Growing up in Western Kentucky meant growing up an hour away from one of the world’s best places: Nashville. I LOVE Nashville and going out in Nashville. In Nashville, people start their nights early, going out around 9 P.M. and leaving when the bars close at 2 or 3 A.M. This makes for long nights, so make sure you’ve eaten a lot before going out and hydrate throughout the night. Parking is crazy around the bars, so taking an Uber is ideal and safe. That being said, my favorite place to go out in Nashville is Broadway. At times, its super touristy, but the live music, drink specials, and general atmosphere of the area makes playing tourist worth it. Keep reading to find out what’s worth it (and what isn’t) on Broadway!
Tootsies Orchid Lounge
Tootsies is a world-class honky-tonk joint that’s been open right across from Ryman Auditorium since the 1960s. Every morning at 10 A.M., Tootsie’s opens its doors and hosts live music acts from then until close at 3 A.M. The building’s purple exterior is just as iconic as the long list of greats who have performed here over the years,making Tootsies a Broadway staple. Tootsies is three levels, with a different act performing on each level. Downstairs tends to host more traditional honky-tonk groups, the second floor tends to host more contemporary acts, and the rooftop area hosts a variety of music throughout the night. If there’s a long line out front, go through the back door, which can be reached by walking through the alley beside the Ryman. To see who’s playing, go here or here. You can find Tootsies at 422 Broadway.
Tin Roof Broadway
I’ve been to several Tin Roof bars (it’s a chain), but the Tin Roof Broadway location is easily the best Tin Roof. The food is great, beer pong tables are set up upstairs, there is plenty of room for dancing, the drinks are cheap and delicious, and it’s the perfect place to watch a game, as there are several large TVs around the bar. Tin Roof Broadway is open from 11 A.M. until 3 A.M. daily. You can find a schedule of upcoming acts here and Tin Roof Broadway at 316 Broadway – it’s a big blue building, you can’t miss it.
Honky Tonk Central
Located at the corner of 4th and Broadway, Honky Tonk Central is a three level country club and is one of the loudest on Broadway. Honky Tonk Central is a great place to dance, but it has it’s downsides. The drinks are incredibly expensive compared to other bars on Broadway, there’s always a line outside, you’re going to get harassed for tips by band members, and I know people who have been robbed inside of the bar. If you have to go to the bathroom, you might as well go to another bar, as the bathrooms are single rooms on each level. The balconies on the third floor have one of the best views of downtown that you can find on Broadway. You can find Honky Tonk Central at 329 Broadway between 11 A.M. and 3 A.M.
If you’re looking for cheap liquor and fantastic live music, go to The Stage. If you’re looking for beer on tap, this is not the place for you, as they just have bottles. The Stage is another Broadway staple and tons of awesome acts have played here over the years. From the time they open to the time they close, they have live acts playing. At night, this is one of the best places to go and dance! The best people watching location on Broadway is the rooftop of this building. On the walls, you’ll see framed and signed pictures of all the greats of country music. To see who’s playing, go here. You can find The Stage at 412 Broadway. Like Tootsies, The Stage also has a back entrance you can use that can be accessed through the alley.
Bailey’s Sports Grille
While Bailey’s Sports Grille advertises itself as a place to watch sports, and they will have sports on. The service here is terrible at best, but there is ample seating. Later in the night (after most sports are long over), Bailey’s will have live music, usually a solo act. You can rent pool and ping-pong tables by the hour here. I avoid Bailey’s at all cost, but that doesn’t mean you have to. If you decide to go to Bailey’s, you can find it at 408 Broadway.
Nudie’s Honky Tonk
If you’re looking for the longest bar in Nashville, head on over to Nudie’s Honky Tonk. With a band set up right by the door, a convertible hanging on the wall, and the costumes of famous performers hanging around, Nudie’s is worth visiting. I don’t usually hang around Nudie’s for long, but it’s fun to go in and have a quick drink. Oftentimes, the acts Nudie’s book perform the blues, which is super fun to listen to. You can find Nudie’s at 409 Broadway.
Acme Feed & Seed
Ever since Acme Feed & Seed opened up, my friends can’t stop talking about it. Acme is a three-story bar with different themes for each floor. The first floor features barn-like decor and caters to the country crowd. The second floor is very modern and has a nightclub vibe. The third floor is the rooftop and offers an amazing view of the river. Acme is the only bar on Broadway that I’ll go to with the aim of getting just food, as they have amazing dishes (especially their brunch!). On occasion, there will be a cover to go on the roof. To learn more about Acme Feed & Seed, visit their website here or the bar at 101 Broadway.
The Bootleggers Inn is a western bar famous for their moonshine margaritas, mason jar chandeliers, and the American Flag Wall of Moonshine taking up a large portion of one of the walls. The drinks are strong, the music tends to be solid, and the staff is friendly. The only downside to Bootleggers Inn is that they allow smoking upstairs, which is where the better acts tend to perform. If you can’t handle the smell of cigarette smoke, don’t go upstairs and just enjoy the drinks at the downstairs bar. You can find Bootleggers Inn at 207 Broadway and see who’s playing here.
Robert’s Western World
The music at Robert’s Western World tends to lean towards the more classic honky-tonk sounds. If you’re looking for a place to escape the top 40 country covers, this is the place for you! Robert’s Western World has pretty good dancing and an amazing deal called the recession special, where you can get a fried bolonga sandwich, chips, and a beer for $5. The best part? They never have a cover…ever. You can find Robert’s Western World at 416 Broadway and see who’s playing here.
The first thing you need to know about Broadway Brewhouse is that they have this drink called the Bushwhacker, which is basically an alcoholic chocolate milk shake. In my opinion, that’s the only good thing about this bar. If you’re wanting to eat there, you seat yourself and have to flag down a waiter; at night, this leads to people hovering over you so they can grab your seat the second you get up. There are two sections of the bar, but they don’t separate smoking from non-smoking and the ventilation isn’t the best. If you’re a beer person, Broadway Brewhouse is worth it, as they have a pretty good range of beer selection. If you want to visit Broadway Brewhouse, you can find it at 317 Broadway.
Legends Corner Broadway
You’ll find Legends across the street from Rippy’s. Legends is one of my favorite bars on the strip because it’s never too crowded, the music is awesome, and the beer are market price (aka craft beer for what a bud would cost you elsewhere on the strip). Upstairs, you get an awesome view of the band. Out back on the patio, you get an awesome view of the stumbling bachelorette parties going down the alley. Inside, the walls are covered in old vinyl records, instruments, and knick-knacks of days past. Along the bar, there are a TON of outlets (both regular and USB plugs), which makes it a great place to charge your phone up. You can find Legends Corner Broadway at 428 Broadway and see who’s playing here.
The Second Fiddle
Second Fiddle is a lot like every other bar on the main drag: it has good music, pretty average drinks, and gets to be super crowded come midnight on the weekends. Everytime I’ve gone to the Second Fiddle, it’s been because it’s the best option when Tootsies has a long line and I go in to Second Fiddle because it’s right next door. Sometimes, you’ll hit the jackpot at Second Fiddle and there is a popular act playing, but then you also get the acts that sound like they’re doing bad karaoke. Second Fiddle is one of those bars that is just average, but you can have a great time if you’re with great people. Visit Second Fiddle at 420 Broadway.
One of the only places that you will find hip hop music on the drag is in the back room at Tequila Cowboy. The main area of the bar is super retro and has a huge dance floor where you can get down to contemporary country music, there’s even a 1960s Cadillac hanging over the main bar. If you want to ride a mechanical bull on the drag or play arcade games, this is the place to visit. One of the only complaints I have about Tequila Cowboy is that tends to be lenient on fake IDs, so you’ll find one of the youngest crowds on Broadway here. WannaB’s Karaoke Bar is part of the Tequila Cowboy complex, but be aware that they only allow serious singers on stage during crowded nights – so not the best place to do drunk karaoke. Visit Tequila Cowboy at 305 Broadway.
AJ’s Good Time Bar
The AJ in AJ’s Good Time Bar stands for Alan Jackson, legendary country musician and owner of this bar. Here, you’ll find good ole country music playing and cheap beer. Sometimes, AJs will host an amazing band, making for a fun night. There’s karaoke upstairs and sometimes the band plays throwback 90s R&B. It’s worth it to go in and poke your head around. To see who’s playing, go here. You can find AJ’s at 421 Broadway.
Whiskey Bent Saloon
The Whiskey Bent Saloon has an amazing whiskey selection and the drink prices are fair. The music here leans toward the more contemporary side of the country music spectrum, and the main attraction of this bar is the dance floor set up. In the summers, it gets VERY hot in this bar, so mentally prepare yourself for the heat. Unlike other bars on the main drag, Whiskey Bent Saloon does not serve late night snack food, which, for me, is a must, as I tend to get the munchies when I drink. To see who is playing, go here and visit Whiskey Bent Saloon at 306 Broadway.
Hard Rock Cafe
Nashville’s Hard Rock Cafe markets itself as a nightlife location, but I’m here to tell you it is far from. Yeah, they have music and serve drinks, but that’s really all they have to offer. The food is the same as any other Hard Rock, the bar closes at midnight during the week and 1 A.M. on the weekends, and it’s a fairly small space. If you’re wanting to have fun on Broadway, don’t go here. Really, the only reasons anyone should ever visit Hard Rock are if they collect the t-shirts (because apparently that’s a thing) or if they know someone performing. If you happen to fall into either of these categories, you can find Hard Rock Cafe at 100 Broadway.
If you’re looking for a place to get rowdy, go to Crazy Town. Here, the drinks are expensive, but generously poured and it’s easy to get the bartenders attention to order. You’ll find everything from country to rock to top 40 hits being covered by the band here. The third-floor DJ keeps the energy up there high and ensures that everyone has a good time. If you need a break from the crazy going on inside, head up to the roof for great river views! To see who’s playing, check out their website (though they don’t always update it). Visit Crazy Town at 308 Broadway.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
At Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett’s ideal island oasis comes to life. Here, you can enjoy way overpriced drinks, some okay food, and tropical music. Unless you’re a die-hard Jimmy Buffett fan or are trying to hit every single bar on the drag, you should skip Margaritaville. If you fall into either of those categories, you can find Margaritaville at 322 Broadway.
If you’re looking for a dueling piano bar on Broadway, head to Big Bang! Here, you will hear some of the most talented musicians in your life. At Big Bang, there’s typically a $10 cover, and it’s so incredibly worth it. The long tends to get long late in the night on weekends, so either go here earlier in the night or get ready to wait in line. You can find Big Bang at 411 Broadway.
UPDATE 7/2018: Big Bang will be moving to a new location, as the building has been sold.
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery
One of the best places to find a huge beer list on the drag is Rock Bottom. That’s about the only stand out thing about this place. The food is not super memorable, the atmosphere isn’t as great as other places on the drag, and the service is just okay. Though they advertise themselves as a nightlife option, Rock Bottom is more of a restaurant and closes at 11 PM. If you’re wanting to go to Rock Bottom, you can find it at 111 Broadway.
Rippy’s Smokin’ Bar and Grill
Located across the street from Bridgestone Arena, Rippy’s is a great place to grab lunch and day drink. The upstairs overlooks the end of the drag and Bridgestone, which is especially great when events are happening on Broadway! Rippy’s has pretty solid food, good music, and ample seating. If you’re looking for a place to watch sports on the drag, this is the place to go, as they have a ton of TVs. Personally, I don’t go to Rippy’s once the sun goes down cause I find it more fun during the day. You can find Rippy’s at 429 Broadway.
At Crossroads, the musicians are some of the most talented on the drag. That being said, they are serious and will call you out if you’re on your phone quite frequently, so if you go here, you’ve been warned. The bands here tend to play more original songs than covers, which is pretty unique and can lead to some great fun. To see who’s playing, go here, though they don’t always update. You can find Nashville Crossroads at 419 Broadway.
Paradise Park Trailer Resort
As usual, I’m saving the best for last. Paradise Park Trailer Resort is an experience. Fake grass floors, beer by the pitcher, live music, and decor that can only be described as “trailer park chic” make Paradise Park truly unique. Paradise Park is where you go when you want to have a good time without fear of judgement. Make sure to head over to their “Mullet Wall of Fame” for a great photo-op and an even greater laugh. I’ve been hitting up Paradise Park for years and have yet to have a bad time. Still need convincing? An added perk of Paradise Park is the diner inside, which serves all of your favorite county fair foods. If you want to find Paradise Park without getting lost, plug 411 Broadway into your GPS, just make sure you don’t lose your dignity once inside.
Now, go forth and conquer Nashville’s Broadway! Let me know about your Broadway bar experiences in the comments below.