Welcome back to the Nashville Bar Bike Blog! This is the spot to bookmark if you have any questions about what to do while you are on a visit through Music City. Speaking of music, did you know that Nashville is not just a place to go see Dolly Parton or Garth Brooks while they are in town? One thing about this city, we LOVE to be the host for musicians from all stages in their journey, from the very first busk all the way to sold out auditoriums. We were even able to snag an interview with an up and coming country musician who was lucky enough to work at Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop back in 1987, check out our past articles to read up on that topic.
This week, here on the Nashville Bar Bike Blog, we wanted to take a moment to share some of our favorite smaller venues in the area. While you all know about the Ryman and how that particular building has been a staple to the creation of Country and Western music, you might be surprised to hear about all that our smaller venues have to offer. You never know, one day you might hear a song on the radio and think to yourself “I remember seeing them play at Mercy back in 2021” or something along those lines.
With that said, this week, here on the Nashville Bar Bike Blog, we are going to take you on a virtual walk down some of our favorite streets to show off our venues. Keep on reading to find out where we like to hang out for brews and tunes here in Music City. The only thing better than watching a wicked awesome band on one of our smaller stages has to be taking a ride on the #BarBike, but more about that later. You will absolutely want to visit one of these venues after a ride with us here at Nashville Bar Bike!
If Snoop Dogg, The White Stripes and Katy Perry having been featured on their stages in the past isn’t enough to convince you to take a visit into Mercy Lounge on Cannery Row in Nashville, take a second to continue reading and trust us, we will convince you. From Halsey to Chris Stapleton, Mercy Lounge is truly a part of what makes Nashville the “Music City” that we all know and adore. What was originally a flour mill, this venue has grown to be a top stop for anyone’s Nashville list of things to do.
For 50 years now, EXIT/IN has been a staple of what has made the Rock Block what it is today. Even Steve Martin has made mention of the location in his book, Born Standing Up. Nashville seems to always manage to find a way to leave an impression on all of its visitors. Not just a place to experience the best of music from in and out of the city, EXIT/IN is a piece of history that you will not want to miss. Find this venue right near Centennial Park and you’ll never want to EXIT once you’re inside.
If Bluegrass and Country music keeps you hyped, you will not have to look further than The Station Inn on 12th street. Country Music Hall of Fame stars like Alison Krauss are just the tip of an iceberg filled to the brim with influential musicians and creators that have graced the stage. Dolly Parton has even (of course) spent a song or two with these fine folks. Understood to be one of the best Bluegrass venues in the area, you will want to take a second to find out who is playing that day and stop in.
When Alice Cooper is known for making multiple trips to a location throughout the span of their career, you know there is something to be said for the 400 person venue. Aside from being a cozy type of place to stand and jam out to your favorite indie (and even famous) musicians, The Basement has been building a name for itself in recent years and is worth a look if you want to enjoy some local heaven.
More than “Just a music venue that also serves food” the Listening Room in Nashville is built around the musical experience but doesn’t end there. Large enough to host events, but still providing an intimate atmosphere that is centered around the live music being hosted there, the Listening Room is where you will want to spend a few visits checking out the menu and artist selections available. Take a stroll down 8th avenue to find the venue and have a blast, but don’t get upset when you end up staying for hours just to see what might be happening at the time.
Now Big Machine Brewery 7 Distillery is not primarily a music venue, but still more than worthy of a spot on our list here at Nashville Bar Bike. Along with incredible music shows, you can even make your own bottle of spirits while you are here at this location. If that is not enough to peak your interest, just show up on a Saturday in particular for the bottomless Bloody Mary bar. The garnish options are just as (if not more so) varied than the musical acts featured. Shop for souvenirs or your new favorite band at Big Machine Brewery & Distillery on 3rd Ave South in Nashville.
Now we know that you are fully aware of how to get to the Ryman Auditorium already, that is always a new visitor’s first stop on the list when making a visit to our beautiful city. So while you are enjoying your experience touring one of our oldest venues, take a step back (literally back) to behind the auditorium and look for Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway Street. Unable to miss the purple color of this building, Tootsie’s is a famous “Honky Tonk” so you know they are fully prepared to jam out anytime of the day or night. Right in the center of all the activities that you would want to get involved with as a music lover, or just a lover of all things Nashville, Tootsie’s is a one of a kind trip through time.
East Nashville raves over The 5 Spot and their (usually) 10$ shows and events like MOTOWN MONDAY on Forest Ave. Don’t look too hard for this venue or you might miss it. True to the “hole in the wall” trope that music lovers are so fond of, The 5 Spot is where you head over to chill with the locals and have a blast while doing so. Hang out with your new best friends and favorite bands while ordering some affordable drinks at The 5 Spot.
Once again, while you are taking your tour through the Ryman, don’t forget that the auditorium is just one of so many live music venues in the area. Just like Tootsie’s, AJ’s Good Time Bar is just a short stroll away from the Ryman and should be high up on your list of places to check out, especially if you like Alan Jackson at all. Featuring musicians all over the map in Broadway Street’s oldest building, AJ’s Good Time Bar is a Honky Tonk for lovers of gritty, oldschool country style music. Stop by their website anytime to read up on their house musicians, you never know who will be famous by next week so plan a visit quickly!
Cajun food and Blue’s music combine at Bourbon St. Blues & Boogie Bar on Printer’s Alley. Open every night of the week, there is no excuse to miss out on what this venue has to offer. For 25 years, this spot has been the place to be for epic music with your meal. Talk about your ultimate date night spot, right? When ambiance is what you crave as a side dish to local bands that always impress, take a walk to Bourbon St Blues & Boogie Bar.
Located on Gallatin Pike, there is no way to miss The Cobra when you are nearby. Look up and walk until you see the giant Cobra mural with it’s tail wrapped around a beer. While this venue is pretty sweet for live music on just about any night of the week, their outside artwork alone is a solid reason for exploring the area. Outer aesthetic aside, The Cobra takes pride in having cutting edge musical acts around the realm of rock music, and even arcade games for guests to enjoy. This edgy bar is a necessary stop for anyone looking to discover the newest rock n roll acts before hearing them on the radio.
Well there you have it, a small handful of music venues in Nashville to start your planning process. While all of these locations are all more than worth visiting, don’t let it limit you. Nashville really is “Music City” and with good reason. Walking through the city means that you won’t go very far before standing in front of an infamous venue, and every single one requires at least a quick wander inside. Bookmark the Nashville Bar Bike Blog and check back often to see what we are covering, from venues to food, museums and anything else we can think of. When you are in a city like Nashville, something new is going on, ready to be hyped up by us. Fair warning, you might fall down a rabbit hole of article reading and end up becoming an expert on the city before you even arrive! If you aren’t already in love with Nashville, you can probably bet that you will at least develop a crush on the area by the time you find out that we have EVERYTHING here you could want in a great vacation.
Speaking of hype, if you have not heard yet of the Nashville Bar Bike, you are in for an absolute treat of a time. Starting at just 25$ per person, our Bar Bike tours are the most fun way to get to know Nashville, outside of reading the blog or following us on social media. Gather up a group of your best friends, family, or make some new friends while on the bike, there’s always a grand time to be had while pedaling through Nashville. Click on the FAQ tab at the top of this page for more information, or follow us on Facebook/Instagram to see our daily antics. You will want to book your spot with us for all of your upcoming events, trust us.