Visiting Nashville, Tennessee

Latest visit: November 2018.

Tips for visiting Nashville:

  • Getting from the airport to downtown Nashville is very easy. You can take the bus (18 towards Downtown Via Elm Hill) and be downtown within 35 to 40 minutes or get uber for about $20 and be there in half the time.
  • Before you go to Nashville, you should probably know the meaning of the expression Honky Tonk because you will see it EVERYWHERE. I had to google it within 5 minutes of being in the city because it was driving me crazy seeing it everywhere and not knowing what it meant. Here’s Urban Dictionary’s definition: ” A loud, rowdy bar that plays ‘honky tonk’ country music. Typically full of drunken hillbillies having a good ole’ time. To go out ‘honky tonkin’ is to go out on the town to  honky tonk bars and get drunk.”
  • If you stay in downtown Nashville, you can walk to all the live music venues, restaurants and shops. Broadway and 2nd street seemed to be the main streets where all the action was happening.
    • Hotels: (due to a very busy long weekend and a Patriots football game, everything was booked months ahead of time so our options were very limited)
      • Union Square Hotel: Originally built in 1900 to serve as Nashville’s train station, it’s now a Historical Landmark and part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. If you’re looking to stay in an original building with charm, this is your place.
      • The Noelle, also part of Marriott properties, was built in the 30s and looked like a historical place to stay to relive Nashville’s history due to the style and it’s location.
      • On the other hand, if you’re looking for a newer property, the JW Marriott Nashville looked like a fantastic option. We only walked around the lobby but we could tell this would be a great place to have a restful night.
      • Sadly, we ended up in Nashville’s Downtown Hostel, which was actually much better than what I would have expected. The common area was very cute and overall everything was quite clean. We got private rooms which were nice but I won’t lie, I was happy to check out 2 nights later!
      • Airbnb: this was our original plan since there were 5 of us tall girls but everything was booked up (and the only option we found canceled on us weeks after we booked).
      • I should also mention there were many other Marriott hotels options as well as other hotels downtown!
    • Bars:
      • We had dinner at Acme Feed & Seed on Saturday night and the food was very tasty. The best part was sitting at a table right beside the stage and enjoying the live music!
      • AJ’s Good time Bar: This bar has a lot of charm on each of its 4 floors. On the street level, there was a band playing on a small stage and on the second floor there was a cowboy singing & playing his guitar right when you walked in the door. On the fourth floor, there was karaoke and the top floor was a rooftop with great views of Broadway (and empty since it was 30F!)
      • We finished our Friday night at Honky Tonk Central, a big venue with a huge bar on the first floor and fantastic live music.
      • Wild Beaver Saloon was probably the least appealing place to hang out but it had Karaoke and a Mechanical Bull! We watched a few talented people ride it like pros!**
      • Tootsies Orchid Lounge: We spent most of Saturday night here. The top floor was packed- way too many people- so I stayed back and let my friends walk up to the stage. I checked out the patio area, which also offered nice views of Broadway street. Eventually, we made our way to the second floor where there was a young band that played every possible cover you can think off… and sounded amazing. My friend wanted to check out the street level bar so we walked down some very steep steps and ended up in a narrow bar area with a tiny stage with 3 men on it. They were great and we enjoyed their music for the rest of the evening!
      • Cerveza Jack’s: Another Bar, another live music stage. The spicy margarita was not good.
      • More recommendations: The Stage, Legends Corner, Wildhorse Saloon and Tin Roof.
    • Restaurants: Most of the places we went to had BBQ & fried food. I’m sure there are probably healthier, fancier restaurants but my friend really wanted to satisfy her cravings so we all followed!
      • The first night we ended up at Rippy’s Bar and Grill because it was the only place we found that was still serving food (past 11pm) and not overly crowded. The food was surprisingly good. I had the Pulled pork wrap.
      • Pinewood Social restaurant, bar & bowling alley is also worth the walk/uber! This was probably my favorite bar for the style, ambiance and quality of the drinks.
      • If you’re looking for a tasty pizza (pie), pickle chips or a crunchy salad, The Stillery is the place to go. I hear their mason jar cocktails are delicious. Expect a wait on weekend nights.
      • Also recommended but not tried: Henrietta Red, EiO & The Hive, Husk and Hattie B’s Hot Chicken.
      • Barista Parlor: for a delicious cappuccino!
  • I’d recommend walking or taking a short Uber ride to the Gulch area for a nice breakfast at Milk and Honey or Biscuit Love. TIP: We divided and conquered- 2 of us stayed in line at Biscuit Love and the 3 others walked to Milk and Honey to grab coffee’s for everyone while we waited ( about 45mins to an hour on a Saturday morning!). We walked by the ‘What Lifts you Wings’ multiple times and the line to get a picture in front of them got longer and longer as the morning progressed!
  • From The Gulch, we decided to walk back towards Union Square Hotel to have a look inside and it was worth the stop! We then headed towards the JW Marriott top floor restaurant (called Bourbon Steak) because we heard it has amazing views of the city but we were too early (it opens at 4 pm).
  • I learned from my friend that Nashville has 3 very popular murals, where people will wait in line for hours to be photographed in front of. Here they are, and their location:
    • “I Believe in Nashville”: 2706 12th Ave. S.
    • “What Lifts You Wings”: 302 11th Ave. S. @ The Gulch
    • Johnny Cash lyrics mural: on the side of a parking garage on 5th Avenue N. going towards Broadway
  • Boot shopping: I wanted to buy a pair of boots here if I found one that I really liked and would wear again once I was back in California. We tried a few shops (read a lot) and finally, 3 out of the 4 girls that were shopping for boots found our match at French’s Shoes & Boots (126 2nd Ave N). The staff was so nice and we had a great laugh with them!
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: we did not make it to this museum but I hear it’s worth the stop.

Impressions of Nashville:

I was surprised by the quality of the Live music we heard in Nashville. I was expecting only country music in just a few bars…but I was wrong YALL! Every venue we walked into had a live band covering every song from Avril Lavigne to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

It’s also worth mentioning that most bars we walked into had been around for years and had so much soul. I don’t know if it was the old wooden floors, the cracked walls, the never-ending staircases, the decor… but I just really enjoyed the vibe in all these dive-y type bars (or Honky Tonks!).

I was also impressed by how polite the service industry people were to us. In a city that is referenced as being the Vegas of the East, you would expect them to be ‘tired of tourists’, but it was quite the opposite. Everyone had a big smile on their face, seemed in a great mood and was very courteous and polite!

Let’s talk about moonshine for a second. I’d never had it before. I had been warned but no one had told me (until the next day when I was dying of the worst hangover I’d had in years) that moonshine has 75 percent alcohol by volume! Throughout the night, I had possibly 3-4 shots of Apple Pie moonshine, which tasted (too) delicious. I would have probably stuck to only one if I’d known how strong it was!! When in Rome, do as the Romans do… right? I can check that off my list and probably never drink it ever again!
**My only 2 disappointments during our time there was how we stayed in mostly the touristy area and were stuck with what seemed to be only Bostonians (the Nashville Titans were playing the Boston Patriots on Sunday Football day). The second one is that we walked into an establishment that allowed smoking inside the bar. Stay away from the Wild Beaver Saloon if you don’t like cigarette smoke!

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