Known as Music City, Nashville is home to Country Music (and more recently, the Christian Music industry). Although this does make up a great deal of the city’s history and reputation, Nashville has grown into a modern, cultural metropolis, with nary a cowboy hat to be found (except on the head of a tourist). Although still steeped in the Country and Americana tradition, Nashville is becoming quite a draw for all types of musicians and has become home to many famous rock stars in recent years (Jack White, Ben Folds and the Black Keys, for instance). Like many Southern metropolitan areas, Nashville proper is a Democratic stronghold and the plethora (24 in all) of universities and colleges make for many young, hip residents. Let’s take a look at the best the city has to offer!
La Hacienda Taqueria
Choosing a Mexican joint can be a difficult exercise in Nashville, since there are so many good ones, but I’ve found La Hacienda to be the most consistent when it comes to quality. Every dish is good, some are excellent and a few just can’t be replicated anywhere else. If an authentic, greasy, cheap Mexican meal is what you desire, La Hacienda is the only place to go. Their happy hour margarita deals are a plus, too. Make sure you don’t confuse the restaurant on Nolensville Pike with other La Haciendas in the area. It’s not a chain and the others will disappoint.
Best bets: Fish Tacos, Enchiladas Tapatias, Molcajete, Fajita Nachos, Carne Asada Steak Tacos
Address: 2615 Nolensville Rd
When you think about cool treats on a hot day, most people gravitate towards ice cream. However, when you’re in Nashville, a Mexican popsicle from Las Paletas is a much better choice. The Paz sisters, originally from Guadalajara, create gourmet popsicles in traditional flavors like chocolate chip and raspberry-lime but the truly original flavors, like hot-pepper-spiked cucumber, turn the concept of a popsicle on its head. With the list of 15-20 flavors changing daily, you may want to visit more than just once.
Address: 2905 12th Ave S
Neighborhood: 12 South
The “meat and three” is a Nashville tradition and if you’re looking for true home cooking, Barbara’s is the best. Tucked away in a small house in Franklin, a historic town
20 minutes from Nashville, Barbara’s is unassuming but beloved by locals. The menu is small and doesn’t change from Monday to Friday and every single item is homemade by Barbara herself. The drive is beautiful and the dinner rolls alone make it worth the trip.
Best bets: Skillet Fried Chicken, Poppy seed Chicken Casserole
Hours: M-F: 11-8; Sun: 11-3; CLOSED Saturday
Address: 1232 Old Hillsboro Rd, Franklin 37069
A Nashville tradition in the heart of Hillsboro Village. Be prepared for celebrity sightings, big helpings and long wait times. Every weekend, the line snakes down 21 st Ave as early as 7 a.m. but they get you in (and out) relatively quickly and the pancakes (every combination and type you could ever imagine) are worth it. Come early with your patience and a good attitude and you won’t be disappointed.
Best bets: Sugar & Spice Pancakes, Sweet Potato Pancakes
Address: 1796 21st Ave S
Neighborhood: Hillsboro Village
Although it may surprise you, Nashville has a plethora of top notch sushi joints. Ru San’s, located in the trendy Gulch district, is my favorite because of the variety and price. From Monday to Saturday, you can get an all you can eat sushi buffet for $9.95! No, really. The restaurant is small and the odd, club-like atmosphere with constantly pumping house music can be distracting but also holds its own charm. Even if you don’t go for the buffet, the evening prices are decent and the helpings are large.
Best bet: Daily lunch buffet, M-Sat: 11:30-2:30
Address: 505 12th Ave S
Neighborhood: The Gulch
Broadway Brewhouse & Mojo Grill
A great bar with an even better Cajun menu, the food at the Brewhouse is cheap, hearty and just really damn good. You can eat in the bar but there’s also a small, quieter seating area in the lobby if you want to avoid the Vanderbilt frat boys. With 5 Nashville area locations, it’s hard to miss but the original location on Broadway is the most rambunctious and a great place to fuel up for a night downtown. (You’ll also get a chance to visit the smallest bathroom in Nashville. I challenge you to find a tinier one.)
Best bets: Cajun burrito, Gumbo, Rice & Beans
Address: 317 Broadway
Bosco’s Bosco’s is known for its award-winning handcrafted beers and gourmet pizzas. A buzzing meeting place, perfect for after work beers, a group outing or a Friday night out with your sweetie, it’s always busy. With the perfect Hillsboro Village location, you can walk to the Belcourt Theatre after dinner or create your own 21st Ave bar crawl. Calling ahead for reservations is your best bet, especially on the weekends.
Best bets: Chocolate Porter, Bombay IPA, Fried Artichoke Hearts, Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Grilled Portabella Club Sandwich
Address: 1805 21st Ave S
Famous for its biscuits and southern charm, the Loveless Café is a must for any first time Nashville visitor. In addition to the café, the former Loveless Motel now houses privately owned shops, perfect for souvenir browsing and walking off the thousands of calories you just consumed. The Loveless Barn hosts all kinds of events, including Music City Roots, a weekly concert and live radio show, every Wednesday.
Best bets: Famous Fried Chicken, Hashbrown Casserole, Country Ham
Address: 8400 Tennessee HWY 100
You’ll find burrito chains a-plenty in Nashville but locally owned Baja Burrito is the superior choice. There’s not much to elaborate on (it’s a burrito joint, after all) but the ingredients are fresh and whatever you choose, you can personalize it to your heart’s content. Parking can be frustrating and tables fill up quickly, so visit during non-peak hours if you can.
Best bets: Fruit tea (seriously, don’t leave without it), El Pescador (fish burrito), taco salad (steak, chicken or veggie), pineapple salsa
Address: 722 Thompson Lane
SATCO (San Antonio Taco Company) Located across the street from Vanderbilt’s main campus, SATCO’s patio is the perfect place for a long lunch and a bucket of beers. Once inside, you fill out your order slip while in line, pass it along to the cashier and wait for the Tex-Mex goodness to appear. Do not skip the queso: it’s the best in Nashville!
Best bets: Chips & Queso, any kind of taco (Try to resist the temptation to fill ‘em up with every topping option. The tortillas are very small and only fit a couple of toppings comfortably.)
Address: 416 21st Ave S
Neighborhood: Hillsboro Village/Vanderbilt
The focus of Vanderbilt’s Hillsboro Village, this pet-shop-turned-coffee-shop attracts all kinds. Offering locally roasted Bongo Java coffee and a robust, mostly organic menu, Fido is the best place to get breakfast or brunch in town. Charmingly continuing the pet shop theme, original coffee creations, like the Hot Dog and Pink Poodle, fulfill the need for caffeine while serving up a chuckle or two. Vandy students can be frequently found on their laptops, so don’t expect to find an available outlet. Come early for breakfast, then spend the morning browsing the shops in the village.
Best bets: The Hot Dog, Hangover Bomb, Spuds McCheesy, Pumpkin Chip muffin (Just get one and throw it in your bag for later. It’s amazing.)
Address: 1812 21st Ave S
Neighborhood: Hillsboro Village
If you’re looking for a bit of the northwest vibe in Nashville, 12 South is the place to be. If you want northwest coffee, look no further than Portland Brew. Their recently renovated location on 12th Ave is roomy and open, with plenty of seating options. There are cozy booths for studying and large, open tables for socializing. The baristas are true artisans, even if they tend to take themselves a bit too seriously (although, as a former Starbucks barista, the “No, we will NOT make you a caramel macchiato” sign always make me chuckle) but what else would you expect from a coffee shop that is purposefully attempting to transport you to Portland?
Website: no official website but they do have a Facebook page
Address: 2605 12th Ave S. and 3431 Murphy Rd (a quieter Sylvan Park location with more parking)
Crema Crema takes its coffee seriously. This coffee “brewtique” roasts their own artisan beans, offers coffee classes and is committed to buying local and improving the Nashville community. They’re a little hard to find, located in the historic and up-and-coming Rutledge Hill area downtown, but it’s worth the trip. Coffee purists, you won’t find syrups or additions (with the exception of a mocha), but what you will find is damn good coffee for people who (gasp!) actually like the taste of coffee!
Best bets: Cortado, Cuban, homemade granola
Address: 15 Hermitage Ave
Neighborhood: Rutledge Hill/Downtown
Drink Haus Espresso & Tea
A teeny, tiny, unassuming little place in Germantown, Drink Haus produces the best cup of coffee I have ever had. Ever. (And I’ve had A LOT of coffee!) The hours are strange and change frequently and they close on random days, possibly due to staff shortages and/or employee holidays, so be sure to check out the website before you go. I can’t seem to break away from the cappuccino but I have no doubt everything on the menu is outstanding.
Best bets: Cappuccino
Address: 500 Madison St #108
A French coffee & pastry shop in Hillsboro Village, Provence is a great spot for lunch or treating yourself to a decadent dessert. The food is what shines here, although the coffee is good, too. Beware: the staff may not be the friendliest you’ll encounter but I like to think they’re taking their “Frenchie-ness” very seriously. (I remember my first trip there when I asked for Hazelnut syrup and got a look that would make Donald Trump quiver.) If you’re making a trip to the Nashville Public Library while you’re in town (and you should), there’s also a Provence in the courtyard of the Main Branch on Church St.
Best bets: Cold Brewed Iced Coffee, Croissant Sandwich, Fruit tart, Opera Torte, Macaroons Website: Address: 1705 21st Ave S and 601 Church St. (Main Library)
The Patterson House
If you only visit one bar during in Nashville, it should be this one. A classy, modern speakeasy, the Patterson House is nationally renowned for its first class, handcrafted cocktails. 30 original and 20 classic cocktails make up the menu, while the house-made bitters and syrups and meticulously crafted ice (no watery drinks here!) take center stage. The appetizer centric food menu is great but don’t ask for silverware – they literally don’t have any in the building. The drinks may seem pricey but one drink at the Patterson is worth (at least) 2 drinks elsewhere in terms of flavor, quality and alcoholic punch. Librarians and books lovers will enjoy the dark, bookshelf-lined bar and I always get excited when my check comes, not in a typical black folio, but in an old book. Although you may be tempted to sit in the cozy booths that line the walls, the best seat in the house is at the bar, where you can watch the bartenders create these crazy cocktails up close. It’s mesmerizing.
Best bets: Bacon Old Fashioned, Stingy Brim or be adventurous and ask your bartender to whip something up for you. You won’t be disappointed!
Address: 1711 Division St
This small, smoky, divey Vanderbilt bar is known for 2 things: darts and dog bowls. If you’re lucky enough to be in town on your birthday, head to the Villager for you free dog bowl full of beer! The bartender will snap your picture and you’ll be pasted on the walls with countless others (myself included). If you love to throw darts while you throw down a beer, the Villager is the place. There’s also a foosball table for those not inclined to throwing things. Oh, and remember when I said it was smoky? Yeah, I’m not kidding. If you have an aversion to cigarette smoke, you may want to skip it.
Address: 1719 21st Ave S
Neighborhood: Hillsboro Village
If you’re looking for the honky-tonk, cowboy hat side of Nashville…well, it’s probably already apparent that you’re reading the wrong travel guide, but if you just want a taste of it, Legends is a good place to start. Locals (including myself) usually avoid Broadway like the plague, especially on the weekends. The country music Nashville is there but in reality the city has evolved past it, for better or worse. With that being said, Legends is considered the home of country music. It’s a loud, rambunctious bar with live music all the time. It’s the only locale in this guide I have never actually been to myself (for shame, I know) but I feel like it should be included nonetheless.
Address: 428 Broadway
The Mall at Green Hills An upscale mall in the equally upscale Green Hills neighborhood, The Mall at Green Hills includes everything from the usual retail stores (The Gap, Victoria’s Secret, J. Crew.) to couture (Bebe, Tiffany & Co., Juicy). The immediate area also includes several restaurants (mostly chain) and the best for-profit movie theatre in town.
Address: 2126 Abbott Martin Rd
Neighborhood: Green Hills
Opry Mills Mall
Recently reopened after the devastation of the 2010 Flood, the Opry Mills Mall took the place of the Opryland USA Amusement Park after its demolition in 1997. Opry Mills is technically an outlet mall but there are some unique stores and restaurants there as well. Although some of the retailers did not return after the closure in 2010, the reopening also saw some new additions. The mall is also the location of the only IMAX movie theatre in Nashville and the Grand Old Opry House, the General Jackson Showboat and the legendary Opryland Hotel are in the immediate area.
Address: 433 Opry Mills Dr
Cool Springs Galleria
The most typical mall in the Nashville area, Cool Springs is a quick 20 minute drive from Nashville and, if you include the greater Cool Springs area, encompasses just about very retail store or restaurant you could ever want and/or need….and a few you don’t.
Address: 1800 Galleria Blvd; Franklin, TN
Neighborhood: Cool Springs/Franklin
A cute, hip set of stores and restaurants close to the Vanderbilt campus. Good for picking up unique souvenirs and one-of-a-kind gifts and fashion.
o A Thousand Faces
o Fire Finch
o Book Man/Book Woman
A relatively new trendy neighborhood that evokes the feeling of the Northwest, 12 South hosts a variety of local businesses, art galleries and restaurants for just about any taste or type.
o Imogene & Willie’s Jean Shop
o Corner Music
o Fork’s Drum Closet
o Minor Jewelry
o Savant Vintage
o Katy K’s Ranch Dressing
Hatch Show Print
A Nashville icon, Hatch Show Print opened in 1879 and is one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in the nation. Even if you’ve never heard of them, chances are you’ve seen the work. Now owned by the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hatch’s focus has always been country music and that tradition continues today. Hatch Show hand prints all concert posters for the Ryman Auditorium and other events and businesses around town. The shop itself does have a handful of prints to sell but the coolest thing about visiting is watching the artists at work.
Hours: M-Sat 9-5
No website but they do have a Facebook page
Address: 316 Broadway
Bookstores & Libraries
With the exception of the newly opened Vanderbilt B&N college bookstore, the Cool Springs location is the only chain bookstore in the immediate Nashville area. It’s your typical Barnes & Noble, with a café serving Starbucks coffee and a music & DVD department. I spent 9 years working as a bookseller here. The booksellers are good people and will help you find what you need.
Address: 1701 Mallory Lane, Franklin
Neighborhood: Cool Springs/Franklin
After the closing of 3 major bookstores in the Nashville area, local author Ann Patchett saw a gaping need for a local bookstore and opened her own. The space is small and librarians might be a little frustrated by the wonky shelving system (mostly due, I think, to the limited inventory) but it’s quite charming and the booksellers are incredibly dedicated. Parnassus also pulls in quite a few high profile author signings, most likely due to Patchett’s own status as a prize winning author.
Address: 3900 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 14
Neighborhood: Green Hills
Book Man/Book Woman
With over 100,000 books, you can get lost in Book Man/Book Woman, a historic used bookstore in Hillsboro Village. Although they specialize in first editions and rare books, they pride themselves on always keeping the New York Times Bestsellers in stock and at discounted rates. Check out their website for a 20% off coupon!
Address: 1713 21st Ave S
Neighborhood: Hillsboro Village
McKay: Used Books, CDs, Movies & More
When I go to McKay, I block out at least 2 hours of time to check in my items for trade and browse around. This place feeds my book addiction more than anywhere else. How can you pass up a copy of that book you’ve been “meaning to read” for only $1? Or a hardcover edition of your favorite book for $5? You can also find good prices on movies (DVD and BluRay), TV box sets, video games and CDs. (You know, if you’re old school and still buy CDs.) They even have some used electronics, like iPods and e-readers and video game consoles. Be prepared to get comfortable with fellow browsers in the slightly narrow aisles, see a local character or two and search. Like Parnassus, the librarian in me shudders at the shelving system from time to time but the bargains make it worth the time trying to find out where they put the random thing you’re on the hunt for.
Address: 636 Old Hickory Blvd
Neighborhood: Bellevue/West Side
Nashville Public Library (Main)
I may be a bit biased but the Nashville Public Library is one of the best in the country. In 2010, NPL received the IMLS National Medal for Museum & Library Service for several programs developed at the library, including Bringing Books to Life, a day care program, Limitless Libraries, an impressive partnership with Metro Nashville high schools, and their continuous promotion of cultural understanding. The NPL’s main branch, built in 2001, is a beautiful, 300,000 sq ft building and any librarian (or library lover) will enjoy spending a few hours there. Enjoy a coffee break or lunch at the Provence Café in the courtyard, wander around the art gallery or kick back with a book in the Grand Reading Room. There are always great (and free!) events at the library, so check the website to see what’s happening when you’re in town.
Parking in the garage is free for the first 90 minutes, with a weekday maximum of $8 and a weekend maximum of $4. (Be sure to take your parking ticket in to be validated.)
Address: 615 Church St Neighborhood: Downtown
Tennessee State Library & Archives
The Tennessee State Library & Archives is a treasure trove for scholars, history buffs and those wishing to learn a bit more about their family history. Genealogy research is the main focus of the State Library but it also contains the complete Legislative History of Tennessee, the Governor’s papers and millions of other original records. TSLA is located directly across the street from the State Capitol and next to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Address: 403 7th Ave N
Arts, Culture & Entertainment
Frist Center for the Arts
A non-profit art gallery, the Frist Center presents art from both local and regional artists and
hosts major national and international touring exhibitions. There are at least 2 exhibitions at
any given time, usually including a main, large exhibit and a second smaller exhibit. Upstairs is
the Martin ArtQuest Gallery, an interactive space for kids of all ages to explore, create and learn
about art. The Frist Café is a good place to grab a quick lunch or snack and the Gift Shop is a
great place to pick up unique, artful souvenirs. College students get in for free on Thursday and
Friday evenings with a valid college ID and at a discounted rate during all other hours. Guided
iPod tours are available for $2 and docent- guided walk- up tours are available for free Monday-Friday at 1:30 pm.
Address: 919 Broadway
Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art
Originally the home of the Cheeks, one of Nashville’s premier entrepreneurial families and
original investors in Maxwell House Coffee (also home to Nashville), Cheekwood is now a
beautiful public garden and art museum. Although simply walking the gardens and the mansion
alone is worth the trip, there are always separate inside and outside art exhibits that make
the visit even more exciting. You can bring a picnic lunch and eat in the grounds, or eat at The
Pineapple Room restaurant. Admission discounts given for seniors, college students and military
personnel. Cheekwood is always closed on Mondays, with the exception of Memorial and Labor
Address: 1200 Forest Park Drive
Neighborhood: Bellevue/West Side
Country Music Hall of Fame
Operated by the Country Music Foundation, the Hall of Fame operates as both a Nashville
history museum and an international music museum to identify and preserve the history and
tradition of country music. The original Hall of Fame lived on Music Row for almost 40 years
before moving to its current location on the riverfront in 2001. In addition to the permanent
collection, there is always a featured exhibit. Guided tours of the Historic RCA Studio are also
available for an additional fee. (These tours require a reservation made at least 24 hours in
Address: 225 5th Ave S
A local treasure, the Belcourt is a non-profit movie theatre and concert venue dedicated to
bringing Nashville “the best of independent, documentary, world, repertoire and classic cinema.” Showing both current, independent cinema and classic film on the big screen, the Belcourt is one of the best art house theatres in the nation and also hosts music concerts, educational film lectures and other events. In addition to the traditional movie theatre fare, the Belcourt also offers a full bar to those over 21. If you buy your tickets online, a parking pass will print out with your ticket for the lot directly behind the theatre. This is strongly recommended since parking in the Village can be a nightmare, especially on weekend evenings.
Address: 2102 Belcourt Ave
Neighborhood: Hillsboro Village
Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC)
Home to the Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera and Tennessee Reparatory Theatre, TPAC
presents a series of touring Broadway shows, as well as concerts, special events and educational
programs. They do offer”rush” students tickets, if available, for $10 45 minutes before show
time (but not for any of the Broadway shows).
Address: 505 Deaderick St
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Home to the Nashville Symphony, the Schermerhorn, named for a Grammy award winning
former maestro of the Nashville Symphony, is an incredibly beautiful building recently opened
in 2006. The focus of the Laura Turner Concert Hall is the custom built concert organ with
3,568 pipes. Even if you can’t make it to one of the symphony concerts, you should stop by the
building, which is directly across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame. Free tours are
given on most Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 pm. An official tour schedule is posted on the
website but calling ahead is recommended.
Address: 1 Symphony Place
Grand Old Opry
Known as the home of American Music, the Grand Old Opry Radio Show has had many homes
since its inception in 1925 but has lived at the current location near Opryland Hotel and Opry
Mills Mall the longest. There are more than 150 Opry shows every year, with performances from
country music legends, current country stars and talented artists from all genres. In addition
to performances on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, guided Opry tours are given seven days a
week from February to October. Reservations can be made up to 2 weeks in advance.
Address: 284 Opryland Dr.
Neighborhood: Opryland/Opry Mills
Photo by TRAFFIK [US]
The focus of Nashville’s Centennial Park, the Parthenon and Athena statue are full size replicas
of the Athenian originals originally built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897 and
alludes to Nashville’s nickname as the “Athens of the South”, due to the 24 higher education
institutions in the metro area. Inside the Parthenon is a permanent art collection and museum.
The museum is open year round Tuesday to Saturday from 9-4:30 with an adult admission price
Address: corner of West End and 25th Ave
Neighborhood: West End/Vanderbilt
The Hermitage is a 1,000 acre plantation purchased by Andrew Jackson before he was elected
as the 45th President. Jackson oversaw the building of the mansion, gardens and other buildings
on the grounds. It is considered to be the most well-preserved presidential home in the nation,
with 16 million visitors since its opening as a museum in 1889.
The Hermitage is open daily from 9-4:30 from October 16 – March 31 and 8:30 – 5 from April
1 – October 15. Admission discounts include seniors, active military, students (ages 16-18) and
children (ages 6-12).
Address: 4580 Rachel’s Lane
Neighborhood: East Side/Opryland
Owned and operated by Kix Brooks, one half of the award winning country duo Brooks & Dunn,
and 2 business associates, Arrington is the closest winery to Nashville. A quick 25 minutes drive
from town, Arrington is a great place to escape the tourist trappings of the big city. Although
there is no restaurant on the premises, guests are welcome to bring a picnic meal. You can also
have a picnic meal delivered to you from Simply Living Life (online ordering is available). The gift
shop also sells chocolates, cheese, crackers and sausage. Free wine tastings are available on a
daily basis and the “Music in the Vines” events on the weekends make for a fun night under the
stars. They only sell wine by the bottle (no glasses) but you can bring your own glasses, use the
winery’s plastic wine cups or purchase Arrington glasses in the gift shop. No other alcohol or wine is allowed on the premises.
Address: 6211 Patton Rd, Arrington, TN
It’s not surprising that there are a plethora of music venues in Music City. I’ve highlighted four of my
favorites and listed a few more.
Owned and operated by Mike Grimes, one of Nashville’s favorite entrepreneurs, the Basement
is a small venue located in the basement of Grimey’s, Mike’s nationally renowned record store.
The Basement books mostly local bands, with rare “secret” shows by some of Nashville’s more
famous recording artists. 21 + only and no smoking (although there is a large outdoor smoking
Address: 1604 8th Ave S
The Bluebird Café is legendary both to Nashville and the national music scene at large. Many
Nashville stars got their start here, including Garth Brooks, who was “discovered” during an
open mic night. Although you never know which superstar might pop in, the focus here is on
the songwriters, the “heroes behind the hits”. The scene is intimate and purposefully serene,
with seating for only 100. Although the early shows have some “first come, first served” seating
around the bar, all evening shows require a reservation, which can be made online. Early shows,
Sunday shows and Monday night open mic shows do not have a cover charge. All other shows
do have a cover charge which goes directly to the musicians. There is also a $7 food & drink
minimum purchase for ALL shows. Artists such as Leann Rimes, John Prine and Phil Vassar have
been known to make appearances.
Address: 4104 Hillsboro Pike
Neighborhood: Green Hills
3rd & Lindsley
One of my favorite places to see a show in Nashville, 3rd & Lindsley books local and nationallyknown recording artists. Their restaurant is also good, so come early, snag a table and have dinner before the show. Many shows during the week are under $10 or free.
Address: 818 3rd Ave S
Known as the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman has a rich and varied history. It’s
rumored to have the best acoustics in the country, second only to the Mormon Tabernacle in
Salt Lake City. It is, hands down, the best place to see a show, not only in Nashville, but quite
possibly anywhere. Museum by day and concert venue by night, the Ryman began as a church
and was the home of the Grand Old Opry and the WSM radio show for 50 years. Originally built
by Tom Ryman for Rev. Sam Jones and named the Union Gospel Tabernacle, the structure has
been cosmetically remodeled many times over the years but still retains the church pews and
the original structure remains intact. If there’s a show you’re even slightly interested in while
you’re visiting, go. It will be worth it, I promise. Artists on the Ryman stage understand the
sanctity and gravity of performing at the venue and pull out all the stops.
Tours are given daily from 9-4. Self-guided tours are $13, $6.50 for children 4-11 and guided,
backstage tours are $17, $10.50 for children 4-11.
The “CBGB” of Nashville
Address: 2208 Elliston Place
Cannery Ballroom/Mercy Lounge
Address: One Cannery Row
Address: 501 Broadway
Widely known as the best record store in Nashville (and one of the best in the country),Grimey’s is a must for any audiophile. New and used vinyl and CDs line the walls and take up the aisles, while your new favorite band you haven’t heard yet pumps through the store speakers. If you can, be sure to visit for Beer Thirty. Every weekday at 5:30, employees pass out free beer to everyone over 21. Most indie artists in town for a performance will play a free show at Grimey’s the day before (or afternoon of) their performance. The in-stores are crowded but very worth it.
Address: 1604 8th Ave S
The closest you’ll get to High Fidelity in Nashville, Phonoluxe is not nearly as friendly and
welcoming as Grimey’s but if you can get past the lousy attitudes of the staff, you could find
some treasures. Plus, it’s right next to do La Hacienda, so stop in after your margaritas.
Address: 2609 Nolensville Pike
The old Great Escape location on Broadway was a Nashville legend. Unfortunately, rent became
too high for the small record store and they decided to expand their west side location and
leave the store on Broadway. I haven’t been to the new location but many say it doesn’t have
the charm of the grubby, older store. It’s still worth a visit, especially if you’re a comic book
fan. Along with the used vinyl and CDs, you can find photographs, prints, collector’s items,
memorabilia, DVDs and all kinds of crazy things you could only find in Music City.
Address: 5400 Charlotte Ave
Neighborhood: West Side/Bellevue
Photo by Josh Bousel
Ernest Tubb Record Shop
Ernest Tubb, a country music pioneer, founded this legendary record shop in 1947. Selling only
Country, Americana and Bluegrass, you’ll find long forgotten artists, hard to find releases and
the generally obscure. Located right in the heart of Downtown, on the Broadway strip, it is a
prime destination for country music fans and tourists. It’s also home to the country’s second
longest running radio show, the Midnight Jamboree, on Saturday nights.
Address: 417 Broadway
Bliss is my favorite local yarn store (yeah, they know me by name). Everyone there is incredibly
knowledgeable, friendly and ready to help. Even if you’re not shopping, you can stop by and knit
whenever you like (there are always people gathered around the table) or come in for help with
a knitting question or disaster. They have great sales on Wednesdays during the summer and
if you’re lucky enough to be in Nashville at the end of August, you cannot miss their Junk in the
Trunk sale. Dozens of people bring yarn to sell, many simply pulling up their cars and opening
the trunk (hence the name). But be warned: set yourself a dollar limit before you go, or you will
end up buying every single skein you see.
Address: 127 Franklin Rd, Brentwood, TN
Neighborhood: Brentwood/South Nashville
Haus of Yarn
I don’t visit Haus of Yarn very often, mostly because Bliss is so close to my heart (and my
apartment) but the new location is much larger and more welcoming than the old and with the
increase in square footage, the selection has expanded as well.
Address: 265 White Bridge Pike
Neighborhood: West Side
Sports, Parks & Recreation
Created for Nashville’s Centennial celebration, Centennial Park is located at the corner of West
End and 25th Ave and includes the Parthenon, a one mile walking trail, a man-made lake, band
shell and other amenities. Centennial hosts many events during the year, including the Arts &
Crafts Festival and Shakespeare in the Park.
Address: 2500 West End Ave
Neighborhood: West End/Downtown
Edwin & Percy Warner Park
The largest municipal park in Tennessee, the two Warner Parks include 2684 acres of forestless than 10 miles from downtown Nashville. The two neighboring parks include picnic areas,walking and hiking trails, an equestrian center and horse riding trails, athletic fields and golfcourses. If you’re looking for a place to run while you’re in town, this is one of the best (but beware of the crazy hills).
Address: Edwin Warner, 50 Vaughn Rd; Percy Warner, 2500 Old Hickory Blvd
Ellington Agricultural Center
Encompassing 207 acres, the Ellington Agricultural Center is home to the Tennessee Department
of Agriculture, the Tennessee Agriculture Museum and the official Tennessee Iris Garden and
includes a greenway (great for running) and the Rogers Walking Trail. Buildings (including the
museum) are open to the public from Monday through Friday 9 to 4m, except for state holidays.
Address: 440 Hogan Rd
Tennessee Titans (NFL)
Home: LP Field
Season: August to December
Nashville Predators (NHL)
Home: Bridgestone Arena
Season: October to April
Nashville Rollergirls (Roller Derby)
Home: Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Season: March to September
Nashville Sounds (Minor League Baseball)
Home: Greer Stadium
Season: April to September
Written by Laura Sheets. Laura is a recent MLIS graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a Reader Advisor at the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped. She has lived in Nashville for ten years where she knits, reads, runs, watches too much British TV and plays fetch with her cat.