Known for: Nashville is the Mecca for country music lovers. The state’s capital is dubbed “Music City” so that should give you an idea of how important music is to the culture in Nashville. Aside from music, Nashville is also known for its hot chicken and whiskey. And while I don’t like country music, whiskey or hot chicken, I still found PLENTY of things I loved about this honkey tonk home.
Nashville: It’s not all cowboy boots and Honky Tonks in Nashville my friends. Far from it. This southern city is carving out its place as one of the most beloved cities in the country. From the blossoming food scene to the coffee shop hipster culture, Nashville isn’t just for the heavy drinking, country music-loving traveler. There really is something for everyone and I got a chance to experience what this city has to offer with my best friend Carson Love (a Nashville resident) as my official tour guide.
CHECK OUT MY NASHVILLE VIDEO:
Climate: Nashville is like many other southern states when it comes to average temps. The climate is subtropical so that means the summers are hot and humid and winters are short and mild.
History: Tennessee was the 16th state to be added to the United States and Nashville became its capital in 1843. The last battle in the civil war took place just outside the city in 1864 when Union forces defeated the Confederates. Nashville is often called the Athens of the south because of its many great higher education institutions. In the 20th century, the city emerged as the capital of country music. And to this day that title holds true.
Getting there: I love me a good long road trip so I packed up my car (skirted the 50-pound weight limit that way) and drove my happy butt from Chicago to Nashville. It’s about 8 hours which to some might sound like a nightmare but to me, it sounded like just the right amount of time to listen to a good audiobook.
If you’re not into driving or looking for a quicker way to get to Nashville - fly! The Nashville International Airport isn’t too big and there’s a ton of cities that offer direct flights.
We stayed at the Noelle Nashville and I can’t say enough about this chic hotel right in the heart of downtown. What makes the Noelle so perfect is its location. The hotel is just a block away from the hustle and bustle of Broadway and backs up to Printers Alley. But aside from its location, the hotel itself is just plain cool. The minute you walk in, you are greeted with this amazing floral scent that’s wafting through the entire lobby.
The boutique hotel has a crisp, clean, modern vibe with hints of Gatsby-era grandeur. Speaking of...the hotel has its own speakeasy. But if you want to visit, you’ll have to visit to figure out where it’s hidden…
Rare Bird, the hotel’s rooftop bar, is in a league of its own with delicious cocktails and panoramic views of the city. I can’t say enough about this one of a kind hotel and I really hope you consider it when you visit.
Other options to consider:
Urban Cowboy B&B: If you’re a do it for the gram kinda gal - this is your spot. The epic claw footed tubs and reclaimed wood set this hotel apart from the rest. Go for the gram, stay for the experience.
The Hermitage Hotel: Luxury & history all wrapped into one at this hotel. The hotel opened its doors in 1910 is a mix of old world French and Italian grandeur.
The 404: A four bedroom boutique hotel in the heart of the Gulch. With a rotating art gallery, invisible service, and a James Beard Nominated Restaurant, the hotel has it all.
Visit some of the city’s murals:
Nashville is known for all of the incredible murals spread throughout the city. From the classic, I Believe in Nashville mural to the famous wings, there’s no shortage of places to pose for the perfect pic. My favorite is the colorful geographic wall in the Gulch area. But there are SO MANY good ones. You can either take a tour or make your own.
There are really four main areas with clusters of murals:
12 South Neighborhood
Elliston Place Garage
Head to the Gulch:
Aside from the incredible murals in this area, the Gulch is a great spot to walk around, shop and eat some fantastic food. The area is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified community which means the area focuses on operating buildings that use fewer resources, reduce waste and negative environmental impacts.
From cocktails at LA Jackson’s rooftop bar to Winky Lux - the Gulch is a one-stop shop for great dining, shopping and quintessential Nashville experiences.
Walk around Twelve South:
From stores like Draper James & White’s Mercantile to insta worth spots like the I Believe in Nashville mural & Amelia’s Flower Truck - you’ll find all of this in the Twelve South Neighborhood. OOOOOO and Carson Love’s favorite - Five Daughters Bakery.
Snag tickets to a show at the Bluebird Cafe:
This is the place to be in Nashville if you want to hear songwriters do their thing. It’s arguably one of the best spots to listen to the “heroes behind the hits” perform their music. And it’s one of those spots that constantly has big-name stars dropping by to mingle with performers.
Visit a Honky Tonk:
Even though it’s certainly not my vibe like AT ALL, you can’t go to Nashville and not visit a Honky Tonk. If you’re not up on the lingo, a Honky Tonk is a loud, typically rowdy bar that plays country music. And in Nashville, they’re essential to the downtown scene. While we didn’t visit any this trip, I’ve been to many when I was in college and THANK GOD I don’t have any pictures.
Some of the more popular ones:
Have an impromptu photo shoot on Broadway:
You know me...any chance for a good picture… With all the bright lights, colorful signs and of course cowboy boot shops - how could you miss the chance to ham it up on Broadway??
Pro tip: grab your gal pals to make the shoot more fun!
BONUS: If you have time drive to Franklin to experience the shops and restaurants on the town’s main street.
You guys know how much I love Rent the Runway...so when I heard Nashville had a local rental concept, I had to check it out. The Showroom Nashville is heaven on earth and the perfect place to snag a cute outfit for a night on the town. If you’ve got a wedding, event or just don’t want to sink your $$$ into a new outfit, head over there and check out their selection. It’s like playing adult dress up!
Bop around Fatherland District:
I have to give a shout out to this area of East Nashville because my girl Anna Showe has THE BEST store in this area. It’s called Whiskey Water and it’s full of fun, affordable and unique pieces that will step your style game up to the next level. There’s a bunch of other cute boutiques in this area that you should for sure check out.
I feel like I already knew this store PERSONALLY when I visited for the first time because Carson talks about it ALL. THE. TIME. So a trip to her hood wouldn’t be complete without a trip to this one of a kind store. From the beautiful pieces to the super cool tiles on the bathroom floor, this shop is more than just a store, it’s a place to relax, enjoy and pick up some cute things along the way.
I love the shop’s sleek interiors and minimalistic decor. Plus (and most importantly) the coffee is STRONG! The shop also works with local artists, bakers, farmers and businesses which is something I’m all for!
Coffee, bowling, food, and a pool?!?! Pinewood Social literally has it all. This gathering space has something to offer at any hour of the day.
I loved this cute shop within Noelle Nashville. The coffee was fresh and delicious and I loved the decor.
THE BEST PIZZA EVER! The various toppings constantly rotate so it’s hard for me to recommend the best one. But seriously you can’t go wrong. It’s in the heart of Germantown and what’s most fun is the open kitchen concept which lets you watch the masters at work.
Sadly, I didn’t get to eat here when I was in town. BUT this is one of Carson Love’s favorite restaurants in Nashville and she’s basically a food critic in her own right. Another restaurant in Germantown but this one is American and features fresh oysters.
Talk about a killer outdoor dining area. Geist is in an old Blacksmith shop from the 1900s. The food is sophisticated but not complicated. I’m a sucker for a great cheese plate and Geist’s did not disappoint. OOO also make sure to get one of their incredible cocktails, I got the Pink 75.
If you’re looking to try Nashville’s famous Hot Chicken - this is your spot. I love that you can choose the spice levels and the hottest is appropriately titled “Shut the Cluck Up!!” LOL.
Did you even go to Nashville if you didn’t visit Five Daughters?? There’s a few locations where you can get these glorious donuts but my favorite spot is the Twelve South location. There’s murals, neon signs and the insta potential is endless. But of course, the most important part - the donuts. What’s so special about Five Daughters is their incredible variety of unique flavors and their 100 layer donuts. It’s their version of a cronut and they take 3 days to make. So you know it’s filled with love and LOTS of sugar. This is a great place to stop after you’ve taken all your photos at the murals in the neighborhood.
On the other side of town you’ll find this gem. Sure enough this bakery also has a cute mural outside (surprise surprise lol). Once you’re done snapping some pics, head inside for a sweet treat. The items rotate but can we talk about the artwork on these sugar cookies?! They should be in a museum but I think their real home is in my belly...
We stayed at the Noelle Nashville and no stay at this boutique hotel is complete without a cocktail at their rooftop bar. The atmosphere is fantastic and the drinks are equally as good. I recommend the Riviera Spritz which is SUPER refreshing after a hot Nashville day.
If you’re into speakeasy’s this is your spot. Sidle up to this East Nashville establishment, knock on the door and wait for the bar’s host to let you in. Once inside this little spot, the bartender will ask you a series of questions to determine the PERFECT cocktail specially made for you.
I’m all about views when it comes to sipping a cocktail after a long day of walking around and exploring. LA Jackson is the place for a drink with a view.
INSTA WORTHY SPOTS:
There is simply no shortage of insta worthy spots in the city. But here are some of my favorites:
The colorful geometric wall at the Gulch
The Draper James blue stripes wall (2608 12th Ave S)
I Believe in Nashville Mural (Right next to Draper James)
Five Daughters Twelve South location (1110 Caruthers Ave)
Amelia’s Flower Truck (Click here to see where the truck will be!)
White’s Mercantile (2908 12th Ave S)
Baked on 8th (1512 8th Ave South)
Anywhere on Broadway
Well friends, I hope this guide was helpful! I know a lot of you love Nashville or are planning on going so this should be a good place to start. But if you need more advice or want a locals perspective, I highly recommend following my bestie Carson Love and shooting her a DM on insta.
ANDDDDD I MAY JUST BE PUTTING OUT A REVISED NASHVILLE GUIDE AFTER THIS SUMMER… HINT HINT…