With a trip to Nashville, visitors have the opportunity to tour the Country Music Hall of Fame, watch a performance at the Grand Ole Opry, explore a replica of The Parthenon in Centennial Park and bar hop on Broadway. That is just the tip of the iceberg — Plan your Music City itinerary with this guide to wheelchair accessible attractions in Nashville, where you can enjoy all the South has to offer.
Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum first opened to the public in 1967, in a small building on Music Row. With the growth in popularity of the genre, the Hall of Fame was forced to construct a new building in Downtown Nashville, which currently measures some 350,000 square feet.
The museum and Hall of Fame are wheelchair accessible throughout, and contain ADA accessible bathroom facilities. Memorabilia spanning the entire history of country music is on display in the museum galleries, and visitors should plan to allot at least two hours to complete a self-guided tour.
Memorabilia on display includes instruments, lyric and music sheets, clothing, posters and even motor vehicles! The museum is very interesting, even for those of us who may not be the biggest fans of country music. You’ll learn about the wide variety of country music acts including, apparently, Elvis Presley, who is enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The cost of general admission is $25.95 for adults and $15.95 for youth ages 6-12. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free. Discounts for seniors, military and students are available, but only at the box office. A number of premium experiences are available as well, with information provided on the museum website.
Create posters at Hatch Show Print
Hatch Show Print is a design shop known for creating poster prints for country music artists and shows. It says of its history, “For 140 years, Hatch Show Print has married events with art—for headliners from Johnny Cash to Jason Isbell, Patsy Cline to Paramore.” It is now located at the Country Music all of Fame.
Visitors can take part in a tour of the print shop’s gallery of previous work and create a take-home poster for $20, or they can do as I did — peer through the glass window and buy a souvenir at the shop. For more information on tours, visit HatchShowPrint.com.
See a live performance of the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly bluegrass, gospel and country music stage concert, which is distributed by radio stations across the country. It was founded in 1925 and is one of the premier attractions for Music City visitors. Performances take place at the Grand Ole Opry House, which is located about 10 miles from Downtown Nashville.
Wheelchair accessible seating is available on both the upper and lower level of the Grand Ole Opry House. ADA is available in multiple in multiple sections and rows on the lower level and in Row G on the upper level. The cost of tickets for Grand Ole Opry performances ranges from $60 to $115 and can be purchased online at www.opry.com.
Tour the Historic Ryman Auditorium
The original home of the Grand Ole Opry is Ryman Auditorium, located in Downtown Nashville. The venue, which seats more than 2,300 people, hosted the Opry from 1943 to 1974.
Visitors to the Ryman Auditorium can go on a self-guided tour of the venue. A number of displays showcase the history of the venue and of the Grand Ole Opry. Performances are still help at Ryman Auditorium, and there is space for wheelchairs at the rear, as well as directly in front of the stage.
The cost of admission is $24.95 for adults (ages 12+) and $16.95 for children (ages 4-11). A free photo taken onstage is included with admission, allowing you to take home a memento. For more information, visit the Ryman Auditorium website.
Experience the bars, restaurants & live music on Broadway & in Printers Alley
Whether you want lunch, dinner or a drink, the bars, restaurants and “honky tonks” on Broadway and at Printers Alley are one of the places you’ll want to go. Most of the businesses feature live music performances by artists and bands that are trying to make their way to country music stardom.
Some of the bars are local favorites, such as Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, Honky Tonk Central, The Stage and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Each has a different vibe, a different clientele (i.e. young vs. old) and a different experience. Spending a night out on the town bar-hopping and listening to a wide variety of performers is a must.
The only drawback is Broadway’s limited wheelchair accessibility. While many bars have an accessible entrance, some occupying upper floors lack an elevator. Seating may be limited to high-top tables and the bar. In many businesses, bathrooms have limited accessibility, meaning wheelchairs may not even fit into the bathroom. As a result, it’s a good idea to scout out a toilet that will meet your needs before you join the party. Newer bars and restaurants like Broadway Brewhouse, Hard Rock Cafe, Honky Tonk Central and others are a much safer bet.
Snap a photo of Music City from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
Nashville is a beautiful city, and there’s one place to capture the perfect picture of the Music City skyline: the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. Originally known as the Sparkman Street Bridge, it was renamed in honor of local journalist John Seigenthaler, who once prevented a suicidal man from jumping off the bridge.
The bridge was built between 1907-1909, spans the Cumberland River and measures 3,150 feet in length, or just over half a mile. Deemed unsafe for vehicular traffic after some 90 years of use, it was reimagined as a pedestrian walkway and is now part of the city’s Greenway system. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Watch the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium
The Tennessee Titans of the National Football League moved from Houston, where they were known as the Houston Oilers, to Nashville in 1997. Two years later, the team changed its name to the Tennessee Titans and moved-in to their new venue, Nissan Stadium.
The stadium is wheelchair accessible, with ADA accessible seating available on every level and at multiple price points. A seating chart that identifies accessible seating locations can be found at NissanStadium.com. The Titans make the following statement about stadium accessibility:
The Nissan Stadium ticket windows, concessions services, ATMs, water fountains, merchandise booths, admission gates, restrooms, aisles, elevators, conveyances and ramps were all specifically designed and built to accommodate guests with disabilities. Every service area, booth and assistance window can be reached with ease by guests in wheelchairs.
Nissan Stadium is located just across the Cumberland River from Downtown Nashville. It can be reached on foot in about 15 to 20 minutes using either the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge or by crossing the river via the Woodland Street Bridge.
Watch the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena
The Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League were created in 1998 as an expansion franchise. They play home games at Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville, located on the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue.
The arena is wheelchair accessible, with ADA seating locations available at multiple levels and price points. ADA accessible bathrooms and private family restrooms are available throughout the arena. For information on accessible seating, tickets and arena tours, visit NashvillePredators.com.
Tour the Tennessee State Capitol Building
Construction of the Tennessee State Capitol building began in 1845 and was completed in 1859, one year before the United States found itself embroiled in Civil War. Today, the building is home to the state’s General Assembly and the governor’s office.
Guided tours of the Capitol building are free and open to the public. Tours begin at the information desk on the first floor of the capitol building, departing at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Entrance to the building is via the West entrance, located on the buildings left side, which faces the Tennessee Supreme Court and State Archives. Alternatively, visitors with disabilities can use the Motlow Tunnel entrance, located at 600 Dr. Martin L King, Jr. Blvd. More information is available on the Tennessee State Capitol website.
Explore the Tennessee State Museum
The Tennessee State Museum was created in 1935 by the Tennessee General Assembly, with the goal of exhibiting artifacts from World War I and other periods in the state’s history. In 2015, the museum moved to its current location on the corner of Rosa L. Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, about one mile from the state Capitol building.
Permanent exhibitions at the museum cover a diverse array of topics including the history of indigenous peoples, the region prior to statehood, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Tennessee’s role in World War, the civil rights movements of women and African Americans, and the state’s transformation in more modern times.
All of the galleries are wheelchair accessible, and the museum provides ADA accessible bathroom facilities. Admission to the Tennessee State Museum is free, and visitors should plan to spend 1 to 2 hours there. More information is available at TNMuseum.org.
Celebrate creativity at the Frist Art Museum
Founded in 2001, the First Art Museum primarily displays the work visual artists from the local area and the State of Tennessee. Galleries rotate every few months, and sometimes include special exhibitions of work from outside the state or country.
The museum is located in the city’s former post office, which was built in the 1930s. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cost of admission is $15 for adults. Visitors ages 18 and younger are free. For more information, visit FristArtMuseum.org.
Visit Centennial Park & The Parthenon
Not to be confused with the Bicentennial Mall in Downtown Nashville, Centennial Park is located about two miles West and across from Vanderbilt University. It is a 132-acre public park open year-round and known for its full-scale replica of The Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
The Parthenon replica was built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition and the structure is today used as an art museum. The museum’s permanent collection consists of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists. The cost of admission is $10.00 for adults, with a reduced price of $8.00 for children (ages 4-17) and seniors (ages 62+). For more information, visit the museum website.
Check out Tennessee’s tallest skyscraper, the AT&T Building
As you may or may not know, I’ve got a small obsession with the world’s tallest buildings and towers. Whenever I visit a new city, one of my goals is to see the tallest man-made structure. The tallest building in the State of Tennessee is Nashville’s 33-story AT&T Building, which measures 617 feet to the top of its spires.
Regrettably, the AT&T Building is only an office building, with no publicly accessible observatory at the top. Given that, you’ll have to settle for an exterior view, which is possible from many points downtown. I posed with the skyscraper in the background while inside the Country Music Hall of Fame. The museum’s floor to ceiling windows provide the perfect vantage point!
Other attractions to consider
Because my time in Nashville was limited, I wasn’t able to see everything that I hoped to. The following attractions also seem to be worthwhile and are worth considering.
- Adventure Science Center & Sudekum Planetarium, AdventureSci.org
- The Johnny Cash Museum, JohnnyCashMuseum.com
- Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, MusiciansHallOfFame.com
- The Patsy Cline Museum, PatsyMuseum.com
What do you plan to see in Nashville? Let me know in the comments below, and have a great time in Music City!