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Visiting Nashville: How to NOT Look Like an Inexperienced Tourist

Music City’s top transportation provider lets you in on a few secrets.

So you’ve decided to make a visit to Music City? Good choice.

Now it’s time to make sure you don’t look like a tourist…since born and raised Nashvillians can usually tell a local from someone who’s just in for the week.

Sure, you may think Music City is all about country music and cowboy boots, and on some level you’d be right, but there’s much more to this beloved city than popular culture would have you believe.

We’re no mecca of skyscrapers and flashy lights (though Broadway in Nashville is beautiful at night), but we’ve got plenty to keep your attention.

Want to blend in and really mingle with the locals during your upcoming visit? Here are some easy ways NOT to look like a tourist.

#1 – We Don’t All Wear Cowboy Boots

Sure, if you go to Broadway on a Friday or Saturday night (or any night really there’s always live music playing) you’re bound to see hundreds of people wearing cowboy boots. Those are tourists, too. Save those for the rodeo.

#2 – Leave the Stetson at Home, Unless You’re Going to the Wild Horse Saloon

Again, you might see a cowboy hat every now and then in the Country Music Hall of Fame, but it’s probably in a glass display case because it was worn by Hank Williams. Nashvillians don’t make it a habit to wear a Stetson unless we’re dressing up as a Texan for Halloween.

#3 – Don’t Be Afraid of East Nashville. The Stories Aren’t True

East Nashville gets a bad rap because of a history of crime and a particular rough patch in the ’90s. Nowadays, the area is actually thriving.

It’s going through its own little renaissance, and if you’re in the hot spots of East Nashville, you’re not a tourist…. you’re family. Check out The Pharmacy for the best burger of your life, The Five Spot for amazing live music, The Wild Cow for vegan and gluten-free dining, and Bongo Java for a unique atmosphere and outstanding coffee.

Want to buy records or musical equipment? Stop by Fanny’s House of Music or The Fond Object. There are local bakeries, thrift stores, and grocery stores, too.

#4 – Don’t Try to Speak Our Language…We Don’t Have One

We don’t all say “y’all,” and we’re not as “country” as you might think.

Actually, we’re a city full of diverse cultures and communities; a good number of us are transplants from cities and countries far away.

Don’t believe us? Check out the Greek Festival in Centennial Park, the African Street Festival, or the NAIA Pow Wow. The majority of country music stars migrated here from other places, too. For example, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, and Vince Gill are from Oklahoma, while Alan Jackson is from Georgia, George Straight is from Texas and Merle Haggard was actually born in California.

#5 – Order Sweet Tea the Right Way

If you’re looking for great sweet tea, a born-and-raised Southern grandma can fix you up right. Or, if you’re out and about in the city, you can go to Arnold’s on 8th Avenue South, or take a longer drive down Highway 100 to the world-famous Loveless Café. In the South, we drink sweet tea the right way, on ice, with sugar and a lemon wedge.

#6 – Check Out Other Venues, Not Just the Honky-Tonks

We’re not all about country music. Even though country is what Nashville is known for, we’ve got so much more to offer when it comes to the musical realm.

In fact, our recording studios work on everything from gospel to rap, from indie to psychedelic and everything in between. There are tons of venues around the city that cater more to indie, rock and roll or electronic music; think the Cannery Ballroom, Mercy Lounge, The Basement East, Marathon Music Works or Exit/In.

Ever heard of Jack White, The Black Keys, or Kings of Leon? They all live here and play here regularly.

#7 – Leave Our Celebrities Alone. They Chose This City for a Reason

Nashville is home to many celebrities, and not just singers. We’ve got Nicole Kidman, Connie Britton, Hayden Panetierre, Reese Witherspoon, and Al Gore. They chose Nashville because locals leave them alone and let them do their own thing. Respect their privacy, and help us keep Nashville the charming little Southern city that it is.

Even though Nashville is pretty metropolitan, we’re still a welcoming, accessible city that prides itself on being a great spot to visit.

Plan a customizable tour of Music City with Signature Transportation today. Or book a Whiskey Trail Tour shuttle to bars and distilleries in Nashville.

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