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10 fun things to do on a sober group tour of Nashville

What to expect on a sober group tour with Hooked Alcohol-Free Travel

Nashville is such a great city for food, fun and music—and not just country music either. But be forewarned! Music City is also Bachelorette Party Central, with Big Drink Energy. But there are so many things to do in Nashville without-alcohol, especially on a sober group tour with other people who aren’t drinking.

As a straight-edge person, I travel without alcohol all the time, so I know it’s very do-able. But in North America where drinking culture is strong it can also take work to find great places to eat, drink and be merry without booze.

So I thought I would try something new: a small group tour where everything is organized for you and you are surrounded by other travellers who don’t want to drink alcohol either.

Welcome drinks on a sober group tour of Nashville
How you kick off a sober group tour!

I joined the “Friends in Dry Places” sober group tour of Nashville put together by Hooked Alcohol-Free Travel, a sober group tour company out of BC, Canada that specializes in what they call “full sensory adventures”—focusing on all the things you can experience when you cut out the haze of hangovers. Our three three-night adventure in Nashville was filled with music, mocktails and…Monster Trucks? Yes! Read on for details.

Notes! I travelled as a Guest of Hooked. My opinions are my own and they did not review this piece. All these activities are in Downtown Nashville, unless otherwise noted. And when I say “sober” I mean it as not drinking alcohol for any reason or length of time, not just those practicing sobriety.

Disclosure: My blog contains links from Affiliate programmes. At no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase from these links, I earn a small commissionThank you for supporting my work and the site!

Why travel sober?

The benefits of stopping or reducing alcohol have been well documented by health care professionals (which I am not). And I don’t know what it’s like to travel on a buzz because I’ve never been a drinker. But I do know that alcohol is expensive! So just for a start taking a sober vacation means you’ll have more of your budget to spend on shopping, seeing shows, nicer hotels, etc.

And I hate to say this because it shouldn’t have to be this way but if you are a woman travelling alone, not drinking can be a safety precaution to keep your wits about you.

Joining a sober group tour has even more benefits: everyone is on the same page and there’s no awkwardness about splitting the check evenly with your wine-loving pals or rushing to make last call…

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What I did on an alcohol-free group tour in Nashville

Here’s just some of the fun we had in visiting Nashville sober!

City Tour on a Monster Truck

Go Backstage at the Opry

Learn Country Music History

DIY Screen-printing at Hatch Show Print

Drink Mocktails!

Live Music on Honkytonk Row

Line Dancing Lessons

Midnight Milkshakes

Songwriters Circle at Bluebird Café

Hang out with other non-drinkers!

Seeing Nashville by Monster Truck Tour

If someone tries to tell you that that sober vacations are boring, let me tell you about our first night on the town in Nashville with Hooked.

After welcome drinks in the lobby of our hotel where we all get to meet each other, we head for eats at a BBQ joint (as a vegetarian, I ate mac and cheese all weekend, for better and worse!) and then climb aboard a jacked-up Monster Truck for a tour of the city.

I’ve been to a Monster Truck show event before and it was hilariously fun. And so was this, the first time I’ve “cruised” around a city in a very long time.

Monster Trucks in Nashville on a sober group tour
High on Life (and giant tires) on a Sober Group tour of Nashville

Driving around Nashville on a Saturday night is …  nuts. There seemed to be more Beers on Wheels (like “pedal bars” etc.) than taxis. Mobile “party buses” drive bachelorette parties up and down the main drags—except for the famed Lower Broadway which is closed to vehicles because it’s so full of pedestrians. It’s a wild scene for sure and I was grateful that our Monster Truck was so high up above other vehicles it was tougher for the drunken hoards to high-five us. (They did try though.)

For a first night visiting Nashville, it was a fun way to get oriented and talk about all the fun things we would do over the next three days.

Mailboxes at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville
Grand Ole Opray Mailboxes

Go Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry

Nashville is the heart of American country music, and the heart of Nashville is the Grand Ole Opry. It has a long history as a radio show, a hall of fame, and much more. As a tourist in Nashville, going to the Grand Ole Opry can mean attending a concert, or taking a tour of the historic venue.

Our group went for the Opry backstage tour. We got up early for the ride to “Opryland”—about a 20-minute drive from downtown Nashville. This 4,000-seat venue is shiny and newish, but the history of the Opry goes back to the 1920s, so there’s a lot to learn. (To be honest, I mostly wanted to hear Dolly Parton stories, ha.)

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We were ushered in through the Artist Entrance which has a wall of olde tyme mailboxes. Apparently, fans can send mail to Opry Members and they pick it up from their mailboxes when they play shows here. Yes, even Dolly! Our guide then walked us past all the artist changerooms and eventually onto the actual Opry Stage.

Country music fans know the Opry has a wooden circle in the middle of the stage floor where so many stars have traditionally performed. We each had the chance to stand on the circle which felt pretty neat. I spared everyone my singing. But I suppose you could belt out a tune if you wanted to!

Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville
Photo of the Country Music Hall of Fame by Matthew Lejune via Unsplash

Johnny Cash Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame

A lot of “things to do when travelling sober” lists talk about museums. Fine by me!I know they are not for everybody but if you love music, even if you don’t love museums, The Friends in Dry Places sober group tour of Nashville will keep you very busy.

The Johnny Cash Museum is a small but packed with “the largest collection of Johnny Cash memorabilia in the world.” I dig the Man in Black but this wasn’t my favourite attraction. It’s very popular and they allow a lot of people in at once, so I found it tricky to spend time with the artifacts or have my own thoughts. The place felt like an excuse to get people to buy merch, to be honest. Other people on our tour loved it though.

The Country Museum Hall of Fame is Nashville’s equivalent of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. It’s huge and does a great job of covering the entirety of a massive music genre, from its roots to current trends. There are thousands of interesting—and bedazzled—items, from guitars and cowboy boots to custom cars. I was surprised and delighted to find an exhibit on “the western edge” of country music, which crosses over with rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock. You could spend a half day in here and not be bored.

Studio B Tour in Nashville

We also toured historic RCA Studio B, “the home of a 1000 hits.” You get picked up in a tour bus at the Country Music Hall of Fame for a short ride to Music Row—a neighbourhood that once defined the Nashville Sound. This is one of the most interesting things I did in Nashville Sober. Our guide was incredibly entertaining and made the history come alive with stories about Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins and Dolly Parton. If you’re a music studio//gear nerd this should definitely be on your list.

Make Art at Hatch Show Print Co.

Because our group was small, I had the chance to talk a lot with Darci, owned of Hooked, who put this tour together. She often references the “full sensory” aspect of her business, and making sure guests are active participants, not just spectators.

Which explains how I ended up making my own screen-printed poster at one of America’s legendary print shops.

Hatch Print Co is a fun thing to do in Nashville sober

Hatch Show Print is attached to the Country Music Hall of Fame and has a spacious and shiny workshop you can observe but our tour had tickets to learn the process up close. It was a bit like going to an art class, and at the end each person gets to create their own small print to take home. (These are all the same design, not customizable, but still a unique Nashville souvenir.)

If you’re travelling with underage people or looking for something fun to do in Nashville sober, the Hatch Show Print tour is definitely worth taking.

Mocktails in Nashville at Hampton Social on our sober group tour
Non-alcoholic rosé and more at the Hampton Social in Nashville with Hooked Alcohol-Free Travel

Nashville’s non-alcoholic drink scene

Our sober group tour of Nashville of course included trying lots of mocktails. Like most cities, Nashville has caught on that not everyone wants to get wasted, or at least not all the time. We made our own version of a bar crawl, which included these two hot spots:

White Limozeen bills itself as a Dolly Parton-inspired bar. It’s on the rooftop of the trendy Graduate boutique hotel so our group went there to watch the sunset. The weather didn’t exactly co-operate, lines were long at the bar and the Dolly Parton art was…weird. But the custom mocktails were yummy and it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular bars in Nashville. 

The Hampton Social has a big “rosé all day” neon sign but they also have a robust zero-proof cocktail menu. I wanted to try them all but settled on The Lighthouse, a fancy lemonade with rosemary. Their sparkling non-alcoholic rosé was popular with our group —even after discovering it’s made by Welch’s. (Yes, the grape juice people.) I notice that since our visit they’ve added even more drinks, using non-alcoholic spirits. Consider this a great place for visiting Nashville sober, or with a mixed group of drinkers and non-drinkers.

Downtown Nashville at Night
Photo by Chad Morehead via Unsplash

Live Music on Honky Tonk Highway

OK so just because Lower Broadway is booze-soaked, I still needed to go there to see some live music. The strip is lined with bar after bar where local bands play (mostly cover songs) for tips.  There is a lot of hooting and hollering. But all is not lost!

I’m thrilled our group chose Robert’s Western World, a traditional honky tonk bar. The act that night was rockabilly guitarist Chris Casello, who is totally my jam.

And even here, in the epitome of a dive bar with a basic drink menu, they had a non-alcoholic options in Laguinta’s IPNA and Ginger Beer. The waitress did ask us just do be sure though: “You know that doesn’t have any alcohol in it, right?” Yes, exactly right.

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Line Dancing Lessons

Do you need to drink alcohol to line-dance? I think not! Some of our group hit up Wildhorse Saloon, a huge bar that offers free dance lessons. Was I good? Not really! But it was fun to try.

Midnight Milkshakes

I love staying out late. But as a non-drinker there comes a certain point in every evening that I’m the only person left who isn’t drunk. I learned from my friend Carolyn how to deal with that—leave when you’re still having fun. With this Hooked sober tour of Nashville I didn’t have to worry about it. Instead, I had travel mates who were more stoked to find a different kind of bar to end our night…

The Legendary Milkshake Bar has that name for a reason. The drinks are outrageous – Death by Chocolate, Banana Split Shake, Majestic Unicorn. Piled high with toppings that are much better for Instagram than your blood sugar! Still, when in Rome, right? We laughed a lot in here.

Nashville is country music city
Photo by Uwe Conrad via Unsplash

Songwriters Circle at Bluebird Café

Our tour of Nashville came to an end with visit to the Bluebird Café, another legendary music space. Here, songwriters are in the spotlight. Over lunch and, yes, more non-alcoholic drinks, we has the chance to hear some wonderful music and hear great stories. Of all the things to do in Nashville sober I’d put this on the top of any music-lover’s list– you get a concert experience that isn’t about bar sales, where the crowds are respectfully quiet, and you can really soak up what Nashville is all about.

Tickets sell out fast and and you have to get up early if you want to snatch one — another reason to be grateful for a group tour that does that for you!

Hooked Sober group tour of Nashville

Hang out with other non-drinkers

Perhaps more than any specific attraction or activity, the best part about travelling with Hooked in Nashville was being with other women who weren’t drinking alcohol.

We each had our own reasons for choosing a sober group tour, but were all committed to fun without hangovers. Our diverse life journeys made for interesting conversations, and it was a very different experience than being the only non-drinker when I travel. A fun time I would do again!

If you’re wondering how to travel without hangovers and are thinking about a sober group tour, Hooked is doing the Nashville trip again and other non-alcoholic tours in 2024 you can read about on their site here.

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