Shelbyville, TN Visitors Guide

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Walking Horse in a field near Shelbyville, Tennessee

Ride on down to Shelbyville, a family-friendly town filled with plenty of fun activities, historical gems and, like any quintessential Tennessee town, good eats.

Located just over 50 miles southeast of Nashville, Shelbyville offers vacationers engaging entertainment in a scenic country setting. Shelbyville plays host to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, where the World Grand Champion is crowned. But even during the equine off-season, Shelbyville’s quaint businesses, home cooking and local landmarks keep visitors coming back for more.

Walking Horse jewelry at Heritage Jewelers

Walking Horse Capital of the World

There’s plenty of things to do in Shelbyville for everyone to enjoy. Chief among them is to take a look at the animal that made the city famous – the Tennessee Walking Horse. The breed, known for its unusual gait, is showcased at the annual Celebration, which draws nearly a quarter of a million people to Shelbyville each August, but the city’s equestrian influence is evident no matter the time of year.

Another option for horse lovers is Heritage Jewelers, a hometown jewelry shop on the public square in Shelbyville with an entire Walking Horse collection featuring items from necklaces and bracelets to watches and knives. Equine enthusiasts can also stock up on cowboy hats and boots, saddles, bridles and other supplies at Bedford Tack in nearby Bell Buckle.

Walking Horse Hotel, Wartrace, TN

Many farms also double as bed-and-breakfasts. Clearview Horse Farm B&B boards horses and features equine-inspired rooms for people. Surrounding communities such as Wartrace and Normandy are home to the Walking Horse Hotel and Parish Patch Farm and Inn, respectively. In addition to the hotel, Wartrace is also home to Tennessee handcrafted Gallagher Guitar shop. Parish Patch is a 300-acre working farm and inn, where guests can spend time exploring the farm, cozying up to the fireplace or playing games such as cards, shuffleboard and horseshoe. Bring the whole family and even Fido to the inn, which welcomes pets.


Local Bedford County Heritage

Visitors can peek into Shelbyville’s past at the Shelbyville Bedford County History Museum, which showcases history exhibits as well as art and sculpture displays. The museum is headed by the Bedford Arts Council, which also operates the Fly Cultural Arts Center, where creative classes, workshops and other activities take place.

The longest-running business in Shelbyville, the renovated Capri Theatre serves as a focal point of downtown with its dazzling 1950s-era marquee. The cinema plays first-run films on its two screens – one in the balcony with stadium seating and the other equipped with rocking chairs – and also retains many of its original amenities that add to its majestic ambiance.

The National Register of Historic Places recognizes the entire Our Town/Shelbyville Public Square, which was designed in 1810 as a prototype for town squares all over the South and Midwest. Today, the 200-year-old square plays host to charming shops, boutiques and galleries that provide great gift options, retailing antiques, artwork, books, clothing and much more.

Bell Buckle Cafe

Down-Home Cooking

When it comes to mealtime, visitors won’t starve for choices in and around Shelbyville. Restaurant options range from music-themed cafés to elegant country cuisine.

The Bell Buckle Café offers good food along with great music, and attracts musical talent from all over Middle Tennessee. Thursdays are songwriters nights, and the café hosts live bluegrass and country on Fridays and Saturdays.

Visitors with a formal evening in mind should try the Cortner Mill in Normandy. The restaurant, housed in a rustic 1825 grist mill, features a menu its owners call “elegant country.” Entrees include Baked Rainbow Trout, Carolina Country Quail and, for the brave, River Bank Frog Legs.

For more Southern cooking with a twist, head to Shelbyville’s Charleston on Main. The tea room operates during lunch hours on weekdays and features a lunch buffet Wednesday through Friday with dishes such as Parmesan-crusted chicken and apple-marinated pork loin alongside salads, quiches, soups, sides and homemade desserts.

Another unique hot spot is the Bedford Cheese Shop, which makes 100 percent natural cheeses as well as other dairy products, sausage, ham, jams and jellies.

Other locally owned eateries with a loyal following include Bocelli Gourmet Pizza & Pasta ShoppeThe Coffee Break and Uncle Sonny’s Bar B Que.


  1. Jeanne Burke

    March 21, 2019 at 9:45 am

    As a tour operator, we have visited Waterfall Farms to see the Tennessee Walking Horses and I realize that farm visit is not possible. Can you tell me what other farm in your area would be able to host a group of 50 passengers for a visit? I would also like o know which restaurants in Shelbyville could handle 50 guests for lunch.

    Thank you,
    Jeanne Burke

    • Jessy Yancey

      April 2, 2019 at 10:43 am

      Hi Jeanne, please contact the Shelbyville, TN Chamber of Commerce at Hope this helps!

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