Thrilled to have Catherine from A Short Blonde on the blog today with a gorgeous guide to Music City!
Nashville is one of the 10 fastest growing cities in America according to CNN Money. “A thriving music industry, a host of big healthcare employers and a burgeoning start-up scene have made Nashville a hotspot for several years.” My husband and I are among this new population influx, as we moved here a little over a year ago. New businesses, housing and neighborhoods are in constant states of development. It makes for a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Anything is possible in this town!
Nashville has become quite the weekend destination. The metropolis offers a lot more than country music and BBQ. Art museums, nature preserves, independent shopping and a thriving local food scene are transforming this city into something entirely its own. I’m going to share a few of my favorite (must see) spots around town! It is hard to narrow down as Nashville packs a lot of great places into a small radius.
Click through to read this Nashville travel guide!
FOOD + DRINK
Hattie B’s | I was not familiar with hot chicken, the special Nashville dish, prior to our move. What sets hot chicken apart from traditional fried chicken are the spices, technique and presentation. The water marinated chicken is seasoned, floured, fried and sauced using a spicy cayenne pepper base. Don’t miss the hot chicken and waffles plate!
Taqueria Del Sol | Like many tex-mex restaurants in town, this is an a la carte menu. I enjoy the freedom in ordering the exact portion I need, especially when you’re traveling and saving leftovers isn’t practical. Try the fried chicken, beef brisket tacos, guacamole and don’t forget to order a classic margarita on the rocks!
Martins Bar-B-Que Joint | You can’t visit Nashville without eating BBQ. Martins BBQ is our personal favorite. Everything from their menu is made daily from scratch. I suggest ordering a meat platter with two sides. Mac and cheese and their green beans are scrumptious!
Barista Parlor | The coffee scene in Nashville is extensive. Barista Parlor has three beautiful locations, on both sides of the river. This isn’t the place for a quick cup on the go, but the bright, cheery space is ideal when you have a little spare time and want to sip while reading a book or in deep conversation. Try a poor-over from their coffee selection, or my personal favorite, an iced vanilla almond milk latte. Don’t leave without a few of their homemade macarons!
8th & Roast | My personal favorite drip coffee in town is from 8th & Roast, a craft coffee roaster, sourcing only from small grown farms. I’ve enjoyed many a slow morning sipping on a cup of coffee with vanilla while munching on their delectable pastry selection. They provide gluten, dairy and soy free options too!
Burger Up | Burger Up is a community driven, locally sourced restaurant in our neighborhood. It is special enough for a date night (the inside decor is beautiful) while still being casual for easy family dinners. The Woodstock, Bison and Black Bean Quinoa burgers are all excellent! Their homemade ketchup has a little extra magic, it has to be tasted to be believed.
The Patterson House | As soon as you walk into The Patterson House, you are instantly transported back to prohibition times. Our ninety minute wait on New Years Eve at Nashville’s hottest speakeasy bar was completely worth it. Their handcrafted cocktails are delicious works of art. Don’t worry if some of the drinks are unfamiliar, they can create drinks for you based on your tastes!
Acme Feed and Seed | This three level restaurant provides a unique Broadway experience. The first floor is styled after a traditional honky-tonk bar, you can order food at the counter and join the crowd enjoying the live music. If you’re seeking a more intimate setting, simply enter the second floor lounge which also boasts a sushi bar. One more flight of stairs and you’ll be on their rooftop deck which has a beautiful view of the city and a piano bar!
Marche Artisan Food | Marche is a European style eatery, perfect for brunch or a light lunch. Like many restaurants in town, their menu changes seasonally. They also have a full bakery and sell local honey, jam, spices and baking mixes. We picked up several Christmas presents here last year!
Frist Center for the Visual Arts | In the early 1990s, the Frist Foundation transformed the downtown post office into an art museum. The Frist is a non-collecting museum, meaning it doesn’t house any permanent collections but instead features rotating exhibits all year-long. Not only are the exhibits beautiful to explore, but the building itself still has original art deco elements.
Pinewood Social | Pinewood Social is an experience all its own: part restaurant, part bar, part bowling alley and part public swimming pool. Yes, it sounds a bit crazy and eclectic because it is… in only the best way possible! Reservations to bowl are suggested (bowling is $40 an hour for one lane) but the pool is first come first serve. We can’t get enough of this place.
Nashville Farmer’s Market | Nashville has seasonal farmer’s markets in different parks around the city, but this public market downtown is open 362 days a year. Adjacent to the market is Market House, which holds 16 different restaurants. Here you’ll find seasonal produce and local farm direct finds such as honey, jam and candles.
Ryman Auditorium | It is easy to hear great live music in Nashville and I highly encourage you do so. While there are a number of venues to choose from, seeing a concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium must be near the top of any list. First a church (circa 1890s) and then the home of the Grand Ole Opry (1943 to 1974), Now “The Mother Church of Country Music” hosts all genres of music, stand up comedy and even musical theater.
The Belcourt | The Belcourt dates back to 1925 and has remained a mainstay in Nashville’s art and cultural history. Today this nonprofit theater shows a variety of new and old independent films, both foreign and domestic. On Saturday mornings they show cartoons and family films. Leading up to The Academy Awards, they have special showings of nominated films.
Arrington Vineyard | A mere twenty-five miles south of the city, Arrington Vineyard is the perfect place to spend a peaceful afternoon. After your wine tasting, I suggest purchasing a bottle to enjoy with your picnic on the rolling, grassy lawn. They even have live music on the weekends.
The Nashville Flea Market | The Nashville Flea Market is considered one of the top ten flea markets in the country. Held on the fourth weekend of every month, each with its own theme, this flea market is bursting with unique items. It is the perfect place to find eclectic home decor, gifts or a Nashville souvenir.
Hiking and Camping | Several Tennessee State Parks are within a one-two hour drive from Nashville. Cumberland Mountain State Park, Natchez Trace State Park and Rock Island State Park are perfect for the outdoorsy type.
Radnor Lake State Park | When coming to town for a quick weekend, camping in one of the Tennessee State Parks might not be a viable option. Unique in its proximity to an urban city, this six-mile trail (broken in-to different segments) is perfect for an afternoon reprieve. Most of the trail is stroller friendly and during the summer they even offer canoe trips!
Vinnie Louise | When it comes time to purchase pieces for a new season, Vinnie Louise is my first choice. You’ll find dressed up basics, accessories, jewelry and small gifts such as note cards and candles. Their mission says it all: “A place where women feel affirmed, empowered and guilt-free about their wardrobe.”
12th Ave South | A thriving neighborhood in south Nashville which has amazing restaurants, a sprawling park and several little shops. It’s easy to spend an entire day hopping from store to store, coffee shop to coffee shop. Food Trucks are often parked throughout the day.
Five Points | This gem of a neighborhood in East Nashville has amazing restaurants and local businesses. Five Points Pizza and Mas Tacos are among our favorites.
BookManBookWoman | An independent used and new bookstore in Hillsboro Village, a small walk from Belmont University. The latest bestsellers are sold here, but it is also fun to paruse their aisles of used books, you never know what gems you’ll find!
Grimey’s | Part record store, bookstore and coffee shop. I’m not sure what else you could ask for in a business?
Whites Mercantile | If the home section of Anthropology had a baby with the food section of William Sonoma you would create Whites Mercantile. This store is the perfect place to find unique gifts for friends and family and even yourself.
Nisolo | Started in 2011, Nisolo, began as a response to the struggling shoemakers’ industry in Peru. Each ethically sourced leather shoe is handmade in Peru. Their designs are purposeful and will withstand the test of trends.
Imogene + Willie | Imogene + Willie specializes in raw salvaged denim but they also sell a curated selection of tops, shoes and hats. A corner of the store is designated to Warby Parker eyewear. Each pair of denim (made in the USA) will be custom tailored to your specific inseam and hem length. These jeans will literally last you a lifetime.
Taking weekend road trips from Nashville is fairly easy. The list of cities that are within a comfortable drive give endless options for quick getaways!
A few popular weekend destinations:
- Chattanooga | 2 hours — visit Look Out Mountain, the Tennessee Aquarium and Warehouse Row, an old collection of warehouses which now contains restaurants and stores.
- Gatlinburg | 3.5 hours — a mountain town in eastern Tennessee, is known as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visiting Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park, is also a popular trip while staying in Gatlinburg!
- Atlanta | 4 hours — for many years Atlanta had the closest IKEA for Nashville residents so it was common to make a full weekend out of it. Atlanta is still a popular destination for baseball games and eateries.
Catherine is a barista, full-time adventurer, part-time dessert baker and lifestyle blogger. In her blog, a short blonde, Catherine shares musings on life, style, adventures in gluten-free cooking and beyond. She strives to live more graciously than yesterday and to grow in her faith each day. For Catherine, it’s important to stretch her mind, travel far, and always have a stash of dark chocolate.