A few weeks ago, we flew to Nashville to attend a wedding of a family friend. The wedding was in Winchester (close to Lynchburg, TN), about a ninety-minute drive south of Nashville.
In true “us” fashion, we turned the weekend into a four-day extravaganza and used every second we could to explore Nashville and the surrounding area. We were with my mom and two sisters, and we like to think they appreciated us carting them around to every well-reviewed restaurant, bar, and activity that the state of Tennessee had to offer.
First of all, the weather wasn’t that great. And by “not great,” I literally mean that we should’ve brought ponchos and some galoshes (that’s a thing, right?) because it was a FULL ON monsoon. Torrential, people, torrential. We spent a lot of our time sprinting (swimming) through puddles and diving into boutiques and restaurants to escape the rain. But at the rate at which we were swallowing fried chicken whole, it was probably for the best that we had to keep a pep in our step.
The second major hiccup on this trip happened the day we left for Nashville. And please, no one freak out–I’m totally fine, no long term issues, etc. But about two hours before we got on the flight, I had an ovarian cyst burst. LOL. I spent about 30 minutes crying on the bathroom floor (it sounds dramatic because it was), popped about 33 Advil, and crawled from our Uber onto the airplane.
Don’t worry, I’m good as new now, but the pain did continue for the rest of our trip. I spent most of our time in Nashville hobbling at a snail’s pace, pretending to laugh at Tyler’s jokes and making up excuses to stay longer at restaurants just so I could keep sitting.
All things considered, the weekend really did turn out to be a blast. Nashville is such a fun city, and we had an amazing time exploring with my family.
Nashville is the perfect U.S. city to visit for a long weekend. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a huge country music fan. It was charming, relatively affordable, and easy to get around. This is probably why we saw around 1000 bachelor/bachelorette parties meandering around the city while we were there.
A report came out recently that said that 100 people are moving to Nashville every day this year (on average). The job market is booming, the cost of living is affordable, and it’s an attractive place for young people who are just trying to socialize under some bulb lights with a cocktail in hand.
After spending just a couple of days exploring Nashville, we understand the obsession.
In this post, we’ll map out our top recommendations for your time in the Music City. We are also low-key already planning a trip to go back.
Where to Stay
If you take just ONE thing from this guide, let it be our lodging recommendation. We LOVED the 12 South area of Nashville, and the Airbnb we stayed in was one of our favorites ever (closely rivaled only by our flat in Strasbourg).
We stayed in a granny unit behind the host’s house, and it was incredible. The layout and decor was SO Joanna Gaines. And Tyler was in heaven, drinking coffee and reading out on the screened-off porch in the morning.
We were obsessed with ALL of the adorable houses in 12 South, and we were just a couple of minutes away from tons of cute shops and restaurants. I would honestly move here. It was so cute.
Where to Eat
Bartaco– Being from Southern California, literally the closest you can get to street tacos in Tijuana, I was skeptical to try this place that so many people had raved about. But I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised by the unique and lengthy list of taco options. We definitely recommend checking this place out, but be warned that the bill adds up quick since it’s so tempting to order at least 17 different tacos. Try the pork belly, baja fish, and falafel tacos!
Biscuit Love- Tyler should probably be the one writing this blurb since he has found a way to bring Biscuit Love into conversation (with me, friends, complete strangers) almost daily since we returned from Nashville nearly four weeks ago. But I’ll do my best to sum it up. You’ll have to wait for what seems like ages in a line outside, order at the counter, find a seat under a sign that will make any instagrammer elbow small children out of the way for a good shot, and wait for about 10 minutes for the quintessential southern breakfast. We collectively consumed about 8 wads of dough that I vaguely remember being called “bonuts” (that can’t be right?). And don’t even get me started about the chicken and waffles–this meal was amazing and worth every calorie that I still to this day am trying to burn off.
Pinewood Social- This place is awesome. First, the food at Pinewood Social was absolutely incredible. Our favorites were the mac and cheese, shaved brussel sprouts, and the entirety of the “Things on Toast” portion of the menu. The cocktails were expensive but really tasty. The best part of this place, though, is the bowling alley in the back of the restaurant. SO fun. The outside looked really fun, too (bocce ball, etc), but it was closed when we were there on account of the rain.
Barista Parlor- This coffee shop was so far out of our league it wasn’t even funny. Recommended by the groom of the wedding we were in Tennessee for, Barista Parlor is just the hippest in every way possible. Huge space, tons of windows, and it’s located in what appeared to be an old auto shop–so cool. The bacon biscuit breakfast sandwich was the perfect way to start off our weekend in the South. Also, please please please try the bourbon vanilla latte (amazing either hot or iced!).
Acme Feed and Seed- We loved this bar. We stopped here after a casual walk down Broadway and over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. There are bars on every floor of the building, but the rooftop bar has amazing views of the Cumberland River, downtown Nashville, and Nissan Stadium. Order the “Mulekicker” (I can’t find another way to describe it besides “vodka lemonade slushee”– but that’s enough right??).
Edley’s BBQ- Go here to get the ultimate southern barbecue experience. Edley’s hot chicken, cornbread, pulled pork, wings, potato salad (yes we ordered all of these items) were all SO good. We went to the location in 12 South, so you know we had to walk around the corner to get our pic in front of the “I Believe in Nashville” mural. So touristy, so worth it.
What to Do
The Stage- We recommend spending a night bar-hopping down Broadway. But if you only want to hit one bar, definitely make it a point to stop at The Stage. When were getting ready for this trip, our good friend told us that The Stage was “the best bar in the entire country” and that “all time escapes you when you walk in.” We went on a Sunday night, and the band that was playing country music covers was SO good. We learned that all of the very best bands in Nashville play on Broadway right before they are about to get really big. This is a must do in Nashville, even if you aren’t into bars or drinking (just go sit in the balcony and listen to some incredible music).
Country Music Hall of Fame– Ok this recommendation is really only for country music fans. But if you are, in fact, a sucker for all things Loretta and Garth, this is a must-see. We spent $25 to get in, and we absolutely loved it. We loved the booths that you could go into to listen to your favorite country classics and the “sound proof” recording studio where you can practice your southern-accented karaoke skills to Darius Rucker and (country-era) Taylor Swift. We found out AFTER we spent 15 minutes belting “Mean” that the studio was not even the slightest bit “sound proof.” Slightly embarrassing but well worth it.
Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg- If you are itching to get outside of the city and see some of the lush, green Tennessee countryside, this is the perfect day trip. We took a tour of the Jack Daniels DIstillery the morning of the wedding we went to because it was only twenty minutes away from the venue. Contrary to the six months I spent pretending to love Jack Daniels in college, I honestly hate the taste of whiskey. But this tour was SO fun and informative, and we did the “dry” tour (no tasting, phew). I had no idea what a process making whiskey was, and our guide was funny and enthusiastic. We would definitely recommend this.
A few things we missed that we are FOR SURE planning on hitting next time we are in Nashville are the Ryman Auditorium, the Opryland resort, and the Johnny Cash museum.
I’d also really like to take a spin on one of those group bikes where you chug beer and pedal around downtown to the beat of Luke Bryan music pounding from the overhead speakers–ideally on a day with sunny skies.