CMA Fest, or the Country Music Association Festival, one of the most popular country music festivals in the world, is finally here and already on day TWO. Over 100,000 fans from around the globe descend on Nashville each year to flood the streets and soak up as much country music and country music culture as they can over the four day festival. But, if you’re like me, and don’t like battling crowds in 100° heat or spending tons of money on parking and transportation, I’ve put together a list of five ALTERNATIVE things you can do during your stay here in Music City that might be more your speed. So…
Here are Emily’s Five Quick Recommendations for OTHER things to do at CMA Fest.
5. The Ryman/Country Music Hall Of Fame.
Both of these attractions are in the Downtown area, but they are “off-broadway“, so, you won’t be battling crowds as much. The Country Music Hall of Fame is definitley a cool place to go and check out some of their cool exhibits, all while learning a little more about your favorite music. The Ryman is a very historical and interesting place to visit. If you’re lucky, you can catch a show there or take a Backstage Tour during the day to learn more about why this building is deemed the “Mother Church of Country Music“.
4. Go Explore the Outskirts Of Downtown Nashville.
Nashville is a big city busting at the seams with things to do, but many people don’t realize how much there is to see and do OUTSIDE of the Downtown area. A nice place to relax, eat some great food, and discover some new artists is The Commdere Grille. They have singer/songwriters perform there seven nights per week in a very relaxed atmosphere. Another spot to go check out is Downtown Franklin. Located about 30 minutes south of Nashville, this historic city, with a picturesque Main Street area, sports beautiful scenic country, tons of great antique shops, and more great restaurants and live music venues than we can name – but a few that stand out are Gray’s On Main, Jack and Jameson’s (co-owned by Jonathan Jackson, star of the television show Nashville), and Puckett’s Grocery.
3. Nashville Palace/Midnight Jamboree.
The Nashville Palace is a restuarant near the Grand Ole Opry, about 20 minutes from Downtown Nashville. They have nightly live entertainment, and during CMA Fest, they’ll feature shows with stars like Buddy Jewell, Confederate Railroad, and Irlene Mandrell.
If you’re a bit of a Night Owl (like me), then the Midnight Jamboree is you’re spot! Every Saturday night at the Texas Troubadour Theatre starting at 10pm and going until about midnight, WSM Radio and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop present a FREE show featuring legends and newcomers in country music. This week, during CMA Fest, the featured guest will be Jim Glaser. The performers also stay after the show to do a short meet and greet with the fans.
2. Fan Fair X.
If you prefer to be INDOORS with AIR CONDITIONING, but still want to see some major stars, Fan Fair X is your best option. Held inside the beautiful Music City Center, the 4 day event runs concurrently with CMA Fest and features live performances, artist displays and appearances, and plenty of vendors.
1. Visit the Grand Ole Opry.
Nashville wouldn’t be the home of country music without the show that made it famous – The Grand Ole Opry. Seeing a show there is an unforgettable experience… it is still broadcast LIVE on WSM Radio and is the longest running live radio broadcast in the world, never missing a Saturday broadcast in over 90 years. Chances are that all the Opry shows during CMA Fest are already sold out, but don’t worry, there is still more to do at the Opry than just the shows. There are tours presented throughout the day and occasionally, free concerts are presented on the plaza outside of the theater before showtime.
Did you like our tips for CMA Fest? Have some more tips? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!