Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in The Gulch, Nashville

  • Published 2023/01/11

In the heart of “Music City”—Nashville, Tennessee—lies the LEED-certified neighborhood affectionately called “The Gulch.” What makes this community unique?

First off, it’s the 1st neighborhood in the South to receive LEED certification.

Then, it puts special emphasis on public transportation and walkability, helping wean its citizens off cars and protecting the environment.

You can find The Gulch on the southwest edge of Nashville’s Central Business District.

Likewise, the neighborhood sits two blocks away from Music City Center.

This community continues to thrive, showcasing the best in modern urban living, entertainment, hospitality, and dining options.

The Gulch used to be Nashville’s main railroad yard that dates back to the Civil War. However, the area got neglected after World War II.

How did The Gulch receive its name?

The 110-acre area has a natural gulch that crosses the property; for almost 50 years, hardly any people lived there.

In the early 2000s, the Turner family took control of the land, which jump-started its urban revitalization.

Do you want to know more about The Gulch, Nashville?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in the neighborhood:

Revisit Ancient Greece at The Parthenon

Front exterior of The Parthenon

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Besides “Music City,” Nashville also goes by the moniker “Athens of the South.”

The city has earned this lofty nickname through the full-size replica of the ancient Parthenon, the temple of Athena.

This replica is also the only one of its kind in the world.

True to its inspiration, Nashville’s Parthenon also carries 46 Doric columns, and it has the world’s largest set of bronze doors.

Statue of Athena in The Parthenon

KennStilger47 /

Each door weighs 7.5 tons, opening the way into the temple’s east and west sides.

During your visit, you’ll also find the tallest indoor sculpture in the West, Athena Parthenos.

Then, check out the friezes and other sculptures modeled after the Elgin Marbles found at the British Museum of London.

The temple also holds four art galleries to satisfy your artistic curiosity.

Side exterior of The Parthenon showing its columns

f11photo /

Take a Photo at the Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural

Music City’s walls host many public murals, and The Gulch is no exception.

The artist Kelsey Montague has drawn a popular interactive mural that also went viral thanks to the hashtag #WhatLiftsYou.

Likewise, Montague herself has earned global renown after Taylor Swift posted a photo of herself with the #WhatLiftsYou mural in Nolita, New York.

Since then, guests have flocked to the mural in The Gulch, looking to take a picture with the iconic pair of wings.

Nashville’s wings feature drawings of guitars and musical notes, capturing the personality of the city.

Likewise, the wings capture the spirit of the community expressed through their musical creativity.

Bring your camera to The Gulch and join the millions—including Taylor Swift—who’ve taken a photo with the iconic wings.

See the Animals at Nashville Zoo

People taking pictures in front of Nashville Zoo's sign

Stan DaMan /

A new world awaits you at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, located roughly 10 kilometers southeast of downtown Nashville.

The 188-acre zoo also belongs to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Before the property became a zoo, it was a 300-acre slave plantation named Dunn Farm, after its owners, Michael and Elizabeth Dunn.

You can still find the Dunns’ original 1810 slave-built home on the grounds.

A bird on a tree branch in Nashville Zoo

Stan DaMan /

The city of Nashville took control of the property when the Grassmere Wildlife Park closed in 1994.

Three years later, the Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere opened, becoming the Nashville Zoo.

Today, the Nashville Zoo supports various conservation programs, including coral rescue.

They also help protect endangered and threatened species like the cheetah, hellbender, alligator snapping turtle, loggerhead shrike, oilbird, and the Nashville crayfish.

Likewise, the zoo stages regular events for the whole family to enjoy.

A siberian tiger in Nashville Zoo

Terry Bonham /

Make New Memories with Photowalk Nashville

Explore a unique side of The Gulch with Photowalk Nashville and make new memories you’ll treasure forever.

The service caters to various customers, from couples, bachelorettes, professionals, and locals.

During your trip, the guides will take you to the prettiest places in town, where you can take all the photos you can upload to Instagram.

These guides are local Nashville insiders who can bring you to the best restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment options.

Likewise, they’ll guide you and your crew on a professional photoshoot.

Just wear a pair of comfortable shoes and an umbrella, in case it rains. The Photowalk lasts for a mile.

Listen to Bluegrass at the Station Inn

A band playing instruments in Station Inn

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Why would you visit Music City if you don’t plan to listen to music?

Stop by The Gulch for the Station Inn, Nashville’s premier destination for live bluegrass and roots music.

Every night, skilled musicians help set the venue’s relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.

Musicians performing in Station Inn

Darren Stone, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s no wonder the Station Inn has received awards for its service.

Besides music, you can also enjoy its food, like hotdogs, nachos, and pizza.

Doors open at 7 pm while performances start at 9 pm.

Support Local Artists at Art Beat

This art gallery and gift shop are one of the latest businesses that have cropped up in The Gulch.

Its owners, Jessie Rosenblum and Lizzie Stuhlreyer, show their love for Nashville through their displays and offerings.

During your visit to Art Beat, you might also find Bee Attitudes, Stuhlreyer’s accessories, and an apparel line.

Art Beat exists to support local artists by selling their work and gift items.

If you’re looking for souvenirs, you won’t go wrong with a visit to this gallery.

Likewise, the gallery proves that Nashville isn’t just a city of talented musicians; it’s also a haven for brilliant visual artists.

Check Out Masterpieces at the Frist Art Museum

Steps leading to Frist Art Museum's entrance

Paul Brady Photography /

This historic building used to be the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, operating inside the first post office in Nashville.

Likewise, the building itself belongs to the National Register of Historic Places.

During the 1930s, the city of Nashville built a white marble building that became its main post office.

Exterior of Frist Art Museum

Paul Brady Photography /

Its architectural style is a blend of Art Deco and Stripped Classicism.

When the post office slowed down in the early 1990s, Thomas F. Frist, Jr. chose the post office building as an art museum downtown.

Today, the Frist Art Museum creates exhibitions and hosts traveling exhibits from artists around the world.

It also doesn’t have a permanent collection.

Name sign of Frist Art Museum at night

Eric Glenn /

Try Craft Beer at Hops & Crafts

In 2013, the Hops & Crafts pub opened to the public with 36 taps of local and regional craft beers.

Each of their craft beers carries the signature passion and creativity of the brewers, making a delicious drink out of complex ingredients.

If you love beer, you know beer is under the spotlight right now.

The Hops & Crafts pub is pleased to cater to your expanding tastes with some of the world’s best beer.

Hops & Crafts offers several varieties of craft beers, including IPAs, lagers, pilsners, pale ales, ambers, blondes, and wheat beers.

They also add new brews regularly, which you can sample yourself.

Draft Magazine has named Hops & Crafts as one of America’s best beer bars.

Do yourself a favor and see why.

Bring Your Pooch to The Gulch Dog Park

In late 2019, The Gulch Dog Park opened its doors to the public, becoming the first public dog park in the neighborhood.

You can find this place near the Turnip Truck grocery store.

Bring your beloved pets and let them run around this vast space catering to their specific needs.

Who knows? Maybe you and your dog will make some new friends in Music City.

Just hit up the closest food truck when you get hungry, and enjoy programmed events sometimes held at the park.

The Gulch Dog Park also hosts community events from time to time, fostering deeper bonds between the people and the neighborhood.

For example, local artists have painted a series of rotating murals at Dog Park.

The joys of self-expression are available to you and your dog here at The Gulch Dog Park.

Learn Country Music History at the Ryman Auditorium

Exterior of Ryman Auditorium

Dave Newman /

This National Historic Landmark offers the “Soul of Nashville” experience, a new cutting-edge rendition of modern theater.

You get to experience Ryman’s full 130-year history of iconic performances from country music legends of the past and present.

Part of this history is the theater’s near-destruction and restoration.

Today, the auditorium also features new exhibits containing genuine artifacts from Nicole Kidman, Robin Roberts, and Trisha Yearwood, among many others.

The historic Ryman Auditorium is neither a simple music venue nor a daytime tourist attraction.

Interior of the Ryman Auditorium

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It is sacred ground, where bluegrass was born, where Johnny Cash met June Carter.

This place is where country music spread through the United States and where countless legendary musical careers began.

Well-known Nashville businessman Thomas G. Ryman built the Union Gospel Tabernacle as a space for people to worship in peace.

He built the place after attending a tent revival in 1885 and feeling a bolt of inspiration.

The Union Gospel Tabernacle would become the foundation of today’s Ryman Auditorium.

Sunlight coming through Ryman Auditorium windows

KennStilger47 /

Chill with Jazz Music at Rudy’s Jazz Room

After a day of tourist activities, you deserve to put your feet up with a drink in your hand.

What better way to relax than by listening to jazz music?

Lucky for you, Nashville isn’t just a haven of country music, but it also caters to other genres.

Just go to Rudy’s Jazz Room to catch a jazz show, enjoy a unique cocktail, and chow down on savory Creole-inspired food.

It’s also historic, in a way, because it’s the first genuine jazz club in the Music City.

Likewise, the club even has a Steinway Model B grand piano.

Rudy’s intimate setting lets guests relax and enjoy one another’s company.

Its warm and quiet mood also reminds of the classic speakeasies during Prohibition.

Whether you are a serious jazz fan, a musician, or simply someone who likes music, you’ll feel welcome here.

The place opens from 5 pm till late.

Become the Next Country Music Star with Carter Vintage Guitars

In 2012, both Christie and Walter Carter opened Carter Vintage Guitars, hoping to usher in space for guitar lovers to appreciate fine vintage guitars in a comfy setting.

Both of the Carters have fifty years of combined experience in the world of vintage guitars.

Christie has earned a reputation for honesty, transparency, and good advice.

Likewise, Walter has worked as Gibson’s in-house historian and a vintage guitar dealer.

He’d also written several books on guitars and guitar makers, like the coffee table book The Guitar Collection.

Carter Vintage Guitars spans 8,000 square feet, comprising a wide showroom that features new and vintage guitars.

The showroom also has benches and private rooms for guests who want to try playing the guitars.

Start your road to stardom by grabbing a fine guitar from Carter Vintage!

Meet the Man in Black at the Johnny Cash Museum and Café

Exterior of Johnny Cash Museum and Café

Konstantin L /

You’ll need to enter the heart of downtown Nashville to arrive at the Johnny Cash Museum and Café.

This museum contains artifacts and other memorabilia devoted to the career and life of Johnny Cash, the Man in Black himself.

For example, the exhibits display Cash’s instruments, letters, handwritten lyrics, and stage costumes.

Johnny Cash Museum and Café's wall of albums

legacy1995 /

Various family members and renowned friends have also contributed interesting materials to the museum.

The museum itself is child-friendly, proving that music can touch everyone of all ages.

After exploring the exhibits, you can buy rare collectibles, apparel, and souvenirs at the museum store.

A motorcycle displayed inside Johnny Cash Museum and Café

Michael Gordon /

Try Premium Spirits at Gertie’s Bar

Like the neighborhood itself, The Gulch’s nightlife continues to thrive and evolve.

Immerse yourself in the lively scene by checking out the bars and restaurants there, including Gertie’s Bar.

You can find this bar downstairs from The 404 Kitchen, and you can order unique cocktails and unusual, rare wines. Pick your poison from one of the south’s largest selections of whiskey, too.

This 600-bottle whiskey selection has earned Gertie’s a place in Travel + Leisure’s list of America’s best whiskey bars.

Thrillist has also named Gertie’s as Tennessee’s best whiskey bar.

Who is Gertie, anyway?

The bar gets its name from the “Queen of the Bootleggers,” Gertrude Cleo Lythgoe.

True to its rebellious inspiration, the bar celebrates freethinking and the power of individuality through its setting and drinks.

You’ll sample fine spirits from the bar’s collection of hard-to-find whiskeys.

Learn Local History at the Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery

Front exterior of Belle Meade mansion

Ryan_hoel /

In 1807, Belle Meade began as a humble log cabin on a 250-acre property.

It soon became a huge Greek Revival Mansion and one of Nashville’s largest private estates, spanning more than 5,400 acres.

Likewise, the mansion became a pillar of southern hospitality in the area.

Today, Belle Meade allows guests to explore its remaining 30 acres.

Go visit and find the original log cabin, along with a slave cabin plus a carriage and stable house dating back to 1892.

This stable house contains the finest collection of carriages to be found in the United States.

Exterior of the well and carriage house in Belle Meade Historic Site

legacy1995 /

The property also offers historic tours, the Mansion Tour, and the Journey to Jubilee Tour.

Join the Mansion Tour to learn the history of Belle Meade and the families who lived there, the Hardings and the Jacksons.

On the other hand, the Journey to Jubilee Tour involves the history of the enslaved people who labored on the property.

Retrace their story from enslavement to emancipation.

Then, check out the winery for a complimentary wine tasting.

The mansion also features an on-site restaurant, the Belle Meade Meat & Three, which offers various dishes.

For example, you can try their hickory-smoked meats, cornbread, biscuits, freshly cooked vegetables, and handmade chocolates.

Name sign of Belle Meade Historic Site's winery

melissamn /

Have a Fun Night Out at Pins Mechanical Co.

Pins Mechanical Co. is another great place to hang out for the night with your family and friends.

Located on Grundy Street, you’ll enjoy some classic games inside a cool, modern setting.

Enjoy rounds of duckpin bowling, foosball, or ping pong; likewise, show your pinball or bocce ball skills and see who wins the match.

The venue also has a full-service bar with Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Rosé, and Bubbles in their wine selections.

You can also choose from assorted beers on draft and in cans, cocktails like Pinball Wizard, Carrie Fisher, Boo! Berry and more, and punches like Pins Passion Fruit and Sangria.

Catch discounts and events like Football Nights on Saturdays and Sundays or Industry Nights on Mondays with discounts on Green Tea Shots and half-price bowling in the evenings; chilled Fireball mini bottles are also discounted on Fridays.

Ready for some Late-Night Bowling? You can drop by from Sunday to Thursday starting at 11 p.m.

For something cool to remember on your Pins Mechanical Co. visit, check out their merchandise like caps, shirts, hoodies, jackets, stickers, and gift cards.

Make Your Own Candle Piece at Paddywax Candle Bar

If you’re looking for something creative to do together with your friends, you can try Paddywax Candle Bar.

The shop is right on 11th Avenue South and the Gulch location is open from Sunday to Monday, and Thursday to Saturday.

Sign up and join a candle-pouring workshop to make a candle that’s unique to your personality.

You’ll enjoy a self-guided workshop that lasts for 45 minutes and you’ll be provided with an instructional flip book to help you create your unique design.

The venue offers BYOB with an additional charge to its customers so you can bring a 6-pack or bottle of wine, beer, or Seltzers.

Pick up your candles after three hours or have them shipped to your home.

Go ahead and see what you can create at Paddywax Candle Bar.

Have Fun at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade

Go and feel the nostalgic video arcade vibe at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade on Grundy Street.

The place was named after the computer architecture where several famous arcade games were created.

Relive your childhood and enjoy over 30 vintage games on the game floor.

While you’re at your game, grab some beers in drafts or cans or sip cocktails like Gintendo, Cheech Marin, The Dude, and much more.

The bar also serves Slush Puppies and Punches and assorted wines and mocktails you’ll enjoy.

Get on your game mode at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade.

Enjoy Delicious Breakfast and Brunch Meals at Milk and Honey

A great brunch location on 135 North Market Street, Milk and Honey serves you delectable breakfast and brunch fares all day.

That’s right, you don’t have to wait for the next day to enjoy their breakfast treats.

Taste some all-good Kale, Spinach, Caesar, and Arugula Salads, then add grilled or fried chicken and avocado for extra protein.

They have daily pastry selections you can try and a variety of beverages on the menu like Coffee and Espresso, hot or iced loose-leaf teas and juices like Dr. Feel Good, Liquid Gold, and Rise & Shine.

Order shareable starters, toasts, and bread varieties like bagels, croissants, and biscuits.

For something filling, their Brunch Sandwiches, waffles, and omelets are worth it.

If you like some healthy and energizing, try their Grain Options like Apple Cinnamon Porridge or Protein Breakfast Bowl.

Specialty Sandwiches like Turkey and Brie, Fried Chicken, BLAT, and others are also well-loved favorites at Milk and Honey.

Shop for Outdoor Gear at Patagonia Nashville

If you’re looking for quality outdoor outfits and gear, Patagonia Nashville on Overton Street has what you need.

They have a range of excellent outdoor attires for women, men, kids, and even babies.

You can also find premium packs and gear to get you prepped for your Appalachian explorations.

But you also have to know that they’re more than just a shop because they are actively involved in several climate and environmental campaigns.

Even clothing materials used in the products they sell are environment-safe.

You can also catch interesting and engaging events at Patagonia Nashville.

Final Thoughts

The Gulch is a thriving community and a gateway to the pleasures of Nashville, America’s “Music City.”

Explore the neighborhood and try its various attractions, from deluxe restaurants to live music venues.

Go to Nashville and learn the origins of the uniquely American genre of country music.

You can even learn about the Man in Black himself. Why wait? Book your trip to The Gulch today!

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