Welcome to Nashville, y’all

Read my second post about Nashville ‘I Believe in Nashville’ here https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1N7

  • Visited March and April 2019

I first visited Nashville back in October 2018 and then was fortunate to be invited to be an Ambassador at Nashville Downtown Hostel and its sister hostel, Music City Hostel in Midtown. Nashville is one of the fastest growing US cities, with an estimated 100 people moving here daily, and it is a sprawling city with distinctive areas that offer different vibes and attractions. For this first post, I’m going to focus on Downtown Nashville and the key tourist sights.

Honky Tonks

Nicknamed the Music City, Nashville is indeed a vibrant city full of aspiring musicians and great live music venues throughout the city. Most tourists who come here spend the majority of their time in Downtown, enjoying the Honky Tonks of Broadway and 2nd Avenue. Honky Tonks for those of you that don’t know, are bars that play country music and the ones on Broadway are always busy and very lively. A Friday or Saturday night on Broadway is quite something, with the street packed with revellers hopping from bar to bar. Don’t make the mistake of thinking Broadway’s Honky Tonks are quiet in the day time – when these bars open at 10 – 11 am, the live music and drinking begins. Always carry ID if you intend to go as it is standard to ID all patrons regardless of how old they look. You are spoilt for choice in terms of which bars to visit but Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a must do, Nudie’s has the longest bar in Nashville, you can sign up for free line dancing lessons at Wildhorse Saloon, Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar offers a great view of Broadway from its rooftop and friends tell me Robert’s Western World is their favourite Honky Tonk. On Friday afternoons there is always a long queue to get into Margaritaville as the radio show Buzz Brainard’s Music Row Happy Hour is recorded live here.

Key Sights

  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: I’m not a big country music fan per se myself but this museum is excellent. There are always several temporary exhibitions on as well as the permanent displays of costumes worn by big names in the industry. $25.95 Adult ticket or $40.95 when combined with the Studio B tour.
  • Music City Walk of Fame – FREE – located near the Country Music Museum, this is a small ‘walk of fame’ featuring artists such as Elvis, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.
  • Johnny Cash Museum – a must for Johnny Cash fans (such as myself). This small museum boasts the largest collection of Cash artefacts and memorabilia. $19.95 general admission.
  • Ryman Auditorium – the original home of the famous Grand Ole Opry. You can take a self-guided backstage tour for $24.95 or catch a concert here.
  • Printers Alley – FREE – historic alley way home to a number of bars, notably Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar and Skulls’ Rainbow Room.
  • Nashville Public Library – FREE – a lovely space to study and escape the cold/heat outside. The second floor has a large reading room with a view of the Tennessee State Capitol but the highlight is the Civil Rights Room, a room dedicated to documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville compete with a recreation of a lunch counter (a nod to sit-in protests) and video library. I highly recommend a visit to enhance your understanding of Nashville’s history *Don’t be alarmed by the large presence of homeless people on the third floor or by the fascinating eloquent homeless man who likes to have debates with the two statues placed at the top of the staircase. This is a safe place to be. It also has a nice outside courtyard.
  • Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum – often over-looked by tourists in favour of the Country Music Museum, this museum honours musicians regardless of genre or instrument. I haven’t been here yet but I intend to go as I’ve heard it’s excellent. $25.00 Adult ticket.
  • Tennessee State Capitol – the seat of government for Tennessee. Closed on weekend and state holidays. Free guided tours offered. I haven’t been yet but I plan to go.
  • Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park – FREE – located near the State Capitol building, this park was opened to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood. The park aims to tells to the story of Tennessee’s history through plaques, a war memorial, fountains and tours – FREE tours take place very Wednesday. I enjoyed exploring this site.
  • Tennessee State Museum – FREE – a short walk from the Bicentennial Park, this museum is definitely worth a visit. Dedicated to telling the history of Tennessee, the exhibitions are informative and engaging. I spent about two hours here and will probably go again before I leave Nashville as there was so much to take in in one go.
  • Nashville Farmer’s Market – FREE – good place to grab a snack after a visit to the State Museum. Various food options available. My favourite place was Butter Cake Babe Coffee Cafe, a cute cafe selling varieties of gooey butter cake, amongst other treats. Batch sells cool and quirky Nashville souvenirs. A night market takes place every 3rd Friday 5 pm til 9 pm.
  • Frist Art Museum – located in a beautiful art deco building that used to be the post office, this art venue is worth a visit. $15 Adult ticket. If you don’t fancy forking out for the ticket, just pop in to have a look at the interior of the building.
  • John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge – FREE – spanning the Cumberland River, this bridge offers lovely views of Downtown Nashville and the riverside.

Food Recommendations:

  • Sun Diner – spot on breakfast place next to the Johnny Cash Museum – open 24 hours on weekends. My Eggs Benedict was fab.
  • Oscar’s Taco Shop – good budget option on Church.
  • Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant –  Tasty Southern food with live music. Can get very busy but solo diners can eat at the bar. My fried chicken main course with mashed potato and green beans was delicious.
  • Merchants – Southern food served in a casual bistro downstairs and more formal dining room upstairs. I had Mac n Cheese in the bistro and it was the ultimate comfort food experience.
  • Martin’s Bar-B-Que – Had a kitchen tray of chicken tenders with sides of mac n cheese and green beans washed down with a beer. So good!
  • The Diner – a six storey 24 hour restaurant perfect for late night eats. Casual dining can be found on the 6th floor.
  • Pinewood Social – hip hangout where you will find a trendy eatery, coffee shop, bowling and cocktails.

*If you need to buy groceries whilst staying in Downtown your only option is H.G. Hill Urban Market on Church which closes at 9pm every night. It’s a decent supermarket so you should be able to find everything you want here.

Getting Around Nashville:

Nashville is very spread out so you won’t be able to get everywhere you want to by foot. Here are some transport options:

  • Old Town Trolley Tours –  Hop On Hop Off 15 stops $39.42 online on their site. Fully narrated tour. Good option if you are short on time as it includes a stop at the Belmont Mansion.
  • The FREE bus – MTA Music City Circuit operates two routes.
  • Electric Scooters – can be booked through apps such as Bird and Lyft and are an easy way to zip between the different areas of Nashville.
  • Uber/Lyft also operate here.
  • Pedal Taverns and various party specialist tour buses can be booked for groups coming here to party – a frequent sight up and down Broadway on weekends.

The Nashville Bucket List

The first week I arrived I was given this list of Nashville must-dos – so far I have done three of these. Let’s see how many I can do before I leave at the end of April 🙂

  • Drink a Bushwacker
  • Go to a Predators Game
  • Go to The Ryman to watch a show – done 
  • Sing Karaoke at Wannabe’s
  • See the city from Love Circle
  • Honky Tonks on Broadway – done
  • Get drinks at The Patterson House – done
  • Stop by The Loveless Cafe for some food
  • Go to Piranhas and get a “Donut Burger”
  • Take in some art at The Frist Museum – done
  • Go on a Full Moon Hike
  • Watch an outdoor movie at Elmington Park

Adding my own Nashville Bucket List suggestions here:

  • Eat a Goo Goo Cluster – visit the store on 3rd Ave S
  • Queue up for fried chicken at Hattie Bs – 19th Ave S
  • Get your photo taken with the ‘I Believe In Nashville’ street art mural – 12th Ave S, opposite Reese Witherspoon’s store Draper James.
  • Catch a movie at the Belcourt Theatre.
  • Eat a sweet potato cupcake from The Cupcake Collection in Germantown.

Selection of pictures from my stay: