Travel Guide: Nashville, Tennessee
It’s safe to say that Nashville is one of our favorite US cities. The first time we visited Nashville, we seriously contemplated packing up & moving there. Thinking about it now, we kind of wish we had! It’s growing extremely fast – over 100 people move to “Music City” each day – but with growth comes great opportunities. There are a number of different neighborhoods all with their own individual vibe. There really is something for everyone in Nashville & we love that the “Little Big Town” truly has small town vibe.
If you’re traveling in the summer, be prepared to sweat! Nashville summers are hot & humid, but the weather changes so quickly that the next minute you might be caught in a chilly rain storm. Definitely bring those sun dresses & tank tops, but always have another layer with you just in case.
This is the home of country music! Be sure to pack your cowboy boots, or just a pair of booties, for a night on Broadway.
The city is filled with AMAZING talent! You won’t just find country singers either – we especially love the singer/songwriters. Even if you can’t get a ticket to The Bluebird Café or any of the other hot spots, you’ll just about find talent on every corner.
Get ready to have fun! Everyone we’ve ever met in Nashville is beyond nice. Just prepare yourself because you will probably want to move away from wherever you live after spending some time in this friendly city.
Where to Stay
We stayed in this 4-star hotel last time we visited Nashville for our mom’s 60th birthday, and right when we walked in, we were in love! The hotel is located in The Gulch neighborhood & just steps from a number of delicious restaurants, trendy shops & fitness studios. If that wasn’t enough, the bellboys at Thompson Nashville are some of the nicest people you’ll meet while you’re there, there is a super-cute coffee shop attached via the lobby, and the room décor is right out of the Pinterest board of your dreams. Oh & did we mention that all rooms come with a Marshall Bluetooth speaker? The epitome of cool.
Side note: Even if you don’t stay at Thompson, be sure to visit their rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson, for frosé or any of their other cocktails & bites.
Hotel Indigo Nashville
The first time we visited Nashville, we stayed at Hotel Indigo. It it is only a couple of blocks from Broadway in downtown Nashville, and it’s hands-down the perfect location for first-timers. The lobby connects to a restaurant with a great brunch, and they always have amazing live music. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love that they put out warm chocolate chip cookies throughout the day & night. Such a treat!
Located in Printer’s Alley is the brand new DREAM Nashville. Just a couple of blocks from downtown & Broadway, we would love to stay here the next time we visit. Printer’s Alley is also a cool spot to visit filled with blues clubs & neon signs. We love the restaurants & bars at DREAM Hollywood & we’re sure their Nashville location is just as trendy & cool.
Things to Do
Visit 12 South
This neighborhood in Nashville is so cute & quaint. The main street, 12th Avenue South, is lined with trendy shops & restaurants, including Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James & the tasty Bartaco. Even if you’re not a fan of preppy clothes, we highly suggest stepping into Reese Witherspoon’s shop. They were serving sweet tea to every customer when we were there last! Along the street, there is also an adorable flower cart where you can purchase fresh blooms (and also snap a cute picture). If you love gourmet donuts, you’ll definitely want to check out Five Daughters Bakery. We’ve heard amazing things & the cutesy shopfront and outdoor seating area also make for perfect photo ops.
Have a Night Out on Broadway
You can’t come to Nashville & not have a night out on the town. While there are a ton of neighborhoods with great nightlife, Broadway is lined with bars, restaurants, music venues & shops that you’ll want to experience. Most bars & restaurants have multiple levels featuring live music on each floor. This really is music city! While you’re there, head into Wildhorse Saloon for a line-dancing lesson. They typically charge a cover fee, but it’s well worth it for the fun you’re about to have (and if it’s your birthday, they’ll usually waive the fee). There’s also a fun karaoke bar called Wanna B’s if you’re feeling confident – or just sit back with a beer & listen to the good (& not so good) talent. Our favorite low-key bar with great talent (and without all of the wild bachelorette parties, although there are always some!) is Rippy’s. It’s on the very edge of Broadway right across from Bridgestone Arena – we go every time we’re in town.
Country Music Hall of Fame
If you love country music, you’ll have to spend a few hours at the Country Music Hall of Fame. In addition to the installations featuring tour costumes, handwritten sheet music, lyrics written on notebook pages before they were hits, and a bunch of other memorabilia, they also have fun activity stations. There is even a little recording studio where you can embarrass yourself like we did & a huge guitar photo op.
See a Show at The Ryman Auditorium OR The Grand Ole Opry
There is so much history in Nashville – both musically and otherwise. Both The Ryman Auditorium (little did we know it was the original Grand Ole Opry!) and the current Grand Ole Opry are must-visits if you love live music or musical history. If you ever watched the show Nashville on ABC, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. If you see a show at The Ryman, make sure you sign up to take a tour of the auditorium afterwards. It was our favorite part! You’ll get to go inside the dressing rooms, venture out on stage to look out at the pews (they don’t call it “The Mother Church of Country Music” for no reason), and so much more.
Only 25-minutes south of Nashville by car you’ll find a gorgeous rolling vineyard with a tasting room. Who knew?! We’re dying to spend a warm day there & do a tasting next time we visit.
We have yet to do one of these, but they are absolutely perfect for bachelor / bachelorette parties. Even if you don’t do one yourself, you’ll get a kick out of seeing fun-loving people pedaling away while drinking & dancing in their seats. There are a ton of options in terms of companies, so just browse TripAdvisor to find what’s right for you.
Find the Nashville Murals
Nashville is full of photo ops, especially the wall-mural variety. Be sure to take a photo on the side of Draper James’ blue & white striped wall while you’re visiting the 12 South neighborhood. Not too far away, you’ll also find one of the “I Believe in Nashville” murals & there is another one in Marathon Village. One of our other favorites is in The Gulch neighborhood near Thompson Nashville. The “What Lifts You” mural features huge black & white wings that you can stand in front of, and even a small set of wings for little ones & dogs.
Take the Trolley
The Old Town Trolley tour is perfect for first-timers. Just $39.29 gets you a 1-day ticket or $49.50 for a 2-day ticket and you can take a hop on & off trolley all around the city. The driver will share history & fun facts, and you’ll see sites that you normally wouldn’t see on foot – like the Parthenon at Centennial Park, Music Row, Vanderbilt & Belmont Mansion.
What to Eat
We only wish we’d known about The Stillery sooner! They have two locations in Nashville & we visited the one across the street from Wildhorse Saloon. We dined on the second level near the stage & it was such a good time. You MUST get their hot chicken skillet mac n’ cheese. If you’re a vegetarian, ask for a side of the sauce they use for the hot chicken to pour over the noodles & cheese. They also have amazing pizza (they make their own dough & cheese!) and an awesome selection of local beers.
This is the only restaurant on our list that we’ve actually never been to, but we follow their socials & have heard amazing things. They have healthy-ish tacos with unique flavor profiles & their margaritas look to die for. The location on 12th Avenue South has a gorgeous white fence-lined patio that just screams spring & summer. We will definitely be stopping by next time we’re there!
UPDATE 5.21.19: One of our editors visited Bartaco on her latest trip to Nashville & loved it. The tacos were amazing (especially the falafel taco)! Also highly recommend the fresh lime juice margaritas (you can see them squeezing them at the bar!) & palomas!
Fin & Pearl
A fancy seafood restaurant by night, this restaurant is also an awesome & relaxed brunch spot by day. We came here after the wait time at Milk & Honey was insanely long (we’re talking 1.5+ hours), and we were so happy with our decision! The food was amazing, the mimosas were fabulous & the décor made us feel like we were hanging out on the East Coast.
We’ve been told that this is one of Taylor Swift’s favorite spots in Hillsboro Village. It’s an order-at-the-counter restaurant with a ton of seating & it’s always packed. The breakfast is amazing & they have veggie sausage options, which is always a plus. The vibe is super relaxed and the neighborhood is so cute that you’ll definitely want to walk off your meal by checking out the local shops.
This place has awesome tacos, tostadas & margaritas! We come every time we’re in town because it’s just that good. It has a casual vibe & good salsa too! Basically, we love any restaurant that makes their margaritas with agave nectar instead of using headache-inducing syrup.
The Farmer’s Market is open everyday, year-round! While they have a standard farmer’s market on some dates in their ‘Farm Sheds’, they also have 20+ local-owned shops & restaurants in ‘The Market House.’ We highly recommend getting beignets at Delta 61 & a flight of beers at The Picnic Tap.
We wish there was a Pinewood Social in every major city. Think of it as a coffee shop, restaurant, social hangout, bowling alley & pool bar all in one. You really have to see it to believe it. We almost don’t even want to say more, just go & enjoy!
Even if you’re not staying at Thompson Nashville, you must grab drinks & a bite at their rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson. We especially loved the truffle fries & frosé (frozen rosé). Plus, the views of the Nashville skyline are gorgeous, especially at sunset.
Let us know what your favorite go-to Nashville spots are in the comments! We’d love to try them out the next time we’re there. And if you’re curious about how we spent a long weekend in Nashville (complete with photos!), check out the post here.