Wondering what to do with a day in Nashville on a small budget? My husband and I have some great ideas for you.
What To Do When You Have One Day In Nashville: Cheap & Free Options
Jack and I enjoyed a weekend in the Nashville, Tennessee area in early March days before a tornado hit the area and weeks before the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
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We spent one entire day exploring downtown Nashville before heading forty-five minutes out of the city to Cedars of Lebanon State Park for two nights of camping.
While I was researching what we could do for under $15 a person in the Nashville area, I became overwhelmed with choices. Nashville has an abundant supply of attractions that are either low-cost or free.
I am sharing what we got up to in our day in downtown Nashville, but at the end of the post, you will find an extensive list of other places you can explore in the Nashville area (most are downtown) for either free or an admission price of $15 or less per adult.
Nashville Farmer’s Market
We arrived in downtown Nashville just as the Nashville Farmer’s Market was opening and we were glad we did as we had a great selection of free parking spots to choose from. When you are parking an F250 with a slide-in camper on it, free generous sized parking spots are a huge plus!
Chef Dante Purveyor Of Artisan Cakes And Pastries
The hubby and I are passionate about excellent baked goods and were hoping to find some at the Farmer’s Market. The Chef Dante booth was just opening as we got there so we had an abundant selection of fresh-baked pastries to pick from. YUM! These are not the cheapest pastries (just a bit over average coffee shop baked good prices), but they are worth every penny you pay for them and more!
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
After we were done walking through the Nashville Farmer’s Market, we headed over to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. This has got to be the smallest State Park I have ever visited–but it was packed with things history and things to see.
Pathway Of History: Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
Jack and I took the time to read a lot of what was written about the history of Tennessee on the walls along the Pathway Of History.
World War II Memorial: Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
As we brushed up on essential dates in Tennessee history, we made our way over to the World War II memorial, where we learned about Tennessee’s part in the war effort.
95-Bell Carillon: Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
We were reasonably close to the 95-Bell Carillon when it started to play the Tennessee Waltz. Each bell stands for one of the 95 counties that make up the State of Tennessee.
Rivers Of Tennessee Fountains: Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
Since it was the last day of February, the fountain in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park was not operational, but we did enjoy reading all the facts and quotes written on the wall behind the fountain.
200 Foot Granite Map Of Tennessee: Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
This map is massive! We walked all over, reading the names of different cities and towns in Tennessee.
Tennessee State Capitol Building
After we were done exploring the State Park, we headed up the hill to explore the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol Building and walk around its exterior. Since it was Saturday, we were unable to go inside, but if you are there on a weekday during business hours, I believe you can go in and look around.
Chef Dante’s Babka Bread
Our next stop was the Tennessee State Museum, but to get there we had to walk by the Farmer’s Market and we could not resist going in and purchasing one more item form Chef Dante’s that we could enjoy later at the campground.
Tennessee State Museum
Jack and I both agree that the Tennessee State Museum is the best free museum that we have visited to date. The exhibits are well done, and the museum has a logical flow to it–starting with its roots and moving to recent history.
Jack is a Civil War buff, so he spent a lot of time in the Civil War exhibit reading the signs and looking every artifact over closely. My favorite display was the recent history area just before you exit. It was bizarre to see toys that I played with as a child in a history exhibit–what a way to make a 40+ lady feel old!
Prince’s Hot Chicken
I am a regular watcher of the travel YouTube show Through My Lens, and in his video about Nashville he talked about hot chicken being a Nashville dish you had to try so, of course, I had to!
Jack wanted to try it too, but he wasn’t as determined to try it as I was, thankfully he was willing to put up with the long lines to please his foodie wife. We endured two long lines as we first tried the downtown Prince’s Hot Chicken food truck. However, the line was moving so slowly that we decided to see if the restaurant location was less busy and it was–sort of.
Hours later, we had a very late lunch, before heading out to Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Was it worth the wait? Well, next time, I would get mild instead of regular because it was too hot for me–and I am a regular consumer of spicy hot food. Although I do want to try making a milder version at home, I don’t think I would stand in line for it that long again–but I do feel like everyone should try it at least once.
Cedars Of Lebanon State Park
With some very hot food in our belly, we left the Nashville area and headed out to Cedars of Lebanon State Park. If you are campers who want to camp while exploring the Nashville area, I would recommend this campground. It has paved and level sites with clean washrooms, hot showers, and a decent laundromat on site. It is just under an hour out of Nashville, which I know would be a far drive for some, but we liked how quiet it was.
I am planning on sharing our hiking adventures in Cedars of Lebanon State Park soon! So come back to read about it and more of our adventures and travel tips.
More Inexpensive And Free Places To Explore In Nashville
Parks And Other Outdoor Attractions In Nashville
The Parthenon At Centennial Park And The Athena Statue (If you go inside to see Athena there is a small entrance fee)
The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian bridge (formerly called the Shelby Pedestrian Bridge)
The Nashville Wall Project
Walk of Fame Park
The Grounds Of Vanderbilt University
Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge
What Lifts You Mural
Stores And Shopping Centers Of Interest In Nashville
Hatch Show Prints (Tours are $15, but you can peek around the store for free)
Goo Goo Cluster Shop
The Nashville Arcade
Broadway Historic District: Honky Tonk Highway
Gaylord Opryland Resort
Art Galleries, Museums And Points Of History In Nashville
21C Art Museum
First Art Museum ($15 or less)
Civil Rights Room In The Nashville Public Library (follow with Woolworth on 5th)
Fort Negley Visitor Center And Park
Military Branch Of The State Museum
Tennessee Governor Residence (free tours Tuesday and Thursday only)
The Tennessee Agricultural Museum
Lane Motor Museum (tickets $12 or less)
Take in Some Country Music That Nashville Is Known For At Robert’s Western World (plan money for drinks and a meal here)
Places To Hike
Shelby Bottoms Greenway (a place to take a long walk or bike ride more than a hike)
Warners Parks (Edwin Warner Park) (Percy Warner Park)
Make sure to visit the Warner Park Nature Center while you are exploring the trails at these two parks.
Beaman Park Nature Center
Peller Park Greenway
Percy Priest Lake (15 minutes outside of Nashville)
Are you looking for an alternative to busy and expensive campgrounds and one-night Walmart stops on the way to your destination? Check out our post about our first time using Boondockers Welcome.