The country music capital of Nashville rocks with new, locally-focused cuisine, funky boutiques and live music galore. Get ready for a weekend of rollicking good times with a side of good ole’ country hospitality.
Nashville is a quick, direct flight from just about every major U.S. city. Once there, you can do most of your exploring by foot or even bike. Trace Bikes (8400 Highway 100; 615-646-2485) offers rentals and guided group rides. The maps at Nashville.gov will help you find local Greenways and trails.
10 FUN THINGS TO DO IN NASHVILLE, TN THIS WEEKEND
Start your tour at the Mother Church of Country Music: the Ryman Auditorium. Rated as having the second best acoustics in the world (after the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Utah), the Ryman is haunted by the ghosts of music legends. From Loretta Lynn to Johnny Cash, this auditorium has welcomed them all. Try to catch a live show here to hear the amazing acoustics in action (see website for concert listings). Diehard country music fans will want to take the backstage tour. (116 5th Ave N, Nashville; 615-458-8700)
HATCH SHOW PRINT
Hatch Show Print, within walking distance from the Ryman, is yet another key player in the history of Music City. For over 25 years, this small printing shop has been using its letter presses to print concert posters for such artists as Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Patsy Cline. Watch the old-fashioned printers in action and take your pick from a great selection of modern and vintage concert posters. (316 Broadway; 615-256-2805)
FRIST CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS
Housed in a former post office, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a stunning art deco gem and host to innovative exhibits and traveling art collections from around the world. Extended hours until 9 pm, live local entertainment and a cash bar with complimentary appetizers make a Friday night at the Frist a must-do. (919 Broadway; 615-244-3340)
BELLE MEADE PLANTATION
Belle Meade Plantation, a.k.a. the “Queen of the Tennessee Plantations,” is an 1853 Greek revival mansion, once the home to the famed English Derby winner Iroquois. In November of 2009, Belle Meade opened up the only winery in Nashville. Stay for a wine tasting and try to catch one of the plantation’s educational offerings, including Civil War recreations and culinary classes. (5025 Harding Pike; 615-356-0501)
For a look at a reawakening Nashville neighborhood, trek on over to the east end of town. East Nashville, an eclectic neighborhood of antebellum buildings dating back to the 1850s, offers fun casual dining and funky, local boutiques in its 12South retail district.
Your quest for the perfect pair of blue jeans ends at Imogene + Willie, where you’ll be measured, and your customized, stitched up on-the-spot jeans are guaranteed to fit. There is no sign marking this shop (though you just might spot a celebrity inside) so look for the red “+” on the door and you’ll know you’ve arrived in blue jean paradise. (2601 12th Avenue South; 615-292-5005)
The Parthenon in downtown Nashville’s Centennial Park is a full-size replica of the ancient Parthenon. Embrace your inner Greek God and snap a photo of yourself hugging one of its Doric columns. Bring a picnic; tables are available in the park. (West End 25th Avenue)
Take a tour at Yazoo Brewery, where you’ll find the only beer brewed and bottled in downtown Nashville. Offered every Saturday, tours also include a Yazoo pint glass and samples of beers. There is a $7 fee for the guided tour. (910 Division St; 615-891-4649)
Restore and revitalize at Sanctuary Yoga. Nashville’s premier yoga studio, this large yoga studio and boutique offers a wide range of classes in a variety of styles, including special weekend classes taught by yoga instructors from around the world. (3902 Hillsboro Pike; 615-297-8797)
Located in an unassuming strip mall outside of the city center, the Bluebird Cafe (you may have heard of it from the TV show Nashville) is one of the preeminent performance venues in the U.S. Expect to rub elbows with local and national songwriters, performers, and label scouts. It’s also a restaurant starring down home southern cooking. Be ready for long lines; better yet, consider making reservations online. (4104 Hillsboro Pike, 615-383-1461)
HONKY TONK ROW
Pull on your best cowboy boots and hit the honky tonks on Broadway Avenue, downtown Nashville’s “Honky Tonk row.” Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (422 Broadway; 615-726-0463) is one of the most celebrated. The Stage on Broadway (412 Broadway; 615-726-0504) is the largest. And Legends Corner (428 Broadway; 615-248-6334) is the most crowded. All are within walking distance on Honky Tonk Row and none have a cover charge. Bring along some dollar bills; the performers earn their living with tips, and you just might catch a rising star.
3 MUST-TRY NASHVILLE RESTAURANTS
LAS PALETAS GOURMET POPSICLES
Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles offers a rainbow of handcrafted Mexican-style popsicles with a sweet, salty or spicy twist. Flavors change daily and range from Avocado to Raspberry Lime. (2905 12th Ave South; 615-386-2101)
THE WILD COW
The Wild Cow is a vegetarian’s paradise, with a menu focusing on locally-sourced ingredients. I recommend the sweet and spicy sweet potato tacos and the garlicky beans and greens. The spicy kale is to die for. Save room for a smoothie. (1896 Eastland Ave; 615-262-2717)
WHERE TO STAY IN NASHVILLE
Hilton Nashville Downtown is located in the heart of Music City near these fun things to do in Nashville. Four on-site restaurants, a fitness center and chic suites give this hotel a comfy and convenient edge.