June 22, 2022
The quaint town of Nashville, Indiana, has a long history as being Indiana’s artist colony. It has even been ranked as one of the TOP 10 SMALL TOWNS in America. It is a favorite tourist destination known for its shopping, slow paced living, art and natural beauty. Not only does it have all of the wonderful amenities of a small eclectic tourist town, but it is surrounded by some of the best natural beauty that Southern, Indiana has to offer. A peak time to visit is when the miles and miles of trees transform into their fiery red fall colors. As a local of over 40 years, I have compiled THE 31 BEST THINGS TO DO IN NASHVILLE, INDIANA so that you can enjoy the very best that our area has to offer.
As you navigate my list, I will highlight if it is locally owned, if I can. It is very important for the economical sustainability of our community that we stress and urge visitors to “shop local”. We are a community of “mom and pops” that, sometimes, solely rely on tourists to stay afloat. And, you usually get that “part of the family’ feeling from local artisans and entrepreneurs, too. It is reciprocal! And, that is what visiting a small town is all about, right?
THE BROWN COUNTY STATE PARK
Indiana’s largest state park is just under 16,000 acres. The park is home to a diverse range of landscapes, from tree-lined hills and valleys to open pastures and lakes. There are also a variety of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, as well as scenic vistas that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, Brown County State Park has something to offer everyone.
THINGS TO DO IN THE PARK
- Scenic Vistas
- Mountain Biking
- Nature Center
- Hiking trails
- Primitive and RV Camping
- Swimming (when in season)
- Abe Martin Lodge (with small indoor water park)
- Family Cabins
- Two fishing lakes
- Horseback Riding
- Photo Shoots
Note: if you are pulling a horse trailer, camper or are driving an RV, you must use the West park entrance. The North park entrance is accessed by a covered bridge that is not accessible by these vehicles.
HOW I USE THE PARK
I especially enjoy hiking the park with my dog, Max. The park has twelve trails of varying difficulties. We, especially enjoy walking around Strahl Lake. It is a very easy walk with lake and stream views.
My son, Silas and I have downloaded movies onto my iPad, bought pizza and candy and gone out under the stars for a fun movie night in the park at an overlook. It is an inexpensive way to make some very fun memories.
We have family reunions, church picnic’s and weddings there. In fact, my oldest son got married in the park, last year! And, of course, as soon as the pool opens, the locals enjoy taking a break from the Indiana subtropical humidity by taking a dip in the refreshing water.
And, I do a lot of my photo shoots here–especially for tourists!
YELLOWWOOD STATE FOREST
The Yellowwood Forest, a 25,000 acre forest, is conveniently located between Nashville, Indiana and Bloomington, Indiana (home of the campus of Indiana University). The forest was named after the Yellowwood tree.
THINGS TO DO IN YELLOWWOOD
- Horse trails
- Fishing (must have a license)
- Hunting (seasonal and only with a license)
- Gold Panning (with a free license)
- Photo Shoots
They have a hiking trail named Yellowwood Lake Trail, that I have measured at 4.5 miles round trip. Half of the trail is on a dirt trail and half is along the road back to the trailhead. But, you could always retrace your steps to stay on the dirt trail.
HOW I USE YELLOWWOOD
I think that the lake is exceptionally beautiful and very easily accessible. I kayak, paddleboard and do photo shoots here.
We were here nearly every single weekend (or more) during COVID. There is a creek and bridge area on The Yellowwood Lake Trail where we would play in the creek and hunt geodes.
But, I mostly take advantage of the long lake to hike around or kayak for exercise. And, I have done too many photo shoots here to even count. The backdrop is breathtaking.
If you are interested in Kayaking, check out my post on SOLO KAYAKING.
You can book a paddleboarding session, a Yoga Paddleboarding session or several land sessions with Erica Weddle of Simply Fitness. She is a native Brown County girl through and through!
You can, also, find kayak and boat tours through Pathfinder Outfitters.
A PHOTO SHOOT FROM YELLOWWOOD STATE FOREST
BROWN COUNTY ART GUILD
The Art Guild is situated in the middle of the shopping district of Nashville, Indiana on Van Buren Street (the street that locals refer to as the main street of town).
You can walk past the guild and get some of the best window views of historic pieces of artwork. Take a walk inside and you will get to explore historic works and contemporary pieces from award-winning artists who are members of the Guild.
BROWN COUNTY ART GALLERY
The historic Brown County Art Gallery is nicely placed just on the outskirts of the shopping district. One thing that I find valuable about it (besides the artwork inside) is that they have their own designated parking. So, you don’t have to plan your day around parking lots and fees to visit the art gallery. Just drop by!
Make sure to visit The Brown County Art Gallery’s website to check out events that may be taking place during your stay.
There is something special about live music that just can’t be replicated. Maybe it’s the raw emotion that comes through when an artist is playing their heart out or the fact that live music is always a unique experience.
Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that live music has an appeal that other forms of entertainment just can’t match. That’s why more and more towns are starting to feature live music outdoors at or near their local restaurants. Not only does this provide a wonderful atmosphere for dining, but it also gives people a chance to enjoy live entertainment in a relaxed setting.
If live entertainment is your jam, you will find plenty here. Sitting back with your favorite drink and listening to live music is indeed one of the best things to do in Nashville, Indiana.
You can find horseback riding in the Brown County State Park. You can, also, bring your own horses into the Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Forest to ride miles of trails.
If you don’t own a horse or have the ability to bring your horse on vacation with you, there are stables where you can take guided trail rides.
SCHOONER VALLEY STABLES
One hour Walk/Trot Trail Ride starts at $40
BROWN COUNTY STATE PARK SADDLE BARN
One hour trail rides are $31
They, also, have assisted pony rides for the kiddos and hayrides every Friday and Saturday from May until October.
WINE TASTING AND SHOPPING
BROWN COUNTY WINERY
From what I can find, Brown County Winery is one of only two true local wineries. The couple who started the winery moved to the area to take part in the art culture and share their expertise with the area and the tourists who visit our quaint town.
The couple ‘set a goal to produce high quality local wines, while offering them [unique wines] at a reasonable price’
As well, they have a beautiful facility minutes from downtown Nashville in Gnaw Bone, Indiana. This winery has sufficient designated parking that allows you to park, shop and go with ease. (parking, as you will see, is a commodity in Nashville).
COUNTRY HERITAGE WINERY
Country Heritage is located in Iotta, Indiana with a storefront in Nashville, Indiana.
CHATEAU THOMAS WINERY
Chateau Thomas Wine has been in the area for a long time. But, I cannot even tell you where they are originally from.
I was very disappointed when I went to their website because it says nothing about the area. It reads more as an educational blog.
So, check them out, but if you want to know more about their store in our area, you won’t get that information from their website.
Cedarcreek is located in Martinsville, Indiana with a storefront in Nashville, Indiana.
SALT CREEK WINERY TASTING ROOM
BROWN COUNTY MUSIC CENTER
Back when I was a kid, we had The Little Nashville Opry that eventually burned down. During that time we had some of the biggest names in music come to play in our small town.
And, many years passed before a new music venue was finally built at one of the three stoplights that we have in town. Finally, Nashville is drawing names like Willy Nelson, Pat Benatar, Ann Wilson (of Heart) and so many more just like the good ol’ days.
BROWN COUNTY PLAYHOUSE
Not far down from The Brown County Art Guild, you will find The Brown County Playhouse.
When I was growing up, the playhouse partnered with a local college: Bloomington Indiana University. This allowed the students to show off their learned skills to the tourists of the area. Though this partnership no longer exists, the Playhouse still thrives will live theater, music and film.
These days, you will find some very talented local folk acting or singing on stage!
DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE SHOPPING
If you’re looking for a small town with plenty of shopping options, Nashville, Indiana is your kind of place.
This quaint tourist town is home to hundreds of small locally owned shops, offering everything from freshly roasted nuts to clothing to handmade jewelry and so much more.
There’s something for everyone in Nashville, and you’re sure to find some unique treasures during your visit. So whether you’re looking to do some serious shopping or just browse the local wares, be sure to add Nashville to your travel plans.
The best part is that all of the shops are within walking distance, so you can easily explore everything the town has to offer.
BROWN COUNTY PIONEER MUSEUM, OLD LOG JAIL AND THE BROWN COUNTY HISTORY CENTER
I cannot even count how many times I visited this village as a child on school outings and field trips. Then, I had to do it again with my five sons. I could, literally, give you the full tour myself, by heart, I am sure.
But, if I am being honest (which I am), it is cool to see and you can’t visit Nashville without checking out the history of the place, right? And, I will oftentimes try to imagine how hot and how miserable it must have been to be jailed in the original log jail, but also how easy it could have been to be broken out. Ha.
Even more interesting, is when I was growing up and toured the pioneer village they had on display a stuffed baby calf with two heads! It is not there now, but that was quite a sight growing up.
I have done some cute engagement photos and family photo shoots in this location. And, I even participated in a group shoot with a photography club in this location.
You will find these sites conveniently located downtown in the village of Nashville. It can be a quick stop while you are shopping or in town to eat.
T.C. STEELE HISTORIC SITE
A popular tourist destination, T. C. Steel Historic site is the site of artist T.C. Steeles summer home and art studio.
THINGS TO DO AT T.C. STEELE HISTORIC SITE
- The Visitors Center
- Tour The House of the Singing Winds
- Tour Steeles Mobile Studio
- Tour The Little Studio
- Tour The Large Studio
- Tour The Selma N. Steele Nature Preserve
The area is just absolutely breathtaking to just walk around. Bring some snacks along, put out a blanket to sit on the ground and take in the creativity of nature.
You might just be inspired to paint a masterpiece!
BEAR WALLOW DISTILLERY
Looking for some moonshine while you are in the area? Well, look no further than Bear Wallow Distillery! Finding the entrance (driveway) to their distillery is a bit confusing, but when you get there, you can sit at the bar and do a tasting to see what your fancy is.
SALT CREEK TRAIL
It is just a paved trail that starts at the CVS in Nashville, Indiana and ends at the YMCA (approximately 1 mile), but I call it my sanity.
It is within walking distance of my house. So, if you should visit, you might just find me and my dog Max out there for our daily walk.
The trail takes you under 46W to Bloomington, over Salt Creek and through the wonderous nature.
For being essentially ‘in town’, you can’t find a prettier walk. And, if you are staying in the Brown County Inn, it is conveniently just out your back door!
You can see from the images below, it is gorgeous. I do so many shoots there.
MY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
There are so many great restaurants in Nashville, Indiana. Be warned that locals consider the prices to be “tourist prices”–nothing is cheap! But, there isn’t cheap food anywhere, anymore. In my personal opinion, these are the best restaurants:
THE BROWN COUNTY INN
The Brown County Inn is the choice when someone in my family wants a steak. However, they have a wide variety of food choices for all of the different palates in your group.
The restaurant is connected by a half wall to the bar which features live music, regularly.
Both look out onto the back lawn of the hotel which has a playground, putt-putt golf and The Salt Creek Trail. And, if you so choose, you can take dinner or your drink onto the back porch to get even closer to all of the outdoor action.
Like Rafters below, they close at 10:00 pm.
I cannot find a decent website for Rafters. But, It is a restaurant inside of The Seasons Lodge in Nashville, Indiana. The lodge overlooks The Brown County Music Center. So, if you are going to a show, The Lodge and Rafters are super convenient places to stay and eat.
The Brown County Inn and The Seasons Lodge are both owned by the same person. I don’t know much about the owner(s), but I know that he and his wife bough up a lot of the shops in town a year or so ago. So, I do hope that they call Brown County their home!
Either way, both hotels went through some major renovation. With the renovation, the restaurants were given new face lifts and new menus.
Rafters has a fairly good sized sports bar attached to it, but it has family dining opposite the bar, as well. So, you can choose which environment that you would like to eat in
The decor is nice and new and the menu has a lot of variety for everyone in your party.
My only beef is that they close at 10:00 pm. Sometimes, I would like to sit and visit with my friends at the bar, but everything closes at 10:00 pm.
No late nights for us BC’ers.
THE BIRDS NEST CAFE
I do LOVE The Birds Nest Café. This restaurant is locally owned by Tyra Miller (who previously owned Muddy Boots Cafe) and “Mr. Miller” (my kids high school art teacher). The owners always have a fun, artistic and unique aesthetic to anything that they have owned.
The BNC is unique in that they have a lot of vegan options on their menu. I am not vegan. So, I don’t go there for that, necessarily. But, it is nice to have something in town that caters to that demographic.
I swear that they have to have the best breakfasts in town, hands down. I was going there nearly every Sunday, after church. But, since I espouse to the Ketogenic diet, I have to stay away unless I want to be morbidly obese! Pancakes are NOT on the Ketogenic diet (at least not this kind of pancake).
You will leave feeling like you experienced something that you can’t experience everywhere else; which is what I try to do when I visit other places.
I was especially endeared to them during the COVID pandemic. They handled everything with grace, care and humor. It was such a breath of fresh air during a time when everyone was in extreme panic and paralyzing fear and being unkind to one another.
Keep in mind that this is a café. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, at this time. So, check ahead to confirm hours of operation before you plan to visit.
THE NASHVILLE HOUSE
The Nashville House made this list for many reasons, but mainly because this is one of the quintessential Nashville restaurants. Previously owned by the well-known(to us locals), Andy Rogers, it was made famous for it’s fried biscuits and apple butter.
Not only that, but it was where I had my first ever job as a table busser at just fourteen years old!
It is now owned by Andy’s daughter, Andi, and her husband (whose parents own eXplore Brown County). The two breathed new life into the place–which was greatly needed.
Too, they added a small bar and outdoor seating to the venue! Love it! Bringing your dog? Well, you will all be welcomed at the outdoor seating where you can enjoy live music while you eat.
Dogs like music, too, don’t they?
THE BROWN BIKE
I added this restaurant (even though it is only open seasonally) because I like the vibe and I can eat there with my dog.
The food is good, too.
This cute little restaurant has been outdoor seating only since they opened, but I believe that they do finally have some indoor dining now. So, it is always best to check to make sure that they are open before arriving!
Drop in for some great food, bring your furry friend along and then finish the visit off with a s’more cooked over an open flame.
STONE HEAD, STORY, AND STORY INN
STONE HEAD, INDIANA
This is a community 7 miles south of Nashville. Here you will find an actual stone head that sits at a T in the road just south of the Van Buren elementary school.
You cannot make this stuff up.
Bird watchers will love this area as there is a wetland bird habitat just to the left of the T in the road at The Stone head Nature Preserve.
STORY AND STORY INN
You will find Story Inn in Story, Indiana. This is still part of Brown County, Indiana, but it is a beautiful 20+ minute drive from downtown Nashville down 135 South. But, it is worth including. When in the area, you have to give it a visit.
The Inn was taken over by the previous owners son and the hours have changed drastically. So, if you have visited before, take note that the restaurant is not open seating like it had been before. You have to have reservations now.
TAKEN FROM THEIR WEBSITE
Prix Fixe Dinner Services
Friday – Saturday 5pm & 7:30pm
Story Still Tavern & Grill
*21 year of age or older*
Wednesday & Thursday 2-8pm
Friday & Saturday 12-9pm
FARMHOUSE CAFE AND TEA ROOM
Personally, I visit here for the greenhouse that sits on the property. Wowza! You want an amazing variety of healthy plants for your garden? Need some gorgeous shade loving varieties, especially? This is the place to go! Bring room in your belly for food and then bring room in your car to leave with some plants to take home as a souvenir.
COX CREEK MILL METAL ART STUDIO
Enjoy an artist studio that is, also, housed in an old mill. You can visit and take in all of the metal work, sculptures and yard art at this working studio
TOUR THE COVERED BRIDGES
RAMP CREEK COVERED BRIDGE
1801 State Road 46 West at The North Entrance of The Brown County State Park
BEAN BLOSSOM COVERED BRIDGE
4619 Covered Bridge Road, Nashville, Indiana
And, while they are not covered bridges, Brown County is now home to two renovated steel truss bridges that I think are beautiful.
Both bridges are to be a part of a future expansion of the Salt Creek Trail. While the bridges are now in place, they have not attached to the Salt Creek Trail yet.
One can be found behind the Brown County State Park Pool near Eagle Park. The other bridge is easy to see from State Road 46, near the corner of SR 46 and Parkview Road.
And, of course, I have done photo shoots at all of the locations. It is probably best to assume that I have done shoots everywhere.
eXplore BROWN COUNTY
This is a thrill seekers haven of fun. Girls, drop the boys off here so that you can spend the day shopping in the quaint shops downtown. Or, if you are a ‘my kind of girl’, stay and kick the boys butts in paintball!
- Zip lines
- ATV Tours
- Arrow Tag
- Mountain Biking
SALTCREEK GOLF COURSE AND THE 19TH HOLE
Despite being friends with the owners, I always forget about the golf course and The 19th Hole Sports Bar. In my defense, I am not a golfer–yet. So, it is just not on my mind a lot.
But, their course really is unforgettable. It is absolutely stunning and a very short 5 drive from downtown Nashville.
However, back 25 years ago, I had a house that backed up to the golf course and I used to walk the course trail for exercise after having my middle son, Oliver.
The golf course is much busier these days and recreational walking of the course (outside of golfing, that is) is not recommended for liability purposes, but they have so much more to offer, anyway!
Besides golfing, they offer wedding packages, banquet packages, dining, lodging and more. I do shoot weddings, banquets and reunions here several times a year. It is such a beautiful backdrop for any event that you would like to plan in our area; and, the owners are the best!
As for lodging, if you are a golfer, you cannot beat staying here. Your condo will overlook the course. Want to wake up on a golf course? If so, stay here!
POLLY’S BARK PARK
O’kay, Polly’s Bark Park is now my home away from home, it feels. My dog, Max, hangs out with all of his buddies here.
Opened less than a year ago, this is a brand new amenity for our town.
You will find Polly’s Bark Park over the hill behind Subway and Hoosier Buddy Liquor store. Don’t be fooled; It is there. You will see a large parking lot and a line of trees. The dog park is behind the trees and fencing.
And, you can bet that it is probably the prettiest dog park you have ever seen! It is situated against Salt Creek, under the trees, in the lush green nature.
No worries if you have a super small dog. Polly’s Bark Park has a small dog and big dog area, both fenced in, nicely.
As with all dog parks, your dog must be up-to-date on their shots and cannot be aggressive.
If your dog is not up-to-date on their vaccines, please keep them at home until that’s been cared for.
If your dog is aggressive, please keep them at home, as well.
And, now, officially-unofficially we have started a dog walking group that meets at Polly’s Bark Park on Tuesdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm to walk our dogs, together, and allow them playtime.
Do note that the park does not offer any fresh water options. A lot of the locals bring extra water along for dogs who don’t have any.
The park does offer two camp chairs for seating and doggie potty bags so that you can clean up after your own dog, which is required for health reasons (and, I don’t like it on my shoes).
THE DRAG STRIP
Yep, you got that right. A drag strip. An 1/8th of a mile race track just North of town on Gatesville Road is just waiting for you folk who have a need for speed!
BROWN COUNTY PARKS AND REC AT DEER RUN PARK
There is something beautiful about spending time in nature, surrounded by the vastness of the world and the simplicity of the outdoors.
And, you have no shortness of outdoors in Brown County! The choices are limitless.
And while there are many ways to enjoy the beauty of nature, one of the best ways is to visit a park that offers a variety of outdoor activities.
Disc golf, hiking, basketball, skateboarding, baseball, a playground, and shelter house are just a few of the activities that you can enjoy at Deer Run.
What makes this park so special is that it offers something for everyone. While the kids play on the playground, you can take a leisurely walk.
And if you’re looking for a place to gather with friends and family, you’ll find that too.
Even better: it is only five minutes from downtown Nashville.
THINGS TO DO AT DEER RUN
- Frisbee/Disc Golf Course
- Skateboarding Park
- Playground and Shelter
- Public Restrooms
- Kayak and Small Boat Launch
- Baseball Fields
- Basketball Court
HOW I USE DEER RUN:
Personally, Max and I love to take our morning or late morning walks here. We follow along Salt Creek and wind through the property along the frisbee course.
I have, also, launched my kayak here. The only problem was that I parked my car there, too, and ended up having to kayak upstream to get back to my car. Needless to say, I was exhausted!
BROWN COUNTY BIKE
This shop is a gem and total asset for our town. I loved being able to drop my bike off for a tune up within minutes of my house. And, they are seriously a one stop shop; You can buy bikes, rent bikes, join bike clubs and tours, buy biking apparel and more! Their aesthetic and brand is top notch, too.
It is my understanding that they will be adding electric bikes to their menu, in 2022!
JENNIE ROOT PHOTOGRAPHY
When visiting Nashville, Indiana, it is a wonderful time to have a family portrait session! Jennie Root Photography (ME!) has a session designed especially for tourists visiting Nashville, Indiana.
You will have a session located in your favorite Nashville setting so as to remember your special time with us.
THE NASHVILLE EXPRESS
Clearly, as a local, I do not have to ride the Nashville Express to explore my town or county (I live within walking distance of downtown). But, it cannot be ignored that this is a quintessential best things to do in Nashville, Indiana.
And, as a local, I have to add that now is the time to do it; when I was growing up you had to take out a small loan to take the family on this little shuttle/train for a guided tour of the town. It is much more affordable now!
And, since you board at the ice cream shop, you can down some calories before or after your tour! ( you can also board at the Brown County Inn)
The Bean Blossom Overlook is a beautiful place to pull over and take a pause.
When you visit, you can see the sunset in all its glory. The colors are so beautiful and the sky is so clear.
You can even picnic at the overlook. The food tastes so much better when you’re surrounded by such beauty.
Nature is truly amazing.
The Bean Blossom Overlook is a must-see for anyone who loves beautiful sunsets and picnics in nature.
THE NASHVILLE FARMERS MARKET
The market is located in The Brown County Inn parking lot. It is open on Sundays from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm from April to October.
As with framers markets, you can find fruits, vegetables, potted plants of many varieties, farm fresh eggs, jewelry and so much more.
GET A MASSAGE
As I write this, I have a massage scheduled for the day after tomorrow–and, I cannot wait. I only get one or two massages a year. And, that has got to change.
What better way to start or finish (or both) your visit to Nashville, Indiana than a full body, destressing massage. Get your stay off on the right foot!
Here is a list of the massage therapists that I know of in the area. It may not be all inclusive, but I will add to this post as I am aware of new ones.
DAN’S HEALING HANDS
MICHAEL REBMAN, CMT at Brown County Massage
TAKE A CARRIAGE RIDE
Take a step back in time with a relaxing, open air carriage tour of town. You can even reserve the carriage and a picnic basket for a bit more romantic carriage ride.
Thinking about popping the question? Count It All Joy has got the carriage ride for you!
Carriage rides are seasonal. They open in April and close in December.
To take a carriage ride, you can either do a ‘first come, first serve’ by finding them at the corner of Franklin and Van Buren Streets in front of The Artist Colony Inn. Or, you can call ahead at 765-516-4865.
*TAKEN FORM THEIR WEBSITE:
Half Village Tour – 10mins ($35)
Full Village Tour – 20mins ($55)
Town & Country Tour – 30mins ($90)
Picnic Basket Tour – 30mins ($143) Perfect for date night!
*Discount for cash
I hope that you have enjoyed my top things to do in the southern Indiana village of Nashville.
If you’re looking for a place to get away and enjoy some of the best that nature has to offer, look no further than Nashville, Indiana. With its rolling hills, picturesque scenery, and abundance of outdoor activities, this charming town will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. You’ll also find plenty of shopping and cultural opportunities here, so be sure to add Nashville to your list of must-visit destinations.
You will for sure have a memorable time in one of the best small towns in the United States.
For more travel inspiration, check out my other blogs below.
READ MORE FROM J.B.TOLS!
I have lived in Brown County, Indiana since I was eight years old (that is more than 40 years). I now live downtown Nashville in my home which is within earshot of the beautiful live music.