I’ve only lived in Nashville for about a year and a half – but I’m a native Tennessean and I knew before moving here I already loved this city… What I didn’t know – is how many people would agree with me! Obviously, it’s not surprising because Nashville is seriously the Cat’s Pajamas.
The most common email I’ve gotten since I’ve moved back to TN? Asking for Nashville recommendations. So many, that I’ve kept this in my notes and I copy&paste. I add and subtract a few as things come and go, but I thought I would go ahead and make this a blog post so more people can enjoy my Nashville favorites! Below you’ll find my favorite restaurants, sites to see and places to shop, links are included!
Of course, we’re known as Music City for a reason. Almost every where you go you’ll hear live music, whether it’s outside a bar on Broadway, in literally every single bar on Broadway, at the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman, or at one of our many music venues.There’s even live music at the airport. It’s kind of what we do here. Here’s a list of some of the best music venues in Nashville. Don’t be surprised if you see celebrities around, we have plenty of them who live here, but we don’t bother them.
*Note: Depending on when you are reading this, some of the options may have changed!
Hotel bars are always a good idea in Nashville. In case you haven’t heard, we have a hotel shortage… so Air BnB’s are everywhere. Boutique hotels though – on the rise! Which make for awesome bars and rooftops. Here are a few of my favorites!
–The Bobby Hotel: The lobby is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. A giant chandelier greets you and a sleek staircase. But the real must-see at the Bobby – is the rooftop!
You’ll get nearly 360-degree views of downtown Nashville…only blocked by a giant bus on the rooftop. Yes, a giant bus.
When it was raised up onto the roof we carried it live on-air – so I knew it was going to be something special.
You can sit inside the bus and have drinks, or in one of the many lounge chairs that will give you all the retro vibes. The coolest spot on the rooftop is in front of the bus! The restaurant on the lower level, the Tavern, is also delicious.
–The L.A. Jackson. This one is an oldie but a goodie. The Thompson Hotel is one of my favorite Nashville hotels. It’s right in the heart of the Gulch and walkable to a number of cool spots. A delicious coffee bar is on the bottom floor – but the rooftop is where it’s at. Chic palm tree wallpaper, millenial pink vibes and all the gold inside the open-air bar and restaurant. Then walk outside to breathtaking views of our city, sprinkled with twinkling lights and seats.
–The Noelle: The rooftop at the Rare Bird is rare indeed…
BARS & BOOZING: This one is kind of overwhelming. Nashville is often referred to as a Music town with a drinking problem. Or a drinking town with a Music problem. Either way, wherever you go in this city you’ll get a lot of both.
The best way to do this is by neighborhood. Starting with BROADWAY/DOWNTOWN BARS:
Of course, the honky-tonk tours are a popular thing… but most of the people you see up and down Broadway do not live in Tennessee. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good time, it’s just not a local hot spot. That being said, you MUST go if you’ve never been!
Here are my favorite spots on Broadway:
–Tootsie’s is a classic bar, they have a rooftop with an awesome view of Broadway. It’s always packed and there is always live music. If you go to Nashville, you must go to Tootsie’s.
–Acme Feed & Seed: If you want to dance, Acme is your spot. Also great views of the city, the river and Nissan Stadium.
–FGL House: You know that country group Florida Georgia Line? This is their bar. It’s a honky tonk good time – and you’ll dance until your boots give you blisters.
–The Stage: A staple on Broadway! Live music, that real country music feel, you can’t go wrong at the Stage.
–Rippy’s: Another solid choice. It’s right next to Bridgestone Arena. Also great BBQ!
–George Jones Museum: Yes, there is live music here, too. Plus a beautiful rooftop.
If you really want the country music experience – start your day at the Ryman for a tour. Then head on over to Tootsie’s and bar hop. You’ll have a blast! (Just watch out for all the bachelorette parties!)
-For non-bar hoppers, check out the Johnny Cash Museum, the Goo Goo Clusters store, and House of Cards. HOC is right below the Johnny Cash museum, and although you definitely need reservations, this place is super cool.
-If you’re a real country music fan, stop by The Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s not far from Broadway and it’s a beautiful museum. Make sure you stop by Hatch Show Print in the same building, printers still use those old school blocks for printing. Take a tour and make your own print, hear the history and grab an old-school music poster, which you likely just learned about in your tour of the Ryman!
-Not too far away you’ll find Etch – it’s in the Encore tower in downtown. Delicious food, chic atmosphere. Good for groups or an intimate setting.
–The Diner: A 6-story restaurant, (every floor is different) with views for days of downtown. It’s also open 24hrs!
–The Southern: Southern food + oysters with a unique twist in a chic downtown location.
–Merchant’s is probably my favorite restaurant to pop in on on Broadway. It’s definitely the most chill, but still a good time.
DOWNTOWN EXTRA: Don’t forget to drive or walk through Music Row. It’s a Nashville staple and what makes this city so special.
12 SOUTH: This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Nashville. (12th Ave S). It’s where Nashville’s own, Reese Witherspoon has her flagship store, Draper James. Also make sure you stop by White’s Mercantile general store and plenty of other boutique’s you’ll love. You’ll probably spot Amelia’s Flower Truck where you can grab fresh blooms, or Nashville’s Peach Truck where you can get delicious peach cobbler. And the popular “I believe in Nashville” Mural everyone gets their picture taken at. If it were me visiting – I would park at one end of 12 South and walk up and down. From coffee to boutiques to food and dessert, plus all the mural photo ops, you’ll easily spend hours hopping around.
In Nashville, we turn our noses up to most chain restaurants. We like to be unique. But Bartaco is one I will always recommend. The tacos are delicious, the people-watching is fantastic, and the drinks are also delicious.
-If you’re looking for a nice dinner in 12 South, Josephine is really, really good.
-If you want a light breakfast – Franklin Juice is SO good. They make açaí bowls and they are like dessert for breakfast. I always get them on Saturday mornings and then walk around 12S.
–The Filling Station: Beer lovers, this hole-in-the-wall spot is so cool. Grab a beer and sit on the patio and people watch.
-Don’t forget the BBQ! Edley’s is a great choice!
–The Flipside is a retro-chic diner with really, really good food. It’s right in the heart of 12 South. Get the Bloody Mary!
-And visit one of my favorite jewelry stores, Judith Bright! Unique, hand-made pieces with a gorgeous show room.
-End your day with a popsicle from Las Paletas.
SO many great restaurants in the Gulch! Probably the most saturated with places to dine.
Meat-and-threes are a big deal here in Nashville. One of the best – indisputably – is Arnold’s. This is not a fancy restaurant, but it is delicious. The locals go here, so you know it’s good.
Have you ever heard of the Food Network’s Maneet Chauhan? She lives in Nashville – and owns 3 (soon to be 4!) restaurants. All of which are delicious and in one block in the Gulch. My favorite among them is Chauhan Ale & Masala House. It’s also my favorite restaurant in all of Nashville. Here are some of my favorites.
-Maneet also owns Mockingbird is upscale diner food with alcohol infused milkshakes and really, really good food. Try the Japanese pancakes…and don’t forget to check out the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. They are beautiful. (I’m not joking).
-Maneet’s 3rd restaurant is Tansuo: A contemporary Chinese restaurant you will love. So many dishes to try, you can’t go wrong.
–Adele’s: is one of my favorite restaurants, too. Good comfort food/pasta, outdoor patio. It was one of the first farm-to-table restaurants in Nashville. Beautiful restaurant good for drinks and dinner. One of the most solid restaurants in Nashville, I can always count on them for a delicious meal.
–Little Octopus is good for lunch or brunch. I’ve never had their dinner but I’ve heard good things.
–Sunda is an Asian-fusion restaurant with ridiculous coffee and pretty much any other Asian dish you can imagine. A really cool spot.
–Fin & Pearl is good for seafood and an easy stop if you’re looking to walk around.
–Whiskey Kitchen is good for drinks too! Always a solid crowd and one of the first bars in the Gulch.
The popular “Butterfly” mural is in the gulch too. Everyone takes their pic there. Biscuit Love is nearby—- always a line though so just be prepared to wait.
Milk & Honey is great for lunch or brunch. Really good food and a beautiful restaurant. The roasted carrots are great!
Emmy Squared is a new pizza place which I hear is really good. It’s also near 404 kitchen that’s supposed to be great.
Make sure to stop and shop at E. Allen Boutique – right next to Barry’s Bootcamp.
If you like sake – stop by Proper Sake, Tennessee’s first sake brewery.
If you have a big group, get reservations for brunch at Pinewood Social. It has an old-school bowling alley in the back! Greatfood and booze. Coffee bar in the front is adorable.
Hillsboro Village is great for day drinking/shopping/breakfast. It’s smaller than 12 South, but you can easily spend a couple of hours walking up and down.
Then you can go shopping at the little boutiques nearby… Revv is across the street, that’s where you can buy the famous “SMASH” or “NASH” hats. Every basic girl (myself included) has one of those hats.
Fido has good breakfast & coffee(line is always really long though).
Biscuit Love (second location) is a really popular breakfast place too – it’s right behind Jackson’s in Hillsboro Village. I’ve never been because there’s always a line but it’s supposed to be good.
Edgehill is nearby Hillsboro Village. This neighborhood has one of my favorite bars in town called Old Glory. I’m obsessed with this place… There’s no sign, it has a speakeasy-feel. Great drinks. Not a lot of food but They do have small bites – ridiculously good empanadas!
Barcelona is a Spanish tapas restaurant nearby. Very good food and cool scene.
Pancake Pantry is of course, very popular, and the pancakes are delicious, but the line always is around the building. If you’re crazy about pancakes, it might be worth it.
-The home of Belmont University. This campus is just gorgeous – and a nice place to walk around!
Proper Bagel is really good for breakfast. The bagels are insane. The sweet potato mash is ridiculous. There’s probably aline outside – but it’s worth it.
-There’s also Bongo Java for breakfast and coffee, Blvd for dinner and The Jam for coffee.
One of my favorite bars in Germantown is Geist! Great food (smaller plates good for sharing) and really good drinks. Beautiful patio, too! You’ll love the champagne garden. It’s also walking distance to the Nashville Sounds stadium, so if there’s a baseball game you should definitely check that out.
Rolf & Daughters is a trendy restaurant. A bit expensive, but it’s one of “the” restaurants in the city.
Henrietta Red is probably my favorite brunch spot. I went there with a group and everyone raved about their meal. The decor is beautiful, too! Very Instagram-able.
There’s also Urban Grub which is hear is really good too!
I would say my fav restaurant in Germantown is 5th and Taylor. I have never had a bad meal there. The food is always delicious, the service is fantastic and the ambiance is beautiful. BONUS: If you want to go dancing – The Back Corner is right behind 5th and Taylor. It’s small and really cool. Not a crazy club – because that is not my scene – but there’s good music and it’s not too cool for school. (Because neither am I.)
I have limited experience dining here, so these recommendations are from other Nashvillians.
–Le Sel: This place is so french and so good. I’ve only been for brunch, but I tried multiple dishes and they were all delicious! Francophiles will love the vibe.
Red Door Saloon is one of my favorite bars. Locals go here too. Easy to bar-hop over there… Rebar, Patterson House, all good spots. Only issue with Red Door is you can smoke in there, which means ladies, you have to wash your hair. ugh.
NADA is a FANTASTIC Mexican restaurant…It is a chain, but don’t hold that against this delicious Mexican restaurant. It has a cool vibe, good drinks (spicy margarita!) and really good food. Get the cauliflowertacos…trust me!
Woolworth on 5th is good for lunch. Southern style food… the cool part of this place tho – is it used to be Woolworths department store, where John Lewis was arrested and protestors staged sit-ins.
This lead the movement to desegregation in the south. The restaurant has so much history… it’s really special.
–Hattie B’s: Nashville is known for it’s Hot Chicken. And Hattie B’s has some of the best. Be prepared to wait in line, but chances are you won’t regret it. (there are multiple locations)
EAST NASHVILLE: (near Nissan Stadium)
This is a neighborhood where all the cool hipster kids live. The neighborhood is home to some of the best restaurants in the city.
My favorite spot in east Nashville is Urban Cowboy. It’s actually a boutique hotel/bed and breakfast with a bar and restaurant below. Really good food and awesome drinks. The hoddy toddy with egg whites is divine. There’s a little fire pit outside and it’s just an awesome atmosphere.
For brunch in east Nashville – Butcher & Bee is incredible! So so good. Get the whipped feta. And grab a spoon.
If you’re in the mood for Pho, Far East is my favorite!
I haven’t been to Attaboy yet, but I hear it’s really cool. There’s no menu and you have to knock on the door to get inside. You tell the bartenders what ingredients you like and they craft a cocktail for you!
Want tacos? Eat Mas Tacos. Trust me. It’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall, but the tacos are insanely good. It may sound strange, but the sweet potato & quinoa is divine!
There are so many good coffee shops in East Nashville, but Barista Parlor is easily my favorite. It’s not cheap, but it’s the kinda coffee you sip and enjoy.
I try not to include too many places I haven’t been to on this list – but Cafe Roze has been recommended so many times can’t leave it out.
I’m also super excited to try the Catio – which is opening any day now. It’s a vegan bakery, cat lounge and plant shop!
One of the fastest growing neighborhoods! You may have heard, but Nashville just approved a new stadium for our soon-to-be MLS team! The old Fairgrounds will be revamped and turned into the place where our soccer team will play. With that addition, comes a lot of changes in the surrounding neighborhood. Here are a few (which I am sure will be multiplied very soon!)
–Dozen Bakery: This is kind ofa hidden gem. Great coffee, reasonable prices and solid quick breakfast spot.
–Bastion: I LOVE this place. I felt cool just being there. I only went for drinks, but they were delicious and the vibe was really hip. I’ve heard their dinner is to die for – so go and let me know what you think!
–Flamingo Bar: This one is fairly new – it’s an old church that’s converted into a bar and painted PINK! It’s so cool. A definite Miami- vibe! If you go during the day time, they have a delicious coffee bar in the front of the building called Falcon Coffee.
–Red Bicycle Coffee: Crepes, coffee and breakfast, oh my! This is the newest coffee shop in WH. They have other locations in Nashville, too.
–Diskin Cidery: I haven’t actually been here yet – but it’s pretty high on my list of things to try. It comes so highly recommended, I had to include it on this list!
–Jackalope Brewery Ranch: Thenewer, expanded location of Jackalope Brewery is super cool, plus the beer is really, really good.
–Slim & Husky’s Pizza: This one is on the list because so many people have told me it’s delicious. I just haven’t been yet. Shame on me, I know… but apparently it’s a must-try! A different take on pizza, this places was founded by three friends who want to give back to their neighborhood.
–Bluebird Cafe: Green Hills is suburbia, but there’s one quintessential Nashville spot you must see… The Bluebird Cafe! You never know who will be playing there, but you definitely need reservations.
If you’re looking for a diner, Noshville is a solid spot for breakfast.
-Near Vanderbilt University is the Parthenon and Centennial park. It’s a HUGE park and literally a replica of the Parthenon. Fun to walk around and take pictures, plus the park is beautiful. There’s also a place nearby where you can go eat raw cookie dough and it’s amazing. It’s called NoBaked. You’re welcome.
–Three Brothers Coffee: Coffee = good.
OK, so this isn’t technically Nashville, but if you’ve never been you should definitely take a trip out to this adorable town. Spend the day visiting antique shops and boutiques. You’ll love it! Here’s a great list of downtown Franklin.
If you go to Franklin, go to Leiper’s Fork. It’s a true Tennessee town.
-We also have the Jack Daniels Distillery – it’s like an hour outside of Nashville but Jack Daniel’s is always a good time.
Don’t forget about our Whiskey. Jack Daniels may be king, but we’ve also got a few other places to sip and enjoy. You can take an official Whiskey tour, or bop around to some on your own. I personally love Nelson’s Green Brier, Leiper’s Fork Distillery and George Dickel.
–Arrington Vineyards. A beautiful place with delicious wine. A bit of a drive outside of the city, but if you’re really into vineyards you should take a visit!
Other places to consider during your visit –
Belle Meade Plantation: This old house and plantation is beautiful. It’s interesting for adults and kids will like the horses. Pretty spot for pictures.
Percy Warner Park: Where Taylor Swift and Ed Sheerhan hike when they come to town. It’s also my favorite hike with Reggie White. The stairs are a killer start to the hike, but it’s beautiful. It’s also in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Nashville, so you’ll love driving by these old southern homes.
Cheekwood: The mansion and botanical gardens are just dreamy! Depending on what time of year you visit, there will be a special exhibit. Springtime means tulips for days and fall means their pumpkin harvest!
Grand Ole Opry: This one is obvious, right? The Grand Ole Opry is not just for country music lovers, it’s for anyone who has a love of music. It is about half an hour outside of Nashville, so keep that in mind.
The Hermitage: Andrew Jackson’s home: Take the historic tour of our 7th President’s home.
The Candle Bar: This one is great for groups or a solo trip. For the cost of a candle (about $30) you can make your own candle from start to finish at the Candle Bar. If you make a group reservation, you can even bring wine.
I have a feeling I’ll be adding to this list. Have anything to add? Let me know!
<As always, this post is not paid for or compensated for in any way.>