although 36 hours is nowhere near long enough to spend in music city, i have put together a city guide of the best things to do, eat and see while exploring nashville.
nashville’s southern hospitality, acclaimed country music, green hills and shrimp & grits stole a piece of my heart. i advise all those in love with southern states to take a trip there.
4pm: drinks + bowling at pinewood social (downtown) – after a long flight to the capital of the volunteer state, there is no better way to get your blood pumping and your body energized then heading over to pinewood social for bowling and drinks (great mocktail options since i do not drink alcohol). pinewood social has six reclaimed wood lanes from an old bowl o’ rama in indiana. bowling ain’t your thing? well not to worry. pinewood social also offers billiards and karaoke! this adult style playground is not to be missed. b and i love to bowl and play pool so this was the perfect activity for us to do while it was pouring outside. if i lived in nashville, i think it would be a dream to rent the space and host a party. pinewood social has such a great atmosphere.
7pm: dinner at husk (downtown) – husk’s first location was in charleston and they have since opened a second location in nashville. i love love love charleston. it is one of my all time favorite cities in the states so hearing that this restaurant was associated to charleston, i had to try it. husk is located in a home on a hill away from the hubbub of broadway street. their motto is “a celebration of southern ingredients” and it was a celebration indeed! husk has a farm to table ever changing menu and offers slight twists on good old fashioned southern dishes. b and i really enjoyed the shrimp and grits. husk topped the dish with an egg yolk which i especially loved. their whole menu sounded amazing. i just wish i had a spare stomach and bank account to try it all!
9pm: live music & line dancing at wild horse saloon (downtown) – you cannot go to music city and not listen to live music on broadway street! and you especially cannot not go to the wild horse saloon. wild horse is located in the heart of downtown and one block down from broadway street (broadway street is the reason they call the city nashvegas i think. there are musicians lining the sidewalks and you feel a little like cattle walking by. and i am sure it never truly sleeps). wild horse saloon is a great place to take in the city and its’ musicians. they offer live performances most nights and the crowd is always enthusiastic. this place is huge and offers entertainment for people of all ages. b and i enjoyed line dancing the night away to the live music (wild horse offers line dance lessons on fridays every hour or so). i just wish i had some cowboy boots now…
do note, wild horse saloon has a $6 cover charge.
9am: breakfast at fido (west side) – you know your favorite coffee shop that serves great breakfast too? that’s fido in nashville. fido offers a variety of different breakfast sandwiches, french toast, pancakes and scrambles. it has all the basics and then some. i am not usually a lover of wheat pancakes but was told by one of the employees that i had to try them. i was sure happy i did. they were some of the best pancakes i have ever had. fido offers bananas and blueberries to be baked into your pancakes which i am sure is delicious but i had to stick to the original for my first time. the bagles were soft, the portions were generous and the prices were moderate. fido is one of those places where you hope to be a regular because you could get used to eating their assortment of breakfast items every day. their hot chocolate was also a winner! oh fido, i need to come back for you and try the sweet potato french toast. yummmmm
11am: tour the grand ole opry (east side) – you have to take a tour of the grand ole opry while in music city. that’s like going to la and not seeing the chinese theater. so much history! this is where many country music super stars have performed and countless tv shows and movies have been shot. it is where legends and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, bluegrass, folk and gospel come together. it is a place where country musicians hope to be welcomed as a member someday.
the tour is about a hour long and blake shelton narrates about half of it (on a video screen, don’t get your hopes up). i really enjoyed seeing all the different dressing rooms (including the one where juliette and rayna met for the first time on nashville) and standing on the stage where so many i admire have preformed. i hope to see a show in the grand ole opry next time around but for now learning the history of the famous venue will do.
1pm: lunch at the farm house (downtown) – it may be a little daunting finding parking in this neck of the woods but once you sit down at the farm house all your worries will subside and your mouth will be watering. the farm house offers all the classic southern dishes. we enjoyed a pork bbq sandwich, white cheddar mac + cheese, brussel sprouts with bacon and apple cake. my mouth is watering just thinking about it all. i am sometimes weary of having bacon in my dishes because it is usually not cooked enough. i did request the bacon to be extra crispy and farm house delivered. literally best brussel sprouts of my life. are they still considered healthy if they are smothered in bacon?
every dish was extremely flavorful. i think i may have even liked the apple cake more than apple pie! i need their recipe asap. my compliments to the chef at farm house.
2:30pm: take a walk around bicentennial capitol mall state park & the parthenon (downtown) – the bicentennial capitol mall state park offers many monuments to gaze at and history to read. it also offers a beautiful view of the capitol building. b and i loved walking around and learning more about the roots of this great state. we then had to check out the parthenon. i mean who knew there was a replica of the ancient greek parthenon in the great state of nashville? i sure didn’t. i have not been to greece yet so not sure how it compares but i will say it is huge! it was a little hard to decide what angle to take pictures from because it was so large. i enjoyed walking along the side of the parthenon and gazing at it from a distance by the lake. nashville is beautiful!
7pm: dinner at etch (downtown) – now circle back to where you parked for the farm house and this time eat at its’ neighbor restaurant, etch. etch was my favorite meal of the whole trip. boy was it a treat. i loved reading over the menu and envisioning how each entree would taste. the waiter said it best when he said, ” the chef at etch does not do traditional well. she always has to give each dish a little flare.” and i guess i prefer the flare! we enjoyed the octopus & shrimp bruschetta (b does not love octopus and was completely scarfing down this appetizer), cobia, lamb and a chocolate pretzel bar. my taste buds were dancing with every bite in my mouth. i wish i could go back today and experience this meal all over again. obviously i love everything in this guide but if you were to pick just one place to eat, please make it be etch.
9pm: live music at the bluebird cafe (west side) – if etch was my favorite eatery, blue bird was my absolute favorite thing to do. okay so let me give you a little background on the bluebird cafe for those of you who don’t watch nashville. the bluebird is a small cafe located in a busy strip mall. but don’t let that fool you because this is where garth brooks and t swift (to name two, there are many more) were discovered! can you believe that? the bluebird is supposed to be like a recording studio were talking and videos are not permitted.
there are 20 tables and 10 bar seats available to be reserved. so you can see this place is tiny. i woke up early two days in a row a week prior to our trip in hopes to reserve seats. but to my dismay, tickets sold out in 15 minutes! maybe it was a fluke but i couldn’t believe it. i couldn’t let that stop me though. the bluebird offers 14 church pew seats on a first come first serve basis. we got to the cafe around 7:30pm for the 9pm show and there was already quite a line for the standby seats. i was getting a little worried but knew we had to try (note it was rainy outside where we were waiting ah). we waited in line for 1.5 hours and had amazing luck. we were able to snag seats at a table because people who had reserved the seats had ended up not showing up. thank the heavens.
we listened to james slatter, jimmy robbins and jon nite perform for almost two hours. it may have been my favorite concert to date (to be fair, i have been to less than 10 ha). these three went around in a circle introducing their songs and what inspired them. there were grammy nominated songs played and songs cut by garth brooks and blake shelton. it was incredible to hear the story behind the song and get a glimpse of the talent behind the big name stars. it really made me fall in love with country music. i always liked it but now i love it. my heart was so full hearing these musicians sing.
**do note, it is $12/person entrance fee + each person person must order one item off the menu. i indulged in a slice of lemon cake and b opted for chips & salsa.
9am: breakfast at marche (east side) – this european style cafe serves up some great breakfast dishes and freshly made pastries. i loved the croissant french toast. the flakiness of the bread combined with the sweet maple syrup was the perfect match. and when i said marche offers freshly made pastries i mean they have an onsite pastry chef who bakes all the delicious croissants, scones, muffins and cookies you see in the back of the store. take one of these heavenly items to go because their entree portions are so large you will not have room to eat it at the table!
11am: walk around gaylord resort (east side) – this resort is huge! there are many conferences hosted there because it is almost like a mini city. it reminded me of vegas style resorts but without the heavy smoke and with more natural lighting and greenery (which i prefer). i loved the architecture on the inside of the resort. it felt like you could have been at a plantation or in down town charleston all at the same time. i also loved all the little shops. it was a sight to see.
**you can of course stay on site so you get to experience this lovely place every time you head to your room but it fills up rather quickly and the prices vary.
so when are you going to nashville?