Let’s assume that you’re staying in the downtown area already. Parking in Nashville is not the most fun, so leave your car at the hotel or Airbnb and call an Uber to take you to The Gulch. If you’re a health nut, grab a smoothie from the Juice Bar but if you want a substantial meal, grab breakfast at Biscuit Love Brunch. Order a mimosa or Bloody Mary while trying anything on the menu. I don’t think you can go wrong here.
Take a stroll around the Gulch area. You’ll see a unique view of Union Station Hotel from the train tracks. Murals are going up everywhere in the city and there’s a neat one in the Gulch that’s popular. Take a snap with the giant angel wings and post to your social media – even locals are doing it.
If you’re into museums and art, check out the Frist Center located in the old Nashville Post Office. Depending on how hot it is that day you could walk from the Gulch.
If Country Music is your thing, you’ll find lots of tours of the stars homes and studios. If you want a unique experience, I would suggest the Nash Trash Tour with the Jugg Sisters. The PG-13 tour sells out in advance, so I would book your tour prior to your trip. They also encourage BYOB, so cheers to that!
The tour begins and ends near the Nashville Farmer’s Market in the Germantown area. You can grab lunch in the markets restaurant area, a food court without chain stores. You’ll find something even for the pickiest eater in your group. If a sit-down meal is more your thing, nip to Monell’s.
Walk or Uber to Broadway. Take a stroll on the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to get a great view of the Nissan Stadium, where the Tennessee Titans play. You can check out the honky-tonks if that’s your thing, but I would suggest taking the elevator to the rooftop bar at Acme Feed & Seed for another great view of the city and a light libation.The Mule Kicker will get you right after your big lunch.
If you’re sick of skylines, rent a bicycle from Nashville B-cycle and head over to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon. It’s an exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens, minus the rubble. Into history? I’d recommend taking the tour. There’s a larger than life gold laden Athena statue that is pretty dang impressive.
Turn the B-cycle in and head down to Music Row. You are a decade too late to see Music Row in its glory of condos, but there are still big labels and publishers bragging about their hit songs and artists.
For local shopping, Edgehill Village, has locally owned stores sans J.Crew. Castilleja is a great shop owned by “Girl Crush” songwriter, Liz Rose. You can find some unique souvenirs that are not your typical boot shot glass “I got my ass kicked in Nashville” souvenir that you would find on lower Broad.
If you want to keep your light buzz, duck into Taco Mamacita (aka the cafeteria of Music Row) for a glass of sangria or the Elvez margarita. You never know, you may bump into a label executive or a famous studio musician.
Or head to Pinewood Social, for a dip in the pool or a bowl. It’s air conditioned and they have a large bar and snack menu.
If Taco Mamacita perked your desire for Mexican food, head to 12South and BarTaco. If it’s a nice time of year, sit on the patio where you can people watch. Mafiaozo’s is also good, the staple in the area, and my favorite pizza in town. If you’re there on a Tuesday, slices are two for one but be ready to fight the college crowd on those evenings. And if pizza doesn’t float your boat, there’s Edley’s Bar-b-que that’s a favorite of many locals too.
12South is my favorite non-touristy part of Nashville to take out of towners. The famous mural ‘I Believe In Nashville’ is worth a visit after dinner and it’s located near the Southern boutique, Draper James (owned by Reese Witherspoon).
If you want to see live music, I would pick up a copy of the Nashville Scene, a free weekly magazine. It’ll list any live music for the week. Try to get into the Bluebird Café for a show, it is a Nashville staple. If you can’t, find a songwriter round at somewhere like the Listening Room Café or Douglas Corner. You can’t throw a stick in this town without finding a live show, so make sure you take one in while you’re here.
Top 10 tips for travel to Nashville:
1. Get Uber.
2. Pick up a copy of Nashville Scene to find live music you want to see.
3. Visit the Parthenon.
4. Check out the murals around town.
5. Go to the areas of town where the locals are instead of Lower Broad.
6. Don’t go to a chain restaurant.
7. Book the Nash Trash tour ahead of your trip.
8. Go on a diet so you can eat A LOT.
9. Try a cocktail with moonshine.
10. Come in the Fall for the beautiful foliage.
Matador articles for Nashville trip planning:
Cabs: They used to be scarce, but have improved in numbers but not as reliable as an Uber or Lyft.
Public Transportation: Nashville MTA Cheap, timely.
Bikes: Nashville B-Cycle – You can rent a bicycle and it’s very affordable and eco-friendly.
Foot: You can definitely walk around downtown, but to get to the different neighborhoods like 12South from downtown, I’d recommend a drive.
All pictures by Amy Allmand