I've been living in Nashville for 5 years now...
and have been meaning to write this "Ultimate Guide to Nashville" for quite some time. Because it sucks when friends visit and I'm out of town (#lifeofatouringmusician) and they're like, "What should we do?!" and every time I have to write up a short novel to send them because I NEVER WROTE THAT BLOG POST ABOUT NASHVILLE. This ends now. So here it is: Your Ultimate Guide to 48 hrs in Nashville!
1. Southern Comfort Food
Let's be real—ain't nothing like good ol' southern cookin! But what you may not realize is Nashville has a lot more to offer than just biscuits & gravy (but you def want the biscuits & gravy!)
If you're driving thru Nash and only have time for one stop, make it the Loveless frickin' Cafe. Seriously. Their fresh, all-you-can-eat biscuits are out of this world (mouth watering as I type) and the blackberry preserves (my fav) basically taste like candy. They've got southern-sized portions so come with friends, come hungry, and come EARLY because there will be a wait. I haven't been to Biscuit Love (yet) because truth be told, Loveless Cafe holds the #1 spot for me in the biscuit department. 'Nuff said.
For the true southern experience, head over to Monell's. All-you-can-eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet tea and whatever else they happen to drop off at your table! Unless you have a big party, you'll most likely be seated family-style at a big table with other guests. So you can meet AND eat! Plus, if you go to their website you can sign up for their email list and get discounts ;) #allaboutdemdeals
Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant (Leiper's Fork)
This one's a little bit of a drive, but SO WORTH IT. Half grocery store, half restaurant, the original Puckett's is located out in the scenic town of Leiper's Fork, where you will feel like you've been transported back to Mayberry RFD. Go on Thursday to catch their open mic and hear everything from talented kiddos to seasoned pros. You will smell their pulled pork (and come home smelling like it) because that stuff's been cooking in their smoker all day long. Got a sweet tooth? Don't leave without trying the infamous "Mississippi Mud Cake"!
Because we allllll know pizza deserves its own category ;)
DeSano's is my favorite pizza in Nashville, hands down. One time I ordered takeout and the cheese was literally dripping off the slice...YUUUMMMMM. They use ingredients imported from Italy and their dough is made fresh daily—they WILL close shop when the dough runs out! No question, I could definitely eat an entire pizza here by myself. Maybe two.
Half-price slice on Tuesdays! Music to this pizza-lover's ears. I go to Mafiaoza's alllll the time with friends so I can order their biggest pizza and split it. Or not split it. Shhh. They have indoor and outdoor seating, which is always a plus for this patio girl! I will be honest and say I had one bad experience here on a Tuesday when I ordered the 2-for-1 slice and the slices came out not fresh. Like I said, only happened to me once, so if it happens to you definitely speak up and send the pizza slices back for new ones! Because when they are fresh, they are *amazing*!
312 Pizza Company
Deep dish, anyone? My dad lives in Chicago (so I've had the good stuff) and 312 Pizza helps satisfy those cravings when I'm missing Chi-town. FYI, their deep dish is pretty sauce heavy, which is great for someone like me who looooves tomato sauce. They've also got thin crust pizza and cookie skillets (so I've heard). I haven't gotten the cookie skillet only because Chloe and I make such *bomb* cookies at home that I rarely ever buy cookies at restaurants! Lol! I did have one annoying experience here where we showed up and they said, "Sorry, we're all out of deep dish" but I guess that speaks well for the pizza!
Beautiful day out? GO HERE. The Pharmacy has my favorite outdoor patio in all of Nashville (string lights, picnic tables...need I say more?) The burgers are delish, reasonably priced (woo!) and I don't know what they put in that burger bun, but it is legit. They even have black bean and chickpea burgers for vegetarians! Sip on handcrafted sodas and stuff your face with TATER TOTS. TATER TOTS. TATER TOTS.
This is Chloe's favorite burger in Nashville and I'd probably have to agree. Because BACON WITH JACK DANIELS MAPLE KETCHUP. Duh. I always ask for extra on the side cuz I just can't get enough. Their ketchup is the real deal—it's 100% homemade. The burger is sooo juicy it was dripping out all over my hands the last time I got one. I prefer Burger Up's 12 South location because we had a poor experience at the Brentwood/Franklin one!
Apparently PM's burger is "the sh*t" according to Chloe, who ate there last night and raved about how "juicy and amazing" they were. Which is suuuper random because PM is primarily an Asian-fusion cuisine. "It was very flavorful, they had homemade-like buns and this teryaki sauce that was just delicious." So there you have it, folks!
Hattie B's Hot Chicken
"Hot chicken" is basically spicy fried chicken and Nashville is famous for it. Hattie B's is actually the only hot chicken place I've been to and O-M-G the chicken breast I got was humongous! You pick your spice level (mine was on the milder side because I can't handle super spicy foods...I blame being from Minnesota, haha) and apparently it can get pretty, well, hot. So tread carefully, my friends. Other hot chicken places my friends have talked about: Prince's, Bolton's and Pepperfire.
I can't recall who told me about this place, but man am I sure glad they did! They specialize in CHICKEN STRIPS—glorious, glorious chicken strips. So if your hotel is in Brentwood/Cool Springs or you just happen to be in that area over the lunch hour, swing by Maniac's and get yo self some strips!
5. International Cuisine
LEBANESE FOOD! HOLY EXPLITIVES THIS PLACE IS AMAZING!! I ordered the Batinjan because I'm obsessed with anything that has eggplant in it. So, so flavorful and the presentation was on point. Epice is the kind of restaurant I would choose for my birthday dinner because it's a little on the pricey side for my budget, but perfect for when you want to #treatyoself ;)
Chloe and I ended up here one night by complete accident. We were meeting friends and every place we tried was a fail. The first place we drove to was downtown and when you're local, you avoid the $$$ and hastle of downtown parking at all costs. The second place we stopped had half the restaurant reserved for some event. But as we were driving, Thai Esane caught my eye. Our friends had never had thai food before (crazy, I know!) and I kid you not, the next day we were all contemplating going back for round two. LOL. Best thai I've had in Nash so far. The server even let us combine two noodle plates because we couldn't decide on just one!
I'd been hearing about this place for years and just recently got around to trying it. Because we travel so much, I would usually just wait until we were out in California to get my Korean food fix. But Korea House really impressed! Chloe and I ordered bibimbap and our mom got bulgogi. And I may or may not have stolen some of her bulgogi. It's a tiny space, so come on a day when the weather is nice because you'll likely have to wait outside!
6. Coffee Shops
If music is the heartbeat of Nashville, coffee is the heart drink (get it?). Seriously—Nashvillians loooove their coffee! If you're looking for hipster vibes and a cliché Instagram photo, Barista Parlor, Pinewood Social or Fido are pretty popular. But these two are my personal faves:
I don't write many Yelp reviews, but I wrote a rave one for Crema back in 2011 when I first started going. It was my go-to spot for "good coffee and a great little atmosphere". My favorite drink used to be their Baccanerra Mocha because it had subtle blackberry undertones, but I don't see it on their menu anymore! Sad day!! However, my dad ordered a Cuban there one time and I tried it—soooo good. It's sweet and floats in your mouth. They've expanded their shop so now there's extra room for more seating, but the outdoor deck is still my fav place to hang!
Not gonna lie—the name is what drew me to this place the first time. It's so cute! They have a few locations, but I've only ever been to the one in 12 South. Chloe and I go to Frothy Monkey with our dad every time he visits, so now I kind of have a sentimental attachment to the place. I could've sworn they used to have a hot chocolate with banana flavour in it, but I'm not seeing it on the menu... Bummer! Because that would be so YUM, right? Nowadays, I usually order a chai latte. Tip: come here before Christmas time when they're selling fir trees so you can take a stroll and look at all the pretty lights before you warm up with a drink :)
7. Ice Cream (Duh.)
Jeni's Ice Cream
Jeni's is pretty much a household name here. The lines are always around the block. Always. They've got all sorts of unique flavors like Whiskey Pecan and Wildberry Lavender to excite your taste buds (as if they weren't already excited...it's ICE CREAM) and every time I walk by they're pumping out that "YES WE'RE BAKING WAFFLE CONES FRESH RIGHT NOW" smell and it's just plain wrong because no, dropping all my money on ice cream was not on the agenda, thankyouverymuch. But yes, I will have a triple scoop plz and thank you.
Slightly random, I know. But lately I've been noticing burger boutiques have the best milkshakes! If you're looking for something a little fancier than Sonic's #halfpriceshakesafter8 then Burger Republic is the place to go. With flavors ranging from S'mores to Nutella to Cookie Butter to Raspberry Cheesecake, you really can't go wrong. They've even got a flavor called ABC (Assassination By Chocolate). WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???
This is one of my absolute favourite places in Nashville. I could basically live in Pangaea. They have an eclectic mix of everything—from cute clothes to books to candles to jewelry. It's fun to roam around and discover new little treasures. Even if I don't buy something, every trip here is a delight.
Conveniently located right next door to Pangaea! The clothes at Posh tend to be a bit pricier here, but they have a ginormous sale section in the back (where I've snagged a couple pairs of cute discounted shoes!). I still like to wander in the front to make mental notes of outfits I like in case any of them show up in the sale section the next time I visit!
Sisters Of Nature
Not only is this shop aesthetically beautiful, Sisters of Nature has an even more beautiful mission: to carry socially responsible products aimed at impacting both maker and consumer in a positive way. "In today's fashion scene where child labor, sweat shops, and slavery have become the norm for production, we believe there can be something different. The stories behind our products are of dignity and pride as each one is ethically made. All of our little decisions collectively have a ripple effect across the world and make a big impact," reads the Sisters of Nature website. All of their products are locally made, US made, and fair trade or above wages for production over seas. Chloe bought her favourite "Weekend Roamer" shirt here!
If you're a fan of vintage and thrifting, pop into Local Honey. Located on Belmont Boulevard, the prices are great and the sale section in the back almost feels like stealing! To be honest, most thrifting experiences overwhelm me because of all the knick-knacks and clutter, but Local Honey's collection is cleanly curated and organized—not chaotic. They carry threads by local Nashvillians like Evan Magness, of whom Chloe is a major fan. She wears her favorite Magness Collection marble dyed denim shirt EVERYWHERE. And get this: if you have a favorite item of clothing you'd like dyed, you can contact Evan and he will turn it into a masterpiece for you!
9. Where To Stay
Air bnb - Music City Tiny House
If you've read our bio or follow us on Instagram you know we are tiny house enthusiasts! We basically stalked #MusicCityTinyHouse online and found out they host open houses—so of course, we had to see it. Isn't it the cutest?! And it's listed on Air BnB. That's right—you can STAY IN A TINY HOUSE while visiting Nashville! Or you could always check out The Hermitage or Opryland Hotel. I've heard they're stunning. But since hotel prices can be so ridiculous, I 100% recommend scoping out Air BnB to see what you can find.
Centennial is probably my favorite park in Nashville because it hosts a to-scale replica of the Parthenon! It's insane! You absolutely must go see it in person because it is a sight to behold. If there's a free art or music festival happening, there's a good chance it's held at Centennial Park.
Shelby Park/Shelby Bottoms
Living in East Nashville, Shelby Park is the main park Chloe and I frequent. It's host to the East Nashville Farmer's Market and has beautiful trails and bridges.
John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
While this isn't exactly a park, the Pedestrian Bridge has one of the best views of the Nashville skyline, making it the perfect spot for a photo opp! Catch a glimpse of it by night to see how stunning it looks aglow with lights.
11. Music (Didn't Think I'd Forget, Did You?)
Cause A Scene
Cause A Scene shows truly capture the essence of Nashville and what this town is all about. They're up close, personal, and feature a variety of well-curated artists from established names to up-and-comers. The Johnny Stimson concert Chloe and I attended was held at Scout's Barbershop, so you never know where you'll discover your new favorite band! Photos courtesy of Josh Ness.
Grimey's New & Preloved Music
Grimey's is my favorite record store to peruse on a Saturday. They have everything—music from indie artists to classic legends to Grammy winners to Nashville locals. It's where I got my hands on The Civil Wars 'Poison & Wine' EP when I couldn't find it anywhere else. They also held their Gold Record Party there and offer other unique events and in-store concerts!
Musician's Corner, Live On The Green, 4th of July & NYE Bash
There are honestly so many free shows happening in Nashville at any given time (seriously—just search "free concerts nashville" on Twitter) but I bundled these together because they are the main free concerts that happen every year (hint hint: time your trip strategically!). I would say 4th of July and NYE draw the biggest names because everybody and their mother comes out to celebrate. Chloe and I attended LOTG last year and The Lone Bellow put on one of the best shows we've ever seen! PS- Chloe and I will be playing at Musician's Corner on Friday, May 13th!
The Bluebird Cafe
If you're making a trip to Nashville and haven't heard of The Bluebird Cafe, you may be living under a very large rock. It's infamously known as the spot where Taylor Swift was "discovered" and has now become even more famous thanks to the hit TV show 'Nashville'. If you're hoping to play or attend the Monday night open mic, arrive early because the line gets long quick. Yes, even in the DRIPPING SWEAT NASHVILLE HEAT.
Cummins Falls, Burgess Falls, Greeter Falls, Rock Island State Park
Last but certainly not least: waterfalls. Tennessee is full of them and they are nothing short of ah-mazing. Ranging from 45 minutes to 2 hours outside of Nashville, a waterfall hike makes for the perfect day-trip activity. Be sure to pack a swimsuit, sunscreen, beach towels and shoes you can both hike in and get wet (water shoes or Vibrams/Skeletoes work) because you'll likely be trapesing through shallow rivers and creeks! I also like to pack a lunch with snacks so I can enjoy a picnic with a view. Don't forget a water bottle to stay hydrated!
Other popular places you may want to include on your Nashville to-do list:
- Honky Tonks on Broadway: Tootsie's, The Wild Horse Saloon, Robert's Western World
- BBQ: Edley's, Martin's, Rippy's, Jack's
- "I Believe In Nashville" mural
- The Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom, 3rd & Lindsley, The High Watt, The Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Bridgestone Arena, The Station Inn
- The Country Music Hall of Fame
- Music Row
- Nashville Farmer's Market
- The Pancake Pantry, Gigi's Cupcakes, Mas Tacos, Las Paletas
- Belmont/Vanderbilt University
So that's the short list (seriously)! Nashville is exploding. Anything *amazing* that I missed? What are your favorite spots in Nashville?
Gingie 1/2 of sister duo Chasing Lovely. Here to love.