Have you really visited Music City if you don't come home with a camera roll of mural photos?
Nashville is known for music, yes, but it's also known for artistic, out-of-the-box murals. Would you expect anything less from a community of creative, vibrant people? From small, easily-missed paintings by local artist Beck to massive wings—Kelsey Montague's signature work in the Gulch— there are murals all around Nashville, with new designs popping up regularly.
We've taken a six-mile run across the city to capture a few cornerstones of the Nashville mural scene, and then hopped over to East Nashville for a colorful 5K. However, one of the most underrated areas for mural-spotting is our beloved downtown.
If you're planning to wander around Broadway (think honky-tonks, skyscrapers, live music and a great view of the Cumberland River), why not get a workout in? We've mapped out a two-mile mural run to get you moving with incredible wall art worth stopping for. Whether you're running or walking, you'll want to add these downtown Nashville murals to your must-see list.
Let's start at the Bridgestone Arena, across from Music City Center at the corner of Demonbreun and 5th Avenue. The first mural you'll spot is a sabertooth head. This toothy grin is a tribute to our Nashville Predators hockey team mascot, Gnash. Around the corner (look for the cafe with steps leading up to the area) you'll find the "I Believe In Smashville" mural—our term of endearment for Predators hockey.
Now that we've celebrated one of Nashville's best sports teams, let's head toward the center of town. Turn left down 5th (toward Broadway) and then turn right through Walk of Fame park (in front of the Hilton). Turn left onto 4th Avenue, and you'll spot a sign for Losers Bar & Grill, one of the city's favorite dive bars (not to be confused with its playful rival, Winners). On the side of Losers, you'll see a postcard mural fit to send home that proudly proclaims, "Greetings from Nashville!"
I Believe In Nashville
Follow 4th Avenue up to Broadway, and turn right onto Nashville's most famous street. Can you hear the music? Just a few storefronts down (next to Broadway Brewhouse), you'll find a small pop-up "I Believe In Nashville" shop selling all sorts of Nashville merch. While the original "I Believe In Nashville" mural can be found in 12 South, this pop-up shop has a smaller version of the sign on the back. It's a local favorite, so be sure to snag a picture!
Keep walking down lower Broadway and hang a right onto 2nd Avenue. You'll see a vintage mural that looks like an old magazine ad for Trail West boots, hats and apparel. The original Trail West building—a historic Nashville original—lived across the street from this mural and was torn down in 2015. In its place, you can see a bonus mural on the side of Joe's Crab Shack: a very colorful "Joe Knows Nashville" mural with iconic Nashville symbols.
Tighten those shoelaces, because we're about to jog. Go back down Second Avenue for a couple blocks, passing Broadway (and several famous 2nd Avenue spots, like the Wildhorse Saloon), until you reach Church Street. Turn left onto Church. The second "street" on your right will be Nashville's famous Printer's Alley. This narrow alleyway is home to some of the best blues and jazz in town. Run through the alley until you reach Skull's Rainbow Room (on your left) and hang a right. In an empty parking lot, you'll see a large mural with five guitar bodies, all painted by different artists.
Now, turn left onto 3rd Avenue and left again on Union Street. Follow Union for three blocks until you reach Sixth Avenue. Turn left, and you'll see the mural up ahead: A large dog in a cape holding a little girl, while her brother plays video games nearby. This mural was painted by German duo Herakut as part of our Nashville Walls Project, where international artists came and put their stamp on Music City.
The colorful parking lot
Turn left back onto Church Street, and you'll quickly come across one of the most creative parking lots you've ever seen. On your left will be a building-high mural of a woman painted in neutral tones by Australian artist Rone. Next to the woman, you'll see four unique mural panels. This collaboration was between two incredible artists with very different styles: Mars-1, who paints swirling portraits that resemble outer space, and Curiot, best known for his very colorful, almost cartoonish pieces.
Still with us? At the intersection of Church Street and 5th Avenue, turn right. On the left side of the street, you'll come across a parking garage with local flavor. The first mural you'll see is a set of lyrics—Johnny Cash's "As Long As The Grass Shall Grow." This was painted by Amsterdam artist Niels Muelman in a "calligraffiti" style. Peek inside the parking garage and you'll see the mural of a man in a baseball cap saying "The only thing that's cheap in these bars is talk!" To the left of the Johnny Cash lyrics, you'll find a floor-to-ceiling mural of colorful arrows. Walk a little further down that alley, and you'll spot a mural of an angel with several strange animals, a six-artist collaboration.
Cleaning the River
There's just one more mural on our list! Get back on 5th and jump one building down to Blush. You'll see a massive half-blue mural of a Greco-Roman figurine pouring water with fish. This mural was painted by artist Beau Stanton in collaboration with a local non-profit, Rivive, to raise awareness about Nashville's river resources and how they need protecting. You can watch a cool time-lapse from the artist to get a sense of its intricacy.
Finish off the loop by continuing straight down 5th Avenue until you're back at Bridgestone Arena. Way to go! You may also want to try out our Germantown Mural Run to get a taste of Nashville's oldest neighborhood. Don't forget to tag your pics with #NashvilleMuralRun so we can cheer you on!