Best Historic Sites in Nashville

Historic Sites To See in Nashville

From the haunting, and reportedly haunted, grounds of majestic Belle Meade Plantation to the blossoming flowers and wooded forests of Cheekwood, Music City offers visitors a delectably historic southern landscape. Battles fought, whiskey wielded, and created songs of loss are only a glimmer of what's in store for visitors to these historic sites in and surrounding Nashville. Be sure to pack a camera and sunscreen, and come with an open heart to hear the melody of Music City's days gone by. 


Hillsboro Village

The Belcourt is a historic theater now run by a non-profit group. It functions as a home for classic, independent, and foreign films and is staffed by avid film lovers who not only tell you about the movies showing but explain why they were chosen and why you should see them. Friendly, accessible, and offering a wide variety of snacks and beers, the theater also hosts concerts and various other events.

Local Expert tip: Don't just scout this historic location, see a film! They have some of the rarest and most eclectic selections, and Belcourt rarely disappoints.

Read more about The Belcourt Theatre →

Parthenon in Centennial Park
Photo courtesy of iStock / Wesley Stivers

A tribute to classical architecture, the Parthenon in Centennial Park houses one of the premier museums in the area. The permanent collection not only boasts notable works from 19th- and 20th-century American artists, including Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church and Thomas Moran, but also contemporary pieces crafted by up and coming Nashville artists. Athenian sculptures created from direct casts of originals that once adorned the ancient Greek ruins are also on display.

Local Expert tip: The park outside of the Parthenon is the perfect spot for a picnic after an afternoon of sight seeing. Be sure to bring snacks for after!

Read more about Parthenon in Centennial Park →

History buffs will strike gold here. The building, dating from the Civil War era, has been restored to its original glory. Visitors are invited to tour the House and Senate Chambers and fill their minds with American trivia. The grounds, site of the graves of former Tennessee governor and US President (1845-49) James K. Polk and his wife, offer inviting shaded areas as well as several small garden areas.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to take your camera! The capitol offers excellent shots of the city.

Read more about Tennessee State Capitol →


Other than country music, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey is probably the state's most famous export. Lynchburg, the town where it's made, sits in a dry county, but it's worth the one-hour drive to take the free tour of the historic distillery. Once you're back in Nashville, you'll find plenty of watering holes where you can sip some of Mr. Daniel's Old No. 7.

Local Expert tip: A dry county, the sampling will have to come after you've had your visit and left the town.

Read more about Jack Daniel Distillery →

This restored 1799 Federal-style home was the original home of John Overton, lifelong friend of Andrew Jackson and designer of Memphis. The home, located a few miles south of downtown, served as Confederate headquarters for General John B. Hood prior to the 1864 Battle of Nashville. Today, the home preserves several relics of the past, including a unique collection of Tennessee-made furniture. The site hosts several annual events during the year. Don't miss a stroll through the gardens and the gift shop!

Local Expert tip: More than a slice of history, the grounds are gorgeous and the perfect spot for family photos!

Read more about Travellers Rest Plantation →

Andrew Jackson's Hermitage

History comes to life at the home of Old Hickory, former President Andrew Jackson. The story of The Hermitage, and how Andrew Jackson's forged his prosperous farm, is peppered with invention, freedom, and the changing tides of the times. At the Hermitage, visitors can expect to see a day in the life of plantation living, as they tour the mansion and the expansive grounds and learn about the history of slavery, the role of women, and the war. During the holiday seasons, guest can expect to discover the origins of many of the Jackson family Christmas traditions.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to stop in the souvenir shop, and purchase a stick of rock candy if they have any in stock.

Read more about Andrew Jackson's Hermitage →

An iconic landmark for country music fanatics, artists and critics, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum chronicles the stardom of the genre's famous favorites. "Sing Me Back Home: The Journey Begins, Folk Roots to the 1960's" conjures childhood nostalgia as does the exhibit's second installment, "Dreaming My Dreams: The Journey Continues, 1960's to the Present." Listen and learn from greats like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams.

Local Expert tip: Keep a weathered eye on other guests traveling through, you never know who you'll see.

Read more about Country Music Hall of Fame →

Hillsboro Village

Belmont Mansion's unique role in the history of Nashville and the South draw countless visitors eager to hear its story. This restored mansion, also known as the Acklen House, is the largest home museum in Tennessee and one of the few nineteenth century homes whose history revolves around the life of a woman: Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham. during the Civil War. Widowed during the Civil War, Adelicia secretly negotiated agreements with both Union and Confederate authorities to sell her cotton and bring home money for her family. An innovating and visionary woman, the history of the house and its mistress make Belmont Mansion a fascinating discovery.

Local Expert tip: Have lunch after your visit in Hillsboro Village or West End. Near to the Mansion, both suburbs of Nashville offer some of the best cuisine and hippest restaurants in town.

Read more about Belmont Mansion →

A world of its own, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens offers visitors a chance to escape, discover, and be amazed. The estates grounds offer such mesmerizing sights as the reflection pool, Japanese garden and their nature sanctuary. This 55-acre botanical garden and art museum, located on the historic Cheek estate, exists to celebrate and preserve its landscape. If the awe-inspiring scenery has your appetite working overtime, Cheekwood is known for their fine-dining and mouth-watering fares. After filing your belly, the Georgian-style museum which features national traveling exhibitions, ranging from Early American to European decorative art awaits you. Cheekwood provides hours of pleasure set in a breathtaking backdrop.

Local Expert tip: Check the weather and if at all possible come in the spring. While gorgeous year-round, the awakening flowers of the gardens are nothing short of magnificent.

Read more about Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art →

Belle Meade Plantation is one of the premier plantations in Nashville. Stately, elegant, and pristine, this antebellum mansion rests on 30 acres of land just south of Nashville in upscale Belle Meade. Charming and authentic, the quaint grounds are impossible to turn down for a stroll, while the columns of the house still bear bullet scars from the Civil War. The plantation includes eight historic buildings, including Dunham Station's cabin, which dates from 1790. The Victorian-style manor home, completed in 1853, is now a museum dedicated to preserving the Harding family's rich legacy. History is preserved and brought back to life for the thousands that discover and return to Belle Meade mansion every year.

Local Expert tip: Wear walking shoes and bring your camera - this gorgeous plantation calls for photos and lots of strolling.

Read more about Belle Meade Plantation →


Meet Paige Crutcher

Paige Crutcher is a writer, author interviewer, book reviewer, and storyteller. When her nose isn’t between the pages of a well-worn book, she’s working on articles, traveling, or researching a...  More About Paige