The magic of Nashville is no secret anymore, but the city is so alive of full of creatives that there is something different to do at every time of the year. Whether you’ve been to Nashville before or are planning your first trip to Music City, December is the most exciting time to visit. There’s new adventures, activities, and experiences to be had as Nashville decks the halls for the holidays.
Here is our recommended itinerary for a weekend trip in December. It is guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit in ways only Music City can do!
Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel
There’s tons of historic hotels and hipster AirBNBs to stay at in Nashville, but if you’re planning to visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas, staying anywhere other than the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is depriving yourself of a one of a kind holiday experience. The Opryland is huge, and every inch is covered in garlands, baubles, and towering trees. I’m not kidding when I say you can spend an entire day of your visit at the Opryland and not get bored for a second. They have an outdoor ice skating ring, snow tubing (in a climate that usually doesn’t see snow), Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt, their ice sculpture adventure center ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and horse drawn carriage rides. You can spend the evening next door at the Grand Ole Opry House to see the Broadway version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Tour the Belmont Mansion
Adelicia Acklen was the 19th century socialite who commissioned the building of the Belmont Mansion in the 1850s with her third husband, Joseph Acklen. Excessively wealthy from her previous marriages, Adelicia envisioned her new home to be the center of Nashville parties and social life. Today, the mansion is kept in excellent condition by a non-profit group and Belmont University. Every year they festoon Adelicia’s refined home in Victorian Era Christmas decor. The opulent home and abundance of greenery is worth the tour. You won’t see any other Christmas decorations like it, and the history about Belmont parties of Christmases past are enjoyable and entertaining.
Celebrate at Cheekwood Festival of Lights
The Cheekwood Botanical Gardens are a fixture in Nashville, but seeing them lit up at Christmas during their Festival of Lights is a treat not to be missed. The gardens, historic mansion, and museum are covered in over one million lights. Bundle up because the evening walk through the gardens can get pretty chilly, but you can warm up with a hot chocolate or hot toddy and make a s’more at the foot of the mansion. There are carolers serenading guests, reindeer you can feed, and twinkling lights everywhere, and you cannot help but be put in a holiday spirit.
Grab a Drink on Broadway
You cannot come to Nashville without seeing some live music and grabbing a drink on Broadway. After a day of Christmas fun, this is the time and place to relax, order some food and drink, and be merry. Acme Feed & Seed is a personal favorite of mine on Broadway, but there’s not really any place you can go wrong!
Have a Dicken’s of a Christmas in Franklin
For your next day in Nashville, drive south to the neighboring town of Franklin, Tennessee. This wealthy suburb has maintained its historic homes and small town charm. Each year the town holds a Charles Dicken’s themed holiday weekend that’s packed with folks in Victorian costume, tons of musicians playing everything from hymns to modern carols, and lots of food! The town shuts down all of the streets around the square, so parking happens a ways out and shuttles can take you to the action. All of the small shops and boutiques stay open, so you can enjoy the Christmas Carol themed activities and also shop local artisans.
Enjoy Amy Grant & Vince Gill’s Christmas Concert
One of the most popular must-sees in Nashville no matter the season is the Ryman Auditorium, an old church that was converted to the first home of the Grand Ole Opry. Now, the Ryman, with it’s adorable church pew seating, operates as a small concert venue, and seeing a show here is a once in a lifetime experience. I cannot praise this concert enough! Amy Grant & Vince Gill sing popular holiday music along with some of their Christmas originals, and the whole concert has a laid-back vibe as though you were in their home. They cut up and tease each other, and get the audience involved in all sorts of ways. Any Christmas lover will love every second of this show.
Hit Up Santa’s Pub
After the concert, make a short (or long) stop at Santa’s Pub. This dive bar is open all year round, but it really gets going during the holidays. You can’t miss it because there’s a huge Santa painted on the front of the pub. It’s your typical dive bar and they host a great karaoke most nights. It’s also a favorite of local country music singers, so you never know who you might meet!0