Okay friends, it’s taken me WAY to long to post this, but I really wanted to think things through and make sure I had personally tried or experienced everything I’m including on my Nashville Guide. This proved to be difficult as Nashville is booming and new restaurants and activities are popping up weekly, so it’s hard to have a “firm” list of things that don’t change or need to be added to the list. However, I also really wanted to stick to tried and true places that I’ve loved for years as I’m one of the rare true locals living here. I was born and raised and Nashville, and though there are countless trendy new hotels and restaurants in town, there are also classic staples that have been around for decades, and are still on the top of my list.
Please note that for restaurants and hotels, I included their general location in the city, which I suggest paying attention to when planning your stay here. Sometimes I find that people make suggestions that are completely across town, and you end up accidentally spending hours in traffic. If you’re in town for an event, you may want to stick close to the part of town you’re staying in or leave plenty of time to get to and from your destination. Most of the restaurants take reservations, which I highly recommend for brunch, lunch and dinner as again, the city is booming, and you can find yourself waiting a long time if you don’t have a reservation. I’m not including anything in Franklin, TN in this guide, as it’s somewhat of it’s own city and destination. I love Franklin for its shopping and food, but if you plan to spend a lot of time there, I suggest actually staying in Franklin instead of driving back and forth to Nashville which can take around 45 minutes each way. This is a Nashville specific guide, and I “go as far out” as East Nashville, but that’s about it. I did also try to pick spots in various parts of town so that no matter where you are staying (Green Hills, Downtown, East Nashville), there is something close to you!
Also, late “note,” as far as nightlife is concerned, Nashville has so many options. I do include bars on this list, but I’m not also the mother of two young children, so I don’t get out late at night as much as I used to. This guide is specific to the “adult” who wants to have a good time, but if you’re looking for a “Nashville party scene guide,” this won’t be for you. Sorry bachelorette parties… ha!
I hope you find this guide helpful whether you’re in town with family, on a girls’ trip, a couple’s trip or just want to explore the city a bit more if you live. I love Nashville so much, and I plan to live here the rest of my life, so I will try and update this list if I stumble upon any more gems!
Restaurants- Breakfast (Served Every Day)
- Marche Artisan Foods (East Nashville)
- Noshville Delicatessen (Green Hills)
- Cafe Roze (East Nashville)
- Pfunky Griddle (Berry Hill)
- Proper Bagel (Belmont Area)
- Pinewood Social (SoBro/ Downtown)
Restaurants- Brunch (Weekend Brunch Hours Only)
- Liberty Common (SoBro/ Downtown)
- The Mockingbird (The Gulch)
- Josephine (12th South)
- The Sutler– Bluegrass Brunch (Melrose)
- Tavern (Midtown)
- Kitchen Notes (Bottom of Omni)
- The Southern (Downtown)- Casual Upscale Southern Fare
- Bartaco (12th South)- Tex-Mex & Cool Atmosphere
- Bricktop’s (Vanderbilt Area)- Classic American and a Houston’s Restaurant
- Edley’s Bar-B-Que (12th South & The Nations)
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken (Midtown & Charlotte Pike)
- Flipside (12th South)- Casual Fun Chicken Dishes
- Rotier’s (Vanderbilt Area)- Small Southern Dive Hole-in-the-Wall
- RH Cafe (Green Hills Mall)- Easy Boujee Lunch in Restoration Hardware
- The Pharmacy (East Nashville)- Casual and Good Beer & Burgers
- Rosepepper Cantina (East Nashville)- Casual Tex-Mex
- Rolf & Daughter’s (Germantown)- Rustic Mediterranean Food & Cool Atmosphere
- Etch (Downtown)- Elegant International upscale dining
- City House (Germantown)- Southern & Italian Food & Very Cool Atmosphere
- Chaatable (Charlotte Pike)- Amazing Indian Street Food
- Santo (Green Hills)- Small Upscale Mediterranean
- Henrietta Red (Germantown)- Great Seafood with Great Atmosphere
- Monell’s (Germantown)- Casual True Southern Cuisine
- Margot’s (East Nashville)- Small French Inspired Cuisine with Changing Menu
- Kayne Prime (Gulch)- Upscale Steakhouse That’s Pricey but Great
- Sunda (Gulch)- Upscale Asian with Cool Atmosphere
- Virago (Gulch)- Trendy Sushi Spot. New Location, Still Great Menu
- Legendairy Milkshake Bar (Dowtown)- Great dessert spot for “Freakshakes”- the most over-the-top and delicious milkshakes you will ever have.
- Thompson Hotel– Located in the Gulch, this hotel is somewhat trendy without going overboard and sacrificing comfort. I love the location and the feel of the rooms. It’s not too big or too small, and it’s in walking distance of many shops and restaurants and a 5 minute ride to downtown. I also love the bar on top of the Thompson Hotel- The L.A. Jackson.
- JW Marriott– Located downtown, The JW is a larger hotel, but it has great views, and you’re walking distance to Broadway and the Riverfront. The decor is nice (not too themed or specific), and it has a great spa and other amenities located inside the hotel.
- The Vandyke Hotel– Located in East Nashville, I just stayed at this boutique hotel with just a few rooms that are all named after alcohol (I was in the “Wine Room” of course. I actually really enjoyed my stay, and I think this hotel is perfect for a girls’ weekend/getaway. Several of the rooms sleep multiple people (on multiple beds), and some rooms connect. There are also several common spaces where you could all socialize and be together while still enjoying the privacy of having your own rooms.
- Gaylord Opryland Hotel– Alright y’all, I never thought I’d be recommending the Gaylord Hotel, but I stayed a few nights there over the summer, and it’s actually an amazing getaway resort. Now, it’s about 15 minutes from downtown, but if you’re wanting to stick around the resort and not attempt a lot of off-site activities, then it’s great. The main reason I suggest this hotel though is because of SoundWaves. You can only use this indoor (all year round) and outdoor (seasonally) waterpark if you are actually staying at the hotel. It’s especially fun for kids, and I was very skeptical, but I’ve gone twice now, and it was very fun for both kids and adults. It’s not overly glamorous, but it’s clean and well run, and I recommend asking to stay in one of the “Garden Suites” since those overlook their massive indoor gardens, they are nice inside, and they are also located right next to SoundWaves.
Bars (Where GROWNUPS Go- Ha!)
- L.A. Jackson (Gulch)- This bar is at the top of the Thompson Hotel, and it has an indoor and outdoor option. It’s in a great location (not in the craziness of downtown but close enough), and the food and drinks are good. Swanky but not over-the-top atmosphere
- Rooftop Lounge Bar– Bobby Hotel (Downtown)- This bar is at the top of the Bobby Hotel. Similar situation as L.A. Jackson but they change out the decor seasonally. In the winter, there are plastic igloos to sit in, and in the summer, cabanas. There is always a bus to drink out of… It’s a fun atmosphere and a great place to grab a drink close to Broadway without actually being ON Broadway.
- Downtown Sporting Club (Downtown)- If you follow my stories, you will see that I’m obsessed with this place. Located on Broadway, this new restaurant/bar is a bit “dude-ish,” but if you like games, then it’s for you. There are tons of tv’s playing sporting events, all kinds of games to actually play yourself (like ring toss and corn hole), but the “main event” is axe throwing. I never thought I like it, but I do. You need reservations, but there are guides to help you, and you can order food and drinks while you throw. The drinks are fun and the food is delish. It also has a great rooftop bar right on Broadway that I’ve yet to see overcrowded as many of the others can be.
- Oak Bar (Downtown)- Inside the Hermitage Hotel, this very very small bar is cozy and a breath of fresh air if you don’t want a crazy atmosphere. It’s a great place to grab a drink and a nosh before or after going to a show at TPAC or dinner somewhere downtown. It’s classy, and the men’s bathroom is famous for its fabulous decor and the fact that Elvis used the restroom there (I’ve taken a quick peek inside of course- ha!)
- Patterson House (Midtown)- Located in Midtown, this is an “oldie but a goodie” by Strategic Hospitality. Known for it’s cocktails and mellow setting, it’s been a hit since it opened up. It’s a great place to grab a drink before or after dinner without getting stuck in the mess of downtown. Tried and true.
- Union Common (Midtown)- Too pricey for the college kids, but located in Midtown (near Vandy), this super sleek bar is in a triangular building and feels like your drinking on a posh train car. I love grabbing a drink before or after dinner there, and again, it’s just outside of downtown, so you are near the action but not directly in it.
- Skull’s Rainbow Room (Downtown)- Located in Printer’s Alley, it’s a hole-in-the-wall bar that was renovated a few years ago but it’s a Nashville staple with a late-night Burlesque show if you want “drinks and a show”… and some nights, we do, right? Not fancy, and quite eclectic, but it’s been around since before I was born- ha!
Most people visiting Nashville search out the live music, since that is often the reason they are coming to town. There are plenty of websites that can help you find what bands are playing where, so I’m going to focus on the activities that don’t involve live music. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Nashville that you can enjoy with or without kids!
- Bowling at Pinewood Social (SoBro/ Downtown)- You need reservations, but this is boujee bowling since there are only a few lanes and is located inside of swanky Pinewood Social. You can bowl and eat and drink just minutes from downtown. Fun for all ages, but not super young kids.
- Country Music Hall of Fame (Downtown)- If you haven’t toured the museum before, you need to put it at the top of your list. It’s a staple in Nashville, and really is fabulous, especially if you love country music.
- Paddywax Candle Bar (East Nashville)- I was skeptical about this at first, but I recently made my own candle at the candle bar, and I absolutely loved the experience. Not only is it fun/relaxing, but they have a bar where you can order beverages while you socialize and make beautiful custom candles. You can book the space for private groups so it’s perfect for a girls’ trip or special event.
- NashTrash Tours (Downtown Pick-Up)- This is the only and best tour to take of Nashville in my opinion. A bit of history and a lot of comedy. Book far in advance though as it books up fast, but if you can get on a tour it’s a total blast!
- Frist Art Museum (Downtown)- Nashville’s fine art museum has something for everyone. Housed in an old art deco post office, the museum not only showcases great exhibitions, but the children’s area is very fun for kids to create their own works of art.
- Climb Nashville (West of Downtown)- A great indoor climbing facility and perfect to try out on a rainy or cold day. Fun for all ages.
- Cheekwood Estate & Gardens (West of Downtown)- One of my favorite places in Nashville, Cheekwood offers so many seasonal programs (check out their calendar for a full list of activities), in addition to it’s stunning gardens and historic mansion which can be toured year round.
- Brentwood Skate Center (Brentwood)- About 15 minutes from downtown, this is a bit off the beaten path, but such a fun thing to try out (especially in the winter) for all ages. Check their schedule, as their hours change seasonally, but the vintage vibe is super fun, and who doesn’t love some “good, clean fun?”