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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

Best of Nashville-The Ultimate Guide

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

I just returned from a long girl's weekend in Nashville, Tennessee and I already can't wait to go back! If you love listening to live music by talented musicians, you need to plan a trip to Nashville, also known as Music City, immediately if not sooner. Nashville has been the launching pad for many past and present popular musicians. As you walk up and down Broadway, there is live music playing in every bar all day and all night by excellent performers hoping to be discovered and make it big.

Even if music isn't your cup of (sweet) tea, Nashville has plenty of other things to keep you occupied. There is amazing food, sporting events, museums, history, and lots of shopping. And don't forget the moonshine! This was my second visit and I can tell you it definitely won't be my last. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Nashville and I am sure you will love it too.

Best Places to Stay:

Downtown: If the main focus of your visit will be the honky tonks on Broadway or attending a concert or sporting event at Bridgestone Arena or Nissan Stadium, you will want to stay in the central downtown area. There are many hotel choices downtown, but the prices tend to be a bit higher due to the location. The trade off is being able to walk a block or two to many of Nashville's attractions. This convenience will come in handy after a full day of sightseeing or bar hopping to listen to all the great music. We stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel Nashville Downtown and I highly recommend it! The location was fantastic and an added bonus was the incredible free hot breakfast and the free snacks and drinks at the 5:30 Kickback every day. The breakfast was more substantial than the usual free breakfast offered in hotels. There was fresh scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, a waffle station and a cook making pancakes in adorable Music City shapes! The afternoon "snacks" included a full on dinner buffet with alfredo pasta, grilled chicken, garden salad and soup. You also got a punch card for three free drinks every day during your stay (cocktails, wine or beer!). Unfortunately we were usually out and about around 5:30 every day so only took advantage of the Kickback on the first day, but it was there if we wanted it. It would be a good way to keep your spending down as you can potentially cover two meals and drinks everyday!

The Gulch: The first time I visited Nashville I stayed in an Airbnb in The Gulch. The Gulch is a newer upscale area with chic boutiques and trend-setting restaurants. It is a great place to stay, especially if you don't plan to spend a majority of your time on Broadway. Broadway is only a quick 15 minute walk away, but The Gulch is definitely removed from the craziness of the main downtown area if you prefer a more low key vibe. The Gulch is where the famous "What Lifts You Up" Wings mural is located for that perfect Nashville Insta moment. There are only a few hotels in this area, so you would most likely be staying in an Airbnb if you want to stay in The Gulch.

Best Things to Do:

Old Town Trolley Tours: Whenever I travel to a new spot, one of the first things I do is to jump on the hop on/hop off tour buses that most tourist areas have. This gives me a general overview of the area and also highlights those things I want to make sure I see before I leave. Nashville was no exception. We took the Old Town Trolley Tours which has 14 different stops as it takes you around Nashville. Some of these stops will be specifically highlighted in this list, but there are many different stops that may be of interest. The great thing about the hop on/hop off is that it gives you transportation around the city and you can get off and explore where ever you choose. Another Trolley will be around to pick you up about every 30 minutes. To me the cost of the ticket is totally worth the benefits!

Honkey Tonk Bar Crawl: Obviously! This is the main Nashville attraction. Most honky tonk bars are located on lower Broadway, known as Honky Tonk Highway. Live music starts at 10 am every morning and goes until 3 am! There are so many bars and honky tonks it is hard to know where to go. Some of it is just a trial and error effort. There are no cover charges in Nashville, so you can just walk up and down Broadway (and the nearby side streets) and pop into any place that looks interesting. Most bars pipe the music being played inside onto the sidewalk, so if you hear someone you like you can run inside to listen some more. Many of the bars have several different floors with a different band on each floor so make sure to check out every floor of a place you like. If it is a nice day or evening, be sure to head to the very top if the bar has a rooftop. Many of the bars in Nashville are partially owned (or inspired) by today's most popular country music stars: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton to name a few. So if you have a favorite country musician, check to see if they have a place and be sure to put that one on your list. Having been to Nashville twice now, I have found a few places that I consistently enjoy:

  • Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row

  • Honky Tonk Central

  • Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock-n-Roll Steakhouse

  • Luke Bryan's 32 Bridge-Especially the rooftop bar!

  • Lucky Bastard Saloon-One of the newest honky tonks on Broadway.

  • Nudie's Honky Tonk-A great spot for a rooftop selfie capturing Broadway lights in the background!

Yee Haw Brewery/Ole Smokey Distillery: We discovered this place after a tip from a local and we are so glad we did! The Ole Smokey Distillery is on 6th and Peabody, just a short walk from lower Broadway. It is a great option for lunch before heading down to the honky tonks. Before lunch, you should definitely do the moonshine tasting. For $10 you get a drink (either a Yee Haw craft beer or a seltzer) and several tastings of the flavored Ole Smokey Moonshine. After you complete the tasting you get a $10 coupon that you can use in the bar area for another drink or you can put it towards the purchase of moonshine to take home or a souvenir from the gift shop. So basically the tasting ends up being free...not to mention fun! We sampled Blue Flame Moonshine (basically tasted like Everclear-yuck!), Sour Cherry, Butter Pecan, Peanut Butter, and pickles and pineapples soaked in moonshine. These flavors are just the tip of the ice berg as the wall was filled with a colorful display of other varieties of moonshine and whiskey! We then made our way over to the bar and my friend Christina (a craft beer fan) bought a flight of Yee Haw brews to try. The snack bar offered several different types of tacos from White Duck Taco that were reasonably priced at $4.95 a piece. Christina got a fish taco while I opted for a Thai chicken taco with mango salsa. What a fun way to spend the afternoon!

Line Dancing Lessons at Wildhorse Saloon: The Wildhorse Saloon is an iconic Nashville venue. It has the largest dance floor in the downtown area and an expansive stage for live performances. There are two floors to view the stage and a suspended herd of wild horses on the ceiling. Line dancing lessons are free and taught by an instructor in between sets of live music. We learned two different line dances including one called the NashVegas Shuffle. The schedule for performances and line dancing lessons can be found on the Wildhorse Saloon website. They also have a full menu, so you may want to consider this place for dinner and a show (plus a little bit of dancing). There really isn't too much room to line dance at the other honky tonks, so it was fun to have the opportunity and the instruction.

Museums and Historic Buildings: There are many, many museums and historic buildings to tour in Nashville. Admission charges vary. Here is a list of just a few:

  • Frist Art Museum

  • Tennessee State Museum-Located near the Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park This is a stop on the Trolley tour.

  • The Parthenon-Nashville is called the "Athens of the South" primarily because of its focus on higher education, but also because it is home to a full scale replica of The Parthenon. Inside the replica is a museum that houses paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries and, like The Parthenon in Greece, houses a 42 foot statue of Athena. This is also a stop on the Trolley tour.

  • Country Music Hall of Fame-I visited this museum on my first visit. It is substantial and took about half a day to get through it all. There is a lot to see and experience at the museum. I love country music so I enjoyed it, but if you are not a big country music fan it may not be worth the cost and time to you.

  • Ryman Auditorium- You can tour the building that was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. It is cool to see this historic venue up close and personal. There are still live performances at the Ryman and I have been told it is a fantastic place to see a show, so you may want to check out the schedule during your stay to see if you can catch one.

  • Patsy Cline Museum-I have not visited this museum, but love Patsy Cline. Maybe next visit!

  • Johnny Cash Museum-Christina and I went to the Johnny Cash museum on this trip. It is small and doesn't take long, but costs $22.95. Personally, I didn't think it was worth it as I am not a huge Johnny Cash fan. However, for a true fan there was a lot of cool memorabilia that would be interesting. What I did enjoy was the Johnny Cash cafe/bar right next store. There was a cool "Johnny" vibe to the place. That doesn't cost anything to go in!

Gaylord Opryland/Grand Ole Opry: The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center complex is located outside of downtown Nashville. You will require a car or an Uber ride to visit. If you have not been before, it is worth the trip. The complex is amazing and is a one of a kind 9 acre atrium with indoor streams and gardens. There is a variety of activities, shopping and restaurants, Of course it is the current home to the iconic Grand Ole Opry. I went to a show at the Grand Ole Opry on my first visit and am glad I did it. I didn't feel the need to make the trek out there this time, but something that everyone who goes to Nashville should do at least once.

Sporting Events or Concerts: I like to schedule some of my trips around a sporting event or concert that I want to see. That way, I can take in an event I would like to enjoy anyway, but also get to check out a new area! The Tennessee Titans play football at Nissan Stadium which is walking distance from downtown. The Nashville Predators play hockey at Bridgestone Arena which also hosts a variety of concerts and is located right on the Honky Tonk Highway. I planned my first visit to Nashville to see the Zac Brown Band at Bridgestone Arena and got the best tickets I have ever had for a concert at a reasonable price! I am spoiled now. If you are interested in going to Nashville, see if you can schedule it around an event or concert. So easy to do both here!

Best Places to Eat:

Prince's Hot Chicken or Hattie B's: Nashville is known for its' hot chicken, so you have to try it at least once while you are here. Prince's Hot Chicken is the original hot chicken restaurant. Hattie B's appears to be the most popular. At every Hattie B location there is a long line of customer's waiting to get a taste of the local favorite. Hattie B's has levels of hotness so you don't have to feel left out if your palate doesn't appreciate spicy. Their levels are described as Southern (No Heat), Mild (A Touch of Heat), Medium (Warming Up), Hot! (Feel the Heat), Damn Hot!! (Fire Starter), and Shut the Cluck Up!!! (Burn Notice). How brave are you? Hattie B's also has several other traditional southern foods on their menu so there is something for everyone.

Assembly Food Hall: Assembly Food Hall is located on 5th and Broadway so it is a perfect place to grab a bite to eat while cruising up and down Broadway at the honky tonks. Assembly Food Hall has over 30 different eateries (including locations for Hattie B's and Prince's Hot Chicken), bars and three stages so you don't have to miss any live music while you eat. Christina grabbed some sushi while I chose a wood-fired personal pizza. A great space if you are with a group because you can avoid the prolonged discussion about where you should eat when everyone is in the mood for something different. All the different options can be found here.

.Biscuit Love: Biscuit Love is located in The Gulch and unfortunately I have never been because there is always a SUPER long line! I have included it in this blog because the consistent long lines are a sign that it must be pretty good. Biscuit Love is a local family-owned business that serves biscuits and breakfast. They started in 2012 with food trucks and now have three brick and mortar restaurants. Their location in The Gulch is open daily from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. My recommendation if you really want to try one of their award winning biscuits is to get up early and hopefully beat the line. Good luck!

Milk and Honey: Milk and Honey is another breakfast place in The Gulch. I got one of the best chocolate croissants in my life from Milk and Honey on my first visit. This time I tried the almond croissant and it was just as spectacular. They have sit down restaurant with a substantial menu, but again long lines have foiled my plans to check out the sit down options. I was "forced" to stick with the walk-up bakery options. Can't say I was disappointed.

Goo Goo Chocolate Co.: Goo Goo Clusters are Nashville's Official Candy. The store is located across from the Johnny Cash Museum and Bar. You can buy a variety of premade Goo Goo Clusters or you can design your own personal Goo Goo Cluster that will be made while you wait. The personalized Goo Goo can be made with a variety of sweets and add ins to satisfy your own unique sweet tooth. Click here to start planning what you want to include in the *Insert Your Name Here* Goo Goo Cluster. We bought a few of the premade and each one was delicious! We tried the classic Pecan Goo Goo Cluster (pecans, caramel, and marshmellow nougat covered in milk chocolate), Lil Goos (peanuts, caramel and nougat covered in milk chocolate) and the PB&P Premium Goo Goo Cluster (peanut butter, caramel, and pretzels covered in dark chocolate). Another Nashville original you don't want to miss!

Yee Haw Brewery/Ole Smokey Distillery: I already talked about the reasonably priced, delicious tacos served at the Ole Smokey Distillery above, but wanted to include it here under Best Places to Eat so you don't forget about this option.

Best Places to Shop:

There is so much to do in Nashville, you might think that you will not have any time for shopping. But that would be a mistake! There are several places you will want to check out in order to pick up those special gifts for family or friends left behind or that special something that will always remind you of your incredible trip to Nashville!

The Gulch: You can find some of the usual chain stores like Urban Outfitters and Lululemon in The Gulch, but you can also find chic boutiques that have unique vibes and trendy clothing and home decor items. One store in particular that I loved was Kittenish, a very pink and very girly boutique owned by Jesse James Decker. The branding in the store was on-point and the prices were reasonable. It just felt fun to shop there! There is also a store in The Gulch called Paddywax Candle Bar where you can sip mimosas and make your own candle with a variety of fragrances to choose from.

Marathon Village: Marathon Village is a stop on the Old Town Trolley route. Marathon Motor Works is an old automobile factory that has been transformed into a unique retail complex. Stores here include Antique Archaeology (owned by American Picker's star Mike Wolfe), Jack Daniels and Harley Davidson stores that sell licensed merchandise, souvenir shops, an olive oil shop and a distillery and winery that offer tastings. In addition to the stores, there are artifacts from the auto manufacturing history that line the halls giving the location a unique and interesting feel. The half an hour time between Trolleys gives you just enough time to check out this area and hop back on to continue your Trolley tour.

Broadway: Mixed in along the honky tonks are stores that sell authentic cowboy apparel like boots and hats. They are ready to outfit you so you can fit in with the crowd. There is also upscale shopping right outside the Assembly Food Hall on 5th and Broadway with stores like Free People, Sephora, the Apple Store, Ariat and the Nash Collection (where I found my really cute NASH sweatshirt to remember my trip!).

Nashville is such a unique and vibrant city I have no doubt you will fall in love with it just like I have. There is so much to do, if you discover something fun that I haven't mentioned, please comment and share! I will definitely be back so would love new suggestions! It's not goodbye, Nashville, it's see you later!


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