Honky-tonks are an essential part of the downtown Nashville scene and, love them or hate them, you’ll probably end up at one sometime soon. While all honky-tonks by definition involve drinks and live country music, these 10 spots offer even more.
Must-Visit Honky-Tonks in Nashville
Robert’s Western World
Photo Credit: Robert’s
This classic Lower Broadway honky-tonk previously housed a steel guitar manufacturer and a boot and apparel store, both of which still have a presence at Robert’s today: Live country music is played from open to close, and Western boots line the walls. Indulge your inner hillbilly and grab a fried bologna sandwich and a cold beer!
Honky Tonk Central
Considering it takes up three stories and a full corner of prime downtown real estate, it’s hard to miss Honky Tonk Central as you’re cruising down Broadway. This place also stands out by offering a different live band on each floor, incredible views of Lower Broad, and an electric energy from top to bottom. (If you need more convincing, it’s Kathie Lee and Hoda–approved!)
Nudie’s lays claim to the longest bar in Nashville—it’s 100 feet long and decorated with thousands of silver dollars—but this honky-tonk’s bragging rights don’t stop there. Grab a drink and gawk at millions of dollars of country music memorabilia made by Nudie Cohn, who dressed megastars like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Elvis Presley.
Photo Credit: The Stage
You might see a famous face or two at The Stage—Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, and many more have popped up under the spotlights here. Even if your visit nets zero “real” celebrity sightings, the mural of country stars painted on the back wall sort of counts, right?
Tootsies Orchid Lounge
Tootsies is almost as iconic as its across-the-alley neighbor, the Ryman Auditorium, and much rowdier. Since opening in the 1960s, it’s steadily been a go-to for music lovers and now even features a trendy rooftop bar. You can also get a taste of Tootsie’s at the Nashville airport.
Photo Credit: Layla’s
Expect to hear a bit of everything coming from the Layla’s stage: country, rockabilly, Western, Americana, bluegrass, and more. The crowds here are even more eclectic, as evidenced by the license plates the owners have collected and hung all over the bar. Bring in your old one and get a beer on the house!
One of the more family-friendly honky-tonks, Rippy’s is often a bit quieter than other places on Broadway. There’s still much fun and food to be had, however, especially when it involves their signature ribs and Honky Tonk Tea.
This place is small, but there’s always enough room for swing dancing! If you prefer to sit, there’s plenty of beer and whiskey on hand to keep you entertained. No matter where you land at Whiskey Bent, don’t be alarmed by the giant stuffed bear overlooking the floor—he’s harmless.
Some of the best nights out in Nashville end at Legends Corner. Maybe it’s the stiff drinks, maybe it’s the exceptional live music, maybe it’s the mix of old-timers and bachelorette parties existing in harmony. If there’s a line, it’s worth the wait.