Typically before we travel to a new place, I spend a good amount of time doing research and making a tentative list of places for us to visit. I ask friends from those places or others who’ve been there what I should check out. And I browse online for reviews and photos.
While I love to recap our trips here on the blog, those posts tend to go into details about people we met or conversations had along the way, and I figured there might be some of you who just want a quick guide of places to check out. So I’m putting together some travel guides that compile lists of places I’ve checked out on my travels or the spots that were recommended to me by locals/friends that I may not have had time to check out.
First up in this series, is Nashville — a city that was long on my “to-visit” list based on all of the rave reviews from others.
For a place to stay…Union Station Hotel – an old train station converted into a hotel with beautiful architecture and art throughout, as well as a really friendly staff.
Aloft Nashville West End – a great location for walking to some of the key neighborhoods worth checking out.
The Hermitage Hotel – the original hotel in Nashville, and perfect if you’re feeling fancy.
Biscuit Love – the line for this place forms early, but it’s with very good reason. It’s worth the wait, as the breakfast we had here is one we still talk about. Try the coffee soda (pictured above) and the bonuts, which are a delicious combination of biscuits and donuts.
Loveless Café – a bit of a drive outside of downtown, but a popular spot for southern comfort food and hospitality.
Pancake Pantry – really good pancakes, but also very popular with tourists, so prepare yourself for a wait.
The Southern – this is the pick if you want a nice brunch in a trendy setting.
Hattie B’s – Man, oh man. If there’s a top 10 list of fried chicken spots in America, I’d easily argue that this fried chicken deserves to be on that list. The heat levels range from mild to “shut the cluck up!“, and I found the medium/”touch of burn” to be just perfect. The place is popular, but we arrived for an early lunch (a little after 11:00 a.m.), and only waited about 15 minutes.
The Pharmacy Burger Parlor – This place is as much about the range of unique burgers on the menu as it is about the awesome outdoor space that’s perfect for hanging with friends.
Edley’s BBQ – When is barbecue not a good idea? A friend from Nashville told me the BBQ nachos at Edley’s are a must.
The Farmer’s Market – Open everyday, you can sample food from several different merchants. You’ll get the largest selection if you go on a Saturday.
Mas Tacos Por Favor – Sometimes just described as “Mas Tacos,” this spot in East Nashville is beloved by locals and visitors alike. It’s nothing fancy; it’s all about the food.
For dinner (book ahead)…
Rolf & Daughters – new American cuisine that’s seasonal and served in a cool, converted industrial building. This one might be the hardest reservation to score, but they do take/encourage walk-ins.
Husk – A modern approach to Southern food from a James Beard award-winning chef.
Etch – Really creative dishes that pair ingredients you probably wouldn’t think to put together, and yet it all works so well. We went with another couple and all of us loved our food.
Five Daughters Bakery – this family-run bakery is most known for its 100-layer donuts (similar to the Dominique Ansel Bakery cronut), but they also serve paleo and vegan donuts, so there’s something for everyone.
Jeni’s Ice Cream – there are several locations around the city, and even some outside of Nashville, but this place is totally worth the visit for the rotating unique flavors, like roasted strawberry buttermilk and wildberry lavender.
Goo Goo Candy Factory – a “Goo Goo” is a specialty candy that was created in Nashville, and in addition to trying one of the sweet treats, you can visit their downtown store and take the the 100+ year history behind the candies.
For coffee…Barista Parlor – this might be the most I’ve paid for a latte, but what I had was absolutely delicious. The one in the Gulch is nice and large, so a good place to hang if you need a break and space to hang for a little while.
Frothy Monkey – the location in the 12 South neighborhood is the original one, and it’s a converted bungalow with a laid back vibe.
Crema – these folks are serious about their coffee — how they source it, brew it, and serve it. They even offer classes if you’re wanting to know more about how to make a better cup at home.
The Well – If you’re going to be spending $5 on a coffee, wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re helping to do some good in the world? The Well uses its profits to provide people with access to clean water in places around the world.
Listen to some live music – The options are plentiful, even if country music isn’t your thing. Check out B.B. King’s for a mainstream eclectic mix, The Listening Room for up and coming songwriters, and the Grand Ole Opry for the country music experience people think of when they think of Nashville.
Predators’ game – I learned you don’t have to be an ice hockey fan to enjoy a Predators’ game. The fans and the action are both a lot of fun, and the arena in right downtown in the middle of everything.
Pinewood Social – You can eat, drink, bowl, take a dip, or play some bocce ball all in one place.
For gifts to take home…
White’s Mercantile – It’s like a modern version of an old country store, and the hardest thing about shopping for other people in this place is resisting the urge to buy something for yourself.
It’s Vintage Baby – Really unique clothes and items for the little ones in your life.
Thistle Farms – You can find these body and home products in stores around Nashville and feel good about your purchase which supports women who are survivors of sex-trafficking and addiction.
- Downtown – for museums, music nightlife, restaurants, bars, and the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge for great views of the city
- The Gulch – for restaurants, shopping, views from the Thompson Hotel rooftop, and the angel wings mural
- 12 South – for boutique shopping, eating, and the I Believe in Nashville mural
- East Nashville – for a grittier, cool side of Nashville
- Hillsboro – for small shops and dining, south of Vanderbilt University
- Franklin – for shopping and dining in a crazy quaint neighborhood