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Best Nashville Nightlife

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Nashville is a music city—and there are more than 200 live music venues throughout town, so finding a good spot to listen to live music—country and otherwise—is always easy and some of the best Nashville nightlife options revolve around dancing. Even better, the musicians in Nashville are among the best in the world, so the free or almost-free entrance into clubs and bars is the biggest deal in live music you may ever get. Downtown, especially the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway, is the best place in town to see the crooners and pickers in action. Just a few of the bars charge a cover (tips are, of course, encouraged and welcomed). Start at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge or Robert’s Western Wear for the authentic flavor of the country scene, and then head over to the best Nashville clubs on Second Avenue. The Bluebird Café is a must any night of the week—but Monday's open mic night is especially fun. If you are looking for the best Nashville nightlife, look no further than the city's varied music scenes.

Oak Bar

Neighborhood: Downtown
Down under the marble floors and brilliance of the Hermitage Hotel lobby, the Oak Bar occupies a small space off the Capitol Grille—and recalls the clubby, oak-paneled feeling of a posh men’s club. Exceptional service, a star-studded clientele and quiet conversation are the order of the night, with a limited, but excellent, menu that’s nothing like pub grub. The bar offers an excellent list of wines by the glass, and small plates including fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese sandwiches. If you're looking for one of the best Nashville bars that also offers a sophisticated and mellow evening, the Oak Bar is the place to go.

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Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

Neighborhood: The District
A lot of country-music history has taken place at Tootsie's, a quintessential honky-tonk if ever there was one. Thanks to its across-the-alley location from the hallowed Ryman Auditorium, Tootsie's was the go-to for country legends in need of a quick thirst quencher between their sets at the Grand Ole Opry. Music starts every morning at 10AM inside the purple palace, with two separate stages in action in the evening. Knee-deep in grungy charm and full of friendly folks, it's considered one of the best Nashville nightlife and a definite must-see. Open daily from 10AM, and there’s no cover.

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Bluebird Cafe

Neighborhood: Green Hills

Many a country music star—whether songwriter or singer—launched their careers at the Bluebird; perhaps the best part of this casual, not-on-Broadway café is the fact that the jam sessions at the Bluebird are always a surprise, both in terms of the talent appearing and in terms of the songwriters and their hits. Songwriters generally appear with others they’ve collaborated with, making the night feel like an impromptu concert in someone’s living room. But folks who attend the Bluebird Cafe, one of the best Nashville clubs, are serious about their jukin'. Don't even think about talking when a show is going on—you'll get shushed, and you may get heckled if you leave early. Live music takes place from 6PM Sunday through Thursday and 6:30PM on Friday and Saturday; call ahead for reservations (but if you don’t get a spot, don’t give up; stand to the right of the door about an hour before the doors open, and you may luck out with a seat after all). Cover charge is generally between $7 and $20 for shows, but there’s no cover on Sunday or Monday.

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Robert's Western World

Neighborhood: The District
This local favorite was once known as “Robert’s 3 Doors Down” among the up-and-coming country artists, as it was just three doors down from Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. On Friday and Saturday nights, Robert's house band, Brazilbilly, pays homage to traditional country influences, but with a Latin flair. A wall full of cowboy boots serves both fashion and function—if you fancy a pair, they’ll make you a deal. As with most bars on Broadway, there’s no cover, a miracle considering you'll be at one of the best Nashville nightlife scenes.

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