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):
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.