Nashville, TN | 10 Things Worth Seeing

If you’re reading this, you are either searching for things to do in Nashville, or you’ve been there and are curious if maybe I have something different to offer.

First off, let me tell you that I have been to Nashville and the surrounding area more times than I can count. When I was about seven (?), my grandmother and great-grandmother moved to Hendersonville, TN from Southern California. So, from then on, we made regular trips to the area. Also, my sister and I have been multiple times as adults for a quick weekend trip or to photograph one of our lovely couples for our photography business.

Here’s a list of 10 Things I Think You Should Check Out (and look for helpful tips along the way):

  1. Record Stores/ Recording Studios

Thank you to my wonderful friend, Caitlin, I have grown into a record player and vinyl owner. And Nashville has no shortage of great record stores. We hit up Grimey’s on Trinity Ln in the East Hill area. It’s a great old store with lots of new and used records. They also have shows there. Another place to check out is Third Man Records (in the Pie Town area)- a recording studio and record store owned by Jack White from the White Stripes. The shop is really cool and unique. It’s $20 to take a tour, which are on Fridays and Saturdays at 2pm. “Third Man debuted its Record Booth, a refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine that records up to 2 minutes of audio and dispenses a one-oF-a-kind 6" phonograph disc to the user. Whether it be a song, a message to a lover, an audio postcard, or just curiosity in a process that has mystified so many folks for ages, the ability to "hear yourself as others hear you" is not only a tagline here... it's an invitation, a charge, a call to arms.” (According to the Third Man Records website) It’s pretty cool. I highly recommend checking out Third Man, or one of the many other recording studios that are open to the public.

2. Black Abbey Brewing Company

I honestly don’t think this is a place you will find on many other lists, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. The taproom and brewery is down south of the Berry Hill area just off of 65. It’s tucked in with other industrial-like buildings. They offer tours on Saturdays between 1 and 4pm and it’s only $10. The tour is short, but informative and the guide is most likely going to be one of the original brewers. At the end of the tour, you can head into the taproom for a free pint in your souvenir glass. Definitely a great bang for your buck. You are also welcome to bring food into the taproom, or partake from a food truck parked out back. They even have board games, and huge tables to sit around with family or friends, or even perfect strangers. I think this is a definite must for beer lovers.

3. Radnor State Park

Like I mentioned, my sister and I are wedding photographers and have visited Nashville a couple of times to take photos of our beautiful couples. The last session we had in Nashville was at Radnor Lake State Park. It was an early session, which was perfect because there were few people in the park, making it easy to get some great photos. The paths are very well cleared and wide. It’s a gorgeous place if you are looking to get away from the city for a little bit and take in some nature. It’s an easy hike, too, with some hills but flat paths.

4. Loveless Cafe

Now, this is a place that you will find on many different lists of what to do or places to eat in Nashville. But, I will tell you that they are all right. This place is perfect. If you are looking for a place with good, down-home cooking, you should try Loveless Cafe. Now, I will warn you that it is not in Nashville. It always comes up on Nashville lists, when in fact it is quite a distance out of the city. The address is Nashville, however, if you are staying in downtown it’s about 30 minutes away. There is usually a wait but it is totally worth it! And there are a couple of shops on the property you can peruse while you wait. I highly recommend ordering the fried green tomatoes. And the biscuits and spreads they bring to the table are to die for. The best biscuits I’ve ever had!

5. Gaylord Opryland Resort

This place holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been visiting Opryland since I was a kid and it will always be one of my favorite places. It holds great memories with family and friends. If you know nothing else about it, here’s what you should know- you will get lost. Ha! Yes, I’ve gotten lost in this hotel probably every single time I’ve visited. Here is a map to help you. Another couple of facts: there are four different areas to the hotel- Magnolia, Cascades, Delta, and Garden Conservatory, there is a boat you can ride through the Delta area, just this year they finished an area called Soundwaves with pools and fun water activities, and there is a huge convention center attached to the resort. tip: if you aren’t staying there and don’t want to pay to park, you can park in a lot at the back of the Opry Mills mall and near the Grand Ole Opry and walk to the resort, passed the event center.

6. Peg Leg Porker

Mmmm BBQ. Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking “oh how original BBQ?!” But you know when something is good, it’s worth talking about. Personally, I’m much more of a BBQ girl than the hot chicken that everyone raves about in Nashville. I’m sorry but I like my taste buds, I don’t want them burned off by a pound of cayenne pepper. I digress. You need to try Peg Leg Porker located in The Gulch area. Like any other good restaurant there will be a wait, but the line seems to go fast. tip: sit at the bar if you can find a seat. The bartender will take your food order too and then you don’t have to stand in the line for food. The food was AMAZING! And the drinks were delicious too. The atmosphere is really laid back- a big open room with tables and not a whole lot of “fluff”- my kind of place.

7. Wildhorse Saloon

This is another place that will be near and dear to my heart forever. This is the first place I line danced. And we even got my uncle from California out on the floor when we visited when I was a kid. There have been very few trips to Nashville that haven’t involved a visit to the Wild Horse. Plus, if you are with someone who is under 21 they can get in before 10 pm. One downside is that over the years the dance floor has shrunk considerably. It used to be huge, but it seems they have decided to put in more tables for eating and seating for shows. But I still love it. Every hour on most nights they have line dancing lessons. Their food is good too. The drinks are little pricey, but worth it. If you want a place that isn’t a dive or a club with just people grinding on each other, this is your place. tip: be aware of leaving your seat when you go to dance, if you don’t leave a friend behind to watch them you could lose them. And hopefully, if it’s a guy who takes it he will be a gentleman and give it up (or you can pull a Sarah and make him).

8. B.B. King’s Blue Club

You don’t like country? Then why are you in Nashville? Just kidding. Nashville actually has a lot to offer for those that don’t like country and B.B. King’s is one of them. If you like blues and delicious food, you should check it out. There is a rotation of great bands. They have a decent sized dance floor too. I will say one time my sister and I got overcharged on our drinks, but it was fixed and I wouldn’t hold that against them. This place, as well as the Wildhorse above, are on 2nd Avenue off of Broadway (the main street with a lot of clubs), so it tends to be a little less crowded. So, if you want something a bit more relaxed you should check it out.

9. Robert’s Western World

When my sister and I went to Nashville a few years ago for a wedding, we stayed in an Airbnb in East Nashville and the host was so nice. When she saw us going out for the night, she came out to say hello and give a few suggestions on where to go. One place she mentioned was Robert’s Western World. Neither of us had been there, but we decided we’d give it a try. Now, if you like tiny, honky-tonks this is the place for you. Oh and there are cheap drinks and fried bologna sandwiches. Where can you go wrong?! We love it here and try to hit it up every time we visit too. There’s a tiny dance floor, but we just sit at the bar or one of the high-top tables and listen to the rockabilly country. The gin and tonics are strong and come in plastic cups, my kind of place.

tip: take an Uber or Lyft to get to and from Broadway. There are way too many cars, buses, and pedicabs to be driving in this area. And you can drink to you heart’s delight and you don’t have to get in trouble behind the wheel. Win, win.

10. Five Daughters Bakery

Now, you’ve had your night of drinking and let’s be honest you probably had some greasy McDonald’s breakfast, but now you need a sweet treat with your shopping at Draper James. Then make sure you go to Five Daughters Bakery in 12 South (they have 2 other locations in the area as well). You should definitely, without a doubt, try the 100 Layered Donut. I had the Maple one time and it was delicious. They rotate the flavors monthly. Also, they have Vegan and Paleo donuts too. This is another place I have to try to visit when I go to Nashville.

Well, I hope this gives you a little insight to my Nashville. I probably could have made this list a lot longer, but I tried to keep it tamed down. If you need any other suggestions about getting around or where to stay, let me know I’d be more than happy to share my knowledge with you.

Honorable mentions:

10 Tips for your First International Trip

August 2016 I took my first trip to Europe.  My sister and I begin planning this trip over a year before we planned to leave.  And a LOT of planning went into this trip.  It's a little nerve-wracking to fly overseas.  At least for me it was.  So, here is my list of things I recommend you do before heading out on your international trip.

1. Your Passport

Ok, first things first.  Do you have a passport?  Is it current?  Has your name, address, or photo changed?  Listen, getting a passport can take as long as people warn you.  Now, that's not to say you can't get lucky and get yours back in two weeks like I did.  HOWEVER, I am not married, and never have been.  But if you have you need a marriage certificate; if you've been divorced you need that paperwork.  So, prepare yourself that it could take months to get your passport.  Or it could take 2 weeks.  Prepare yourself. 

Photos from Costco are pretty cheap and they give you like 4 copies, so you have plenty if something happens to one.  It only takes about 15 minutes or so to interview at the Post Office.

Speaking of passport, "keep it secret, keep it safe."  I got this really cute holder from Kate Spade, that also had pockets for my money and cards.  Now, I went to a part of the world that isn't known to be unsafe; I didn't really feel the need to worry about pick-pockets.  Regardless, keep your passport with you and keep it close to you (nowhere someone can snatch it from you).

2.  Luggage

I am not a suitcase girl.  As in, I prefer a rolling duffel bag to a hard-sided suitcase.  Personally, I think it's easier to shove into an overhead bin than a suitcase.  And it can also be stuffed, if necessary.  I also like a backpack for a carry-on.  Anywhere I'm going, whether domestic or international, I will take items I really need out of my purse, pack my purse in my duffel, and keep my backpack with me at my seat.  This is what I did, even for my international flight.

3.  Packing

I love packing cubes!!!  I got these ones on Amazon.  They're really helpful.  I use 1 for undergarments, 1 for shoes, 1 for tops, and 1 for bottoms.  You could also do an outfit or two in each one.  There's also enough to take empty ones along to put dirty laundry in.

How do I decide what to pack?  What I like to do if it's going to be chilly, is pick a pair of jeans, a pair of black pants, and maybe a skirt and/or leggings.  For me, packing just really depends on what I'm going to be doing.  I don't have any hard-fast list I stick to every time.  That being said, I will choose maybe 2 tshirts, 2 cardigan-like sweaters (of neutral color so that I can wear them with anything), and a light rain jacket.  Again, I took a trip to Scotland, you just never know when it will rain.  As far as shoes go, I pack 1 pair of tennis shoes (or for me I like Skechers Go Step-Marina) and 1 pair of waterproof shoes (I took rainboots from Sperry).

Packing is really up to you.  I just recommend keeping it simple!  If you are staying in Airbnbs, then most likely you will have access to a washer and dryer, so you can easily wear the same pants or shirt a bunch of times.  People don't care what you wear either, your Instagram followers know you're trying to keep your packing light.

4.  Planning Your Flight

Ok, so this is probably where my sister and I learned the most lessons.  First of all, we flew United.  Now, I know everyone has their opinions on airlines, and my opinion is that United is the WORST.  This is my blog, I will be honest.  Our flight from Louisville, KY to Newark, NJ was delayed over an hour.  This cut our layover time immensely.  The flight attendants didn't give us any hope of the plane being held for us in Newark.  So, I got off the plane and ran through Newark airport.  Our flight to Dublin was pretty uneventful.  I do wish they had some better food on planes.  Then on the way home, I got delayed twice in Washington, D.C. (my sister and her husband's flight got canceled completely when they came home).  Needless to say, I'm not impressed with United Airlines.

I recommend doing your research with international flights.  Fortunately now, there are airlines like Icelandic Air and Wow Air that have awesome international flights.  Read reviews.  Price shop.  Also, look into flights inside the country you are visiting.  Many people like to take trains because it's cool, but is it really cheaper?  The flights over in Europe are pretty inexpensive.

5.  On the Plane

An international flight can be anywhere from 6-14 hours, or more, of flying.  Thankfully, I only had a maximum of 8 hours over the ocean.  

I tried to sleep.  I took some natural sleeping pills called Luna, and it didn't really help.  Let me clarify, though, and say that I'm a really light sleeper and I toss and turn a lot at home, trying to get comfortable.  So, needless to say, I struggled to sleep in a narrow airplane seat with a neck pillow that didn't help.  This might not be the same for you.  So, if you have an overnight flight, I suggest taking something to sleep and bringing a neck pillow so you aren’t paralyzed the rest of your trip.

As far as things to do on the plane (if you aren’t just passed out the whole time), I like to bring my iPad, phone, headphones, and maybe a notebook.  I can pretty much do anything on my iPad, but sometimes I just like to write.  Now, I have ADD, so I will read for about 30 minutes, then listen to a podcast/play a game, then sleep, and then repeat.  I know.  My sister will read a whole book on a flight.  I cannot.  Make sure you pack your carry-on with as much care as your suitcase.  You don’t want to get on the plane and realized you forgot headphones, or that your iPad isn’t charged.

I’m not one to pay for the Wi-Fi on a plane.  I’m not important enough that I need to check emails that can’t wait until I land.  I do like to watch movies, though, so I will watch either the screen on the back of the seat or downloaded movies on my iPad.

6.  Where to stay

I am an ardent advocate for Airbnb.  I have only had one bad experience, which in defense of the hosts it was probably because I was one of the first people to stay there.  And the circumstances were just weird.  When my sister and I were planning our international vacation, we decided to stay in a few different Airbnb rentals.  We also stayed in three different Bed and Breakfasts in Scotland.  

One thing to consider with Airbnb is that you have to pay for everything ahead of time.  This can be a good thing- pay and forget about it- or a bad thing- you are out money if you have to cancel.  With bed and breakfasts, you can reserve the date, but not pay until after the stay, or maybe a short time before.

Again, read reviews.  Do your research.  

7.  Make a list/Be spontaneous

That seems like an oxymoron.  However, Jessica and I are list-makers that love spontaneity.  Does that even make sense?  It works for us.  What we typically do is make a list of things we really want to see in a certain city or town or area then when we leave in the morning we at least have a direction.  But then when we're heading to one of those places we could see something cool off the side of the road, and we'll stop.  If you make a list and are adamant to sticking to it, you can lose out on things that may be just five minutes off the highway, and be totally worth the detour.  This is how we discovered The Newton Arms, O'Neill's Pub, Oink, Old Inverlochy Castle, just to name a few.

8.  Money

I guess I really can't say this enough: do your research!  My debit card and credit card do not have international fees.  BUT does yours?  Did you check?  Check!  People think that they can just go over and use their credit/debit card with no problems.  Well, most places will take them, but you will also get charged for the exchange.  So, check for fees.  You can get cash from an ATM in Euros or Pounds in most places in Europe.  The exchange kiosks will charge you to exchange your money.  You can look online for the exchange rate, which will tell you how much they are actually charging you for your money.  Yeah, it's stupid.  Just be smart about how you're using your money.

9.  Cell phones

My sister, my brother-in-law, and I are all on the same phone plan.  They were staying a week longer than me, so we all decided that they would have an international phone plan and I wouldn't.  I was pretty disappointed I didn't.  Granted the service isn't great, but it comes in handy.  For instance, when touring the Edinburgh Castle, we all got separated.  Needless to say, my sister had a mini panic attack when she couldn't find me in the crowd of people and had no way of getting a hold of me.  So, if you are with other people and may be separated from them, get a phone plan.  There's nothing scarier than being stuck in a foreign country with no way of getting a hold of people.  I can only imagine how much scarier if I couldn't communicate with others around me.

10.  Take it all in!!!

Who knows when you’ll be back to see the Eiffel Tower, Blarney Castle, the Isle of Skye, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, or the beaches of New Zealand.  So, take it all in!!!  Don’t miss out on something you really want to do.  That’s the point of that vacation.  You are there to do as much as you can.  Take photos like a tourist, ask the locals for suggestions, get lost, talk to strangers.  Remember this is your trip; who cares if you look stupid (trust me most of the time the locals have seen worse).

Make memories.