After living in Nashville (officially) for six whole months, I finally feel ready to add my two cents for planning a trip to explore the city. Nashville has absolutely stolen my heart. It’s brimming with life. Of course, you have the music scene, but there’s so much more, like rich history, culture and fun. My ultimate guide to Nashville attempts to capture the full scope of what the city has to offer.
I’ll break this down into a long weekend, beginning with a Thursday arrival, to provide a robust glimpse into Nashville.
Coming into the airport, you can expect to hear country music playing throughout the terminals. Tootsie’s Honky Tonk is located right inside the airport.
Where to stay:
You have several great hotels and Air BnBs to choose from in Nashville. Many visitors choose to stay in East Nashville — only five minutes from downtown and within walking distance to all the hip bars and restaurants. This AirBnB is the cutest, and can sleep up to five people!
If you want to splurge, I recommend The Hermitage Hotel — stunning, with an exquisite decadence. Don’t forget to check out the men’s restroom while you’re here.
If you aren’t too tired, have a swanky dinner at Sinema — an old movie theater, now a restaurant featuring American cuisine and adventurous cocktails. After dinner, check out ’90s night at The Sutler Saloon (downstairs) for some good ol’ fashioned dancing.
Wear comfortable walking shoes for this mini tour of the city. Start at the Farmer’s Market, where you can taste the local cuisine in an indoor space with vendors from all over the city.
|Inside the Farmer’s Market|
After tasting Jeni’s ice cream, head over to Bicentennial Capitol Park for a view of the state capitol, where you can absorb some Tennessee history. Then make your way to Crema coffee for (overpriced, yes, but worth it) artisan coffee.
Next, head to the pedestrian bridge (John Seigentaler Bridge) for the best view of the city! From here, you can see the infamous “Batman” building (far left), the Cumberland river, and the Tennessee Titans Stadium.
For a late lunch, grab Nashville’s famous Hot Chicken at my favorite: Hattie B’s.
PRO TIP: If there are two of you, order half a bird (comes with two
sides) and split it. You can even choose different levels of spiciness, plus it’s super inexpensive.
Tonight, get a real taste of Nashville music. Start with a tour of the Grand Ole Opry (or go to a show). After, you can head to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for a walk around the massive atrium where you’ll find many restaurants. Fun fact: It’s the largest non-casino hotel in the U.S.! If you’re searching to find where the music all started, head to The Station Inn. This is one of the best places in Nashville to experience blue grass and, of course, country music.
|Dolly Parton performing at the Grand Ole Opry. Image via Grand Ole Opry.|
Downtown Nashville provides the best opportunity to taste the city. From honky-tonks to deep fried southern cooking joints, you really can’t go wrong when you step into any of the many bars on Broadway Street.
If you don’t mind waiting in line, you can grab breakfast (or lunch) at Pancake Pantry. Or check out Fido for a great breakfast near Vanderbilt University. Need some caffeine? Go to Frothy Monkey for a cup of joe.
To get a real lesson in Nashville culture I highly recommend The Nash Trash Bus tour. It’s a hoot. Board the “big pink” bus that drives around Nashville, taking you to places like Music Row, where guides tell stories of legendary stars and how the music came to be.
Want a more in depth tour? Go to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum and even tour Studio B, where Elvis, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and the Nashville sound has been recorded.
Now it’s time to get to the heart of the city: Broadway Street. You’ll find famous bars such as Robert’s Western World and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, where you just might hear the next big act. The street feels a bit like New Orleans’ Bourbon Street as you meander through the throngs of people and gaze up at flashy neon signs. Don’t be surprised to find a bachelorette party blocking your path, but it’s worth it for the atmosphere.
For dinner, check out Acme Feed and Seed, serving up traditional southern food and some great music. This place has been around for a while and still remains a Nashville favorite. There’s also Paradise Park with a laid-back atmosphere much like a real trailer park. Or check out Merchants for upscale dining.
If you’re in need to karaoke, check out Ms. Kelli’s Karaoke in the famous Printer’s Alley, just a short stroll off Broadway.
If you don’t mind the drive, you can have breakfast (or brunch) at Loveless Cafe — 30 minutes outside of Nashville, but worth the trek. Or, stay close by to try Biscuit Love’s “bonuts” — fried biscuit dough with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. Patrons love the giant “Nashville” sign.
Tour East Nashville and visit some of the funky shops such as Fond Object. While you’re there, stop in Mitchell’s Deli. There (as well as two other locations in the city) you’ll find the much photographed “I Believe in Nashville” mural.
For lunch, head to The Pharmacy for burgers and beer. There’s usually a line, so the earlier you get there, the better. They open at 11 am. I ordered the turkey burger and sweet potato fries. The shakes are popular as well.
After lunch, cruise around 12 South for some great shopping (such as Reese Witherspoon’s store, Draper James, and the denim shop, Imogene & Willie). Lots of beautiful homes here too.
For cocktails try Holland House in East Nashville — a beautiful, intimate bar with expertly crafted drinks and a full menu.
If you still have an appetite head to Monell’s for endless (yes, endless) southern food passed around family style. You won’t be disappointed at either location in Nashville. Or if you want to try a “meat and three,” head to Nashvillian’s favorite spot, Arnold’s.
So there you have it! My guide to a weekend in Nashville. With so much to do you can come back again and again. Or you can end up like me, and move here!
Anything I should add to the list?
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