Nashville Travel Guide: Explore the City’s Creative, Cultural & Culinary Scenes
Nashville Travel Guide: Explore the City's Creative, Cultural + Culinary Scenes
By Esme Benjamin
It’s hard to resist Nashville’s effervescent energy. And while its nightlife is certainly exceptional, there’s more to Music City than country tunes and generous pours of Tennessee whiskey. A new guard of creatives is transforming Nashville’s landscape with a slew of independent art galleries and boutique stores, and a buzzy culinary scene that exceeds the city's famous hot chicken and fluffy biscuits. For an experience that ticks all the right boxes, from culinary to sartorial and everything in between, book a trip with the help of our Nashville travel guide.
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Stay at One of Nashville’s Hottest Hotels
The slew of recent high-end hotel openings in Nashville (The Joseph, W Hotel, and Grand Hyatt to name a few) speaks to its reputation as a cosmopolitan city with a stylish sensibility. Elevate your experience from beginning to end with a stay at 1 Hotel or the new outpost of members club SoHo House. Alternatively, check out the swanky renovation of historic landmark The Hermitage Hotel, a Tennessee classic since 1910. Nashville's brand new Four Seasons and Conrad are also slated to open later in 2022.
Follow Your Taste Buds
Nashville is in the midst of a culinary renaissance thanks to new reservation-worthy restaurants including Yolan, which is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Tony Mantuano, and Appalachia-inspired Audrey, the flagship restaurant of Chef Sean Brock. But don’t overlook the city’s decades-old favorites and true mom-and-pop shops like Arnold’s, an award-winning cafeteria-style restaurant (make sure you save room for some hot pepper chocolate pie), and Elliston Place Soda Shop, a classic meat-and-three diner complete with jukeboxes. If you’re looking for a buzzy atmosphere and trendy aesthetic, Henrietta Red, a seasonal small plates spot with a popular oyster happy hour, and Rolf & Daughters, an industrial-chic space serving up New American dishes, fit the bill.
Discover a Secret Speakeasy
Fans of speakeasies will be in their element in Nashville, a city with more than its fair share of hidden drinking establishments. Seek out Patterson House, one of the original craft cocktail venues in the city, and settle in for table service. It’s one of the classiest bars in Nashville, with a hushed conspiratorial ambiance and a menu of precisely mixed drinks to satisfy all palates. Next head to the Hidden Bar beneath Noelle hotel. Located behind a door disguised as a storage closet, this speakeasy specializes in delicious cocktails and bar snacks in a space that’s often styled for seasonal holidays and special occasions. Conclude your hidden bar crawl at cocktail and piano lounge Fable Lounge. Don’t forget to check out the venue’s schedule of themed events, from tastings and pairings to galas and masquerade balls.
Explore Music Beyond Broadway
You can’t fully experience Nashville without hitting at least one honky-tonk, but for the best live music, venture away from the touristy venues on Broadway. Located in the Gulch, The Station Inn has been called “the Carnegie Hall of Bluegrass,” and has been drawing crowds with an intimate, no-frills vibe and standout country performers since the 80s. Legendary drop-ins have included Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and Randy Travis, to name a few. In trendy East Nashville, cavernous Basement East is known among locals as the place to discover the next big thing in music or catching a special guest appearance from a well known artist. It’s also owned by Mike Grimes of Grimey’s New & Preloved Music – one of the city’s most famous record stores.
Treat Yourself With No Regrets
Nashville’s shopping scene is packed with places to pick up unique items, from rare records curated by music industry insiders to stand-out clothing produced by local designers. Though East Nashville, Green Hills, Hillsboro Village and the Downtown area are all top shopping spots, our favorite place to browse is 12th Avenue South, or “12South” as the locals call it. For the perfect pair of jeans, go to Imogene and Willie – a denim studio housed in an old gas station where tailors will custom fit jeans to your body. Down the avenue you’ll find “a general store for the modern tastemaker” called White’s Mercantile, which stocks a thoughtful selection of home decor, skincare, books, clothing, and lots more (it’s perfect for gift shopping).
Feed Your Creative Curiosity
Nashville’s creative talents encompass so much more than a world famous music scene. Take a deep dive into the city’s cultural side, beginning at Centennial Park’s Parthenon, a Greek-style structure which houses a collection of art works, and celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. For a family-friendly art experience, head to the Frist Art Museum, a world-class institution with a revolving schedule of impressive exhibits, featuring local artists as well as international ones. Stop by the on-site Martin ArtQuest Gallery, which offers interactive art-making stations where kids can create their own masterpieces. Finally, don’t miss Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, an art museum and botanical garden set on a grand estate which dates back to the 1930s. With wellness classes, educational programs, art collections, and 55 acres of elegantly landscaped grounds to discover, you could easily spend an entire day exploring Cheekwood.
This story is sponsored by Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. To see all that Music City has to offer and to plan your trip go to www.visitmusiccity.com