A city guide to Nashville
The constant traveller: Nashville
Words— Kaitlyn McInnis
If you think Nashville is all country music, honky-tonks, and unapologetically decadent Southern food, well, you’d be right—but it’s also so much more than that. The Southern city on Tennessee’s Cumberland River is packed with endless attractions including an out-of-this-world nightlife scene (with great karaoke, naturally), Grecian architecture, and great vintage shopping.
Where to eat
Two Ten Jack
Would you believe us if we told you some of the best ramen is found in Nashville? Well, you better believe it. Two Ten Jack, an izakaya and ramen house, featuring kodawari ramen packed with local, Southern-inspired ingredients like collard greens and country ham.
If you only eat one thing in Nashville, make it a hot chicken sandwich from Hattie B’s. The regional dish, beloved by locals and visitors alike, is just about as Nashville as you can get. If you’re feeling brave, opt for the spiciest version of the sandwich, which is made with ghost peppers and considered quite severe—in a really, really good way if you like heat.
If you’re in the mood for biscuits and gravy, look no further than Biscuit Love. This well-loved Southern mainstay serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, specializing in—you guessed it— homemade buttermilk biscuits. Get the buttermilk biscuit French toast for a truly decadent experience.
There’s no way you’ll miss this Nashville classic—the line that wraps around the building each morning will help you find your way. The Hillsboro Village institution has been serving scratch-made pancakes since 1961 and continues to draw visitors and locals—including the likes of Taylor Swift, who stops in for the sweet potato pancake every time she’s in town.
Where to drink
This trendy late-night bar in East Nashville boasts creative craft cocktails and wine, cool mid-century-inspired decor and an intimate patio. Be sure to try the "Saturday Night Special"—a delicious blend of Fords gin, orgeat, mango, lemon, and cholula and don’t leave without a "writer’s block shot."
For a truly Southern experience, head to Santa’s Pub on Bransford Avenue. The busy dive bar is set in a double-wide trailer, with year-round Christmas decor. Expect insanely cheap brews, Santa sightings, and karaoke.
Nestled into the posh Gulch neighbourhood, this indoor-outdoor rooftop hotel bar in The Thompson Nashville hotel boasts unparalleled panoramic views of the city as well as creative cocktails and a solid beer menu.
Galleries and museums
The Johnny Cash Museum & Cafe
Likewise, even if you’re not a huge Johnny Cash fan, make some time to check out The Johnny Cash Museum & Cafe. This red-brick museum will take you through the life and lasting influence of Johnny Cash in a fun and engaging fashion.
Country Music Hall of Fame
Even if you’re not a fan of country music, spending an afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame is well worth it. The world’s largest museum and research center dedicated to the preservation of American vernacular music, the museum is home to an impressive collection of artifacts and interactive exhibits.
Frist Art Museum
Frist Art Museum, an art exhibition hall, housed in Nashville’s historic U.S. Post Office building, is an art and design lovers dream come true. Designed by Marr & Holman Architects, the classic art deco building is just as striking as the collection inside.
If you’ve never travelled to Greece, well, Nashville has got you covered. The city’s nickname, the “Athens of the South,” influenced the centrepiece of Centennial Park (just west of downtown). The exact replica of the Grecian Parthenon was built to be the centrepiece of the 1897 Centennial Exposition and became so well-loved by the city, it has been maintained as a permanent structure ever since.
The Belmont Mansion, also known as Acklen Hall, is a historic mansion built in 1853 by built by Joseph and Adelicia Acklen to serve as the center of their summer estate. It has since been everything from a girl’s school to a university. Today it functions as a museum and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Things to do
Lonnie’s Western Room
Once you’ve knocked back a few brews on Broadway Street, head around the corner to Lonnie’s Western Room. The well-loved karaoke bar, complete with an elevated stage, does karaoke well. Grab a seat at the bar, have another drink or two, and prepare to sing the night away.
Honky Tonk Highway
The first thing to do in Nashville—no matter how touristy it may seem—is to head to Lower Broadway Street, otherwise known as the Honky Tonk Highway. Here, you’ll find a seemingly endless strip of bars (honky-tonks) with live music and patrons spilling into the streets, flashing neon lights, and the occasional party barge carrying slews of bachelorette parties up and down the street.
Grand Ole Opry
Anyone who has spent any time in Nashville will tell you to make a stop at the Grand Ole Opry—and for good reason. The weekly country music stage concert started out as a one-hour radio "barn dance" back in 1925. These days, it’s known as “country’s most famous stage” and hosts everyone from country legends to contemporary artists.
Where to shop
Two Old Hippies
This unassuming modern-day Western boutique in The Gulch boasts everything from bold boots and flared denim to artisan-made guitars and ukuleles. It also hosts regular live music events, from open mics to up and coming local musicians.
Southern charm meets modern-day design at this carefully curated general store in the stylish 12 South neighbourhood. Expect everything from kitschy knick-knacks and cookbooks to organic candles and even dog food, all put together by critically-acclaimed singer Holly Williams.