Being a fairly well-traveled girl I have a keen desire to see as much of the world as I possibly can – finding myself in hidden villages in France, lost on a tuktuk in Thailand, exploring a remote island in the most obscure of ocean enclosed places and seeking solace in beautiful countryside’s in Hungary, Germany and England – yet I’ve neglected my own country these past few years. As a child I grew up doing trips with my family all across the states, winter ski trips to Colorado, summer in California or Florida and then of course those spring breaks spent at Yosemite and exploring this great country of ours.
Many friends had told me time and time again to check out Nashville, that I’d “just love it” there and well as painful as it is to say they were right. The city has so many similarities to Austin, one of my favorites here in the states, with its young vibrant lifestyle, great restaurants, amazing little bars and local stores … plus the people are truly just “that” nice.
I’ve now been twice this year and do really love the city, this last trip was my longer of the two and also came with a few unexpected curve balls — a cancelled music festival (hey Pilgrimage I’m looking at you and your “take cover immediately” nonsense), 7 straight days of rain oh and I got to go to the Titans vs Eagles game, each of these made for a few good stories and lots of laughs.
However even with all of the things that are charming about this city with it’s adorable local spots and chiller than chill vibes there are a few missteps that people often don’t tell you to avoid (quite literally you should avoid these like the black plague) so here is my rundown on what to do, where to stay and how to see Nashville while avoiding the areas that drive hoards of bachelorette parties to this city every weekend. Also likely because of the previous sentence they card you EVERYWHERE so don’t leave home without that ID!!!
Don’t worry you can thank me later!
Where to stay
Whether you want a big brand that you know exactly what you’re going to get or you want a smaller boutique spot with a lot of character Nashville is definitely not lacking in the hotel options. Not to mention the hundreds of Air BnB’s of you can choose from too.
Want boutique? Go with The Fairlane
The Fairlane, a chic retro-modern hotel in the heart of downtown Nashville, had been on my list of “cool hotels to check out someday” for a while. From the second that you walk through the large gilded doors you can feel the energy of this place and its people. The décor is undeniably on point with a number of details from the 60s and 70s.
My queen room was spacious, had big windows overlooking downtown and a chic desk where I setup shop each morning to tackle work. I also had the chance to pop upstairs and check out the penthouses upstairs, which have wraparound roof decks, insanely beautiful views of the city, one has a mirrored ceiling (you know in case you need to touch up your makeup a la the Marvelous Mrs. Mizel ha!) and the other boasts a ridiculously cool fireplace with floor pillows making you feel like a 70s hippie baby.
More details on their bar and restaurant below because they were both incredible.
Prefer bigger and somewhere you can rack up some travel points? Go with The Loews Nashville
I’ve stayed at many a Loews before (most recently in LA this summer!) and always thoroughly enjoy my visits with them! The service is 100% at a Loews no matter what city you’re in, the staff always welcomes me with the loveliest of gifts – a curated selection of local goods pulled from the coffee shop where anyone can pick up a gift to take back home. I love this about the Loews hotels because food and drinks are in my opinion some of the best ways to show what a city has to offer.
Mine this time in Nashville came complete with buttermilk biscuit mix, chocolates and Nashville’s famous hot chicken rub – the perfect thing to remember this fun city by! The rooms were spacious enough for both Amanda and I to take over and it’s in a great location just down from Vanderbilt! You can actually see the stadium a few blocks away from the VIP lounge, which also serves daily breakfast and happy hour (with some strong pours too if I might add!)
Or are you looking for somewhere that you can cook, hang and feel at home?!
The Air BnB selection in Nashville is absolutely phenomenal, there are the cutest houses over in East Nashville that are a variety of sizes. We stayed at this adorable shabby chic bungalow and quite honestly didn’t want to leave. We got to go to the local farmer’s market, cook dinner with our friends and drink wine that we got at the winery! It was so wonderful and cost us a little bit less than that of the hotels.
Where to eat
There are so many options on where to eat in Nashville so here is a “highlights reel” if you will of the places that I simply loved after my 10 day stay in the city.
Folk – We went here with the lovely gals from Frye on a Sunday night. Even on a Sunday night in Nashville this place was still enjoyable busy, the vegetables were unbelievable and the pizza? I’m a New Yorker and I LOVED theirs. The whole evening was fantastic and I can’t wait to go back to this little East Nashville gem!
Adele’s – Not surprising that I like this spot. It’s Jonathan Waxman’s Nashville version of Barbuto one of my absolute favorite tried and true restaurants in the West Village where for years my girlfriends and I kept a standing date. Best thing? Their menu is almost the same as New York’s so you can get the kale salad, the chicken and all without the “we have a 3 hour wait right now” nonsense.
Bartaco 12 South – After an afternoon of shopping in 12South definitely hit of this spot. Delish tacos, quac and really amazing margaritas. We sat outside this summer and it was heavenly though the interior inside is quite nautical shabby chic!
Pinewood Social – Yes this is the place with the bowling alley and yes it will be crowed but just suck it up and go. We had one of the most fun Sunday’s here! Just get the fried chicken and biscuits and go on the diet when you leave Nashville. Note bar seating is first come first serve as is the long wooden table that appears to have been ripped from a college library.
Ellington’s Midway – Brunch here is basically all of the southern goodness one could need. We sat outside on a beautiful day kicking off brunch with a bourbon bloody mary (aka the hangover cure all!) and cheese curds (again the diet is gone until you return home but totally worth it!) Definitely get the sausage and gravy soufflé and the hot fried chicken!
Jack Brown’s – I’m still having dreams about this burger and I am a picky burger eater as I consider them to be a staple of my diet. It was honestly that good and so were their sweet potato fries all of that plus a coke for $16 and TOTALLY WORTH EVERY PENNY. Bonus? Go on a nice day and grab one of the picnic tables outside and play lawn games!
Dino’s – Hands down the absolute best late night decision Amanda and I have possibly ever made. I probably wouldn’t go during the day because it just won’t be the same but damn these breakfast sandwiches are OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD.
Where to drink
And again I find myself repeating things, Nashville certainly does not have a lack of spots to drink be it a $3 PBR or an inspired cocktail creation, the city has you covered in all the right ways. While I’m never one to turn down a beer there is something that I simply love about the cocktail bar scene in Nashville.
Public House – This spot is the bar/restaurant off Urban Cowboy. Not only did I want to move in immediately but the bartenders know what is up with their cocktail making. We closed the bar down one night and I truly can’t wait to go back!
Attaboy – No surprise here folks, one of my favorite bars in the lower eastside has now opened up a Nashville outpost. And yes their Penicillin cocktails are just as good as the ones in New York.
Ellington’s Midway – Anywhere that serves up a drink called the “Escape from New York Sour” deserves a round of applause and my money. Chris the bartender is unbelievable behind the bar and could not be a nicer guy, definitely ask for him!
The Rooftop bar at The Bobby – This spot comes complete with it’s own vintage bus that is tricked out with deep bucket seats and a sofa, the deck comes complete with a pool for guests only but it still makes for a cool space and the drinks are divine.
The Crying Wolf – Consider the ultimate divey meets cool bar plus it’s spacious which is a huge plus in my book and has an outdoor space.
What to do:
Shop around the cute streets in the 12South – We had a wonderful afternoon shopping in this neighborhood. Along this strip there is a Draper James, a White’s Merchantile (a home décor shop that is swoon worthy) and a local store HERO, which I am simply put smitten with.
From the décor the the impeccably curated brands offered this store feels more West Village or Brooklyn than Nashville and for that you better believe I’ll be going back.
Pontoon Saloon – This is without a doubt out of place for the rest of this post I realize but it should also be on your list of activities if you’re a first timer. We lucked out with beautiful weather and cruised along the river seeing Nashville from the water.
The team on board is hysterical and even though we had one dud of a bride-to-be on board the other bachelorette party was a blast. It’s a great option for a Saturday or Sunday Funday and doesn’t eat up your entire day (or require you to bicycle around town!)
Arrington Vineyards – While this is a little trip out of Nashville the grounds here are spectacular and made for a fun afternoon of wine drinking.
We even had my friend’s one year old in tow and no one batted an eye, it’s very family friendly and a fun outdoor activity when the weather is nice. Do note for all of my winos out there, this is not an outstanding winery by any means but what they lack in wine they sure make up for with environment and fun.
Leipers Fork Distillery – We stumbled upon this distillery one morning (literally it was 11 AM) and could not have been happier to have come upon it. It’s of course adorable but what I loved so much about this small batch distillery is that the couple who run it are people I want to be friends with!
They left their corporate America jobs, bought the land and started the distillery, which is producing some fantastic product that is right now only offered locally but I’m fairly certain we’ll be seeing them up in NYC in no time. Also, that chandelier?!? Yeah, that is just as beautiful in person as it is in the photo.
Downtown Franklin – I stayed a few nights in Franklin with my friends and this adorable town is definitely worth a visit! The main street has the absolute cutest shops and you should also stop at Burgers & Bourbon for a bite. Or grab coffee and a pastry at Coffee & Coconuts! This town also has an impressive number of antique shops to bop in and out of with a great selection from small items to huge furniture pieces!
Nashville, you were a gem both times this year and I can’t wait to come back and visit in 2019!