LGBTQ+ Friendly Travel Guide to Nashville, TN

Gay Friendly Nashville Travel Guide

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Often referred to as the “Music City,” and known worldwide as the home of country music, Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, is also known for its LGBTQ+ inclusivity, making it a must-visit for those looking to experience a quintessential slice of American culture. With its LGBTQ+ bars, clubs, and events, mostly on Church Street and in the Five Points neighborhood, it’s a great place to connect with the local LGBTQ+ community. Indicative of a city that embodies the pure essence of Southern hospitality, music, and culture, Nashville ensures that all travelers feel at home while discovering everything Nashville has to offer.

The heart of Music City that beats non-stop with live music performances from the many talented musicians in Honky-tonks and bars along Broadway Street, better known as “The Strip” is Nashville’s downtown. Not a fan of country music? Maybe you prefer rock, the blues, pop, or even hip hop? Whatever your musical pleasure, rest assured, you can find it here.

But Nashville isn’t just about music and nightlife, you can also find art galleries, visit historical sites, take in a museum, or check out the city’s neighborhoods each with their own unique character. You can enjoy cultural attractions and famous landmarks that shape the city’s skyline. Whether you’re here for the tunes, the food, the history, or simply the warm embrace of the city, Nashville promises to be an unforgettable travel experience where everyone is encouraged to simply be their authentic selves. 

How to Get To Nashville: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Nashville is a well-connected city with various means of travel for getting to and from the area, making it convenient for all types of travelers.

Planes: Nashville International Airport (BNA) is the primary airport serving the city offering both domestic and international flights.

Trains: Amtrak’s Crescent and City of New Orleans routes serve Nashville at the Amtrak station. While train travel may take a little longer to get there, it provides a more scenic journey.

Automobiles and More: If you’re traveling from nearby cities or states, driving to Nashville can be the perfect choice for you to set your own pace and schedule. Or, you can travel by Greyhound or Megabus, offering bus services to Nashville from various cities across the United States. WeGo Central Station is Nashville’s bus terminal for arrivals and departures.

How LGBTQ+ Welcoming Is Nashville

Nashville, known for its deep-seated country music roots, has come a long way in its journey toward becoming an LGBTQ+ friendly city. This transformation reflects a broader shift towards greater inclusivity and acceptance. As a major urban center, the city has taken steps to offer LGBTQ+ protections, including prohibiting discrimination in city employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Supportive organizations, like the LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Oasis Center, play a vital role in Nashville’s LGBTQ+ community by  offering help and resources to LGBTQ+ individuals, businesses, and young people. These efforts demonstrate that Nashville is becoming a more welcoming and friendly place for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, including adopting non-discrimination policies for LGBTQ+ youth. 

Nashville is increasingly becoming a place where people from all backgrounds can live, work, and enjoy their time together in an atmosphere of acceptance and celebration. The city hosts events throughout the year that cater to LGBTQ+ interests, providing more opportunities for the community to come together and celebrate their identities. These efforts, along with a growing number of LGBTQ+ friendly bars and venues, many of which can be found on Church Street, known as the city’s “gayborhood,“ are helping Nashville become a city where everyone can feel accepted while spending their time there. 

Gay Nashville

Nashville Pride 

Nashville Pride is an LGBTQ+ non-profit organization that engages the Nashville community, coordinates advocacy and allyship, promotes diversity and inclusivity, and calls on the local community to take action. Their goal is to celebrate the existence and identity of the LGBTQ community and to connect people with the services and resources they need to thrive. This year-round effort is essential for achieving equal rights for all LGBTQ+ individuals.

Tennessee Pride Chamber of Commerce

Located in Nashville, The Tennessee Pride Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ businesses and professionals, playing a crucial role in creating opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals to thrive in the business world and the broader community. Through events, resources, and support, the Chamber acts as a catalyst for an inclusive and equitable environment in Tennessee. 

Pride Events in Nashville

Celebrating Pride in Nashville is not just a one day or weekend-long event in June. It is a month-long celebration including a concert for love and acceptance, drag brunches, dance parties, a pride night swim, a pride pre-party, and culminating with the Nashville Pride Parade and Festival in Bicentennial Park. 

Nashville Pride Parade and Festival – Every June, thousands of people flock to Nashville for its free, family-friendly, annual Pride Parade, complete with grand marshals leading the way, processing into Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, marking the official start of the Pride Festival. The festival features over 100 performances on three different stages, a Drag Extravaganza, a kids and family zone, food favorites, and more than 100 vendors from Nashville’s local organizations and businesses. 

Nashville Predators Pride Night – The Nashville Predators, who have the only openly gay player in the NHL, in partnership with the Nashville LGBT Chamber and Nashville Pride, hosts an Annual Predators Pride Night in April. The team wears rainbow-themed jerseys during their pregame warmup, and some players use rainbow-colored tape on their sticks as a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community.

History Of Nashville

Nashville’s history is as intriguing as the melodies that echo through its streets. Located in the heart of Tennessee, this city straddles the Cumberland River and its tributary, the Stones River. The story of Nashville begins with its Native American inhabitants, like the Cherokee and Chickasaw, who lived in harmony with the land long before European settlers arrived.

In the late 1700s, European pioneers began to trickle into the region, and a fort named Fort Nashborough was built along the Cumberland River, establishing the foundation of the city. Eventually, it was renamed Nashville, in honor of General Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War hero. The city quickly grew as an agricultural and transportation center, owing its early success to its strategic location on the rivers, making it a valuable trade center.

The 19th century brought both prosperity and conflict. Nashville’s importance as a river port made it a valuable prize during the Civil War. Union forces captured the city in 1862, and it became a crucial center for the Union Army. The city’s history is still visible today in its well-preserved Civil War-era buildings and sites.

Nashville’s moniker as “Music City” didn’t emerge until the 20th century, but it now symbolizes the city’s soul. In the 1920s, the Grand Ole Opry, a radio show, took root in Nashville, propelling the city to become the epicenter of country music. Legendary artists like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash helped establish Nashville’s reputation as the heart of the country music industry.

Nashville’s journey from a humble fort to a major modern city is a testament to the enduring spirit of the American South, a tale that continues to be written with each passing day.

LGBTQ+ Friendly Places To Stay In Nashville

Nashville has a variety of LGBTQ+ accommodations that are welcoming and inclusive for all visitors. Comfort and acceptance are prioritized, ensuring that LGBTQ+ guests feel safe and respected during their stay. From hotels to bed and breakfasts, you can choose from budget-friendly to upscale. Whether you’re looking for a cozy spot, a quiet escape, or something downtown, you can find what you’re looking for in Nashville’s LGBTQ+ friendly accommodations.

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel Nashville Discover the best of classic and contemporary Nashville at the renowned Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. This award-winning hotel near Broadway, serves as your gateway to the Music City. Located in midtown, across from Vanderbilt University in the West End, this hotel offers you an experience away from the typical tourist spots, while being just a short drive from the city’s most famous attractions. Take the hotel’s complimentary shuttle to downtown for a stress free day or night out.

The Hermitage HotelThe Hermitage Hotel’s convenient location and recently restored, oversized rooms and suites, is within a 10-minute walk of Broadway and Ryman Auditorium. The hotel offers a 24-hour fitness center, is pet-friendly, and features two restaurants serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Hutton HotelKnown for its LGBTQ+ friendliness, The Hutton Hotel is located in the West End of the city and delivers added amenities including on-site dining, a full-service spa, and a 24-hour fitness center. The guest rooms are designed in a contemporary style making it a modern yet comfortable place to stay.

Recommended Restaurants In Nashville

Nashville’s dining scene has whatever you happen to be in the mood for. You have your choice of smoke-house flavored, slow-cooked meats and hearty sides at numerous barbecue joints, while hot chicken restaurants serve spicy, crispy delights. Or, you can opt for Southern-style restaurants that offer classic comfort food like biscuits and gravy, grits, and fried catfish. Prefer international flavors? There are plenty of Mexican, Italian, Asian, and more to go around. Vegetarians and vegans can choose from a number of plant-based restaurants and eateries that cater to their dietary preferences. Whatever your palate-pleasing pleasure, you can find it in Nashville.

Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa –  Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa on Lower Broadway, a Tex-Mex restaurant and cantina, adds a splash of Texas flavor to Tennessee, serving up Tex-Mex favorites, tasty margaritas and homemade salsas. Playing live music daily, this four-story restaurant is also a showcase for some of Miranda’s personal memorabilia, including the famous Bluebird Cage. From table-side-prepared guacamole to a choice of tequilas, including Miranda’s own margarita recipe, Casa Rosa delivers the best food on The Strip.

Bricktop’s – Located in midtown, Bricktop’s focuses on American bistro cuisine with a Southern touch for an upscale dining experience. Its interior is both classy and elegant with a monkey-themed décor. If you prefer to dine al fresco, and maybe do a little people watching, the restaurant also features an outdoor patio for guests to dine.

Trattoria Il Mulino – Trattoria Il Mulino in downtown Nashville serves up all of your favorite Italian dishes. With a spacious indoor dining area, a covered, heated outdoor dining patio with a bar, and an exposed kitchen with a wood-fired pizza oven, the restaurant has a casual yet classy vibe. Featuring a full-service bar with an extensive wine list that includes both domestics and imports from Italy, along with hand-crafted cocktails and a selection of local and imported craft beers, Trattoria Il Mulino is not your typical Italian restaurant. 

Suzie Wong’s Drag’n Brunch – Serving the community for over 12 years, Suzy Wong’s offers a unique brunch experience with delicious food, custom cocktails, and live drag shows. Open Friday through Sunday with three brunch seatings, and a menu that combines Asian favorites with Southern cuisine, in an atmosphere that is all about sharing good food with friends, Suzy Wong’s is a favorite of the LGBTQ+ community.

Shotgun Willie’s BBQ – Open Thursday through Sunday, Shotgun Willie’s BBQ is a popular barbecue joint located in East Nashville, serving mouth-watering barbecue dishes in a come-as-you-are spot. The menu features a variety of award- winning, live-fire brisket and pork, and scratch-made daily sides and sauces, for a true Southern BBQ experience. Voted Best Brisket, Shotgun Willie’s gives you a taste of authentic, down-home barbecue in the heart of Nashville.

Restaurants in Nashville

Things To Do & See In Nashville

Nashville has a lot to offer visitors looking to explore the city. You can’t miss the legendary music scene, where you’ll find live performances happening almost everywhere you go. Whether it’s a local honky-tonk or a renowned music venue, Nashville is the place to soak up the country, rock, and blues vibes. There are also plenty of museums and historic sites to see, where you can learn about the city’s past and its role in the music industry. When you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, Nashville’s parks and green spaces provide opportunities for a leisurely stroll, enjoying a picnic, or even hiking in the nearby hills. Whatever your pleasure, Nashville is sure to please.

Johnny Cash Museum – Named #1 Music Museum by USA Today, and ranked #1 Music Museum in the world by Forbes and National Geographic Traveler, the Johnny Cash Museum is like a time machine into the life of the famous “Man in Black.” See his stage clothes, handwritten song lyrics, and a wall covered in shiny gold and platinum records. When you’re finished with the museum, you can head next-door to Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ for some mouthwatering Southern food, fantastic drinks, and the some of the best music that Nashville has to offer

Patsy Cline Museum – Located above the Johnny Cash Museum, The Patsy Cline Museum is a journey into the life and music of one of country music’s greatest legends known for her timeless songs like “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight.” Showcasing personal belongings, costumes, and rare artifacts, while offering an intimate look into her remarkable career, it’s a place where fans can pay tribute to this beloved LGBTQ+ icon’s enduring legacy.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is like a treasure chest for music lovers, a place where you can learn about the history of country music through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. Once inside, you find collections of guitars, stage costumes, memorabilia, and even Elvis Presley’s gold Cadillac. It’s the place to uncover the stories and achievements of the legendary artists who have shaped the world of country music.

The Adventure Park at Nashville – For outdoor enthusiasts and thrill-seekers, The Adventure Park at Nashville is where you can challenge yourself and have a lot of fun in the process. With various ropes courses and zip lines, you get to navigate your way through treetop challenges, while surrounded by nature. The Adventure Park welcomes everyone, from beginners to experienced climbers, and is a great place to test your skills and enjoy an active day outdoors, while having a great time with family and friends.

Where To Shop & Stroll In Nashville

Shopping and strolling go hand-in-hand in Nashville, combining retail therapy with leisurely exploration. The city’s neighborhoods and downtown are opportunities for both. You can  browse through trendy boutiques, antique shops, or markets, where you may stumble upon hidden treasures or chat with friendly shop owners. Once you are “shopped out,” you can take a stroll through one of the city’s many parks to enjoy the scenery. With so much to take in, put on your walking shoes and get ready to discover all that awaits you around every corner of this city.

Broadway Street. One of the most popular areas to shop is Broadway Street, known as “The Strip,” where you’ll find souvenir shops, boutiques, record stores, vintage shops, and even a General Store. With music, street performances, and the delicious smell of Southern cuisine, you can shop, stroll  and maybe even catch a rising country star performing in one of the honky-tonks. While you’re there, check out Fifth + Broadway, for the ultimate shopping experience.

Five Points Alley Shops – Located in the Five Points neighborhood of East Nashville, this collection of shops, cafes, and specialty stores offer locally crafted goods and artistic creations. Shoppers can browse through clothing boutiques, vintage stores, home décor outlets, and artisan shops. It’s an ideal destination for those in search of unique, locally-made goods and a taste of the city’s artistic scene.

Music Valley Village – In Music Valley Village, you can experience the essence of Nashville’s music culture while indulging in a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Whether you’re in search of musical memorabilia, unique handcrafted items, stylish Southern clothing, or just a great meal, this district has something to offer every visitor, where shopping becomes part of your journey into the heart of Music City.

Turnip Truck – The gay-owned Turnip Truck, bridges the gap between urban consumers and the nearby farms as Nashville’s only locally owned natural foods grocer. With three stores centrally located in the city, its shelves are stocked with the highest quality natural, local, and organic foods available.

Best Music Venues In Nashville

Whether you’re catching an impromptu live performance at a local dive bar, exploring the city’s many music venues, or diving deep into the roots of country music at a museum, the city’s music culture is bound to strike a harmonious chord. Whether you’re looking to find one of your favorite artists like Tanya Tucker, Garth Brooks, or Brandy Carlisle in concert, you’re sure to find them at one of these iconic music venues.

Ryman Auditorium – Often referred to as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” The Ryman, as the locals call it, has hosted legendary musical performances for over a century. From music of the past greats to today’s biggest country music stars, it’s been THE stage for the best in the business. Not able to catch a live show? Ryman Auditorium offers tours, giving you a chance to explore its history, from the unforgettable shows to the famous artists who’ve graced the stage. The Ryman is not just a music venue; it’s a piece of living history .

The Grand Ole Opry – Hosting live radio broadcasts since 1925, making it one of the longest-running music shows in history, the Grand Ole Opry stage has seen countless country music artists over its nearly century-long past. Today, it continues to showcase both well-known and up-and-coming stars. Visiting the Grand Ole Opry is like stepping into the heart of country music history. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the sights, the stories, and the sounds that unfold before the country music magic takes the spotlight, by taking an exclusive tour introducing you to The Opry’s famous friends in a brand new, star-studded exhibit. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience highlighted by having your picture taken on this famous stage. 

Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar – For more than 25 years, Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Painter’s Alley has been a stage for thousands of musicians from James Brown to B.B. King and everyone in between. Serving real Cajun and Creole dishes, cold beer, and special cocktails like the Big Easy Hurricane, it’s “a hidden gem with amazing music” you don’t want to miss. 

Nashville LGBTQ+ Music Venues

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – In a city filled with countless honky-tonk bars, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a top choice for both locals and tourists. It’s said “you can find more music history  here per square inch here than anywhere else in Nashville.” Since the early 1960s, aspiring musicians have graced the Tootsie’s stage, hoping to catch their big break. When you step inside, you get to enjoy live music and experience the deep musical traditions of Nashville.

LGBTQ+ Bars, Clubs and Nightlife In Nashville

While there are an endless number of bars and clubs to drink, dance and listen to music, the LGBTQ+ nightlife scene in Nashville is not just limited to Church Street, the city’s “gayborhood,” but rather is spread throughout the city. Whether you’re into live performances, dance parties, or simply sipping a drink with friends, you can find the perfect place to feel at ease. This inclusive atmosphere has made Nashville a destination where LGBTQ+ individuals can feel free to express themselves while enjoying a memorable night out.

The Lipstick Lounge – Dubbed “a bar for humans,” and affectionately known as “The Lip,” East Nashville’s, The Lipstick Lounge is one of the few remaining lesbian bars in the country. Named Best LGBTQ Bar & Best Karaoke Bar by Nashville Scene’s reader’s poll, The Lipstick Lounge also offers live music, trivia, a relaxing patio space to hang out with friends, and, when hunger strikes, a dinner menu and late night snacks menu full of pub favorites. At the Lip, you’re encouraged to “come as you are, whatever you are.”

The Lipstick Lounge Nashville TN

Tribe – Popular for its “Showtunes Sunday” and various themed nights, Tribe is a trendy and contemporary gay bar that welcomes both straight and LGBTQ+ clientele. Open Wednesday through Sunday, it features signature cocktails, pub food, a pool table, dance floor, and streaming music videos. Tribe is recognized as one of USA Today’s TOP 10 Best Nightclubs in Nashville. 

Canvas Lounge – Affectionately known as “a gay bar that’s everybody-friendly,” the Canvas Lounge has a So-Ho like, artistic vibe with great lighting and sound system, offering fresh-squeezed juice cocktails, live music, and elevated bar food. DJ nights are a regular feature on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 

Play – An LGBTQ+ favorite, and winner of the Best Place to Dance in Nashville since 2005, Play is the go-to spot for Sensational Drag Shows and Weekly Special Guests. Featuring a world-class dance floor and talented lineup of resident DJ’s, it’s the happening, after hours place to be in the “gayborhood.”

Annual Events and Festivals in Nashville

Nashville is a city that knows how to celebrate, and throughout the year, it hosts annual events and festivals that draw visitors from all over. As either a music lover, foodie, or fan of cultural experiences, Nashville’s event calendar has just what you’re looking for. 

CMA Fest –  This massive four-night country music event, also known as the CMA Music Festival, attracts thousands of fans to Nashville every June and features performances by top country artists, fan interactions, and live music throughout the city.

Nashville Film Festival – The Nashville Film Festival showcases a mix of films, from documentaries to shorts, attracting filmmakers and movie enthusiasts each October. This week-long event featuring in-person screenings, interactive audiences, music showcases, panel discussions, and workshops, is the oldest running film festival in the south.

Tomato Art Fest – The two-day Tomato Art Fest is a free and fun event, bringing together people from all over the state with cool art, local music, yummy food, fun contests, shopping, stuff for kids, and much more. The festival is welcoming to all and you’re encouraged to dress in costume. 

Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival – The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated in the Public Square Park each spring, highlighting Japanese traditions and featuring cherry blossom displays, music, dance, and food.

LGBTQ+ Friendly Nashville: The City Where You Can Be You

For the LGBTQ+ traveler, a trip to Nashville is an opportunity to experience a city that warmly embraces diversity and inclusivity. Throughout your journey, you can explore the LGBTQ+  neighborhoods, attend LGBTQ+ events, and connect with the local community, creating memorable moments and a feeling of belonging. The LGBTQ+ friendly places, coupled with the city’s cultural and social scene, offer a truly welcoming environment where travelers can be themselves without hesitation. Nashville’s commitment to providing a safe and enjoyable experience makes it a destination where LGBTQ+ travelers can fully embrace their identities while enjoying the city’s music and southern charm. It’s not just about the places you visit, but also about the sense of acceptance and celebration of diversity that resonates throughout the city, leaving a lasting and affirming impression of LGBTQ+ friendly Nashville.

See more LGBTQ+ friendly travel guides in OutCoast Nation.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules.

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may, 2024

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