If you love country music, ten gallon hats or cowboy boots…mixed in with a little bit of the hipster scene… then Nashville is the place for you! While the downtown strip is buzzing with music, bars and up and coming country singers looking for their chance in the spot light, the outer streets are overflowing with street art, coffee shops and some really awesome locals who will tell you where to go for a real glimpse into what it is like to live in town. No matter what you are looking for, Nashville is a must on the top destinations to visit in the US!
Getting Around: If you are heading to Nashville I recommend having your own form of transportation. While it is easy to call for an Uber, there are a lot of quick stops you may want to check out that are very spread out. It’s not exactly a city where everything is super close together or has an easy bus system or underground subway to hop on board.
Where to Stay: As far as hotels go, there are some crazy cheap places you can stay…. if you don’t mind staying in a sketchy area. If you are like me and don’t care where you stay as long as it saves you money to travel, check out the Knights Inn where we stayed for $40 a night. If you don’t care about the price, there are nicer hotels around you can stay at or you can check out an Airbnb!
There are plenty of places to eat everywhere you look, but you cant miss out on going to the Pancake Pantry for breakfast. The restaurant itself has been around since 1961 and they claim to have the best pancakes in Nashville. While that is up to you to decide, I recommend stopping by, chatting with the amazing staff and ordering yourself a stack of hot cakes. There is always a long line out the door and down the street so be sure to get there early, unless you don’t mind waiting in line.
After breakfast, on the way to downtown, swing by the Parthenon. The Parthenon, a replica of the actual Parthenon in Greece, houses the galleries and exhibits belonging to Nashville’s art museum. It is $6.00 to get into the museum itself, but free to walk around the outside to check out the beautiful building, walkways and pond that surrounds it. There is lots of land surrounding the Parthenon if you are looking for a nice place for a picnic or somewhere to chill out in the sun for a bit.
Next, if country music is your thing, head to the Country Music Hall of Fame! The entire museum is chalk full of country music stars and their life stories. From your mamma’s music to yours you WILL NOT be disappointed. They also have feature installments of specific artists at different times of the year, so be sure to check out when your favorite star is coming to town! Depending on how much time you have you could most likely spend the entire day there. It is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm and costs $24.95 for general admission- but with AAA or a student ID its $22.50 and with military ID it is even less. Trust me, if you want to splurge on anything while there, this would be it! Once finished there are a few different gifts shops that are pretty neat to poke around in and have cool souvenirs you can get for family and friends.
After the museum, there are lots of places to grab lunch or dinner along the main strip. We ended up eating at a restaurant called Merchants. Its a small classy place decked out in black and white, open from 11:00am to 11:00pm. It has an old-fashion soda shop feeling to it and the staff are great. The food itself is pretty good and not too pricey. I recommend the sweet potato fries if you end up stopping there for lunch.
Be sure to browse around the stores on the main strip. Even if you are not looking to buy anything take a look inside the shops! The merchandise is fun to check out and you can find some really nice cowboy boots and hats. If you duck into some of the shops that are not directly on the main street you will find better deals!
Don’t forget to try a Goo Goo Gluster!
One candy that calls Nashville it’s home is the Goo Goo Gluster. It’s basically a round candy bar that has chocolate, caramel, peanuts and marshmallow nougat in it. The candy was invented in 1912 and its claim to fame is that it was the first combination candy bar ever made. So, of course, its a must try! If you stop by the Goo Goo shop on 3rd avenue you can watch the workers make them, and try a FREE sample! If you like it you can buy as much as you want- or just fill up on the samples.
You cant go to Nashville and not go bar hopping! Well, you can, but it is a lot more fun if you do. At night, the strip is buzzing with lights, tourists and bars that have all types of music pouring out of their open doors. Almost all bars only cater to 21 and ups. Aka: if you are not 21 you can not even get through the doors.
One bar that we loved, that you can get in as long as you are 18, is called the Tequila Cowboy. The live band played classic country covers which you can get up and line dance to in front of the stage. Its a great place to just kick back and have a drink with friends.
Another one worth checking out is Honky Tonk Central. This bar has three floors, each play different music and have open patio doors that overlook the street below. It’s a pretty great bar to add to your list.
Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge is one I recommend stopping by. Head straight to the second floor and make your way through the thick crowd of people to the rooftop over looking the strip. There is a great view of the Batman Building! Ok, it is actually the AT&T building…but it looks like it’s Batman’s building and it is really cool to see at night!
For breakfast this time head over to Provence Breads & Cafe! They serve all types of coffee, pastries, breakfast and lunch as well. They have lots of different flavors of hot or iced drinks to order. If you do choose to head there for breakfast try the “Cakes & Egg”. It’s an over easy egg on top of potato cakes that has creme on it that taste like it is from Valhalla! It is one of the best meals I had while in town (even better than the Pancake Pantry).
If you are looking for a nice lazy stroll, are apart of Greek life or just want to check out a college campus, take a walk around Vanderbilt University. The campus is absolutely beautiful and there is free WiFi if you need to send some business emails or upload some travel photos. They also have some food places, book stores, coffee shops and other places to browse on campus.
Need to grab some coffee? Try out the Frothy Monkey. I am no coffee expert to be honest, I am much more of a tea person, but Nashville raves about this coffee shop. While the iced coffee is good and the place is comfy, it seemed like just another coffee shop to me. However, everyone says it is a must and I don’t want to deprive you of something that could change your life just because it is not my cup of tea. So, if you do stop here, send me a message and let me know what you thought!
Not to far down the street from the frothy monkey is the infamous “I believe in Nashville” street art. It is not close to the main strip, more out in the art district on a random wall down a random street. So take a quick pit stop and get your photo! There is also tons of street art to check out all around the outskirts of Nashville, so take your time and cruise around if it is your style.
Another stop that may be a bit out of the way is none other than the Grand Ole Opry! For those who do not know, it is basically a music stadium where the best of the best country starts go to preform. Take a look to see if there is anyone coming to the stage that you would want to see. No one was preforming while we were there, but to be honest it is pretty pricey so I’m not sure I would’ve splurged anyhow. However, if you do want to take a peak inside you do need to buy tickets for the backstage tour. Just be sure to check out ticket prices and showtimes!
On your way out of Nashville you must stop to grab lunch or dinner at The Pharmacy! It’s a burger parlor and beer garden that looks more like a pharmacy than a restaurant when you first pull up. It is a bit out of the way, but worth the trip. The food is both cheap and delicious and the burgers come with tater tots! Grab a stool at the bar if you’re flying solo or a booth if you’re with family and friends. I recommend ordering the pharmacy burger and a chocolate milk shake- trust me, you will not be disappointed!
Whatever you decide to do in Nashville, it’s a great place to fly solo or vacation with the family. It’s a town worth the trip!