Over the last year I've been making a conscious effort to explore more US cities. This past summer I spent a long weekend in Nashville and fell hard for this soulful city of dreamers. With flight prices a bit steep at the time, a few friends and I jumped in the car and decided to road trip on down. If you have the option to drive, I'd go for it. There's something beautifully nostalgic about a road trip. (Bonus, you can drive straight to a BBQ joint like we did)
Hustle and possibility hang in the air here. It's a city buzzing with the energy of artists who have put everything on the line to make it. With a rich musical history that has produced some of the best records to date, it is no wonder they flock to Nashville. The creativity goes well beyond the music scene as well... carefully curated restaurants, boutiques and cafes are around all corners.
We spent most of our time in the East Nashville... a laid back, artistic neighborhood. Its' streets lined with tiny colorful homes and incredible local spots. Most of my food recommendations come from this area because it was too good to leave. It's only a 10 minute ride to downtown though, so you're never too far from the action.
Nashville will leave you both energized and inspired. If you are someone who likes a good meal and quality music, I highly recommend the trip.
Before you go
Nashville: Wildsam Field Guides. I've mentioned these guides before. They are my favorite. Found great recommendations and read the stories and interviews on the drive down.
One of my favorite ways to familiarize myself with a city before arriving is checking out instagram accounts from the area. You can get an idea of where locals spend their time and find some places off the beaten tourist path.
@nashvilleexplorersclub | @nashvilletn | @tifforelie | @ruthielindsey | @happilygrey
As you arrive
"Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. The man in black will surely ease you into a Music City state of mind.
East Nashville/Five Points. We rented an airbnb and there were many good options in the area. Here is where we stayed.
Barista Parlor. For serious coffee drinkers and design enthusiasts alike. Built in an old garage and a bit like a coffee science lab. Tip- get their biscuit with peach preserves to go alongside your morning cup.
Peg Leg Porker. For some serious bbq and all the glory that goes with it, stop here. The ribs fall off the bone and the pulled pork is delicious. Don't plan on moving much after this meal.
Margot Cafe. Charming to the core. A combination of French and Italian cuisine. A little more expensive, but so yummy.
Marche Artisan Foods. Do not miss brunch here. A tiny French inspired bistro serving up the best breakfast in Nashville. They do local, in-season food and since it was August, I got to indulge in the peach tartine. We went here twice in one weekend, so that says something right there.
The Tree House. Restaurant/bar that is actually a tree house out back. We stopped here for some strong and tasty cocktails and enjoyed the easy going vibe.
The Pharmacy. Solid burgers and malts. They also have a great outdoor eating space.
Five Points Pizza. Fantastic pizza that also has a walk up window open until 1 am. I had the prosciutto and basil and it was perfect after a late night on Broadway.
Adele's. A great New-American spot serving up fresh, local ingredients. We ate here before heading to Broadway Street as it's an easy walk away. Their gnocchi is out of control.
Mas Tacos Por Favor. I didn't get to this tiny Mexican restaurant, but everyone kept telling us to check it out. They also have a food truck. It's supposed to be incredible and definitely on my list for next time.
Nashville Farmers Market. Open 365 days a year, this is a must see. It's massive and under multiple pavilions (much appreciated with the hot temps). Fresh produce and flowers everywhere. There is also an inside portion with a local craft brewery you can do tastings at. Bonus, your beers come on a wooden slab shaped like Tennessee.
The Peach Truck. An adorable old truck selling fresh Georgia peaches daily, when in season. They drive all over the city. We caught them at the farmers market and each bought a whole bag. There is perhaps nothing better than eating a perfectly ripe peach and letting the juice drip down your face on a hot summer day. Follow them @thepeachtruck on instagram.
Hermitage Hotel. A fancy old hotel. We just slipped in to use their bathroom, poke around and get out of the heat. Very cool to look at, and if it's in your price range it would be awesome to stay at.
Printers Alley. A tiny alley downtown that looks like a mini New Orleans. We walked down during the day and I felt like I had stepped right into NOLA. We didn't make it back at night, but there were some bars that looked like a good time.
Eastside Cycles. We didn't fit a bike ride in but stopped here. Great rentals and friendly folks that will tell you how to get around town via bike.
Cummins Falls. If you're looking to get out of the city, about 1 hour away is a state park with some big waterfalls. We didn't have the time to go there, but it looks very pretty.
Broadway Street. We hit up all the bars along the infamous Broadway Street. Our favorite was Tootsies. Fair warning, the strip is crowded. The bars are usually at max capacity and there are people everywhere. Just know this going into it (and maybe order an extra drink at dinner) and you'll be fine. Great live music is going on at all the bars so it's fun to jump from one to the next. So much talent and energy on a few block radius.