Nashville. Nashy. NashVegas. It’s definitely a unique place and one that we had wanted to visit for so long! 3 days in Nashville was more than enough time to do everything that we wanted. It was a great destination for our first road trip, and while not everything lived up to our expectations or panned out how we wanted, we still had a trip chock-full of new experiences and memories.
If you’re headed to Nashville any time soon, hopefully this detailed account of our trip will help get you started with planning. Keep reading for every place that we ate, visited, and what we did. Settle in with a cup of coffee – this is a long one!
After an early morning and long car ride, we made it to Nashville early afternoon. We actually had aspirations to get out and explore soon after arriving, but we ended up having to research and find a new hotel to move to the following day.
We did, of course, get out to grab some dinner. Based on a recommendation from my brother, we headed over to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. There’s a few locations, but the one on Belmont Blvd. was closest to us. Now, let me tell you – I am not a barbecue person whatsoever, and I LOVED this place. Pretty sure Ryan has a picture of me stuffing my face with ribs for proof. Along with some brisket, macaroni and cheese and homemade house chips, it was the best first meal of any trip.
Oh, yeah and we drove by The Bluebird Cafe because hello – Nashville the T.V. show. It’s in some small, random strip mall, which I think is kind of hilarious given how much history that place has.
We packed up and checked out of the first hotel bright and early, and then headed over to Belle Meade Plantation for a tour and to explore the grounds. It was very Gone With the Wind, if you ask me. Pictures aren’t allowed inside the home, so just take my word for it that it’s a worthwhile see!
Including the plantation tour itself, plan to spend two hours – give or take – to walk and look around at everything. The house tour includes a complimentary wine tasting afterward, but at 10 A.M. we thought it was a tad early to get the party started.
By the time we left the plantation, it was time for lunch and we knew exactly where to head. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, of course! If there’s one thing we knew that we had to do and eat in Nashville, it was this place. Who cares that it was 102 degrees outside (literally, that’s not an exaggeration) – we needed some hot chicken stat! 😉
We were prepared for crowds and to wait in line (we went to the Nashville West/Charlotte Ave. location), but I think going on a Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. worked to our advantage. We walked right in! If you want to save a buck and split food, order the half bird with sides of fries and pimento macaroni and cheese. I still have dreams about this meal two weeks later. SO. DAMN. DELICIOUS.
With full and happy bellies, we checked into our new hotel and then headed out to explore a couple of Nashville’s most-popular neighborhoods. First up, The Gulch! This area was very metro/city-like, with lots of high-rises and department/chain stores mixed with unique boutique stores. Some notable mentions:
+ Kittenish. Jessie James-Decker’s store. Honestly, I only went in here to see the Nashville Stole My Heart wall mural. Otherwise, the merchandise reminded me of Forever 21.
+ Uncommon James. This is Kristin Cavallari’s store for her jewelry line. The store takes a very minimalist approach to styling and displays, so I didn’t spend a lot of time browsing. The jewelry is a tad overpriced for the quality.
+ What Lifts You Mural. Probably the #1 and most-basic reason everyone visits The Gulch. For real, though – it really is an awesome piece of street art. I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t going to stand in line just to take a picture in front of a wall, but again an early Tuesday afternoon worked to our advantage. I walked right up, Ryan snapped a couple pictures, and we were on our way.
We then headed over to the 12 South neighborhood. Now this area was totally our jam. Super laid-back (dare I say hipster?) with everything on a quiet street that’s totally walkable and chill. Don’t miss here:
+ Draper James. Obviously, I wasn’t going to miss a visit to Reese Witherspoon’s store. So cute, so preppy and so southern. I loved it all. Two days later I was watching Instagram Stories and who showed up at her store? REESE. Can’t believe I just missed her!
+ White’s Mercantile. A modern take on a general store, so there’s kind of something for everyone. Lots of unique pieces that you won’t find everywhere.
+ Wall Murals. 12 South is home to a lot of the popular wall murals that you’ll find all over Pinterest and Instagram. They add such a fun vibe and look to the neighborhood, and I definitely took pictures in front of more than a few!
That night we made our way down to Lower Broadway. We suspected before the trip that this wasn’t going to be our scene, and we were 110% correct. Kind of seedy, kind of dirty, not a lot of police/security presence (hey, in the world we’re living in I’m more aware of these things than ever). We would’ve loved to head into a couple of the bars to just chill and listen to live music, but it was like Las Vegas on steroids (and not in a good way). So we went, we saw and we promptly left an hour later.
We were ready to get out of the city, so we took a day trip to Franklin, Tenn. At only 25 minutes away, it’s a total no-brainer. It’s basically a real-life Pleasantville or Stars Hollow, if you will. Apparently a lot of celebrities/country music people live out that way, but we didn’t run into anybody. Womp womp.
Here’s what to do in Franklin:
+ The Factory. This is a neat, old factory building that now houses several different shops and coffee shops/cafes. We enjoyed walking around and going into a couple of the stores, if nothing else to kill time inside out of the heat.
+ Have lunch at Grays on Main. What used to be a pharmacy and was restored in 2013, such an awesome building and interior with delicious food. Three words: fried pimento cheeseballs.
+ Tin Cottage. Cute shop right next door to Grays. They have an entire wall of fun stationary and pop culture-themed cards. I could’ve come home with all of them.
+ White’s Mercantile. Yep, this place again. I liked this location better than the one in 12 South. How pretty is that storefront?
+ Arrington Vineyards. This is approximately 20-25 minutes from Franklin. It’s a beautiful vineyard was some ridiculously stunning views. We did a small wine tasting and sat on the large deck for a while to enjoy the weather and scenery.
We didn’t have plans for Wednesday night, so we bought last-minute tickets to see a show at The Grand Ole Opry. And, when I say last-minute I mean we bought our tickets at 6 p.m. for a 7 p.m show, and we were 20-30 minutes away. I’ve never freshened-up/gotten ready so fast. 😉
Knowing what I know now, I would’ve been pissed if we didn’t do this on our trip. It was the best and favorite thing that we did, for both of us! Bonus that Kevin Bacon’s band – The Bacon Brothers – was on the lineup that night, so my lifelong dream of seeing Ren McCormick in person was fulfilled. But, it really doesn’t matter who is playing – we only knew one other artist (out of eight) and enjoyed every single person. It’s just a cool place to be!
We needed to stick around the city itself due to plans that we had for nighttime, so this is how we chose to spend our last full day.
+ Country Music Hall of Fame. Eh, honestly people take it or leave it. If you’re a die-hard country music fan, then maybe you’ll enjoy it more than we did. It’s not that big, there’s not a lot to see, and it’s so damn crowded that it’s hard to see anything anyway. We did include the Studio B tour as part of our experience. They say it’s not an Elvis-themed tour, but that’s essentially what it is. I love Elvis, but I didn’t need to sit in a room for 10 minutes and listen to his songs in the dark. So, if you don’t like Elvis then you’ll be in hell. Fair warning.
The silver lining was that Kacey Musgraves has a special exhibit in the museum right now that chronicles her life and career thus far. I’m a die-hard fan of hers, so that was the highlight for me. Worth the high-price of admission? No, but at least that didn’t make the whole thing a total bust.
From there, we shockingly headed back toward Lower Broadway. The vibe was a little better in daylight, but it still was a cluster. We grabbed lunch at Merchants, which we highly recommend. Food and service was great. They have two (maybe three?) levels of dining, each with it’s own menu. We stayed on the first floor for the more casual fare.
We then quickly stopped into one of the touristy gift shops so I could pick out a Christmas ornament for our collection, and then it was over to The NASH Collection. If there was one thing I wanted to buy on this trip, it was a NASH hat and I wasn’t leaving without one!
Our day and trip ended with what we waited for all week – the home-opener Nashville Predators hockey game! We’re big hockey fans, and since neither of us had ever been to a game (shocking, since Ryan played hockey growing up!) we knew this was an opportunity not to pass up. Plus, the Preds are my second-favorite team next to our home team Chicago Blackhawks. It was a blast, and for me it simply was fun to see my hubs in his element and just so dang happy/excited. Oh, and Keith Urban showed up for a short little intermission concert. BONUS.
If you made it here, congrats – ha!
It didn’t seem like it at the time, but I guess our 3 days in Nashville were packed to the brim with seeing and eating most of the what the city has to offer! There’s of course things we didn’t get to do or restaurants we didn’t get to visit (let’s face it, we could only eat so much!), but we feel like we got to experience the overall best of Nashville.
Let me know if you’re headed to Nashville anytime soon! Drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to give any recommendations or tips for the city.