We lived in Nashville while Ryan played baseball for the Sounds in 2017 and loved every minute of it. Since living there, we are often asked for recommendations about where to eat and what to do when friends and family have visited for a weekend. We went back a few weeks ago for baseball and got to familiarize ourselves with what has changed in the last few years. With this new information we were inspired to write our list of recommendations once and for all! Without further delay, here is everything you should know about planning your trip to spend two jam packed days in Music City.
Nashville City Neighborhoods
If we have one complaint about Nashville, it is that it isn’t the most walkable city. There are cute neighborhoods and pockets throughout the city, but getting from A to B on foot isn’t always easy or convenient if you are short on time. When planning out an itinerary, it’s important to note which neighborhoods you plan to go to so that you aren’t going back and forth and spending more time transporting than you are actually experiencing the city. Here is a map courtesy of Nashville Guru so that you can familiarize yourself with Nashville’s neighborhoods.
Day 1 – Welcome to Music City!
Most people that we know are headed to Nashville for some version of a bachelorette party or friends getaway. If dancing, music, and drinks are your thing, you’ll want to stay as close to the bars downtown on Broadway as you can. If you are looking for a weekend that is a little more low key, try to find a place to stay in Germantown, 12 South, or near the Vanderbilt campus. When introducing anyone to Nashville, we like to start with a morning of shopping and eating in The Gulch followed by a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Gulch has plenty of breakfast options – Milk & Honey and Biscuit Love are our favorites – along with stores for window shopping. The lines at both of these restaurants can be insane so make sure you get to them early in the day (ideally before 10 am). While you’re waiting in line make sure you take a picture in front of the famous angel wings. From The Gulch it is an easy walk to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall has a number of rotating exhibits and has a little something for anyone that loves country music.
From there take a quick walk to Assembly Food Hall, which is a newer eating establishment right downtown and something that was desperately needed for foodies near Broadway. They have two of our favorite hot chicken spots – Hattie B’s and Prince’s – as well as a dozen other food stalls. There is everything from donuts to Thai, Indian to pizza, and sushi to cheeseburgers. If you’re traveling with a group and can’t narrow in on a cuisine, this is definitely the place for you. They also have live music going most of the day and night, which is one of our favorite things about living in Nashville. There is a lot to see in this area, including the Ryman Auditorium and the Gibson Garage, for any guitar buffs.
For those looking to continue walking around and exploring the city, hop in an Uber and head to 12 South. There you will find a number of cute stores including Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James and imogene + willie. There are a bunch of restaurants on this street as well, including Bar Taco and Epice, which is a delish Lebanese restaurant. If you need an afternoon sweet treat stop at Five Daughters Bakery or the famous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Music lovers can also visit the Gruhn guitar showroom just a few blocks away.
A Little Ditty About East Nashville
East Nashville is not one of the areas we would recommend you spend a ton of time, particularly during a quick weekend trip. There isn’t much to do there in terms of tourist attractions, however, you will find some of the best restaurants in the city in this neighborhood. If you are like us and pretty much plan every meal on vacation before you’ve even booked your flights, then this is a neighborhood you need Uber over to. Most restaurants are on Main Street, Gallatin Ave, or the intersection of the two. Grab a coffee and giant slice of coffee cake at Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop, brisket tacos at Red Headed Stranger, and dinner at Pelican & Pig, our favorite restaurant in all of Nashville. If you’re still hungry for more, Butcher & Bee is an excellent Mediterranean spot for dinner or weekend brunch.
Wild Nights In Nashville
Almost anyone we know visiting Nashville wants to check out the bars and night life on Broadway. Walking along the bars on Broadway can feel like walking the streets of Vegas. Bars have live music most hours of the day and there is an atmosphere for any type of bar goer. We particularly like to go to the bars that have rooftop options, and luckily most places there have them. If you’re looking for traditional country music check out The Stage and Tootsies. If country isn’t your thing head towards the rooftop at The Valentine or FGL House, which plays a nice mix of many types of music. During the day we like the live music at Assembly Food Hall and ACME Feed and Seed, a smaller food hall that also has fun weekend events like rooftop yoga and boozy jazz brunches.
Day 2 – A Grand Ole Day in Nashville
Country music fans will know that Nashville is home to the Grand Ole Opry. Opryland is about 10-15 minutes outside of the city, but well worth a visit if it’s your thing and you have a half day available. The official tour of the is well worth booking and a great look into the history of the Opry. You get to see the main theater and each of the themed dressing rooms backstage. If you book a show there, you never know what famous artist might show up for a surprise performance! The Opryland Resort is very Disneyesque and worth walking around as well. They have immaculately manicured gardens, restaurants, and a huge mall to check out while you are there.
Sports! Go Sports!
For travelers that would rather be in the city, make sure you check out some of the athletic events happening around the city. Between the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, the Vanderbilt teams, and our beloved Nashville Sounds, there is almost always a team to root for year round. The Nashville Sounds play in Germantown, and in addition to a great stadium there is also a sports bar in the outfield from which you can watch the game and anything else on TV. Our favorite type of multitasking.
Our Favorite Restaurants, By Neighborhood
You know that eating is by far our favorite activity on any vacation, and usually the driving force behind our trip planning. Below we are highlighting all of our favorite restaurants by neighborhood so that you always have a recommendation no matter where you find yourself in the city.
- Henrietta Red – oyster bar with a farm fresh feeling menu. Great for dinner or brunch. Reservations recommended.
- Butchertown Hall – Tex-Mex and bbq vibes. They have a great food and drink happy hour!
- City House – a little Italian, a little southern. Reservations recommended.
- Rolf & Daughters – modern American with Italian highlights. We still talk about the squid ink pasta from four years ago.
- Milk & Honey – great coffee and breakfast shop. Arrive early to avoid the lines!
- Biscuit Love – another classic for breakfast. Arrive early and order the bonuts.
- Chauhan Ale & Masala House – Indian inspired brunch and dinner.
- LA Jackson – rooftop bar at The Thompson Hotel. Our favorite spot to start off a good night.
Broadway & SoBro
- Assembly Food Hall – a little bit of everything, Prince’s Hot Chicken & Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in particular
- Sixty Vines – wine bar on the upper floor of Assembly. Reservations recommended, great for brunch.
- Husk – Sean Brock’s flagship restaurant for all of your southern favorites.
- Peg Leg Porker – classic, delish bbq.
- Pinewood Social – bowling alley meets summertime pool spot meets a weekday lunch or weekend brunch.
- Five Daughters Bakery – donuts and cronuts…. need we say more?
- Bar Taco – one of the only chains on our list but a great spot for a margarita and tacos.
- Edley’s Bar-B-Que – another great bbq spot across town.
- Epice – really delish Lebanese food for when you’re over hot chicken.
- Slow Hand Coffee & Bakeshop – biased because Jamie worked here; not biased because the cream cheese sugar cookies will change your life.
- Red Headed Stranger – the brisket tacos are a must… you won’t be disappointed.
- Two Ten Jack – ramen and izakaya dishes. One of the only restaurants we ate at in Nashville twice.
- Butcher & Bee – great Mediterranean for dinner or weekend brunch. Reservations recommended.
- Pelican & Pig – our fave restaurant in Nashville! Order the ribeye and lots of vegetable side dishes.