When it comes to exploring Nashville, music is obviously where most people start, but do not fear: If Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift hold no allure for you, there are plenty of other avenues to pursue—musical and otherwise. The state capital of Tennessee also happens to be chockful of history, culture, sports, food, and outdoor activities, so don’t feel discouraged if sparkles and Stetsons aren’t your thing.  

The Arcade

Walking around downtown, you’ll likely run across the Arcade. Built in 1902, the glass-ceilinged venue was the city’s first enclosed shopping area, modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy. More than 40,000 people attended the grand opening. While it’s not nearly as grand today as its history implies, it is worth a stop in on weekdays (the only days it’s open) for a snack at the old-school Peanut Shoppe or for a bite of the city’s best fish and chips at Red Perch.

True Harmony

One of Music City’s lesser known but no less impressive melodious endeavors is the Barbershop Harmony Society (tel. 615/823-3993), which preserves and extends the reach of the uniquely American close harmony music, which was born from a mix of African-American improvisation and European harmony traditions. If you call ahead, the downtown headquarters offers weekday tours, many of which include impromptu performances. But if you walk by the headquarters at 110 7th Ave. N., even when they’re closed, lean in and listen. 

Free Fortification

Located right next to the Adventure Science Center is Fort Negley (1100 Fort Negley Blvd.), the largest and most important fortification built by Union troops occupying Nashville during the Civil War. Check out the interactive exhibits about the 1862 surrender of Nashville and do a self-guided walking tour. 

The Spirit of the Season

Cheekwood Botantical Garden goes all out for its special events. During Cheekwood Harvest in the fall, you can stroll by 5,000 chrysanthemums, a pumpkin patch, and friendly scarecrows. In April, Cheekwood in Bloom is highlighted by 100,000 tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. In December, the place is adorned with Christmas trees, trains, and gingerbread workshops, including visits from Santa and his (real!) reindeer. Cheekwood is a bit of a hike from the city center, but nobody does festive better. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.