Honky Tonkying 101

When people think of Nashville they think classic Honky Tonk bars. It really isn’t a trip to Nashville without visiting  them. Like chips, you just can’t have visit just one!  I still remember walking on Broadway towards the famous Honky Tonk Music Row and hearing the live music get louder and louder as we got closer. It was such an awesome feeling!

I have been recapping our visit to Music City thus far here, , here, here and here. But each evening we found ourselves on Lower Broad listening to some great bands with some adult beverages until the wee hours of the morning.  We visited darn near all of the main Honky Tonks and I am here to share my knowledge of which places to visit if you are limited on time.

Rule 1: Make sure to drink water! It gets hot and it is easy to forget this.

Rule 2: Chill, people will step on your toes and bump up against you- let it go and move on

Rule 3: Go with the flow. If one honky tonk is too crowded or boring.. move on to the next one! There are plenty to choose from.

Rule 4: Have fun and be safe! Although Nashville is fiarly safe, during the night time stay on Broadway and never walk back to your hotel alone.

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There are so many great spots, it can be overwhelming at first so let me break it down for ya. (“*” indicate my top choices)

Start at ACME Feed and Seed*

I will try not to repeat myself too much, but ACME Feed & Seed is the modern twist on the classic Honky Tonk (recap of our visit here). They have great food and great bands. Sundays are the best time to go as its buy one get one free on beer! It is also housed in an awesome old (you guessed it) Feed and Seed warehouse; it is the perfect place to start your Honky Tonk crawl and move your way up Broadway and to catch some awesome views on their rooftop bar!

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Work your way up to Whiskey Bent Saloon

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Hank Williams Jr must have been the inspiration for this Honky Tonk:

“Play me some songs about a ramblin man
Put a cold one in my hand
Cause you know I love to hear those guitar sounds
Don’t you play, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
Cause I’ll get all balled up inside
And I’ll get whiskey bent and hell bound”

We found ourselves hot and needing a place to recoup and Whiskey Bent Saloon was perfect for that. We had no problems grabbing a seat and took in the awesome western decor while listening to live music of course. 

** Tip check out Boot Country next door before heading to Honky Tonk Central. Even if you do not buy a pair of these beauts, it’s so cool to see the detail work on the boots. 

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Dance at Honky Tonk Central*

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Honky Tonk Central was my favorite “party” bar. With three levels all with their own bars, bands and outside views it was like its own little town. You can easily stay here all night long with each floor feeling like it is it’s own establishment. 

Tin Roof

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The Original Tin Roof is located on Demonbreun St, but the one located on Broadway is equally as fun! Big open spaces with colorful lights hung from the ceilings- we heard a lot of new country tunes at this joint as well as saw a ton of locals.

Chill out at The Swingin’ Door Saloon*

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The Hubs and I loved this bar. Its a few steps off of Broadway on 4th Ave, away from the hustle and bustle of it all.  When you need a break from all of the people, head on over to Swingin Door. They have great specials and a nice little ground level patio area which is rare.  The band we saw (Carlton Anderson, Katie Basden and Alex Cordell) were easily the best singers/musicians we heard during our time in Nashville.  I would not be surprised if in a few years we see their names up in lights!

Wade had slipped in a song request when I wasn’t looking and for their last song they played a beautiful cover of our wedding song, Free, by Zac Brown Band. We slow danced like weirdos but it was so special and so wonderful of the band to do this for us. 

The Stage

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The name gives you the hint, but The Stage has a huge stage perfect for getting up close to the band and is big enough to hold large crowds without feeling like you are sophisticating.  The decor has some Texas inspiration and is a great place to grab a drink and enjoy some live music. 

Take a breather at Robert’s Western World*

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A ‘chiller’ Honky Tonk but another famous one just the same. Robert’s Western World was once home to the Sho-Bud Steel Guitar Company and is known for playing true old school country music as well as their dirt cheap bologna sandwiches. 

The Second Fiddle

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Decorated in old country memorabilia, The Second Fiddle  prides itself in having one of the friendliest staff in town along with great live music 7 days a week. 

Legends Corner

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Another classic Honky Tonk. Here you will find more great country bands along with some classic country vinyls decorating the entire wall space. Definitely a must visit on your Honky Tonk crawl!

Get crazy at Tootsies Orchid Lounge*

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Probably the most popular Honky Tonk in Music City. The name confused me so I decided to give it a google. Tootsie Bess was the owner and opened up Tootsies in 1960. A painter had painted the place Orchid (purple) after her favorite flower so Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge it became.  Many song writers and band players visited Tootsie’s such as Willie Nelson, Hank Cochran and Patsy Cline.  We visited Tootsie’s twice while visiting Nashville- they had a wonderful band playing each night and we loved going on the rooftop overlooking Broadway.

Get some Grub Paradise Park

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Paradise Park is fairly new and its own little world. Designed/decorated to have the feeling of a trailer park you will feel like you are stepped somewhere in the sticks.  Late night, Paradise Park is one of the only spots where you can get some grub. The line is long but it is worth it! 

There are other plenty of other Honky Tonks (as well as some pretty cool looking karaoke bars) along with cool shops and restaurant. If you find yourself wanting to explore more, wonder down 3rd ave for some little known bars with even more country music!

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