Nashville City Guide {UPDATE}

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Today’s Nashville City Guide update comes to us from Elise Joseph, curator, blogger, stylist and creative consultant spending her time between Nashville, Tennessee and Los Angeles, California. Today Elise offers us an update to this southern city of music, delicious dining, and wonderful sights. Thanks Elise for this great update! –Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…

Nashville City GuidePhotos by Ryan Bernal

It seems it is Nashville’s turn to shine in the spotlight… and I’m proud to call myself a born and raised Tennessee gal. It has been fun to watch the city grow and really come into its own, all the while maintaining its deep musical roots, slow-paced charm and Southern hospitality. Most recognized as the home of country music, Nashville truly has so much more to offer. While it is still catching up to bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles, it is only a matter of time until all of the holes in the market are filled, especially as new transplants continue to flood in.

The city of Nashville spans over 500 miles, with multiple neighborhoods that each have their own unique personalities and something special to offer. While in some cases you can walk from one area to another, Nashville is not easy to tackle on foot, so I highly suggest renting a car, calling a cab or getting your exercise with, the city’s new bike sharing program.

Read on to learn what GQ Magazine has referred to as “Nowville” and plan a visit to the Music City to see it all for yourself.

Check out the custom Google Map with all of the below listings.

Nashville City Guide

DOWNTOWN

Stay:

Hermitage Hotel – A traditional, charming five-star hotel with the luxurious wood-paneled Oak Bar, perfect for grabbing a whiskey cocktail after a long day. Be sure to take a peek at the famous marbled art deco men’s restroom while you’re there (women are allowed, too!).

Hutton Hotel – An elegant, boutique hotel featuring contemporary and eco-friendly design. Gwyneth Paltrow stayed here for 3 weeks—and wrote about it in GOOP—while working in Nashville a few years ago.

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Merchants – This restaurant has been around for over 25 years and has an old-timey, classic feel with tasty drinks and fresh food. A solid option if you find yourself hungry on lower Broadway.

Robert’s Western World – Young and old flock to Robert’s, a great spot to catch some amazing live country music and do some honkytonk dancing. To really play up the Southern experience, order the “recession special:” a fried bologna sandwich, bag of chips, MoonPie and an ice-cold PBR beer.

Tootsie’s – One of the most historical country bars in town, and the former hangout of the stars of the Opry, who would slip across the alleyway and into the back door of Tootsie’s after their shows at the Ryman. Be prepared as it can definitely get crowded.

Wildhorse Saloon – Learn how to line dance while enjoying a live band, or people watch over greasy grub and drinks.

Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant – Authentic Southern comfort food and grocery market that offers live music in the evenings. If you can visit the other locations (just a short drive away in Leiper’s Fork or downtown Franklin), I highly recommend it.

Jack’s Bar-B-Que – Good down-home barbecue served cafeteria-style in a casual environment. A nice, easy stop before catching a show across the alleyway at The Ryman. Don’t forget sweet tea.

Suzy Wong’s House of Yum – A conveniently located late-night spot with diverse Asian offerings. Owner Arnold Myint (Top Chef D.C.) also owns several other restaurants in town including PM and blvd on Belmont.

Crema – My favorite coffee spot on the outskirts of the downtown strip, brewing their own delicious locally-roasted beans (the new coffee soda will knock your socks off). Grab a seat on the cozy front porch and enjoy views of the city.

Husk – James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock brings his successful Charleston restaurant to historic downtown. The menu changes daily and boasts only the freshest ingredients, many plucked directly from their garden just before your meal.

Pub5 – Dine inside in the cozy atmosphere or make your way up to the rooftop bar for city views, complete with surprisingly delicious food and a great beer and spirits selection.

Two Boots – New York City’s pizza pioneers have just opened a location in Nashville. I haven’t been there myself, but I’m told their gluten free options are just as tasty as the regular stuff.

The Southern – Culinary meets comfort at The Southern Steak & Oyster Bar. Of course their namesake dishes are delicious, but I’m a big fan of their weekend brunch and fried chicken and waffle.

Shop:

Hatch Show Print – One of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America. This place is a sight to see and a fun spot to pick out an inexpensive Nashville souvenir. I’m endlessly inspired each time I stop in for a visit.

Manuel – The “Rhinestone Rembrandt” has clothed everyone from Elvis to Johnny Cash to Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones. Stop by his studios to pick out your own signature gold lamé suit.

Ernest Tubb Record Shop – For over 66 years, Ernest Tubb has been offering a vast array of bluegrass and classic country tunes. They host a live WSM-AM radio show, “Midnight Jamboree,” each Saturday night at their other location (2416 Valley Music Drive).

Do:

Ryman Auditorium – One of the most beautiful places in Nashville, and an incredibly magical venue to see your favorite musician (or any musician) perform. Everyone from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan and Neil Young have graced its stage. This one-time tabernacle church is an experience you will not soon forget, and there is not a bad seat in the house. Everyone should see a show here at least once in their lives.

Frist Center for the Visual Arts – A stunning, art deco building that has hosted a spectacular array of art from around the globe for the past 12 years. The exhibitions schedule changes every 6 to 8 weeks, so there is always something new and exciting to see in the galleries. There are also frequent lectures and events, so check the calendar before planning your visit.

Downtown Public Library – Yet another gorgeous Nashville building, the Main Library features marble floors, sky-high ceilings and special collections and art throughout all of the rooms. Parking is convenient, and there is a grand reading room with a view. Take the kids for story time and have lunch in the serene courtyard.

Schermerhorn Symphony Center – A breathtaking concert hall with thoughtful architectural details, marble interior and intricate light fixtures. The grand hall is light and airy with large windows. Home to one of the best orchestras in the country, the Symphony Center also frequently hosts comedians, fashion designers and various musicians. Dressing up is not required, but why not use your visit as an excuse to put on something fancy? This venue screams class and sophistication.

Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge – A quiet respite after braving the crowds of lower Broadway. A walker-friendly bridge over the Cumberland River that offers some of the best views of the skyline. Bring your camera: people love to snap photos here!

First Saturday Art Crawl – Several art galleries throughout downtown host receptions and art openings on the first Saturday of every month. A popular event presenting both local and world-renowned artists in every genre. Admission is free and most galleries serve complimentary wine and other refreshments.

LP Field – Right across the river from downtown is LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. Try to catch a football game if it is in season!

Live On The Green – A series of free, outdoor concerts on the lawn of Nashville’s courthouse, highlighting local bands like Leagues as well as nationally-known acts like Michael Franti & Spearhead, Local Natives and more. Thursday nights in the warmer months. See the concert schedule for full details.

Country Music Hall of Fame – This legendary museum highlights the history of country music from its birthplace in the Music City to present-day.

Nashville City Guide

MARATHON VILLAGE

Eat, Drink and Snack:

The Bang Candy Company – Don’t be fooled, this is much more than a candy store. Marshmallows dipped in chocolate and other forms of candy might be their specialty, but homemade cookies, scones and tasty lunch treats are surprisingly delicious as well. Pop a caramel in your brewed-by-the-cup coffee and enjoy.

Corsair Distillery – After a long day of shopping, catch a tour of this great local distillery with awesome cocktails and a lengthy local beer selection. The outdoor courtyard area has magical lights strung and a peaceful vibe. It’s a bit hard to find, so ask someone around the building if you can’t find it.

Shop:

Antique Archaeology – Not only a tourist destination for the American Picker fan, this shop (from History Channel’s star picker Mike Wolfe) is filled to the brim with antique collectibles and thoughtfully repurposed pieces. You can tell each item was carefully curated and maintains an interesting history and charm. Of course you can grab fan memorabilia from the show as well!

Otis James – Otis James is a craftsman of handmade and custom neckties, bow ties and hats for both men and women. He recently opened up a shop in his studio, which is fun to browse while getting a peek at the operation first-hand. A nice stop for those who appreciate the art of fashioning raw materials into a final product.

Emil Erwin – Emil Erwin is a leather and canvas carrygoods company, with a design studio in the historic Marathon Motor Works building. While most of the space is his workshop, it’s worth walking into even just for the smell alone.

Do:

Marathon Music Works – One of Nashville’s newest locally owned and operated concert spaces, this venue has a beautiful open, loft-like feel. Parking is typically easy, but be safe and check the show schedule to plan ahead.

THE GULCH

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Whiskey Kitchen – A boisterous atmosphere serving up typical American fare and very tasty drink concoctions. Grab several plates to share, and don’t miss the fried pickles.

Yazoo Brewing Company – A casual taproom and delicious local brewery, serving up around 8 of their own tasty brews. Be sure to reserve a Saturday tour spot online before your visit. Great spot for business meetings or fun, but keep in mind that they are only open Wednesday-Saturday.

Shop:

Turnip Truck – A locally owned full-service Natural Foods Market, with a yummy hot bar, salad bar and fresh juice counter. Grab some wholesome groceries for the evening, or take a seat inside or outside to enjoy your meal.

E.T. Burk – A mid-century modern furniture gallery, featuring an ever-changing inventory of the best in 20th century design.

Do:

Station Inn – This place is an absolute must on my list for visitors to the Music City. A Nashville institution for nearly 40 years, Station Inn features live bluegrass and roots music seven nights a week. If you’re not a bluegrass believer, you will be after this experience. Admission to all shows is on a first come, first serve basis (unless otherwise noted).

GERMANTOWN

Eat, Drink and Snack:

City House – A foodie’s dream and my absolute favorite restaurant in Nashville. I have never had a dish I didn’t love. An earthy and inviting interior with a rustic, Italian-inspired menu. See what all the magazines are talking about and make yourself a reservation.

Monell’s – Great southern food served family-style in a quaint Victorian home. They don’t take reservations, and everyone is seated at a table together, so be prepared to strike up a conversation with a stranger. For an unforgettable dining experience and warm atmosphere, come here.

Rolf & Daughters – Located in the historic 100-year-old Werthan Factory Building, this restaurant is new to the Nashville dining scene. Drawing on Northern Italian and Mediterranean influences, they use Southern ingredients to create a dynamic and seasonally-driven menu. The pork ragout pasta literally melts in your mouth.

Germantown Café – For a stunning view of the Nashville skyline, head to Germantown Café. Straightforward, fresh cuisine with an upscale twist and affordable prices. The Sunday brunch is my favorite.

The Cupcake Collection – Delectable treats and made-from-scratch daily cupcakes and icings.

Shop:

Nashville Farmers’ Market – Divided into three distinct areas with hundreds of local farmers and artisans. The main pavilions are joined by a central food court where you can pick up fresh produce or a quick bite. A nice range of options including Cajun, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Indian. The Farmers’ Market also hosts special events throughout the year, from cooking demos to supper clubs to dance parties.

Do:

Bicentennial Mall – The 19-acre park was designed to complement the Tennessee Capitol Building, and gives visitors a taste of the state’s history and natural wonders. The park’s 31 “Rivers of Tennessee” water fountains are a big hit with kids, who love to splash around in the warmer summer months.

Oktoberfest – Every fall, Nashville’s Oktoberfest celebrates its heritage with authentic German food, beer, polka dancing, street performers and lederhosen. Free fun for the whole family.

EAST NASHVILLE

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Margot Café and Bar – This anchor of the East Nashville dining scene cooks up some of the best meals in town, with a daily-changing menu of French and Italian dishes. A cozy interior with exposed brick walls and upstairs seating that overlooks the wine bar. A local’s favorite.

Marché Artisan Foods – A sister to Margot restaurant, this open, airy café and marketplace feels like you’re dining at a European bistro. Brunch is an absolute must – the food is gourmet yet simple, featuring the best local and seasonal cuisine in a relaxed, sunny setting.

I Dream of Weenie – The cutest hot dog stand in a converted VW Bus, but bring cash as you can’t pay with a credit card here. Have a seat in the lawn and chow down on a pimento cheese dog.

Holland House Bar & Refuge – The bartenders are very friendly and know their mixology. Great drink specials and they are open late! I normally just go for a cocktail, but the food here is actually really delicious, too.

The Pharmacy – One of the newest burger joints and beer gardens in town, boasting an impressive selection of German wurst and bier, as well as an old-school soda fountain serving phosphate libations, milkshakes and ice cream sodas. Make sure to try the tater tots and sweet potato fries!

Mas Tacos Por Favor – I frequent this place at least once a week. The tacos are phenomenal, the chicken tortilla soup is out of this world, and the Cuban-style plantains are delectable. Great selections for vegetarians, too! If you are there with friends, split the food so you can try more. Homemade aguas frescas each day and coffee with horchata. Limited hours and cash only.

Sweet 16th Bakery – Literally the most perfect, buttery cheese scone I’ve ever tried. They even make a breakfast sandwich with egg casserole wedged between said scone. Breakfast aside, they serve up pastries both sweet and savory in a small and super friendly environment.

Barista Parlor – Everything you might want in a coffee shop. Bursting onto the Nashville scene a year ago, Barista Parlor has been receiving rave reviews and press ever since. This massive converted garage space manages to still feel comfortable and inspiring. The staff really knows their coffee. Go for the bourbon barrel vanilla latte and grab a pretty bar of chocolate at the counter.

3 Crow Bar – A traditional, fun dive bar with a wide range of beers on tap and in bottles. The food’s not too bad, either.

No. 308 – It’s all about the drinks at this trendy bar – the cocktail menu is superb and I hear their new weekend brunch offering competes with other local favorites.

Family Wash – An intimate, lively neighborhood bar with music each night and a famous $10 Pie and Pint night each Tuesday. The spectacular shepherd’s pie is hearty and warm, layered with your choice of perfectly seasoned meat, veggies, potatoes and cheese.

Rosepepper Cantina – A casual, inviting setting with a huge outdoor patio. Fun Mexican décor, great margaritas and delicious chorizo queso with homemade chips.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – Goat Cheese and Cherries, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Salty Caramel. With flavors like these, do I even need to say more? Jeni Britton Bauer has brought her Ohio ice cream shop to Nashville, and we thank her for that.

Silly Goose – A tiny spot with food that makes an anything-but-tiny impact. Basil lemonade, herby shrimp couscous, balsamic chicken sandwiches. Light and fresh and always interesting. Bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner (or while you wait)!

Eastland Cafe – I’ve been won over by Eastland Cafe’s famous happy hour. $5 appetizers and cocktails and $3 beer specials. Can’t beat that!

Mitchell Deli – Hands down, the best deli-style sandwich shop you will find in Nashville. They have been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Best Sandwich in America.” Depending on your mood, my favorites are the Banh Mi or the Turkey, Avocado and Bacon.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack – It’s a long wait for good reason… and you’re not there for the ambience. The fried chicken here comes in 4 levels of hotness (mild, medium, hot, extra hot) and is some of the best you’ll find in the South. Be prepared to wait half an hour for your order, as everything is made fresh and comes straight from the shack’s tiny kitchen. It’s probably best to call-in and order ahead (615-226-9442).

Rumours East – A full-service restaurant and bar under the guise of a cozy 1900s Victorian house. Weather permitting, the backyard and patio is a great place to relax with a bottle of wine and delectable cheese plate. A little on the pricey side, but worth it.

Lockeland Table – Great pizzas and wine at this new East Nashville establishment. Sit at the bar if you can.

Sky Blue Café – A small and charming café with friendly service. The Stuffed French Toast Pancakes are incredible, and the Croque Madame is another must-try.

Porter Road Butcher – A neighborhood butcher shop providing Nashville with high quality local, grass-fed meats and other fine local and regional products.

Shop:

The Groove – A very cool record and CD store located on the east side. Old and new, it’s fun to dig and discover new music. You can listen before you buy, using the record player they have set up in the shop.

Wonders on Woodland – I always find a treasure or two at this antique and vintage shop. The owners Deb and Wayne are two of the kindest people I know, and it’s easy to wander around admiring the collection for hours on end.

Hip Zipper – A great vintage shop with pieces from the ‘40s to the ‘70s. Really great pricing and a huge selection of dresses, but be prepared to do some digging.

Old Made Good – A cute spot for a unique gift from a local artist, or a one-of-a-kind vintage find.

The Green Wagon – A one-stop-shop for locally made and sustainable products. I personally love their all-natural cleaning supplies, shampoos and soaps.

Do:

Grassy Knoll Movie Nights – Held at sundown in the side lawn of Bongo Java East. Runs on various Sunday nights from April through October and showcases old classic movies as well as local films. Food, beer and more. $5/head or $4 if you bring a can for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Shelby Bottoms Greenway & Nature Park – Go for a run with the dogs down by the river, or let them loose at the friendly dog park. Afterwards, stop at Wags & Whiskers to give ‘em a bath!

Nashville City Guide

HILLSBORO VILLAGE

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Fido – Best known as a coffee shop, but I go just as often for their incredible food. Spanning an entire block of Hillsboro Village, Fido inhabits what was once Jones’ Pet Shop (look for the adorable old sign) and is part of Nashville’s own independent Bongo Java chain of fair trade and organic coffee shops. It’s always buzzing with students, families and artists, but is a great place to spread out and get your work done while people-watching. They even serve beer and wine, so make yourself cozy.

Hot & Cold – The newest Bongo Java creation, serving up Las Paletas popsicles, Jeni’s Ice Cream and unorthodox coffee and tea treats. A little place that’s delightful and delicious, open late every day.

Pancake Pantry – A Nashville breakfast tradition, boasting a menu with 21 pancake selections. The surprising Sweet Potato Pancakes are tasty and melt in your mouth. Weekends are especially crazy at the Pantry, and the waiting line usually wraps around the building down 21st Avenue, so be prepared.

Provence Breads & Café – Parisian-style fare with crusty breads, gourmet sandwiches and decadent baked goods.

Savarino’s Cucina – This hidden gem is a family-run Italian café, serving up everything from pizza and pasta to biscotti and homemade gelato.

Shop:

Pangaea, Fire Finch and A Thousand Faces each offer their own varied selection of art, jewelry, paper goods, accessories and furniture. These stores are great for unique gifts and rare finds.

Posh Boutique – A wide clothing selection of the latest styles with prices to accommodate any budget.

BookmanBookwoman – My favorite used bookstore with tight aisles stacked high, and a vast selection including Art, Architecture, Fashion, Photography, Tennessee History and more.

A Village of Flowers – An upscale florist with gorgeous arrangements and occasional sidewalk specials. Walk in to savor the smell, and treat yourself to a fresh bouquet.

SEE (Selective Eyewear Elements) – Unique, European designer eyewear. The best place to find an anything-but-ordinary frame in town. They offer eye exams, too!

Do:

Belcourt Theatre – If you desire unique entertainment, the historic Belcourt is where it’s at. Opened in 1925 as a silent movie house, the theatre now offers 2-3 independent, foreign or classic films at a time. Cozy up in a chair, grab some wine or beer at the bar and transport yourself to another era. They offer fun midnight movies outside, as well as interesting discussions and Q&As with film directors and actors.

BELMONT

Eat, Drink & Snack:

Bongo Java – A competent coffee shop with specialty drinks and a great porch for hanging out. The inside is convenient for plugging in and working away. The “basic” breakfast can’t be beat: $5 for eggs, hash browns, toast and a cup of joe. If you’re there during school season – beware – as it will be brimming with college students.

International Market & Restaurant – A small world market with ethnic groceries, spices, and a Thai fusion buffet. Treat yourself to a tasty red bean bun.

Shop:

Local Honey – A clothing store in a charming old house that features vintage clothing as well as local fashion designers.

Do:

Belmont-Hillsboro Tour of Homes – Every year there is a home tour featuring ten beautiful homes in the neighborhood, bursting with class and charm. Even as a local, I always think this is a really fun thing to do.

Nashville City Guide

12SOUTH

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Portland Brew – One of several coffee shops in the neighborhood. I love their cold brew coffee and avocado toast with pesto.

Frothy Monkey – Another tasty coffee house with lots of food options throughout the day and specialty drinks. Have a seat on the porch outside and relax.

12 South Taproom – The Taproom is one of my favorite casual spots to meet a friend after work for a drink, or even dine solo at the bar. Stop by for a cold beer, some exceptional food, or a good time with a bit of both.

Burger Up – A community-driven restaurant perfect for a business lunch, first date, family meal or an anniversary celebration. Burger Up sources the best beef from a nearby Tennessee farm. The Woodstock remains the best seller, but I personally love the veggie options (try the Marathon, a black bean and quinoa patty and a kale salad). But don’t forget the truffle fries and homemade Jack Daniel’s maple ketchup!

Sloco – This sandwich shop serves local and sustainable sandwiches at affordable prices. The staff is always energetic and kind and there are lots of specials to try each day.

Edley’s Bar-B-Que – A tribute to all things southern, showcasing a unique Nashville personality. The barbecue nachos are top notch (made on homemade potato chips!) and there’s a special hot chicken sandwich served only on Mondays that I urge you to try.

The Filling Station – Nestled behind Edley’s Barbecue, this is your spot for the tastiest craft brews to go. Simply drop by, fill up a growler and take it with you to go.

Mafiaoza’s – Good greasy pizza and pastas. They offer a really great 2-4-1 special on Tuesdays. One of the only places in 12South that is open late, so expect a crowd.

Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles – I never knew a popsicle could taste so amazing, and I can almost guarantee that you will be saying the same thing. Bring cash and try the avocado. You can also now have them dipped in local Olive & Sinclair chocolate… yum!

Shop:

imogene + willie – Invest in a quality, trend-proof pair of jeans that will last you a lifetime. The denim masters at i+w focus on classic, American-made clothing and carefully curated vintage and home goods. The jeans can be tailored to your liking right there in the store. Have a seat on the leather sofa, pet the sweet shop dog or take a peek outside at the lounge area while you’re there.

Halcyon Bike Shop – A used bicycle shop on the main drag of 12South, featuring quality products and services at affordable prices. Most of the bikes are recycled and restored custom used bicycles.

Savant Vintage – Some of my favorite vintage finds have come from this unassuming little house in 12South. The vintage dresses are especially tempting, and the selection is huge (looks can be deceiving, but this place has two full floors of vintage wears). Owner Beverly can tell you a lot about the history behind each of the pieces. Make sure to come with a full wallet, as it tends to be a bit on the pricey side.

Katy K Designs – If you’re looking for authentic kitschy western wear, this is your stop. Embroidered vintage threads, fringed leather jackets and cowboy boots, this is a fun place to play dress up in. Crinoline square dancing skirt, anyone?

Corner Music – A legendary music shop full of instruments and audio gear, serving musicians for over 30 years. They also offer guitar and bass lessons.

Do:

Sevier Park – I love going to this small park, conveniently located within walking distance to all the great shops and restaurants in 12South. There is a big open field, a couple covered pavilions for parties and play areas for the kids. The 12South Farmer’s Market takes place May-October on Tuesdays and there are various other festivals and concert series held here.

Nashville City Guide

8th AVENUE SOUTH

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Smiling Elephant – Some of my favorite Thai food in town. The pineapple cashew chicken is absolutely delicious. The drink options are limited, but they serve a different delicious curry every day.

8th and Roast – A local craft coffee roaster, with friendly baristas serving up bold, sweet cups. I haven’t yet tried it myself, but the Nutella Latte is supposed to be heavenly.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen – Considered by most as the best meat-and-three, if not the best lunch plate, in town. Directly across from the Downtown Antique Mall, this authentic restaurant also serves up delicious fried green tomatoes (don’t leave without them). Everything is fresh and homemade. Only open on weekdays.

Shop:

Grimey’s New & Preloved Music – My favorite record store anywhere, and I’ve been to quite a few in my time. A wonderful place to hang out, discover music, and if you’re lucky, snatch a beer and in-store musical performance. Lots of notable bands pass through these doors.

Also, around the corner, an expansion called Grimey’s Too is their new space that houses Howlin’ Books (an independent bookstore) and coffee from Frothy Monkey.

If you love antiquing, don’t miss the series of antique stores strung along 8th Avenue that promise loads of historic heirlooms and little treasures. Along both sides of the street, you’ll find shops like Pre To Post Modern, Preservation Station, the Downtown Antique Mall and the Tennessee Antique Mall (just around the corner off Wedgewood). Take your time and be prepared to haggle!

Gruhn Guitars – When in Nashville… Pop in and admire the beautiful vintage instruments that this guitar guru has been selling and repairing for over 40 years. This new location houses everything under the sun, and has seen clientele such as Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash and Paul McCartney.

Do:

The Basement – My favorite small music venue for an intimate, cozy experience. I’ve seen both bigger names and lesser knowns play here, and always feel that there is something magical about the place (upstairs is Grimey’s record store).

Greer Stadium – The home of Nashville Sounds baseball. Our minor league baseball park is so fun for a night out, with Friday fireworks and dollar hot dog nights.

Zanies Comedy Club – Nashville’s premier comedy club for nearly 30 years. Lots of comedians pass through here and it’s good to know there is a two drink minimum (water bottles included). Arrive early as parking in the area can tend to be tricky.

Heading further north on 8th Avenue toward downtown, you’ll find 3 great music venues all in the same spot – Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom and The High Watt. Between the three, there is always something great going on.

Third Man Records – Jack White lovers will want to stop for a visit at TMR, his magic factory, venue and tiny music shop a bit off the beaten path.

Nashville City Guide

GREEN HILLS

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Bread & Company – A Nashville chain with three locations across the city. A perfect stop for a yummy sandwich or crunchy salad while running errands or shopping around the city. Beware, the fruit tea is addictive (in the best way possible).

The Food Company – A quiet lunch stop offering soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts and a refrigerated section with easy yet scrumptious take-and-bake meals.

The Greenhouse Bar – Adjoining The Food Company, this unique bar is an actual greenhouse with a great vibe. A restful place to enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine among the cozy greenery.

Kalamata’s – You can’t judge a book by its cover—or, in this case—a great restaurant by the stripmall that it hides in. Kalamata’s provides simple, healthy Mediterranean food made fresh and quickly right in front of you.

Shop:

The Hill Center features a pedestrian-friendly strip of shops and eateries in Green Hills, great for a day of shopping some boutiques like H. Audrey, Hemline, Billy Reid and Barton Perreira, as well as bigger brands like Anthropologie, West Elm and Whole Foods.

Tucked away behind the Hill Center is Bandywood Drive, where you’ll find several cute Nashville shops like Habit & I See London, The Perfect Pair and Woo Skincare & Cosmetics.

Parnassus Books – A cool local bookstore with a well-curated selection and great story time for kids. They also host book signings, readings and more.

Do:

The Bluebird Cafe – Shows like ABC’s hit drama “Nashville” have made this venue even more popular, but the Bluebird Cafe is one of the most storied listening rooms in the music world. Located in a nondescript strip mall, the Bluebird is the place for songwriters to play and be discovered. Call ahead to get yourself a seat, and remember that the café is technically a listening room, so a certain level of quiet is expected (you will be shushed!).

SYLVAN PARK / CHARLOTTE PIKE

Eat, Drink and Snack:

McCabe Pub – A neighborhood sports bar with a nice patio to enjoy a beer. Get the bacon cheeseburger that many claim is the best in town.

The Local Taco – Fun, Americanized Mexican food with taco varieties like Southern Fried Chicken and Korean BBQ. I always enjoy having a margarita on the patio.

Star Bagel Cafe – Star Bagel is usually packed on the weekends for breakfast. The bagels are delicious, the coffee is great (they even offer almond milk) and their massive lunch sandwiches are amazing.

Bobbie’s Dairy Dip – Good times are to be had at Bobbie’s ice cream parlor, where you’re immediately transported back in time with the blaring doowop music and cute vintage décor. I always opt for the classic dipped cone and sweet potato fries, but you can’t go wrong with the sundaes and peanut butter milkshakes either.

M.L. Rose – Craft beer and burgers, with really delicious waffle fries. Load them up with blue cheese sauce!

Shop:

Import Flowers – A traditional wholesale florist, but you are able to walk in and pick up a single rose or seasonal bundle for yourself. They import from all over the world and have an amazing selection.

The Produce Place – A tiny grocery store with a big heart. Delicious prepared foods, a nice variety of produce (both local and imported), fresh flowers, herbs and more.

WEST END / ELLISTON / MIDTOWN

Eat, Drink and Snack:

J & J’s Market & Café – A great place to get your work done, or take a break with good ole fashioned board games. An excellent selection of coffee, tea and beer!

Rotier’s Restaurant – Many will argue that this is the best burger in Nashville (order it on the French bread, trust me). A family-owned and operated joint since 1945.

Elliston Place Soda Shop – I grew up going to this classic soda shop with my dad before college basketball games. I love the nostalgic grilled cheese sandwich with a vanilla milkshake.

Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine – Indian food is a bit hard to come by in the city, but this place is top notch. A huge menu with everything you could possibly want, even if you are a meat-eater. Surprisingly great lunch buffet and a BYOB policy.

Patterson House – A dark, romantic speakeasy that makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time to Paris during the 1920s. They take their cocktails very seriously – I highly recommend the Clapless Belle or Bacon Old Fashioned. And don’t leave without ordering the cinnamon sugar donuts – they are delivered to your table hot and fresh!

The Catbird Seat – This 32-seat destination is located atop Patterson House. You are made to feel special at the interactive dining experience, where you are seated surrounded by the U-shaped kitchen. They offer a 7-course tasting menu for $100, but you better make your reservations early, as this one-of-a-kind restaurant books up fast.

Noshville – An authentic New York style delicatessen. The Reuben sandwich is amazing, or, you can’t go wrong with a classic breakfast or omelet, served anytime of day.

San Antonio Taco Co. – Lovingly known as SATCO around these parts, this hole-in-the-wall gives fast food a whole new meaning. Come here for a quick and delicious taco, and some of my favorite chips and queso in the city.

Shop:

UAL – One of four United Apparel Liquidators in the South, offering big name designer clothes at a fraction of the price. They buy end-of-season clothing and accessories for men and women and resell at very reasonable prices. And the shoe selection is amazing!

Do:

The Parthenon – It may seem a bit odd, but Nashville has a full-sized replica of the Parthenon situated right downtown in urban Centennial Park. Nashville was often called “The Athens of the South,” and to give a visual to this nickname, the Parthenon was built as part of a centennial celebration in 1897 and remains a cherished and iconic Nashville landmark.

Centennial Park – The perfect place to throw a frisbee, pack a picnic, explore the garden or attend one of the many events and activities scheduled throughout the year. Enjoy all types of fun with Movies In The Park, Musicians Corner, Big Band dance nights and more. Check the calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.

Exit/In – A classic live music venue highlighting local and international rock acts nearly every night. Check the movie-style marquee outside to see who is playing this week.

MUSIC ROW / EDGEHILL VILLAGE

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Taco Mamacita – I love this place for after-work happy hour and snacks. They make the guacamole fresh at your table, and have an interesting array of tacos. The Taco Royale is a crowd favorite.

DeSano Pizza Bakery – My favorite pizza joint in town. They introduced me to peppadew peppers that have since changed my life. Go for a classic Margherita (add the peppadews!) or white Bianca pizza, or better yet: both.

Shop:

Tweed Baby Outfitters – The most adorable little shop, perfect for finding a gift for a newborn baby up to 4 year toddler. The owner Maggie is wonderful and carries many unique lines (with complimentary giftwrap available).

BERRY HILL

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Baja Burrito – Baja is always one of my first stops after traveling, as I can’t get enough of their burritos and tacos and always seem to crave them when I’m away. The “tinga” spicy chicken is mouth-watering good.

Sam & Zoe’s – One of my favorite quiet places to work, Sam & Zoe’s is a quaint coffee house and café in a convenient, central location. The tasty breakfast sandwiches are served all day, and pair nicely with a cup of pour-over coffee or a chai tea latte (my favorite in town).

The Pied Piper Creamery – Delicious, handmade ice cream in a charming and family-friendly atmosphere featuring creative flavors like Trailer Trash – vanilla with Oreo, Twix, Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch, Snickers, M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces. Yum! The main location in East Nashville is adorable, too.

The Yellow Porch – A little bistro with amazing salads. It’s a small place and fills up quick, so be sure to make a reservation.

Gabby’s Burgers & Fries – My personal favorite burger in Nashville. Fresh, grass-fed beef and a secret menu, in a spot that’s a bit off the beaten path. Get the sweet potato fries! Odd hours so be sure to plan ahead – it’s worth it!

Shop:

Designer Renaissance – A hit-and-miss consignment shop, full of designer duds for women. The staff is friendly and helpful!

The Cat Shoppe & Dog Store – A cat lover’s dream. A cute pet shop featuring natural foods and gifts for your furry friends. Love on lots of sweet rescued kitties while you are there, or even take one home with you.

Gas Lamp Antiques & Decorating Mall – A very hidden location behind Staples, just waiting to be uncovered. I have bought many a treasure at this wonderful antique mall.

Do:

Nashville Flea Market – Just down the road from Berry Hill, don’t miss the monthly flea at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Hundreds of vendors set up to showcase vintage items (and some new and repurposed). Go on a Sunday before they pack up for the best bargains!

WOODBINE

Eat, Drink and Snack:

Siam Cafe Thai – Don’t be fooled by the rough exterior, this place has the best Pad Thai in town. Grab an order of the Spring Rolls, too.

Taqueria el Recodo – Nolensville Road is known for its many great taco trucks, but this one takes the cake. It’s tucked away beside a gas station, but don’t fret. Order the 99 cent carnitas, add avocado and enjoy. And try not to go back for more.

Gojo Ethiopian – Really great family-style Ethiopian food. Eat with your hands in this casual dining restaurant, and don’t forget to finish off the meal with Ethiopian coffee – roasted in-house and brewed on a large clay pot at your table.

La Hacienda – Authentic Mexican food at great prices. And you can snag a Las Paletas popsicle while you’re there.

Shop:

Phonoluxe Records – A black sheep of the Nashville record store family, Phonoluxe offers a really large selection of used vinyl, cassettes, CDs, DVDs and more. And the staff is knowledgeable and friendly!

NASHVILLE + BEYOND

The Loveless Cafe – A charming country and home-cooking institution, remaining a national landmark since it opened its doors more than 60 years ago. Country ham, Southern fried chicken and homemade biscuits and jams are the staples. Call ahead if you can… the wait is known to get crazy at this tourist attraction!

Jack Daniel’s Distillery – Located a mere hour and half from Nashville, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery can be a fun and informative day trip. Tour the grounds (for free) where this famous whiskey is created, and grab a bottle to enjoy later at home. Unfortunately, no tastings here – Lynchburg is a dry county, which means no alcohol consumption.

Arrington Vineyards – Founded by Kix Brooks (of Brooks & Dunn), Arrington Vineyards is located about 25 minutes south of Nashville, in the beautiful rolling hills. Pack a blanket and some food, and pick up your favorite bottle of wine after having a complimentary tasting.

Radnor Lake – A stunning nature sanctuary with several quiet walking trails. I normally always spot a deer, turtles or wild birds on my hikes. Radnor Lake maintains strict rules about what can be brought onto the premises, so no picnicking, and biking is only allowed on the closed-off road.

Cheekwood – A beautiful 55-acre estate with a historic home, bontanical garden and art museum. The gardens are lovely by day, but at night they really shine. Exhibits change regularly, so check the schedule before you go.

Downtown Franklin – A quick half-hour from Nashville, Downtown Franklin is a picturesque little town whose Main Street is lined with charming old houses and buildings, now home to many restaurants and boutiques. Definitely worth a day trip for window-shopping, a delicious lunch at the famed
Merridee’s Breadbasket
and catching a show or film at The Franklin Theatre.

 

NOTABLE LOCALS
Karen Elson, The Black Keys, Jack White, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Ben Folds, Taylor Swift, Niki Taylor, Connie Britton, Matt and Carrie Eddmenson.

  1. Missy says:

    Lindsay – just read this guide again, and it is wonderful! Great job!!

  2. Barbara says:

    We’re heading to Nashville in September & I cannot wait to use this guide! Like others have asked, where is a cool place to stay?

  3. E. Thompson says:

    When visiting Historic Downtown Franklin, TN you really should go to The Heirloom Shop it is a “Unique Shop in a Unique Town”. This is a really neat shop. Radko ornaments, Dept. 56 Village and so much that it will make your eyes hurt. Loved it and will bet you will too.

  4. Kate says:

    I have been living in Nashville for 5 years and this has to be hands down the best guide I have read on this amazing city. I love this city so much that I am altering my career so that when I graduate I can stay here. Thank you so much for writing a guide that highlights many of my favorite spots. There are tons of new places that have opened since this article was written, I think you should come back for a visit!

  5. Melanie says:

    My husband and I are heading to Nashville this weekend from Atlanta, and I’m sooo happy that I thought to look on Design Sponge for a guide on Nashville! I’m very excited to go since you did such a wonderful job describing not just the design specific destinations, but descriptions of neighborhoods, restaurants, music venues, and things unique to Nashville! You definitely deserve kudos for writing this guide!

  6. Dee Wilcox says:

    Great job on this round-up! I am so impressed with your thoroughness. Wow! You even touched on Woodbine (which runs into Berry Hill). Nashville is full of so much goodness — always somewhere to go, something to do, or some great music to listen to. We spend most of our time in the stretch from 8th Ave S. through downtown and the Gulch, over to Germantown and East Nashville. Excellent job on this!

  7. kim says:

    i’ve lived in nashville for 18 years–and this guide is excellent! great job showcasing the city!

  8. Peter says:

    Things like this make me wish that I wasn’t a yankee….

  9. Errol says:

    There are a bunch of really cool local shops in the Edgehill Village area: Kore + Nashville, Legato Gelato, Ani & Ari, Oliv, Bella Napoli, Edgehill Village Cafe, Steadfast and True Yoga, Olia….the area has really come along nicely.

  10. Susan says:

    The Stone Fox off of Charlotte Pike is another great spot- they serve dinner & brunch, have live music most nights, really great cocktails, and a sweet back porch/patio area. Sunday nights there are my favorite- Chris Scruggs plays traditional country every Sunday for free! It is fantastic!

    http://www.thestonefoxnashville.com

  11. Amy says:

    So many good recommendations here. It should be noted that Prince’s Hot Chicken is not located in East Nashville…though those of us who live in that area would certainly welcome it!

  12. Rachel says:

    To add! Fond Object Records / Dept. of Goods & Services / Black by Maria Silver is a great little record shop and design studio and clothier in Riverside Village, East Nashville. We even have two goats (Lou & Cliff!) and pig (Dottie!) in our menagerie behind the shop.

    http://www.facebook.com/fondobject

  13. Tabitha says:

    There are a few things missing that I have to add to this list. On Belmont: {blvd} Nashville is a cute little French bistro-inspired restaurant. http://www.blvdnashville.com

    In Midtown: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is a must! Great atmosphere (porch!!), they have chicken and waffles on Sundays for brunch and the food’s great. http://www.hattieb.com/

  14. Kelsey says:

    I agree with the comments above. I would also add 12 South Taproom, Pfunky Griddle, The Perch, and The Red Bicycle, Bosco’s, and The Well Coffeehouse.

  15. Charlotte says:

    From a native… really, really great guide, and great updates! Y’all come visit!
    For vegetarians, and those (like me!) who are not but just love fresh good food, also check out this great new restaurant in Berry Hill:
    http://www.sunflowercafenashville.com

  16. evey says:

    Awesome list. You definitely missed the amazing vegan treats at Kahn’s Bakery and The Wild Cow.

  17. Kathy says:

    Touristas: There is so much to see and do and this list is a great start! The only downsides to this amazing city is lack of sidewalks and sketchy to non-existent public transportation. You can’t get everywhere from anywhere without good friends or a car.

    Foodies: Skip places like Pancake Pantry and Loveless and go for the newer independent spots. The old institutions are coasting on decades of name recognition, but the upstarts are hitting all the right notes. The Locavore scene is exploding with fresh ideas and great food.

    Fashionistas: Elise is right. Imogene + Willie is a must for custom jeans; add in Jamie for
    high-end designers; find Jimmy Choo, LV, Nordy’s, Tiffany, etc. in Green Hills. The independent retailer scene is booming in fashion too!

    Great list, Elise!

  18. Bethany says:

    From another Nashville girl, this is spot on! You got it all covered I think.

  19. Bob says:

    “Cozy”. Nine times.

  20. Helen says:

    Update: I Dream of Weenie DOES take cards now, BUT they still prefer cash.

  21. Jessica says:

    Update: The Jack Daniels Distillery has expanded their tour and now offer tastings only on their property so the tour is no longer free.

  22. Bill says:

    Listening Room Cafe is a must and a great plan B if you cant get into Bluebird with tourists.

  23. Patricia says:

    Enjoyed your guide, my daughter and son-law live in East Nashville. We went downtown to Boardway yesterday. We Hit all the souvenir shops. I liked Legends Gifts the best. Then had a late lunch at Pub5, it was an awesome meal and the atmosphere is very cozy. Today we looked at your guide and decided to go to Barista Parlor for coffee and shop for an antique dresser in East Nashville at 5 points. Dinner at The Pharmacy or a new restuarant, Pinewood Social. This has been the best Christmas vacation. I love Nashville.

  24. Leandra says:

    How has it expanded and changed since this great guide was written? Could we have a 2014 update please? I’d love to see more restaurants, flea markets, vintage shops, young hip 30 something design oriented things, descriptions of neighborhoods etc. What about movies in the park or seasonal activities? Outdoors activities? Rodeos? Theater? Who has closed up shop since 2009 and who is new??? Thank you!!!

  25. Nice Blog thanks to share this all information here.

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