The Essential Guide to Honky Tonks in Nashville

As the sun sets on Downtown Nashville, the ubiquitous neon lights that crown Broadway’s iconic honky tonks make themselves known. These bright lights—in the shape of guitars or boots or fiddles or pigs—buzz with the promise of late-night excitement. Passersby are drawn into these crowded, wood-clad spaces hoping to experience first-hand the music spilling from legendary stages and bourbon pouring from neighborly bars.

The possibility of celebrity sightings and promise of lowdown country culture give these dim-and-loud bars an almost irresistible mystique. What will the night bring? Will a surprise guest grace the stage? What kinds of stories will we be left with in the morning? No one can be sure. And so the night begins with boot stomps and beer bottles and moves on to sing-alongs and slow dances, until glasses clink one final time to welcome the rising sun.