Nashville On A Budget

There’s tons to do in Nashville, so how can you best stretch your dollar? Here’s how to fully enjoy your Music City experience and still have some cash to spare.

Cheap Eats

Enjoy Nashville's big eats for a small price.

Hot Chicken

Only in Nashville would a man’s infidelity lead to the invention of a dish that has a cult following with reaches far beyond the South. According to legend, hot chicken was created by the wife of known womanizer Thornton Prince. Realizing her husband was out with another woman the night before, she doused his favorite fried chicken in hot pepper and extra spices as revenge. But the plan backfired — he loved it, and just like that hot chicken was born. If you’re looking to turn up the heat without burning a hole in your wallet, Nashville has got its fair share of hot chicken joints where you can eat for under $10. Prince’s and Bolton’s are Music City classics while Hattie B’s and Pepperfire have created a whole new legion of hot chicken devotees.

Photograph by Joseph Woodley

Arnold's Country Kitchen

If you’ve ever enjoyed a meat-and-three meal, you can thank Nashville for that. The popular Southern cuisine’s roots can be traced back to Tennessee’s capital. At a meat-and-three restaurant, customers pick from a selection of meats and three side dishes to complete their meal. It’s a lot of food, so you would think it comes at a hefty price. But at perennial favorite Arnold’s Country Kitchen, you can pile the sides high without busting the budget (no guarantees about the zipper on your jeans though — best wear sweatpants). A meal at Arnold’s only costs about $10. With meats and sides that change every day, there are endless combinations. It’s only open Monday through Friday, so make sure to eat at Arnold’s on your next lunch break.

Mas Tacos Por Favor

Located in an unassuming building on the corner of McFerrin and Eastland avenues in East Nashville, you might almost miss one of Nashville’s most popular taco joints if it wasn’t for the large crowds that gather outside daily. Mas Tacos has even caught the attention of Guy Fieri and earned a feature on his show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Mas Taco’s made-from-scratch offerings are delightfully authentic, no plane ticket to Mexico needed. Tacos are only $3 each, so if you’re feeling ambitious, you can try all six varieties for only $18. Save room for the elote and chicken tortilla soup — just remember it’s cash-only.

Happy Hour Finds

Happy hour was created to entertain sailors and distract them from life at sea, and we’re still riding that wave today. Here are just a few of the best happy hours in Nashville.

Beyond the Edge

Happy hour is twice as nice at this East Nashville sports bar. On weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m., enjoy two-for-one beers and double wells as well as $1 off all other alcoholic drinks. Then on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 7 p.m. to close, a select beer is offered at a two-for-one price. Drink the beer of the month, and you could win a prize such as a cooler, sports tickets, or even a bike! Learn More about Beyond The Edge here.

Kung Fu Saloon

Get your fill of food, drinks, fun, and games at Kung Fu Saloon in Midtown. Happy hour at Kung Fu takes place Monday through Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. Enjoy $3.50 domestic bottles, $4.50 Yuengling and Blue Moon drafts, and $5.50 wells along with free Skee-Ball. The bar takes Sunday Funday to a whole new level with $4 mimosas and free game play all day. Challenge your friends to vintage arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man and Vs. Super Mario Bros, or play giant Connect Four and Jenga on the patio.

Photograph by Charles Reagan

Sambuca

Hidden among the cafés and boutiques in the Gulch is an intimate new-American restaurant that boasts a long happy hour. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, you can enjoy $4 beers, $5 glasses of wine, and cocktails that range from $5 to $7. Happy hour snacks are offered from 4 to 7 p.m. and feature delicious options such as shrimp and crab dip and margherita pizza. After snacks and drinks, enjoy the nightly live music that Sambuca is known for.

Affordable Thrills

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t take in top-notch entertainment. Here’s how you can enjoy Music City without going over budget.

The Bluebird Cafe

The famous Bluebird Cafe is one of the world’s best-known listening rooms where everyone from fledgling songwriters to country music's biggest hit-makers have performed on its small stage. Artists play music they’ve written and share how those songs came to be, telling stories that you can only hear at The Bluebird. Many shows don’t have a cover fee, but given its intimate setting, seats fill up quickly, so make sure to check the calendar regularly and make a reservation as seats become available. There is a $10 minimum for food and drink purchase per person.

Farmers Market/Flea Market

You need to buy groceries, so why not have some fun while you’re at it? Visit the Nashville Farmers’ Market for a bountiful selection of locally-grown fruits and veggies. Inside the Market House, there are several restaurant stalls that serve everything from craft beer to jerk chicken artisanal ice cream. The market is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

At the end of every month, explore the extensive Nashville Flea Market at The Fairgrounds. Rifle through the knickknacks and collectables as you make your way through numerous tents and look for that unique piece. It’s only $5 to park and you never know what you’re going to find!

Nashville Sports

Being a sports fan can get expensive, but here in Nashville you can enjoy all your favorite teams without your wallet taking a hit. For as little as $10 a ticket, you can enjoy a Nashville Sounds game at First Tennessee Park. The minor-league baseball team has many themed nights throughout the season, such as Country Night, when you can enjoy various promotions and special offers.

Baseball not your thing? Head over to Centennial Sportsplex where the Nashville Predators practice. The hockey team’s practices are free to watch and often open to the public. You can also watch the Tennessee Titans prepare for the upcoming season in late July and early August at one of multiple team practices. You might even get lucky enough to score an autograph or two!

Sights for a Steal

From its skyline to its music institutions, Nashville is iconic. Take it all in without having to spend a pretty penny.

Murals

Nashville is brimming with some of the Insta-perfect street art. Grab some friends and a camera and check out our roundup of murals. Many murals can be found in 12South and the Gulch.

B-Cycle

Travel the city by bike with B-Cycle. B-Cycle has 36 B-stations all over Nashville, so you can pick up and drop off a bike just about anywhere in the city. Bike through Centennial Park past The Parthenon, down bustling Broadway, or over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge into East Nashville to see the many sights Nashville offers.

Music City Total Access Pass

A city rich in history, Nashville has plenty of attractions and tours that are fun for locals and visitors alike. Learn tons about the city for just $75 with purchase of the Music City Total Access Pass, Nashville’s Official Combo Attraction Pass. Bundle six attractions, and save up to 54 percent. Pick four out of 34 listed attractions and tours — including Grand Ole Opry House Daytime Backstage Tours, Ryman Auditorium, and the Johnny Cash Museum — and get admission to The Parthenon and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame for free. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all in one weekend; the pass is valid for one year after purchase.

Seasonal Guides

Anytime is the right time to travel to Nashville. Question is: Do you go for a Predators game, goat yoga, a summer concert under the stars, or a ghost tour on Broadway? No matter when you visit, plan your trip with the help of our seasonal recommendations.

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