Copyright Deering Wealth Team

Things to do in Retirement

Retirement is a great opportunity to spend time with family, discover new hobbies, travel, do volunteer work, and more. In fact, those are the most popular pursuits of retirees today, according to a report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. You may already know how you want to spend your time in retirement, whether it’s working part-time, volunteering, getting more face time with the grand kids, or pursuing hobbies. But if you’re looking for new ventures, here are a few things to do in retirement.


Nearly a quarter (24%) of retirees spend their time giving back to the community through volunteer work, and the Nashville area is a hot spot for nonprofits seeking charitable labor. Whether you want to use your talents for a specific purpose or you’re just looking to give your time and energy to a worthy cause, Hands On Nashville is a great place to start. Be sure to check out some of Nashville’s best local charities below.

Second Harvest Food Bank

Thistle Farms

Healing Hands International

Get in Touch with Nature

Things to do in Retirement: NatureA simple walk through one of Middle Tennessee’s beautifully serene parks could be exactly what your retirement needs. Tennessee is home to 56 state parks and countless other local parks, offering activities like hiking trails, camping, bird watching, fishing, and much more. Some of our local favorites include: Radnor Lake State Park, Centennial Park, Edwin & Percy Warner Parks, and Bicentennial Capitol Park. These are all great spots for hiking and biking, and they provide plenty of things to do in retirement.

Wine Tasting

Things to do in Retirement: Wine TastingIf you like wine, you’ll love sampling the award-winning creations of Arrington Vineyards. Located just 40 minutes south of Nashville in the unincorporated rustic community of Arrington in Williamson County, this beautiful vineyard was founded by country music artist Kix Brooks and draws crowds from all over for tours, live music, beautiful picnic scenery, and of course, great wine.

For a cozier, slightly-less-rustic wine tasting experience, try JJ’s Wine Bar in Historic Downtown Franklin. Their wine stations make it easy to sample a variety of wines in multiple portion sizes. You can even order small plates to pair with your wine of choice.

Bed & Breakfast

Escape to a quaint bed and breakfast nestled in the beautiful countryside of Tennessee. There are so many attractive cottages, historic homes, and private resorts in the Volunteer State. You can choose your pace, from actively exploring the local town or natural areas to enjoying a peaceful breakfast on the porch. Check out this list of the 30 best Tennessee bed and breakfasts.

Live Music

A necessary addition to our list of things to do in retirement has to be live music. After all, this is Music City, right? You can find free live music every day in Nashville, but some venues have a little more appeal than others.

One of the most famous small venues in Nashville is The Bluebird Cafe in Green Hills. With two shows every night and a reputation for attracting the best songwriters in the world, the Bluebird is a great place to hear more intimate acoustic sets and maybe even see a star before they’re discovered.

Acme Feed & Seed, located in the iconic building at the end of Lower Broadway in Nashville, boasts three floors, a rooftop patio, an excellent variety of food and drinks, and a diverse mix of live music every day. It was even the most visited eatery in the country by Lyft riders in 2016.

If you’re looking for something a bit more lively, put on your dancing shoes and head over to B.B. King’s Blues Club for some good food and great live music every night. B.B. King’s is located on Second Avenue in Nashville.

Ryman Auditorium

Speaking of live music, if you’re a fan of country music, you’ll want to visit the Ryman Auditorium, nicknamed “the Mother Church of Country Music.” The best of the genre have played on the Ryman stage, and the concert calendar is always full of great acts. If you can’t make it to a show, try touring the historic venue. You can even rent space at the Ryman for an event with as few as 20 people.

Lifelong Learning

Another great way to spend your time in retirement is in the classroom. As more and more Baby Boomers retire, they’re noticeably filling up class rosters at colleges and universities. Local schools like Vanderbilt University and Lipscomb University provide lifelong learning courses for older adults at affordable prices. These classes don’t offer college credits and often don’t issue homework or grades. With perks like intellectual stimulation, social connections, and low costs, this may be one of the best things to do in retirement.

Things to do in Retirement: Lifelong Learning


The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s stated mission is “to collect, preserve, and interpret the evolving history and traditions of country music,” a goal it seems to be achieving in its 350,000 square feet of exciting galleries and spaces. The “Smithsonian of country music” is located in the heart of downtown Nashville across from the Music City Center and offers a lot to see and do.

Located on the second floor of the George Jones Entertainment Complex, the George Jones Museum opened its doors in April of 2015, following his death. The museum offers a unique glimpse into the life and music of one of country music’s best, including many of his personal belongings. There’s even a rooftop bar with stunning views of downtown Nashville.

If you love history, especially local history, be sure to check out the Tennessee State Museum on Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville. Tracing its roots all the way back to 1817, the museum has changed locations a few times and now operates more than 60,000 square feet of exhibits in the heart of Music City. Become a member, shop for local crafts, or host a private event, all at the Tennessee State Museum.

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Located on the historic Cheek estate, the 55-acre Cheekwood is a botanical garden and art museum. Boasting 150,000 blooming flowers in the spring, one million lights in the winter, and over 250,000 visitors each year, Cheekwood is a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike. When touring the gardens, the Museum of Art, or Cheekwood’s level IV arboretum, you can choose a self-guided pace or a docent-led experience. Cheekwood even has seasonal festivals, a model train village with 265 feet of track, art exhibitions, a vibrant history, and more. Cheekwood is an experience that you won’t want to miss!

Cooking Classes

Whether your Thanksgiving dinner is a local legend or you’re just happy to get a meal on the table without a call to the fire department, you’ll love taking a cooking class. Many classes share the history of the prepared dishes, and there are several to choose from in the Nashville area. Salud! Cooking School in Green Hills is provided by Whole Foods and offers a variety of cooking themes. For more wine-centric classes, try Tavola, which teaches how to pair various wines from around the world with small bites. Featured on the News Channel 4 “More at Midday” segment, Chef Paulette focuses her cooking classes on Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and meets in Bellevue. Crema even has a coffee class that seems to sell out quickly. Whatever you choose, a cooking class could be one of your favorite things to do in retirement.

Things to do in Retirement: Cooking Classes


When the weather gets warm, Tennesseans get on the water. If you have access to a boat, what better way to spend a day? From tubing to water skiing to simply relaxing on the open water, boating can make for a great get-together with family and friends. Percy Priest Lake and the Cumberland River are local favorites. Try heading west from Nashville on the Cumberland River to Riverview Restaurant & Marina to dock the boat for a bite to eat. You can even gas up at the restaurant’s dock.

If you don’t own a boat but still want to get on the water, try renting from Elm Hill Marina, Four Corners Marina, or Hidden Harbor Marina, among many others.

General Jackson Showboat

You might place it in the boating category, but the General Jackson Showboat is more of a dinner show. Launched on the Cumberland River in 1985 and one of the country’s largest showboats, the General Jackson is named after the first steamboat to operate on the Cumberland in 1817, which was named after Andrew Jackson, who would later become the seventh President of the United States.

The General Jackson makes for a great night out and one of the funner things to do in retirement, whether you’re with a large group or with one other person. (You can even host a private party or event.) Start the evening with live music, drinks, and dancing on the Hurricane Deck, and enjoy the scenic views along the Cumberland, including downtown Nashville. Once dinner is ready to be served, you can head into the Victorian Theater for a multi-course meal and the evening’s entertainment. The live shows change seasonally, and different shows are offered throughout the week, so be sure to check out the lineup of shows before casting off.

Pottery Painting

If you’re looking for something fun and memorable to do with the grand kids, try visiting a pottery painting studio. For a small studio fee and the cost of whatever you choose to paint, you can create a masterpiece to display proudly in your home or give as a gift. Many of these studios offer a wide selection of clay pieces to choose from, like statues, plates and other kitchenware, Christmas ornaments, cups and mugs, decorative pottery, and much more.

There are a few studios around town. Try Third Coast Clay inside The Factory at Franklin or Brushfire Pottery Studio in Green Hills.

Adventure Science Center

If you have curious grand kids, the Adventure Science Center is a great place for a family outing. There are a lot of interactive learning opportunities within the walls of this not-for-profit educational center. Many of the exhibits are permanent fixtures, like BodyQuest and the Sudekum Planetarium, but the science center has seasonal feature exhibits, too.

U-Pick Produce Farms

For a fun (and healthy) activity, try a local “u-pick” farm. Most, if not all, of these farms are family owned and operated. Picking prices are typically pretty low, and after a fun day in nature, you get some delicious souvenirs. To pick your own antioxidant-rich blueberries locally, try Golden Bell Blueberry Farm in Franklin. Stoney Creek Farm, also in Franklin, has a variety of vegetables that you can pick yourself, in addition to blueberries and blackberries. Since most produce grows seasonally, summer is the best time to pick your own berries and veggies. Many of these farms sell their harvest year-round, though.

Tour Music City

Things to do in Retirement: Segway TourGet to know Music City with a guided tour of Nashville! This is a great way to spend some time with family or other retired friends. There are several companies, like Gray Line of Tennessee or Old Town Trolley Tours, that offer a wide variety of scheduled tours, from walking tours to bus tours. You could even roll through Nashville in style on a Segway tour! Many companies offer several different tour lengths as well, from an hour to eight hours.

Nashville Symphony

No tour of Music City is complete without a visit to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center to hear the world-renowned Nashville Symphony. Our city’s famed orchestra is “one of Tennessee’s largest and longest-running nonprofit performing arts organizations,” according to the Symphony website. The Nashville Symphony has released 20 recordings that were nominated for GRAMMY® Awards, 8 of which won. With 170 performances annually and a diverse variety of  musical styles, it’s easy to find a concert you’ll love.

Painting Classes

Retirement is a great time for hobbies, and a favorite among many retirees is painting. You might enjoy the serenity of a quiet afternoon painting alone in your backyard, or maybe you’d enjoy a more social atmosphere. Whether you’re the next Rembrandt, or you struggle to create stick people, you’ll enjoy a painting class. Typically in small- to medium-sized groups, each of these classes is led by an art instructor as he or she guides you step-by-step through your very own masterpiece. Generally, the whole class will paint the same still life, abstract, or landscape.

There are a lot of painting studios around town. Try Dabble Studio or Paint Along Nashville for a fun evening of painting. Coffee and Canvas will even bring a mobile painting party to you.

Horse Racing

One of Nashville’s biggest annual events is Iroquois Steeplechase. On Saturday, May 13, 2017, don your best springtime outfit (ladies, bring your biggest hat) and head over to Percy Warner Park for a full day of fun. The 76th Iroquois Steeplechase won’t just be about horses, though, as activities will include a family area, tailgating, the Iroquois Shoppes, food trucks, the Michael Stanley Stick Horse Race (for the kids), and more. This time-honored tradition promises to be a lot of fun.

I hope you have enjoyed this list, which certainly isn’t comprehensive. There is so much to do in Nashville and the surrounding area, and we hope you’ll share with us some of the fun ways you have found to spend your retirement. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your retirement plan, give us a call at (615) 861-6101.

Any opinions are those of Mark Deering and not necessarily those of Raymond James.
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Mark Deering

Mark Deering, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and the Executive Vice President of Southwestern Investment Group. Mark started his career in the '90s selling books through Southwestern Advantage while earning degrees in business, economics, and Biblical studies at Wheaton College. Upon graduation, he was invited to join Southwestern Investment Group and started to take on more responsibility. Mark mentors younger advisors regularly and is occasionally asked to speak at industry conferences. When he's not working, Mark loves spending time with his wife, Rachel, and their three kids.

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