whether it’s a picturesque Civil War-era plantation, a recreation of a world-famous Greek temple, or a revolutionary recording studio for Nashville’s music scene, Music City has something to suit history buffs of all kinds.
In no particular order, what follows is our list of the best historical sites in and around Nashville.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Located about 10 miles from downtown Nashville, the Hermitage is the historic home of Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States. Home to a historic mansion, beautiful gardens, a museum, and even a wine-tasting room, this is a worthy destination to add to any itinerary.
The highlight of the Hermitage is Andrew Jackson’s home, so be sure to book The Mansion Tour ahead of time. This offering includes admission to the property, a self-guided walk through the grounds, and a guided tour of the historic mansion.
For those interested in Andrew Jackson’s role as an owner of enslaved people, consider adding on either of the facility’s two tours that describe in detail the dark history of slavery at the Hermitage. One of these, called The Hermitage Enslaved: A Wagon Tour, includes a 30-minute tour of the plantation grounds in a horse-drawn wagon.
Reservations and tickets can be purchased online. Visitors should plan to arrive approximately thirty minutes before their tours begin.
4580 Rachels Ln, Hermitage, TN | 615-889-2941 | thehermitage.com
Tennessee State Capitol
First opened in 1859, the Tennessee State Capitol is a beautiful building with a rich history. One of only 12 state capitols without an architectural dome, this Tennessee landmark is the home of the General Assembly as well as the office of the governor.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the building Monday through Friday. Otherwise, guided tours take place most days at 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00, and they begin at the Information Desk on the first floor. Reservations are not available, and all tours operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
During the week, visitors should seek out paid parking lots or street parking. On the weekends, the Capitol opens its employee parking lot to visitors for free. For more history, follow the Bicentennial Capitol Mall towards the Tennessee State Museum, which features exhibits on the Civil War, Native Americans, and much more.
600 Dr. M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Nashville, TN | 615-360-4326 | tnmuseum.org/state-capitol
The highlight of Centennial Park, Nashville’s Parthenon was built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition. A full-scale replica of the original building in Athens, this Parthenon offers visitors the chance to explore a recreation of a world-famous historical site. In addition to the main building, Nashville’s Parthenon also has a large, gilded statue of Athena in the main room.
The Parthenon is also an art museum, and it features a few rotating exhibits as well as a permanent exhibit on American art. Visitors are welcome to walk around the recreation, explore the art galleries, and buy souvenirs at the museum store. Architecture audio tours are provided daily, and a guided architecture tour takes place once a month.
After visiting, consider sticking around to explore the rest of Centennial Park. There’s a one-mile walking trail, a small lake, and a number of historical monuments spread throughout the park.
2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN | 615-862-8431 | nashvilleparthenon.com
Jack Daniel’s Distillery
Located about 75 miles outside of Nashville in the small town of Lynchburg, Jack Daniel’s Distillery is the home of Tennessee’s famous whiskey. A few different tours of the distillery are available, most of which include whiskey samplings and are therefore 21+.
The Flight of Jack Distillery Tour lasts 90 minutes, and it includes an overview of the whiskey-making process as well as a stop at the site’s historic Barrel House 1-14. This tour includes samples of five of Jack Daniel’s most famous drinks. For a kid-friendly option, try out the Dry County Distillery Tour, which offers details on the process of making whiskey as well as interesting stories about Jack Daniel himself.
Before leaving Lynchburg, stop by the town’s small downtown district for a bite to eat or some shopping.
133 Lynchburg Hwy, Lynchburg, TN | 931-759-6357 | jackdaniels.com/en-us/visit-distillery
The largest house built in Tennessee before the Civil War, the Belmont Mansion is an impressive historical property constructed between 1849 and 1860. Situated on Belmont University’s campus, the mansion is easy to access and definitely worth a visit.
Visitors can choose from a few different tours. Fans of Civil War History should definitely book a spot on the Battle of Nashville Tour, which tracks the mansion’s connections to the Civil War. For those interested in furniture and other artifacts, consider the 90-minute Curator’s Tour. All tours require advance reservations, and tickets can be purchased online.
For those hoping to visit without booking a tour, visitors are welcome to explore the house at their own pace. Knowledgeable guides and posted signage throughout the house provide helpful information about the mansion’s history. Parking is available in the visitor parking lot adjacent to the museum. The rest of Belmont University’s campus is beautiful, so don’t hesitate to explore after visiting the mansion.
1901 15th Ave S, Nashville, TN | 615-460-5459 | belmontmansion.com
Historic RCA Studio B
Built-in 1957, RCA Studio B helped establish Nashville as one of the country’s most famous cities for music. A number of famous hits were recorded here, including Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” in 1973. Set in Music Row, the section of town with countless recording studios, RCA Studio B makes the perfect destination for visitors interested in Nashville’s rich music history.
The recording studio closed in 1977, but today it is operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as a historic site. Tours of the recording studio are available, and tickets can be purchased online. Visitors should plan to spend about 1.5 to 2 hours at the studio to best enjoy all of the exhibits and galleries.
Those interested in Nashville’s role in the music industry should also add the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to their itinerary. Located downtown, this large museum has exhibits dedicated to a number of talented artists including Chris Stapleton, Bill Anderson, and many more.
1611 Roy Acuff Place, Nashville, TN | 615-416-2001 | countrymusichalloffame.org/experiences/studio-b
A fort built by Union troops in 1862, Fort Negley makes a great destination for those interested in Nashville’s role in the Civil War. Located in a park just outside of downtown, visitors are welcome to explore the fort year-round from dawn to dusk. Maps are provided on-site.
After exploring the fort and the surrounding park, be sure to check out the Fort Negley Visitors Center. Here, visitors can explore a number of interactive exhibits, a 20-minute video about the fort’s construction, and a picturesque view of downtown. Staff is available to answer questions, and restrooms and a gift shop are also provided in the visitor’s center.
1100 Fort Negley Blvd, Nashville, TN | nashville.gov/…
Belle Meade Historic Site
The home of John Harding, Belle Meade Historic Site is another one of Nashville’s many beautiful mansions. Surrounded by expansive grounds and a number of smaller historical buildings, this 1853 Greek Revival Mansion provides an interesting look back towards the nineteenth century.
Depending on each visitor’s interests, a number of tours are provided. The 45-minute Mansion Tour is the most popular, and it provides a guided walk through the house followed by a complimentary wine tasting in the nearby winery.
For information on the role, that slavery played at Belle Meade, get tickets for the Journey to Jubilee tour, which lasts for 60 minutes and describes in detail the lives of the many enslaved people who lived and worked on the property.
Additional specialized experiences, including a Guided Segway Tour and the Belle Meade Bourbon Experience, can also be booked. All tickets can be purchased online.
Besides the tours, Belle Meade also offers a couple of options for dining and shopping. The Belle Meade Meet & Three features a Southern-inspired menu of smoked meats, cooked vegetables, rolls, and more, and dine-in and carryout are both available. For dessert, stop by the Chicken Coop, which serves ice cream and homemade fudge.
The Shop at Belle Meade has locally-made pottery and jewelry, and local wines can be purchased at the on-site Wine Shop.
5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN | 615-356-0501 | visitbellemeade.com
The oldest historic house museum in Nashville, Travellers Rest was the home of Judge John Overton. Built-in 1799, this site has a rich history that is worth exploring. On the property, explore the historic home and a small museum with exhibits dedicated to slavery and the Civil War.
Guided tours of the home are provided, and discounts are offered for seniors and students. The property is open six days a week, and tours take place on the hour from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Advance reservations are only required for groups of greater than 12.
636 Farrell Pkwy, Nashville, TN | 615-832-8197 | historictravellersrest.org
These have been some of the best historic sites in and around Nashville, Tennessee. Enjoy your visit to Music City!