Have you heard? Nashville is the new Austin. Thanks to an eponymous TV show and a slew of hip new restaurants, bars, and boutiques, the word is out: Nashville is having a moment. Neighborhoods are changing, buildings are getting taller, and rents are, of course, on the rise. But Nashville isn't a new destination by any means—its heart and soul have always been at the center of its vibrant music scene. The city has a rich history, lending it an authenticity and identity that won't be changing anytime soon, no matter how many trendy (and amazing) rooftop bars open. I spent four days in Music City this November and that was more than enough time to fall hard.
So book your ticket, get ready for some honky tonk and hot chicken, and click through the gallery below to plan your Nashville itinerary.
where to stay
Located in downtown Nashville, Union Station is a restored, 100-year-old railway station. It kind of looks like Hogwarts on the outside; the lobby is epic with giant chandeliers and vaulted stained glass ceilings.The rooms are luxurious and lovely. Also, the hotel is rumored to be haunted, as if you needed more of a reason to visit!
This second iteration and Southern branch of the Brooklyn Urban Cowboy B&B does not disappoint. If you’ve always wished you could stay in a mansion meticulously redecorated as a hipster “southwestern deco” dream, full of attractive creative types, then look no further. Everyone is friendly, and your wildest selfie tub dreams will be fulfilled.
This landmark hotel in downtown Nashville is more than 100 years old, and its vibe is early-20th-century glamour all the way. The lobby is worth a peek even if you aren’t staying here.
where to eat + drink
Nashville's self-proclaimed "oldest dive bar," this place is exactly what you want it to be: Dolly Parton art, spacious backyard, perfectly greasy burgers, and pecan pie. Basically, Dino's is the ultimate dive bar. Did we mention the Frito pie??
Expect karaoke and live music in a cigarette smoke-filled triple-wide trailer. A man named Santa (yes, he has a white beard) lives here (supposedly). A necessary Nashville experience.
If really good cocktails are your thing, then don't miss this low-key gem. The bartenders are great and the vibe is chill. Try one of their reimagined shots, aka "Writer's Block Shots," such as the "Brautigan," Four Roses Small Batch with a watermelon slice or the "Hunter S. Thompson," Flor de Cana 4 Year Rum with a cinnamon-sugared green apple slice. Plus, it's next door to Dino's!
This bar is on the main tourist strip, but it’s worth a visit. Stop by the historic building for some live music and a fried bologna sandwich.
Nashville’s original hot chicken joint, this place is the real deal. The chicken is really hot and really good. Just remember: If you're a hot chicken newb, pride comes before the fall.
Delicious barbecue, duh. IMO sides are extremely important when dealing with barbecue, and Edley's serves eight to 10 Southern-style side dishes made fresh daily.
We literally ate everything on the menu here, and it was all SO GOOD and reasonably priced.
Pinewood Social's tagline is "a place to meet," and that is accurate. A friend described it as "a public hipster country club," which is also accurate. This place draws a crowd, but it's worth it. You could literally spend a day here drinking coffee, bowling, drinking, dining, and taking a dip in the pool.
This is the hip spot to grab a burger in Nashville. I also became immediately obsessed with their delicious sodas and shakes.
An upscale dining experience, this farm-to-table restaurant is worth making a reservation for (although we got in without one!). The menu is seasonal and insanely good. As a Brooklyn, New York, girl, the vibe was familiar but the space was much bigger than anything in BK.
where to shop
We Ubered over to this cool Nashville neighborhood after receiving multiple recommendations, and we were not disappointed. A range of stores, coffee shops, juice bars, and regular bars make this area an easy place to wile away an afternoon (or several).
This vintage store was the first place we walked into on our 12 South wander. We're talking furniture, knickknacks, designer clothing, leather jackets, boots, jewelry, and books. This place is a treasure trove and the reason I nearly had to buy a new suitcase.
If you don't know about Imogene + Willie, well, now you do. Their flagship store is located in an old filling station in the heart of 12 South. Come here for the best denim of your life along with one of a kind textiles, jewelry, and vintage tees.
Attached to the Country Music Hall of Fame, take a tour of this working letterpress print shop (open since 1879) and then do some shopping of your own.
Two amazing record stores. Go to them.
If there's one thing you need to buy while you're in Nashville, it's probably cowboy boots, and this is probably where you should buy them. Also expect a great selection of other vintage and custom-made goodies.
Another treasure trove. Stop here for hand-embroidered knickknacks, vintage clothing, jewelry, and quirky vibes.
what to do when you aren't eating drinking and shopping
This historic, hallowed space was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974 and is linked with the origin of country music and bluegrass. Built with acoustics specifically in mind (for the vocal projection of evangelical sermons, of course), seeing live music here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Pretty self-explanatory, pretty touristy, and completely worth a visit.
Again, kinda touristy but even a casual fan will enjoy. Amazing displays of his costumes, personal belongings, letters, and album art await here.
Walk in this venue any night of the week, grab a beer, and get ready to be blown away by some live music. Apparently, music legends (i.e.: Lucinda Williams and John Prine) casually drop by on the reg.
This is Jack White's recording studio/office, and it has a really cool store attached. Browse everything from books and records to instruments and stickers. We were lucky enough to take a tour around the studio. Employees were draped in yellow and black, a throwback to White's old upholstery business, and everything was perfectly curated; think: vintage doors and record players. Dreamy.
Stop by to enjoy wine, food, and live music. What else is there?