Off the beaten path / hidden gems near Nashville?

Ive done some internet digging and haven’t been able to find much in terms of off the beaten path / hidden gems / obscure attractions / abandoned places around Nashville. It doesn’t need to be in Nashville, but within like an hour or two’s drive. Any recommendations!?


This is about 2.5 hours away, but I took a trip to Rattlesnake Saloon in Alabama from Nashville, and it was so much fun. Really neat place


Hi there - my wife and I recently traveled to Nashville and before we went, I picked up a copy of Secret Nashville by Mason Douglas which had several good spots in it. I’ll try to add a couple more from my trip to the Atlas here in the coming days.

There’s a lot around Music Row that’s lesser known, like the alley between Tootsies and the Ryman, the Johnny Cash Museum, the hidden heart of music row and a bunch of famous recording studios.

Hope that helps and that you enjoy the trip.


Santa’s pub!


Well, 90 minutes away is the great and wonderful Ramey’s Barbecue – very Old School whole hog barbecue cooked over wood in the town of Parsons. Ramey’s Bar B Que, Parsons, Tennessee – John Tanner's Barbecue Blog . Not to be missed.
If you want to drive another 20 minutes, you can try BE Scott’s, another great while hog barbecue place


oops BE Scott’s – B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Lexington, Tennessee – John Tanner's Barbecue Blog


Hi, @happyhippieellie ! I don’t know many abandoned places in or near Nashville per se, but the most famous local spot along those lines would be the Old Tennessee State Prison. There’s also Fort Negley, which is the ruins of a Civil War fort that is now a public park. I’ve also heard about the Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary near Knoxville.

In terms of “off the beaten path” or hidden gems, there are several cool and underrated places in Nashville and the surrounding areas. @christophermarchant0 mentioned Santa’s Pub, and that’s a cool place. I’ve discussed this elsewhere on the forum, but one of Nashville’s consistently (and shamefully) underrated musical neighborhoods is Jefferson Street, despite its fascinating and crucial history of hosting pioneering black musicians. Here’s a brief article about the neighborhood’s history in The Tennessean , and our local NPR station did a fantastic story about Jimi Hindrix’s time performing on Jefferson Street, which you can listen to here. The neighborhood hosts a blues and jazz festival every summer, as well as art crawls on the last Saturday of each month. There are several murals commemorating the street’s musical history, and I’d highly recommend a stop at the Garden Brunch Cafe or Jefferson Street Cafe, both of which pay homage to the neighborhood’s musical legacy.

20 minutes south of Nashville is Leiper’s Fork, where you can grab a bite at the original Puckett’s Grocery. Founded in 1953 by the Puckett family, this locale has evolved from a community grocery store to a musical and culinary mecca of the South. Puckett’s has almost single-handedly made Leiper’s Fork a notable stop along the so-called “Americana Music Triangle”— an identifiable region of the South between Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans known for its contribution to the genre. According to the Americana Music Triangle website, “Authentic and unassuming, [Puckett’s] is where locals and celebrities alike take the stage for live pickin’ performances just a few feet from your table.” And, as a testament to its locale, “The inspiration and hard work for the Americana Music Triangle and Gold Record Road started right here in Leiper’s Fork.”

Near Leiper’s Fork is Franklin, Tennessee, which has a super-quaint downtown area and tons of Civil War history if you’re into that; plantation homes-turned-museums, graveyards for the war dead, etc.

I’ll also throw in some recommendations for Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is about two hours southeast of Nashville. It has tons of cool places and cute neighborhoods. One of my favorites is the Bluff View Arts District. The MLK neighborhood is… being revived? Gentrified? It’s a place with tremendous African American cultural history, and after years of being run-down, some of these black-owned businesses are coming back. But its growth is also being heavily influenced by its proximity to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, such as “trendy” and pricey apartments catering to the students of wealthy families. Here’s a fascinating podcast episode about the history of the neighborhood. There’s also Moccasin Bend, which is a beautiful and historically rich place to hike.

Finally, our local NPR station in Nashville has a great podcast called “Curious Nashville.” I’d recommend checking it out, you might find a place that piques your interest! I hope that this helps!


So many awesome recommendations! Thanks! I’m excited to check out that podcast

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It might help to know more specifics about your interests. The city of Nashville and the surrounding area has undergone a major building boom in the last 8 years, there aren’t many large and notable abandoned buildings because unused spots have been cheap and easy. In addition to whats been mentioned already there is still an old meat packing factory on the river in Germantown that you may find interesting and also home to a few “studio” spaces. But hurry, it’s about to be developed too.
If you are interested in antiques there are shops on the square in most towns. Do you like motorcycles, check out Cycle Mo’s quaint little museum and stay in one of the old hotels down the street, home to ye olden “healthy” hot springs and such.
If you like hiking or scenic drives you just can’t go more than a few dozen miles east without finding waterfalls, lakes, ridgeline views and wildlife. West of Nashville is the Land Between the Lakes, pioneer life, buffalo, camping, etc.
Most “hidden gems” are pretty well revealed on this site and others but with a direction to focus on a lot more might come about.

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A couple additional things I’ve found:
Dyer Observatory – on the Vanderbilt campus, open to the public one day per month
The Upper Room – has a museum of religious relics and a garden and is open to the public.
Hail, Dark Aesthetics – shop of curiosities and weird taxidermy
House of Cards – very cool magic-themed restaurant with a magic show included with meal. Set up as a Speak Easy, under the building with the Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline museums. They even have a special room you can reserve for seances.
Plaza Mariachi – This place is not secret at all, but I’m always suprised at how many people haven’t heard of it. It’s an old shopping center that’s been converted into an Epcot-like cultural center with shops and restaurants. On weekend nights it changes over to a more nightclub type atmosphere and there are aerialists and sometimes even a circus performance with everything from jugglers to sword swallowers, contortionists, and fire acts. This whole road, actually – Nolensville Road – is full of every type of ethnic restaurant you can think of – Kurdish, Ethiopian, Moroccan – you name it.
Green Dragon Pub – actually in Murfreesboro, but is Tolkein themed!
The Idea Hatchery – this is a community of tiny metal buildings where people have little start up businesses, arts and crafts related.
Sri Ganesha Temple – you can arrange for a private tour, or watch for when they have festival days. They host an India Fest every years.