It's easy to think that you've been there and done that when it comes to tourist sights in Nashville. We get it, we avoid tourist traps like the plaque ourselves. But, there, past the Nash Trash bus and between the cowboy hats, are some local treasures, hidden in plain sight. From a miniature art gallery to Nashville’s earliest remaining home, these off-the-tourist-radar sights will have you appreciating Nashville in a whole new way.
Nashville’s Smallest Art Gallery
Measuring a miniscule 27 inches wide and 37 inches tall, NSAG is the smallest functioning art gallery in Nashville—maybe even the world—so it’s understandable if you’ve missed it while walking through Hillsboro Village. In addition to being super tiny, the gallery’s lights are powered by a solar panel mounted to the top of the display case, making it the only self-sufficient art gallery in Nashville.
We know. The Arcade is not exactly a secret. And yes, it’s kind of weird inside. But next time you’re devouring a mediocre lunch or enjoying the free booze art at the First Saturday Art Crawl, stop and take a look around you. Built in 1902 and designed after an arcade in Italy, it’s one of the few remaining of its kind in the country. Enjoy it while you can because you never know when someone will bust in and turn it into a "legit" shopping center, which would really be a shame.
Demonbreun’s River View Cave
Located in a bluff along the Cumberland River (opposite the Shelby Park Greenway), this small, barricaded cave is said to be Nashville’s earliest remaining home. Timothy Demonbreun, a French-Canadian fur trader, is believed to have been living in the cave at the time of Nashville’s founding in 1779. Though it can be seen from the Greenway path, the cave now requires a boat trip down the Cumberland River for best viewing.
Tennessee State Prison
Though the eerie, castle-like structure—which served as the Tennessee State Prison from 1898 to 1992—is closed to the general public, it’s definitely worth a drive-by. Located off Cockrill Bend Boulevard in West Nashville, the prison has been used as a location in several film productions, including “Walk The Line” and “The Green Mile.”
The worst train disaster in American history, over 100 people died when two trains collided at Dutchmans Curve in Belle Meade. Due to widespread wreckage, the exact location of the collision is hard to determine, but the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation have added a pathway along the Richland Creek Greenway near where the wreckage had been. Embedded into the concrete between the stone walls that once held up the original train track, a train wheel and connector pulled from the wreckage serve as a memorial to those who died.