Nashville. Nashvegas. Music City USA. Whatever you call it - this city is guaranteed to provide you with a good time (it does help if you're a country music fan). When my sister and I were deciding where to head for our second annual sister trip we wanted something within driving distance of Michigan (it's only about 7 hours from my house) and a city we could easily conquer over a long weekend. So we landed on Nashville!
After deciding where you're going the next step is usually figuring out where you're going to stay once you get there. There are a lot of great hotels located in the heart of downtown Nashville but they can get quite pricey - especially during the summer months. And to be honest you don't really have to stay downtown to enjoy all that it has to offer. We Ubered to Broadway two nights of our trip and each ride was no more than $10 - and totally worth not having to deal with parking. With that in mind we ended up booking the cutest Airbnb in the perfect location with easy access to 12 South and the Gulch as well as downtown. (Get $40 off your Airbnb stay here)
Nashville is one of those cities that can easily be explored within a couple days which makes it great for a long weekend trip. It's also centrally located within the U.S. which makes it an ideal location to meet up with friends who may be scattered throughout the country. We ended up jumping in the car after work on Thursday evening and hit the road. My brother lives in Indianapolis so we were able to stop halfway and drive the rest of the way on Friday morning but you could easily make the drive in one day. I'm so excited to share exactly how we spent the next three days of our trip.
After hitting the road early in the morning we were able to make it to Nashville around noon - just in time for lunch! Our first destination was to explore 12 South. It's hard to believe that any half-mile stretch could be considered a "destination" but the 12 South neighborhood in Nashville will certainly prove you wrong! While a majority of this area is residential the main strip, which is completely walkable from one end to the other, is packed full of delicious restaurants, gorgeous murals, and some of the trendiest boutiques.
My complete guide to 12 South is available here. Some of the can't miss highlights include:
One of our college friends recently moved to Nashville so we had plans to meet up for dinner at Pinewood Social. This trendy hangout is so much more than delicious food and drinks. The industrial-chic space also features a bowling alley (be sure to make a reservation well in advance), outdoor patio, and swimming pool with the most adorable airstream camper bar. Unfortunately it wasn't warm enough to hang out by the pool but we had a great time eating and drinking. I had the lobster roll which I would highly recommend. They are also known for their house-made shandy which is a Miller Lite draft mixed with grapefruit - sounds like a weird combo but trust me it's worth trying! This is the place to be morning, noon or night and in addition to dinner they also have a breakfast, brunch and lunch menu to choose from.
The weather was a bit iffy during April in Nashville - but this afternoon called for some sun so we headed out to explore the Gulch. This area has only recently become popular within the last several years but now it seems like there are new shops or restaurants popping up on every corner. However, even with the large amount of people flocking to this area the parking is ample with multiple garages within walking distance of the sites below. The garages also offer your first hour of parking for free if you're just stopping in to a couple shops or reasonable rates per hour if you plan to be there for longer.
This neighborhood is another must-see - so much so that it deserves its own guide. Click here to read how we spent our afternoon exploring the Gulch. Some of the highlights include:
You can't come to Nashville and not spend at least one night downtown bar hopping on Broadway! This strip of town offers your choice of countless bars and restaurants - all with their own flare. We grabbed an Uber and headed down with no real destination in mind. It's a very walkable area and easy to hop from one bar to the next. And the best part? No cover which means you're free to stop in and if you don't like the vibe you can head back on out. This is by far the most popular area of Nashville with thousands of people flooding there each night. You're guaranteed to see at least five bachelorette parties and sometimes even walking into a bar, much less trying to get a drink can be a bit overwhelming. My biggest advice? Always head up. Most of the bars have three or four stories with multiple stages. The bottom floor is always packed to the gills and by heading up you're sure to enjoy your time more and even grab a seat.
We started our night at Luke Bryan's 32 Bridge which was my favorite of all the bars. It offers such a cool atmosphere with something different on each floor including two outdoor rooftop patios, lighted dance floor, and Sushi bar on the top floor which is where we ate dinner. They also have a bar menu available on the other floors. Once our stomachs were full and we had a few drinks in us we were off to the next stop. A few of my other favorite stops on Broadway are:
After a long night on Broadway we took full advantage of sleeping in and having a late start to the morning. Once we got ready for the day our first stop on the agenda was Baked on 8th - the most insta-worthy cafe filled with delicious baked goods. I got their homemade cherry pop tart and my sister had a slice of their banana bread. In addition to the neon "Baked in Nashville" sign they also have the cutest Life is Sweet mural on the outside of the building.
Next up on the agenda was a pit stop at Antique Archeology - the storefront for the popular American Pickers store. I love watching this show so I couldn't wait to check out their store which is located only a few miles outside of the Gulch. We found a spot to park on the street just outside the store and wandered around hunting for treasures. Little did we know there are some other hidden treasures in the same lot as their store. Right next door is The Bang Candy Company known for their varieties of homemade marshmallows. We also wandered over to the Jack Daniel's store and distillery which offers free tastings. In the same building is Grinder's Switch Winery - be sure to try their wine slushies topped with their blackberry wine!
Our stomachs told us it was time for lunch and we had one thing in mind Hattie B's Hot Chicken. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones with this idea. We stopped by the one on Charlotte Avenue and the line was out the door (plus it was freezing that day). Disappointed, we decided to make a quick stop at the It's Gonna Be Okay Mural (3200 Charlotte Ave) before heading to a second Hattie B's location on 8th Street. Another line out the door! Moral of the story - if you want to try Nashville's famous hot chicken be prepared to stand in line or go at a super off time. Instead, we ended up heading back to 12 South and stopped at the hip diner Flipside - their tator tot nachos were heavenly!
After freshening up at our AirBnb we headed back down to Broadway to explore some more. It was much quieter and less crowded on a Sunday evening. We started our adventures by walking the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge which offers great photo ops and views of the city - visit around sunset if you can! From there we headed out in search of a drink and more live music. We ended up on the second level of Honkey Tonk Central and I sipped on a local Yahzoo brew at a table near the window overlooking Broadway - perfect combination if you ask me. When we were ready for dinner we headed over to Acme Feed & Seed - a multilevel venue known for their creative cuisine and cocktails. We were on the hunt for more sushi (second level) and they certainly disappoint. They also have a rooftop patio which overlooks all of Broadway. Unfortunately the evening was unseasonably cold (like Michigan cold) so our original plan to grab a drink on the rooftop at Rarebird didn't pan out but think stylish patio is a great stop on a sunny day.
If you had more time to wander around downtown, other must see sites include:
It was time to hit the road and head back to Michigan, but not before one last Nashville adventure. Every time we passed Biscuit Love the line was out the door and down the road. We were determined not to miss this deliciousness so instead we went at 7:30 a.m. on Monday before we hit the road and were able to park for free in the garage right across the street, order immediately, and have our choice of almost any seat in the place. So worth it! Home to the fluffiest homemade biscuits I've ever had and the iconic Nashville lighted sign it's another must see. You'll also hear people rave about their famous "bonuts" which are biscuit fried donuts tossed in sugar and topped with lemon mascarpone.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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