By: Heather Brown
Nashville sets the stage for not only talented singer/songwriters, but also one of the most successful shows on CMT. While performers are featured on platforms varying from bars to arenas daily in Music City, Nashville itself serves as the most integral character in the Nashville series. The cast of Nashville utilizes spots around town as the backdrop to family secrets, country music performances, and artist rivalries. From coffee shops to venues, check out the locales used in the show so you can take on Nashville like a superstar.
Rayna and Juliette meet in Season 1 backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. As the show that made country music famous, it is only fitting that the reigning Queen of Country and the rising Country/Pop Princess cross paths at this historical venue. You can schedule tours behind the scenes of the Grand Ole Opry and even snag a picture on the famous stage.
The Bluebird Café is a fundamental setting at the beginning of the series. Known as a critically acclaimed listening room, this intimate yet revered café is where Gunnar and Scarlett worked before getting recognition. All of the characters of the show have performed at Bluebird throughout the series, nodding to its reputation as being the place where legends play. Most famous for its open mic nights, check out the Bluebird Café's' calendar to attend a songwriters night for yourself.
If you're going to mention The Grand Ole Opry, it's only fitting to feature the Ryman as well. Rayna and Juliette perform together at the Mother Church of Country Music. The chance to perform at this venue is often regarded as the pinnacle of an artist's career, and the cast of Nashville have the same regard for the National Historic Landmark. Check out the Ryman website for behind the scenes tours.
Bars on Broadway
In Nashville, bars double as music forums. One stroll down Broadway will elicit sounds of dozens of performances any day of the week. The show spotlights many honky tonks in downtown Nashville, using the bars as stages for characters to perform in true Nashville fashion. The Wildhorse Saloon, Crazy Town, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Rippy's Bar & Grille, and Tequila Cowboy have all been filmed for the show. You can catch the lights of lower Broadway illuminating scenes throughout the series. In addition to watching a show on Honky Tonk Highway, you can buy a pair of authentic cowboy boots, savor a Goo Goo Cluster, and admire the Cumberland River.
Restaurants & Coffee Shops
Everyone recognizes Nashville's reputation as a town that lives and breathes music, but Tennessee's capital also has delicious cuisine and local coffee shops. Despite the ongoing drama, the characters of Nashville find time to visit these sites to catch up and grab a bite to eat. Tying together scenes of musical performances, you'll see the stars of the show frequent some Nashville hot spots.
Avery plays a show at Barista Parlor (the East Nashville location) in Season 5. Scenes of the automobile chic décor served as a hip backdrop to Avery's concert. He's also seen eating some delicious BP breakfast after serving up some tunes. Barista Parlor also has locations in the Gulch and Germantown.
Photo: @skybluecafe + @baristaparlor
The Sky Blue Café is an iconic breakfast spot in East Nashville. Juliette ate with her athlete beau at Sky Blue in Season 1 and Scarlett and Deacon grabbed some coffee here to sneak in some family time in Season 5. This intimate restaurant will remind you of your grandma's dining room and rival her cooking.
Maddie runs coffee errands to The Post East during her record label internship in Season 5, and it is where she meets Clayton as he performs on the intersection of Fatherland and 17th. The Post East is featured throughout the season as a meeting spot for Maddie and Juliette to discuss music while sipping their vanilla lattes. You can snack on gluten-free, vegan, and organic dishes in this East Nashville dig.
Scarlett and Gunnar dine with their publisher at Watermark in the Gulch. Named after a print shop, Watermark is an upscale modern restaurant with impressive skyline views. For those seeking a unique dining experience, Watermark is the perfect marriage of urban and contemporary.
In Season 5, Scarlett and Gunnar grace the stools of Elliston Place Soda Shop. The grocery store turned pharmacy turned soda shop gives an old school diner feel to the tune of a jukebox. This throwback spot is great for grabbing milkshakes and fries.
When the cast members of Nashville aren't in performance mode, you'll catch them exploring Nashville attractions from Belle Meade to Hermitage. The show spotlights several locations around town that are worth a visit.
The show's first season featured a Nashville showstopper: the pedestrian bridge. Rayna and Deacon took walks along this picturesque promenade and gave viewers a glimpse of the incredible Nashville skyline. You can see everything from the iconic Batman building to the Titan Stadium. Maddie returned to it during Season 5 to have a serious heart to heart with Clayton. The bridge is ideal for an afternoon run or to capture the downtown scenery with a skyline photo-op.
In the first episode of Season 2, Juliette performs at the Parthenon in efforts to skyrocket her career and regain popularity. The Parthenon is the highlight of Centennial Park in West Nashville. Along with a statue of Athena, the Parthenon has an art museum. Check out an exhibit or visit for a day in the park. Centennial Park has sand volleyball courts, a lake, swings, model airplanes/trains, and trails to enjoy.
Photo: @parthenoninnashville + @nashville_parks
Music Row is the epicenter of music businesses in town, so naturally it is featured in the show Nashville. It's comprised of publishing companies, record label houses, and recording studios. Season 1 features many scenes in this part of town, as many of the characters spend time writing songs and vying for record deals. Gunnar and Scarlett work in several of the studios and Juliette shot a music video in front of the Musica Statue. Just across the round-a-bout, there are restaurants and bars scattered along Demonbreun worth exploring.
Although the plotline of Nashville is thick with family drama, backstabbing, and politics, Music City emerges as the true star of the series. From honky tonks to shows, there are so many reasons to visit Nashville. The CMT production proves that the city is so much more than just a setting, it's an adventure. Come for the music, stay for the experience.
Hailing from the Old Dominion, I've easily adapted my "Virginia is for Lovers" slogan to the "Nashville is for Music Lovers" lifestyle. After moving to Music City from Oklahoma City, I've explored middle Tennessee through the lens of artists' paintbrushes and urban canvasses. I've enjoyed eating, sipping, and dancing my way through Tennessee's capital, while pausing periodically to strike a pose throughout the journey.