7 Overhyped Things To Do In Downtown Nashville That Are Tourist Traps, According To Locals

A "what not to do" travel list as told by people who live in Nashville.

A bachelorette party poses on a roof in Downtown Nashville. Right: The exterior of the historic Tootsies Lounge.​
Georgia Contributing Writer

A bachelorette party poses on a roof in Downtown Nashville. Right: The exterior of the historic Tootsies Lounge.

Nashville is known for its hot chicken, live music, and swanky speakeasies. Every year millions of tourists file through the Music City to shop, let loose, and enjoy some of the best bars and restaurants the South has to offer.

If you're planning a trip, it can be beneficial to ask someone who lives in the area about popular spots that can't be missed. Many of these spots can be left off of your itinerary.

This list features unfiltered opinions from Nashville locals on the most overrated places. Hopefully, it can help narrow down your options and set you on the path to better experiences the city has to offer.

Pancake Pantry

This long-standing breakfast spot is known for having a line around the block waiting to try a stack of their "famous" pancakes. However, this Nashville woman said it's "no longer worth it" due to expensive menu items and declining food quality.

"I can't see us going back anytime soon, if ever. I am unhappy !! I have been going to the Pancake Pantry since the early '70s," she wrote.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge

Tootsies is one of the most famous honky tonks downtown, however, its popularity has led to unruly crowds and bloated prices. The building has a wonderful history, but some suggest its best enjoyed as a quick walkthrough during daytime hours.

One local guide said, "what a dive. Sure the bar has history but that's about it. Top it all off with the fact that a bud light costs $6. I'd recommend coming during the day to see the bar for the history and then going to an actual decent bar for drinks."

Lower Broadway

Nashville's entertainment district is known for tourist shops, honky-tonks and celebrity-owned chain restaurants. People who live in Downtown Nashville said "getting a bad rap" due to Broadway's large crowds, and heavy drinking.

One reviewer revealed that "in the last few years the area is getting a bad reputation for public drunkenness. Many locals wont even go down there anymore because its overrun with over served tourists, public urination and fist fights all common occurrences."

Pedal Taverns

These pedal pubs are usually powered by loud and intoxicated groups, making them notorious among locals. The biggest downside to the infamous "pedal taverns" is the traffic jams they cause.

"It seems like a good idea: cardio AND drinking. You get on the pedal tavern, you get into traffic," said a Nashville critic. "You drink/pump/listen to music --- and get flashed the middle finger by 1 out 3-to-5 drivers. Some glare, some honk. Some pull up dangerously close. If you're not drunk already, prepare to experience Nashville hostility instead of hospitality."

Music Row

Music Row is famous for hosting the recording sessions of music legends like Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley. Some visitors flock here expecting to be starstruck, but, in reality, the street is mostly used for office spaces. Tourists can find the street underwhelming, especially if they come with big expectations.

A Nashville resident tweeted: "Welcome to all our guests for CMA week. Tip: Music Row is boring, unless you really like office buildings."

CMA Fest

The annual CMA Fest's lineup draws thousands of people to the Music City every year. But some Tennessee citizens aren't so fond of the massive event. Backed-up traffic and crowds of intoxicated tourists can yield an unappealing experience.

"Just got an email notification warning of influx of visitors to Nashville for CMA fest next week. Already having nightmares & getting a rash," this Twitter user wrote on social media.

Wild Horse Saloon

This three-story bar and restaurant is a popular live music venue for Nashville guests. Although, when it comes to this "saloon," the phrase "tourist trap" is thrown around often by reviewers.

"Many think this is a big Nashville Experience.....its cheesy and the food is terrible. [Occasionally] a concert from an Oldie But Goodie is tolerable here, but the acoustics are just OK," a TripAdvisor user from Nashville said.

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

Maeve Browne
Georgia Contributing Writer
Maeve Browne is a Contributing Writer for Narcity’s USA Desk focused on food and Internet trends and is based in Savannah, Georgia.