The bars on Lower Broadway are the top attraction in Nashville for good reason. Walk down Broadway between the Bridgestone Arena and the River, and you’ll see that Music City lives up to its name with an incredible level of musicianship spilling out of the windows of the Nashville Broadway bars.
Don’t expect to hear just country music. Classic rock is also very popular down there along with some excellent blues and occasional jazz. The musical acts do sets from 10am-2pm, 2pm-6pm, 6pm-10pm, and 10pm-2am. Yep, there is music on lower
There are no cover charges but BRING CASH to fill the tip buckets for the
FAMILY TIP – Most of the Nashville honky tonks allow all ages before 6pm so it’s fine to bring the kids to hear some music. After 6pm, most of them are 21 and over.
Nashville Broadway Bars
Everyone has their favorite honky tonk spots on Lower Broadway and you can’t go wrong with any of them, but I’ll share my top picks.
Robert’s Western World – For legit country music, Robert’s Western World is my favorite. It started out as a boot store and eventually added a jukebox and then live music. They still sell apparel and boots as well, but this small venue is some of the best country music you’ll find in Nashville, if you ask me. Find a seat and be sure to tip the band when the jar passes around. If you’re on a budget for food, try the Recession Special which is a Fried Bologna Sandwich, chips, and a PBR for just $6.
Tootsies Orchid Lounge – Tootsie Bess bought the place in 1960, and since then, Tootsies has been the gold standard for Lower Broadway honky tonks. Toosie’s back door is across the alley from the Ryman Auditorium stage door, and many legends would duck into Tootsies after their show. Famous early customers were Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Mel Tillis, Roger Miller, Webb Pierce, Walon Jennings , Patsy Cline, and many more. It’s said that Willie got his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsies. Today, many of the top up-and-comer singer/songwriters play here. If you want your shot, they have an open mic every Saturday from 12-5. Just get there early to sign up and you can say you performed at Tootsies!
The Stage – Because Tootsie’s and Robert’s are so famous and so small, they are sometimes WAY too crowded for you to really have fun. If that’s the case, there are many other venues on lower Broadway to check out. Next door, you find The Stage. I like to grab a table up on the balcony which overlooks the stage and dance floor. The dancefloor is big and crowded, so it’s a fun place to dance and socialize. Fun Fact: The Stage is where Hank Williams, Jr. filmed his video for “Why Don’t We All Just Get a Longneck.”
Legends Corner – Right on the corner of Broadway and 5th, Legends is another solid option for live country music. It’s not as throwback as Toostie’s or Robert’s, but it’s a good place for contemporary country music.
Nudie’s is a newer music venue, but SO GOOD. Nudie Cohn was a legendary clothing designer who outfitted bedazzled looks for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams Sr., Bob Dylan, and Elton John. Nudie’s 1976 Cadillac El Dorado is hanging on the wall in the bar and all three floors of this 12,000 square foot venue feature displays with vintage suits and country music artifacts. Nudie’s also boasts the longest bar on Broadway at over 100 ft. in length. And the music? It’s fabulous, of course. We’re talking about Nashville after all.
ACME Feed & Seed – Located at Broadway and 1st overlooking the river, this beautiful, historic building was built in 1893 and housed a number of different business including a grocery store, flour company, buggy shop, and a feed store. Today, all three floors are beautifully renovated with wonderful food and top-notch music that’s a lot more than just country with great Jazz, Gospel, Americana, Folk, R&B, and Rock. ACME has a passion for giving voice to local musicians who are not in the mainstream. I recommend you also check out their radio station (Acme Radio). When you’re at ACME, don’t forget to head up to the 4th floor rooftop bar for a great view of the river.
Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar – If you want to hear some blues, head a couple of blocks over to Printer’s Alley and you’ll be transported to my home state of Louisiana. Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar not only has excellent cajun inspired bar food, the music will get you dancing all night long. The weekends are a blast and the blues jam on Monday nights is a great time to show your stuff or just watch talented players in the Nashville Blues Scene. I like to sit upstairs for a great view from the balcony seats. Laissez le bon temps rouler!
Honky Tonk Disneyland
The newcomers to Lower Broadway are the branded honky tonks owned by big country stars. Some say these bars are remaking Nashville into a “country music Disneyland” and I agree with them in some ways. They don’t have the history or charm of the original honky-tonks and from what I’ve sampled, the food is more mass-produced, chain restaurant style than you find at Merchants or Jack’s BBQ. The upside of these bars is that they are beautifully designed and spacious for larger groups.
Ole Red – owned by Blake Shelton
Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar
Redneck Riviera – owned by John Rich
AJ’s Good Time Bar – owned by Alan Jackson
FGL House – Florida Georgia Line
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row
Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse
Eating on Lower Broadway
Jack’s BBQ – This popular Nashville BBQ joint, is right next to Tootsies and Robert’s Western World and you’ll often see lines out the door as it’s very popular with tourists and hungry bar-hoppers. The pulled pork is excellent.
Merchant’s is my favorite sit down meal in the lower Broadway area. The fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese are amazing.
Woolworths on 5th was the site of the first lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960’s Civil Rights movement. It’s recently been beautifully renovated and is now a restaurant with fantastic food. The sweet potato pancakes are crave-worthy. Be sure to read the back of the menu for more info on the history and walk upstairs to see some photos from the sit ins.
ACME Feed and Seed (mentioned earlier for their music) has fabulous food as well. ACME is owned by the same group who owns The Loveless Cafe, Woolworths on 5th, and The Southern, so good food is something they know a lot about.
Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant – Puckett’s is 2 blocks from Broadway on the corner of 5th and Church, and I have a special place in my heart for their Fried Green Beans with BBQ chipotle ranch. They also have lots of other great food choices like the BBQ platter, Smoked Meatloaf, Shrimp and Grits, Fried Chicken, and good burgers. If you’re looking for a break from the cover bands of Lower Broadway, Puckett’s has top-notch music in the evenings.
Parking on Lower Broadway
When you go downtown, I recommend you Uber or Lyft. Besides the fact that drinking and driving is NEVER ok, the parking can be quite expensive and traffic is sometimes bad. If you have a designated driver or are a non-drinker, and want to drive down, a clean, dependable parking garage is located at the Nashville Public Library at 6th between Church and Commerce. Watch out for the parking lots that are outdoors. They are often $30-50 to park and you won’t know that until you park and walk to pay at the machine! The best kept secret for parking (I can’t believe I’m telling you this) is a parking garage that is located on 3rd between Broadway and Commerce and it’s often only $15. That’s the one I use when I go to the Symphony, The Ryman, Bridgestone, or any of the venues on Lower Broadway. It’s not fancy (kinda looks like a cave inside) but the price is right and its steps from all the action.
Fun for Families and Large Groups
Bar hopping on Lower Broadway can be tough for groups since many of the spaces are small and crowded. If you’re looking for a great spot for a large group or a family with kids of all ages, get a FREE Country line dance class at The Wildhorse Saloon.
The Wildhorse Saloon is thought of as one of the more touristy music destinations in the lower Broadway area because, in the 90’s, it was the site of the Wildhorse Saloon Dance Show on The Nashville Network. It’s the Nashville home of country line dancing, an artform that is not as trendy as it used to be in Billy Rae Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” days. Still, the Wildhorse is a lot of fun, especially if you have kids or big group. Go early, before they start charging a cover. Have dinner (the BBQ is quite good), do the line dance lesson, and then, when the band starts, you’re ready to dance the night away. All ages are welcome until 10pm. While you’re there, don’t forget to explore all three floors of this beautiful 66,000 square foot venue. There are pool and foosball tables upstairs, and throughout the building, look for the horse sculptures for fun photo ops!
The Wildhorse Saloon is located at 120 2nd Ave N, Nashville, TN 37201