Written by Tasha Kitchens
One of my favorite cities is Nashville, aka Music City. From Country Music to Historic Plantations and wineries, from sweet tea to breakfast at the Famous Loveless Cafe, Nashville is sure to please. I’ve put together some favorites from a local’s perspective. We’ll explore the usual tourist destinations and take a look at some local favorites. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands, my husband is originally from the great Volunteer State!
When should I go? When planning your trip, make sure to consider things like CMA Fest, as downtown will be very busy and prices will be higher.
What to do
First things first, Music City is the home of country music. One of the best parts of exploring and eating downtown is you never know who you’ll see. Rippy’s Bar and Grill is a popular spot on Broadway. (Gavin Degraw has been known to frequent there.) Take a walk down Broadway Ave, this is a fun place to window shop and people watch. You’ll see Bridgestone Area, Union Station, Hard Rock Cafe, and souvenir shops. Here are a few highlights:
Country Music Hall of Fame– General Admission $24.95
If you’re a country music lover, this is filled with exhibits, recording booths, and country music history. Normally, there is a new exhibit from a different artist every summer. When we went, they had an exhibit for Carrie Underwood, which included different outfits and history from her career.
Another one for country lovers is the The Grand Ole Opry -$24 admission
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center– This is a really beautiful place to stay and walk around. During Christmas, they put up lights all around. We mostly go here to walk around and admire the scenery. There are places inside to eat and gardens galore! For shopping, you you are minutes away from the Opry Mills Mall. This was recently renovated after the Nashville Flood in 2010.
Shelby Street Bridge – If you’re already on Broadway, this is an easy spot to walk to. Here, you’ll take in some great views of the city, and find a perfect spot for pictures! You can walk down to the Riverfront as well and soak in the sight of Nashville’s Batman Building and the Cumberland River.
What to eat
McNamara’s Irish Pub and Restaurant– Live Music and delicious food, need I say more? My recommendation is to call ahead and make a reservation for the Music Room. It’s normally pretty crowded, but the atmosphere is awesome. You will be treated to authentic Irish Cuisine and hear live music. If the Music Room is filled, you can always stand or they have seating available in other parts of the restaurant.
Loveless Cafe– This is a Nashville Staple. It is normally crowded, but well worth the wait. Stop here for authentic southern cooking, as well as delicious biscuits and jams.
Flying Saucer– This is located in downtown Nashville and is in a historic building. My husband loves this place. If you’re looking for a great place to try different beers and appetizers, look no further. The walls are decorated with saucers. If you try 200 beers, they put your name the wall. It’s a fun and different place to go.
Pinewood Social– Looking for a great place for brunch or to hang out? Pinewood Social was designed to be interactive. They even have their own bowling alley. Check out the map on their website. It’s always a fun place to stop before concerts for dinner and a drink. The staff is awesome and love to give recommendations. I had their Hibiscus Infused Gin and Tonic (suggested to me by our waitress) and it was delicious. I’d highly recommend this place if you’re looking for something different.
Side trip (off-the-beaten-path)
Centennial Park and The Parthenon– Centennial Park is a short drive from downtown. It’s a gorgeous park for walking. Located in the Park is the Parthenon, which was originally built during Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition. Inside, there is a massive statue of Athena, along with art exhibits to explore. It can be crowded, so I would suggest to go earlier or later in the day. Keep in mind it’s hot and humid during the summer. There is a small fee of $5.50 to enter The Parthenon.
Arrington Vineyards– What a fun way to spend the afternoon in Franklin, Tennessee. This is about 30 minutes from Nashville, but worth the drive. There is no fee to wine taste. Once you finish your tasting, you can purchase a bottle of wine and take it outside on the deck or to a picnic table. Feel free to pack some treats to eat with your wine and enjoy the lovely views.
The Hermitage– This is a great stop for anyone who loves to see older plantation homes. Again, there is a little travel involved, but this makes an easy side trip from the hustle and bustle of downtown. You’ll be looking at a travel time of around 40 minutes each way by car. The Hermitage was the home of President Andrew Jackson. Here you’ll tour the mansion, gardens, and see his tomb. Tip: For a closer plantation,check out Belle Mead Plantation, about 20 mins away.