Nashville Travel Guide
You guys... Nashville is incredible. Why did it take me so long to get there?
I'm so excited to tell you all about it. First off, know that I was there with 16 women for a bachelorette party. Slightly insane, but in the best way possible. I'll fill you in on what we did, where we ate, where we drank, and where we danced. This will likely be my longest blog post ever. So many things!
Thursday: Everyone flies in! We had rented two adjoining houses through Air BnB and although some people's Lyft drivers warned them that we were on "the most dangerous block in Nashville", we didn't experience that at all. We were surrounded by almost identical Air BnBs and I never felt unsafe. The house itself was spartan, but it had enough beds for everyone, a roof deck, and parking. Zero complaints. Also, it was just a quick ride from the airport. My Lyft was less than $20.
My flight had been delayed, so I was a bit later than I had expected and wasn't ready for a 5 pm go time, but the other early arrivals headed off to Bar Sovereign. After drinks, I met up with the crew and we went to the 12 South neighborhood. The whole area was hopping, filled with cute coffee shops, bustling restaurant patios, and great shopping, including Draper James. The store was adorable and having an employee offer us sweet tea as soon as we stepped in the door was the perfect welcome to Nashville. We shopped there for a bit, popped into Five Daughters Bakery for a quick donut (the blueberry with lemon curd makes me drool just thinking about it), and then headed up the street to Ember's Ski Lodge for pre-dinner drinks. They had a great patio, 2-for-1 craft beers, and delicious mozzarella sticks, so they're ok in my book.
After more of our party rolled in, we walked back down 12th Street to Edley's BBQ. They don't take reservations, but you order at the counter and then grab an open table. Also, the bar is separate from the food, so you'll need to order and pay separately. But damn, this food was good. I had the pork sandwich, slaw, and mac & cheese, along with a sweet tea vodka cocktail and I was in heaven. After dinner, we popped down the street to Urban Grub for more cocktails and a celebratory bottle of champagne in honor of the bride-to-be. They had yet another fantastic patio and we were able to sit outside at an enormous round table with a fire pit in the middle.
Our next stop was The Sutler Saloon, located in a strip mall, but oh so much fun. On Thursdays, they have live band karaoke, which it took us awhile to realize because everyone who was singing was incredible. So unless you're a legit singer, I suggest only watching! Seriously, a dude got up and starting singing Radiohead's Creep and my friend and I (both Radiohead fans) said, "No way he'll hit the high notes" and damn, if he didn't hit kill it on those Thom Yorke high notes. That was super fun and when the band wrapped up, we popped downstairs for their '90s dance party, where the latecomers from the West Coast met us out. There's no better way to end a night than dancing to No Diggity with friends that you don't see often enough.
Friday: Up bright and early! We had Biscuit Love for breakfast at the house, which was just what I needed after a late night. The biscuits were delicious, but I was really into the thin sliced ham and pimento cheese that came with them. After breakfast and showering, we went to the Belmont Mansion for a historical home tour. Our tour guide was quirky and delightful, my favorite combination. He answered all our questions and seemed almost happy to be dealing with such a large group of ladies. The House itself was gorgeous and gave us a good sense of some of Nashville's history. Next, it was time to eat again (are you sensing a theme?). In the best move of the entire weekend, we had pre-ordered Hattie B's Hot Chicken. And after seeing the line that went out the door and down the block, I'm so glad we did. We picked up our order and went to Centennial Park near The Parthenon to eat. Hattie B's was so good. My sandwich was either mild or medium (there was some mix up) and while there was definitely heat, the flavor was so good. Paired with pimento mac & cheese, collard greens, and sweet tea lemonade, I was living the Southern dream.
After lunch, we wandered over to check out The Parthenon, a full scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. There's also an art museum inside. At this point, some of the girls headed off to see the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium, but I peeled off on my own to visit Ann Patchett's bookstore, Parnassus Books. I'm actually going to do a whole post on the bookstore, but I'll just tell you here that if you love reading or bookstores or just really aesthetically pleasing organization, you will love this store. I spent over an hour there, just wandering around, reading a bit, poring over the card selection (very high quality), reading some more, putting back six of the eight books I was carrying around with me.
We headed home to decompress for a bit and enjoy some wine on our roof deck. Did I mention the weather was perfect? After getting sixteen women showered and dressed and made-up (no small feat), we went to Pinewood Social for dinner. We purposefully got there a bit early so that we could check it out and have a drink. The place is huge, with an equally large outdoor space. There is bowling and bocce, a pool, a coffee shop, a huge bar, and did I mention it's also a restaurant? We had a private room for dinner and a pre-fixe, family style menu. I definitely recommend doing that if you're dining with a large group like we were. It makes things easier on both your group and the staff. Dinner was delicious! Really, the food was incredible. After each of us telling our favorite story about the bachelorette, we headed to Broadway!
Broadway is a shitshow. There are people everywhere. There are bachelor and bachelorette parties everywhere. There is live music coming out of every bar. It's a scene. Had we been a younger group, I suspect we would've spent more than one night on Broadway. But since we're all elderly, one night was perfect. We started at Acme, four floors of insanity. When that proved too much for us, we went to Robert's Western World. Much more our speed. There was an awesome live band, cheap beers, and possibly some tequila shots. This was the type of place I came to Nashville for. After dancing to all the country music, we left and went to a bar that I'm convinced was a group hallucination. It was in a strip mall, down a giant metal staircase, and it was amazing. Other than maybe 6 or 8 other people, we were the only ones there and the DJ played everything we wanted to. Footloose, Britney, Ke$ha. You can only imagine. Old Glory, thank you for existing, if you actually do.
Saturday: Still with me? Saturday we wanted to explore East Nashville. Our morning started off with some chaos, as those of us who were ready first were sent to get coffee. We were directed to Barista Parlor, a super cool and trendy spot. Now, if we were there to hang out and relax and take our time, it would have been wonderful. For people on a schedule, it was a nightmare. My iced latte was $6.50 and it took 15 minutes to make. As one of my friends said (while making eye contact with a barista), 'We're in the most hipster bullshit coffee shop right now." She wasn't wrong. BUT the coffee, when it finally came, was really, really good. And like I said, had we had time to kill, it would have been ideal. Now late for our tour, we rushed to meet up with everyone else at Olive & Sinclair, a delightful little chocolate shop. Again, we had an awesome tour guide and she told us the history of the company, how she ended up there, and the process for making all of their different products. Also, directly across the street from Olive & Sinclair? A coffee shop. Lesson learned.
Next up, more food! We weren't super hungry, but we made our way to The Pharmacy. They don't take reservations (but you can call ahead to put your name in), so we were in line for quite awhile and by the time we were seated, I was ravenous. The restaurant and beer garden is known for its burgers, so that's what we all got. Mine was delicious and the house made sodas hit the spot. I wasn't quite ready for alcohol again yet, but they had an extensive beer list too.
After lunch, we wandered around East Nashville, checking out lots of different shops like Local Honey and Vinnie Louise. It started pouring, so we headed back to the house to prepare for the evening. We had plans to grab pre-dinner cocktails at The Patterson House, but it wasn't the right place for a group as big as ours, so we found ourselves at Tin Roof, the perfect divey bar to kick things off. There was a band playing, it was happy hour, and we had a great time, but we soon had to make our dinner reservation at Adele's. The space was gorgeous, our waiter was a trip, and the food was insanely good. We did the same thing as at Pinewood Social - family style pre-fixe. It's weirdly relaxing not to have to figure out what you want to order. The meal was pricey, but totally worth it for our last night out!
Dinner was rough for some people who may or may not have fallen asleep at the table, so a carload went back to the house, while the rest of us went back to East Nashville to hit up a couple more spots. We started at Urban Cowboy, a really bizarre bar tucked into the backyard of a bed & breakfast. The drinks were tasty. Nashville has an awesome cocktail scene. We had a drink there, a few more people went home, and then the last women standing dropped by No. 308, which ended up being the best bar in the world. I've never seen such efficient bartenders. They would make an elaborate "mixology" style drink in the same amount of time it takes me to make a vodka soda. They were so fast that they were never busy. We never had to wait for a drink. There was a great dj, spinning tunes on vinyl. They played bad horror movies (Zombeavers!) on a projector. The crowd was fun, the music was great, we had space to dance or just to sit at the bar. Another magical bar in Nashville. Apparently it's full of them!
Sunday: Last Day! A handful of people took off really early, but most of us were staying for at least part of the day, so we decided to drive out to The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's estate. First, we were starving and in serious need of bagels, so we found Bagel Face Bakery. I may have gotten two bagels, one with cream cheese and one veggie sandwich for later. Best decision ever. This was definitely a good spot, but I suggest getting there early because they close when they run out of bagels. Satiated, we were off to The Hermitage. Let me just say that Andrew Jackson was a garbage human being and arguably our worst President, so paying money to see his estate was not high on my to-do list. But my friend told me that when she visits somewhere that is objectionable like this, she'll then make a donation to a great cause, like the NAACP. I support that outlook.
Anyway, The Hermitage is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Nashville. The home is beautiful of course, and the grounds are impressive, but in terms of other historical homes and Presidential homes, it doesn't quite stand up. Definitely go to Belmont Mansion over The Hermitage. Before we knew it, it was time for the second wave to depart, myself included. While some people went to get ice cream at Jeni's, I popped back to the house to change, eat my bagel sandwich (thinking ahead!), and grab my luggage. Another quick Lyft ride and I was on my way back to DC.Where We Ate:
-Rent a car-
While Lyfts were easy to come by (and cheap!) it was worth it to have cars accessible to us. If we weren't drinking, we drove. For most of our daytime activities, this made the most sense.
-Have your ID-
I've never been so consistently carded anywhere else in my life. From dive bars to cocktail lounges, burger joints to fancy restaurants, we were carded at every single place we went. I'm not sure if Kentucky has strict rules on this or what, but don't leave your ID at home.
-Make reservations or at least call ahead-
Nashville has a vibrant food scene and places are packed. If you can, make reservations ahead of time. If the restaurant doesn't offer reservations, try to call ahead and put your name in, especially if you have a large group.
Where We Drank:
Where We Played:
Where We Stayed:
Have any questions about my time in Nashville? Leave a comment below or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org!