Best Kept Travel Secrets: Get to Know Nashville, TN

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Music City… Athens of the South… The Buckle of the Bible Belt… Whatever your preferred nickname, Nashville is a necessary stop on any road trip through the South. Nashville is full of unique cultures and neighborhoods worth exploring, but if you're looking for some of the less-crowded tourist destinations, try one of these eight stops.

Inside those beautiful buildings, you'll find some of the best food, drink, and shopping Nashville has to offer.

Back in 1897, Nashville needed something special to mark Tennessee's 100th birthday. So, naturally, it built a full-scale replica of the Ancient Greek Parthenon in Athens. Inside the all-concrete building, you'll find replicas of the Athena statue and other ancient sculptures. Like the building, the statue is a full-scale replica, and it stands at 42 feet tall.

Nashville's Parthenon also celebrates American art. It hosts a permanent collection from American artists throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. Space is also set aside for rotating shows and exhibits.

The Parthenon's address is 2500 West End Ave. Tickets will cost $6.50 for adults and $4.50 for children and seniors. If you want to avoid the admission charge, you can take in the Parthenon's exterior on a stroll through the Centennial Park that surrounds it.

A 1949 donation from Georgia O'Keeffe started out this gallery on Fisk University's campus. Though she herself was known as the "Mother of American Modernism," O'Keeffe's husband was a renowned photographer and art collector in his own right. The Alfred Stieglitz Collection is named in his honor. It includes works from Stieglitz and O'Keeffe, as well as other giants of 19th and 20th Century art. The gallery also hosts temporary shows.

Admission is free, and you'll find the building at 1000 17th Ave. N. If you call ahead of time, you might even be able to schedule a free tour.

Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is a must-see for nature lovers. It's about a two hour drive outside Nashville, but if you can handle the road trip, you'll be rewarded with the country's tallest underground waterfall. The 145-foot tall Ruby Falls is actually deep beneath Lookout Mountain, but you won't have to hike all the way down yourself. An elevator takes visitors 260 feet down to where the guided tours begin. All told, most guests will walk less than a mile, and they won't leave a paved trail.

A basic tour can be as cheap as $12.95. Specialty tours, like a lantern-lit tour, will run you a little more. This has been a popular tourist destination since its opening in 1928, so you'll probably have to book your tour well in advance.

Hermitage Hotel Men's Room

The name might have you picturing some trendy upscale club, but it's not. The Hermitage Hotel Men's Room is just that, a men's restroom. The luxurious, art deco-inspired decor has attracted tourists since the hotel's opening in 1910. Symbols of wealth from the time, like two shoeshine stations and a rotary phone, now look like kitschy blasts from the past.

A night in the hotel will run you a few hundred dollars, but you can pop in and visit the bathroom for free. The address is 231 6th Ave. N. Women should feel free to ask about popping in to take a look. Staff will be used to the questions.

Timothy Demonbruen's Cave

This crack in the rock alongside the Cumberland River was actually home to the first white person to settle down in the place that became known as Nashville. Born into French-Canadian nobility, Timothy Demonbreun eventually left his home country for a simple life as a fur trapper. Though he later built homes for himself in Nashville, historians believe Demonbreun first used this cave as someplace to call home. In 1980, it earned a spot among the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

For preservation, visitors aren't allowed inside the cave. To get the best view, you'll have to take a canoe or boat down the river, but you won't have to go far. The cave is less than a mile upstream from downtown Nashville.

12 South Neighborhood

If you want to pack your day of tourism with a little bit of everything, head to Nashville's 12 South Neighborhood, just northwest of the intersection of I-440 and I-65. Unique and beautifully restored homes give this hip section of Nashville a distinct flair. Inside those beautiful buildings, you'll find some of the best food, drink, and shopping Nashville has to offer. Whether you're looking for your next favorite craft beer, artisan pastry, or vintage guitar, this is the right neighborhood for all of your purchases.

United Record Pressing

Even if you haven't heard the name, you've probably heard the records made by United Record Pressing. Artists that pressed records here range from The Beatles and Stevie Wonder to Justin Timberlake and Kanye West. Operations at the original pressing site date back to the ‘40s and boomed during the Motown years. Since then, it has become the largest vinyl record pressing plant in the U.S.

While the iconic site still stands at 453 Chestnut Street, United recently moved the bulk of its operations to a new location, 481 Allied Drive. It hasn't had time to restart tours at the old facility, but keep an eye out for those to return. In the meantime, you can still go check out exterior and imagine all the Motown magic that happened inside.

Hatch Show Print

Music nerds will also enjoy a trip to one of the oldest print shops in the U.S. Hatch Show Print dates back to the late 1800s, and the company's poster style was defined nearly from the outset. As country music exploded in popularity during the 20th Century, Hatch Show Print produced iconic posters for musicians like Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson.

Hatch Show Print manages to balance a respect for its history with a desire to continue working. To this day, anyone with a need can commission the company to create a poster for them. Those more interested in the shop's legacy can buy a ticket for daily tours. Those tickets will cost adults $18, and it's $15 for kids. You'll find the shop in the 5th Avenue lobby of the County Music Hall of Fame.