Insider’s Guide to CMA Fest
So you’re thinking about attending CMA Fest, or maybe you’ve already checked off your boxes and taken the plunge of purchasing tickets but you still have so many questions. We are going to tell you the ins and outs of attending this 4 day Country Music extravaganza- what you should bring, where you should eat and how you should plan – because all of this is important. Occasionally, CMA Fest can be overwhelming and the travelers who don’t know what they’re getting into can miss some of the best parts.
With our help, we promise this won’t be you.
Nashville is HOT in June. We’re not talking wear a tank top and feel beachy kinda hot. It’s going to be humid. Make sure you bring water wherever you go, because dehydration is not something you want to play with. There will be vendors all over the downtown scene, but trust us when we say you don’t want to waste your money buying $6 bottles of water – just bring your own.
Sunscreen is also something to keep in mind to avoid a sunburn! If you’re staying at one of our Melrose studios, you’ll be able to beat the heat by taking a dip at the building’s pool.
Wear comfortable shoes. We know you want to wear the new cowboy boots you just bought at Boot Country on Broadway, but save those for going out to dinner one night. Wear the most comfortable shoes you own, you will be walking ’til even those shoes make your feet hurt.
Hopefully you’ll be a few beers deep, so that won’t be an issue.
Plan EVERYTHING. We understand how great the random pop-ups of CMA Fest can be, but in order to make all the shows, events & places you want to see, you’ll have to block out your time. For those of us who are not good at being organized (we aren’t pointing any fingers over here), CMA Fest offers a free app! Download it today and make sure you are giving yourself enough time in between acts to get wherever you need to go. Don’t forget to give yourself a few breaks to just walk around and take in the amazing sights that Music City has to offer.
Sidenote: if several days of Festival fun isn’t your thing, consider buying just a single day pass. You can take a look at the lineups here – and make sure you choose the day(s) that have your favorite stars taking the stage!
The Parking Sitch. Uber and Lyft are your best friends during CMA Fest.
Downtown Nashville parking is a mess and you don’t want to deal with tickets and boots and not being able to find a spot in time for your timeline (see above). You’re in luck, though! Every year in June, both rideshare apps are giving out plenty of money saver promo codes just for YOU!
The codes haven’t been created just yet, but check the official CMA, UBER or LYFT sites before your trip for updates. There will also more than likely be people giving out promo code cards downtown while you’re checking everything out, so be sure to take a card or two – it will save you big bucks!
Eat the food, Tina. Nashville is home to some of the most tasty places to eat this side of the Mississippi. Be sure you don’t just gravitate to the usual chain restaurants that you’ve had a hundred times during your stay. If you’re staying down in the thick of the CMA festivities, we recommend any and all food trucks (especially ‘The Grilled Cheeserie’). Acme also has a delicious menu to go along with some of the best cocktails you’ll ever try – we love ordering the beer belly tacos and to drink.. Bridesmaids tears – yum. We suggest straying off Broadway for a meal or two. Some our favorites include: Urban Grub or Frothy Monkey in 12South, Red Bicycle or Butchertown Hall in Germantown, The Tavern in Midtown, Emmys Squared or the 404 Grill in the Gulch and Lockeland Table or Mitchell’s Deli on the Eastside just to name a few!
Get a Fanny Pack. This is not a joke. If you have your purse, your water bottle, a pen (for all those autographs) and all the other things you plan on taking with you for the day, you’ll want that fanny pack. Taking photos with full hands is not easy and we don’t recommend it. If you’re worried you won’t be in style, we’re letting you know ahead of time – thousands of other people will be wearing their own fanny packs, so no one is judging you.
Act Like a Local. While you’re in town, check out some spots off the beaten path. Maybe after the big finale shows each night, try and hit up a different part of town and experience the music that makes our little town Music City. The 5 Spot, Belcourt Taps, The Listening Room and The High Watt are all amazing spots with local and touring bands and singer-songwriters that fill our streets with soul and heartbreak and uplifting beats.
If you happen to be in town on the Tuesday before or after the Fest, definitely check out American Legion 82’s Honky Tonk Tuesday Nights. If you just need a break from all of the commotion, Nashville is full of little boros that are flowing with interesting stores, restaurants and little coffee shops. Try ubering to East Nashville and have a walk around the Shoppes at Fatherland or Five Points or to 12 South where you can find a hidden gem at Savant Vintage. We also think Hillsboro Village, Germantown and The Gulch are worth a wander.
Have Fun. At the end of the day, you are in Nashville to have fun. Don’t take anything too seriously, make friends with other country music lovers and listen to the songs that keep you coming back for more. We want you to have a unique trip that you can tell your friends and families about and hopefully you’ll end up making CMA Fest an annual festivity.
Excited yet? We are, too! Be sure to check out our places (insert link to homes here) to call “home” if you decide to come.