Housed in the beautiful art deco building that once served as the city’s post office, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is Nashville’s finest art institution. Often hosting historical and contemporary art exhibits simultaneously — as well as offering a cafe, monthly live music performances, a gift shop and regular architecture tours — the Frist goes to great lengths to offer something for everyone. Speaking of which, its Martin ArtQuest Gallery on the second floor is a go-to playground for art-loving kids.
Blanketed with tens of thousands of tulips in spring, the city’s elegant longtime home for the arts offers attractions all year round, from the Trees of Christmas in December (a local tradition dating back generations) to a woodland sculpture trail featuring works by James Turrell, Jenny Holzer and other artists. But you can’t go wrong any season: wildflowers and the Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden in spring; roses, herbs and a Japanese garden with enormous koi in summer; and streaks of autumn color and Halloween festivities in fall. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; admission $14 adults, 50 percent off w/current military ID.
Another key part of Elliston Place’s celebrated “Rock Block,” the renowned Exit/In has a history that includes everyone from Steve Martin to The Police — and their names are all there on the wall. (Yes, that’s where Keith Carradine sings the Oscar-winning “I’m Easy” in Robert Altman’s Nashville.) Good sound, good sight lines and a fully stocked bar.