travel

The Ultimate Nashville Vacation

One of my goals in the coming months is to add more Nashville content to this here blog. After all, I’m from the area and cover the city for a myriad of publications—from The Guardian and USA Today to Glamour and Southern Living—yet very rarely write about all my favorite parts. Let’s change that, shall we?

Nashville, TennesseeBesides, so many of you seem intrigued by Nashville, and if there’s anything I love more than traveling, it’s showing fellow travelers just why so many people fall in love with Music City.

I mean, c’mon; it’s a pretty easy job, all things considered.

Personally, SVV and I get a whole lot of visitors to these parts, and each time I try to customize our tourist agenda to their likes and personality. Most recently, my dear friend Nicole came down from New York to check out the city for us and little did she know the action-packed few days that awaited her; she’s a fellow globetrotter after all, so I knew I had to bring my A-game to wow her with this little town of mine. Here’s how it all went down.

Girls Trip to NashvilleDay 1: Thursday

Early evening. Nikki flew in around 6pm last week, and we picked her up at BNA, which is an easy five miles on I-40 from downtown. We went straight over to our friends Billy and Kendall’s loft for some moonshine cocktails and pizza from DeSano. Since we had a lot scheduled for the coming days, we didn’t opt to go out from there; instead, we hung out till just shy of midnight and then returned to our condo to rest up for the weekend.

Nashville LoftDay 2: Friday

Morning. Nicole had sent me a very specific list of all the things she wanted to try while in Nashville, mostly Southern specialty foods. She got up and went to yoga at Shakti studio near us while SVV and I did a little work to our place (building a kitchen banquette if you’re dying to know), then we headed to The Southern Steak & Oyster, one of my favorite spots in town, for brunch. There aren’t a whole lot of places that serve breakfast daily other than, say, Loveless and Pancake Pantry so if I’m brunching during the week, it’s usually at the Southern or Pinewood Social.

The Southern in NashvilleWe returned home then walked over to Edgehill Village to grab coffee with four of my media gals at Edgehill Cafe, one of my favorite spots to work from when I need to get out of the house. I loved that Nicole got to meet so many of my friends, fellow creatives like us who work in writing/media, marketing, PR. They all were trying to sell her on Nashville pretty hard, and I wasn’t discouraging it. (Whatever. Getting people to relocate here is what I do. And Nikki did leave her shoes behind, so I think that’s her way of telling me she’ll be back very soon.)

Afternoon. SVV and I had already eaten at Epice that week, otherwise we would have taken Nicole for Nashville’s finest Lebanese cuisine, so when we arrived in 12 South, we had a produce-heavy Paleo meal at Sloco (so clean, so local, so good). Then, we peeked into a few of the 12 South shops such as White’s Mercantile, which Holly Williams (daughter of Hank Jr.) opened at the tail end of 2013.

White's Mercantile in Nashville White's Mercantile in Nashville White's Mercantile in NashvilleSince it turned out to be 80 degrees and semi-sunny, we decided to venture west to Cheekwood, Nashville’s own botanical gardens. If the weather is warm, this is always a must for me as it’s just a gorgeous display of this city’s natural beauty, especially in the springtime when the tulips are in full bloom.

Tulips at Cheekwood in NashvilleEvening. Dinner reservations were made weeks prior for The Farm House, a new restaurant that opened in October and is quickly rising to the top as one of my favorites. (I cannot stress to you how important it is to make reservations in Music City as far in advance as possible, no matter where you’re going to eat. It’s getting that crazy here that you’ll be waiting for hours if you don’t.) Sure, farm-to-table isn’t a new thing, but the chef/owner’s spin on it isn’t like anything you’ll find outside of Nashville.

The Farm House in Nashville The Farm House in NashvilleAnd his deviled eggs are so so so so good. We had a few cocktails and approximately 17 courses before moving onto our next stop…

Singer-Songwriter night at the Listening Room Cafe…which was a show at The Listening Room Cafe just around the corner. TLRC is a great spot to hear a traditional writer’s round, and I fell in love with it when we threw our own singer-songwriter night there at KEEN. We heard some amazing talent, and it was just a $5 cover charge (with a $7 food and drink minimum). Katy had friends in from out of town, too, so lucky SVV was surrounded by six beautiful ladies (if I do say so myself).

From there, we went back to The Farm House so SVV could take my car home to the puppy, while Nicole and I kicked up our heels on Honky Tonk Row. Little did we know that TFH was already closed—and my car was still valeted there, oops—but as we peeked in, we spotted Chef Trey and his staff drinking at the bar. They had no clue who we were but motioned for us to come in and join them. And that’s how for more than an hour, we wound up sipping Miller High Life and shooting the shit with the kitchen crew. Just another example of why I love Nashville so.

Then, it really was time for Broadway so Nicole and I walked the few blocks over to iconic Robert’s Western World and settled in for some people-watching before fatigue got the best of us and we caught a cab home.

Robert's Western World in NashvilleDay 3: Saturday

Morning. We really wanted to get check “sweet potato pancakes” off of Nicole’s Eat Nashville list, but unfortunately Pancake Pantry was a madhouse, as usual. Instead, we grabbed a table at Fido—a popular cafe in Hillsboro Village but very underrated gem as far as the restaurant is concerned (my girl Taylor has been known to frequent it)—and had some delicious egg dishes instead. After that, we moseyed on down 21st into some of my favorite boutiques like Festivity, Pangaea, The Impeccable Pig and Tennessee Chic (where I found the coolest ampersand ring! for just $12!).

Brunch at Fido NashvilleAfternoon. Nicole’s into vintage duds and I love me a good antiquing mission, so we made our way to 8th Avenue to hit up Pre to Post Modern, then it was to 8th and Roast for Nutella lates before finally heading to my house in the ‘burbs.

Pre to Post Modern in NashvilleEvening. Saturday was a chill night in which we sipped bourbon and cooked a tasty and healthy Paleo dinner to counteract all the carbs and Southern-fried goodness we’d been consuming. Then shit hit the fan, thanks to the six-pound pup, and the rest of that Saturday was a blur.

Day 4: Sunday

Afternoon. We had planned to go to Easter service with my parents but a late-night trip to the hospital for Ella, who devoured an entire bar of 76 percent chocolate, thwarted those plans. (She had to stay there on an IV for 24 hours, but now is fine, I’m happy to say.)

So we had a leisurely breakfast at our house then headed over to cutesy Bell Buckle to do some antiquing and grab a little pulled pork, some fried biscuits and a moon pie sundae from Bell Buckle Cafe.

Fried biscuits at Bell Buckle CafePlus, we found Derby hats (not these, silly) at one of the adorable stores on the square, so the afternoon was a definite success.

Derby HatsEvening. I had really wanted to take Nicole to Lynchburg, as well, but so much is closed on Sunday in Tennessee (Jack Daniel’s distillery aside) that we wound up having dinner over at my parents’ place instead. I think a leisurely Sunday was just what we needed after a jam-packed few days. Had we been in Nashville, I would have definitely booked a table for City House‘s Sunday Supper, which is one of my favorite meals in town.

Maltese familyDay 5: Monday

Morning. I took Nicole with me to my gym for yoga and some weight-training and then, being the self-employed creatives that we are, we both had a little work to tackle. Life can’t be all fun and games, I suppose!

Afternoon. We headed back into town and parked in SoBro so we could walk over the Pedestrian Bridge and see the skyline at its prettiest. Then, it was a daytime stroll down Broadway, and we looped back to the Omni Nashville so we could buy some letterpress goodness at Hatch Show Print.

Hatch Show Print in NashvilleI had a quick client meeting at Pinewood Social, so Nicole tagged along and we sipped coffee drinks on the couch while we each worked.

Pinewood Social in Nashville Pinewood Social in NashvilleThen, it was off to a media happy hour on the patio at Husk Nashville, which couldn’t have been more fun (and allowed her to meet even more of my nearest and dearest).

Husk Nashville Husk NashvilleEvening. A few years ago, my cousin’s good friend started this little weekly musical smorgasbord called Whiskey Jam at a Vandy bar called Winners. Today, it’s absolutely massive—past surprise guests have included acts like Tonic and OneRepublic—and this week Sony/ATV took over the parking lot. I got to see some acts I’ve long enjoyed like Love & Theft, as well as a recent obsession, The Cadillac 3.

Whiskey Jam in NashvilleWhiskey Jam free to get in, and beer is cheap at $6 each. Food was also available, and I wished we’d eaten some pulled pork there as nearly everything around Vandy closes before 10pm, so we weren’t able to grab a late-night burger at Tavern like I wanted. We went to Slider House instead, but I wouldn’t recommend it for out-of-towners (it’s just “OK”…nothing special in the slightest).

Day 6: Tuesday

Morning. This time, we tried a community vinyasa class at Steadfast and True ($5! can’t beat that!) before packing up and heading over to East Nashville, “the Williamsburg of Music City.” Nicole lives in Bushwick and was most excited to see this part of town. Being coffee lovers, we fueled up at Barista Parlor, which is co-owned by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, then headed down Gallatin Pike to pick through the treasures at Old Made Good (I got an octopus necklace for $28 and a pair of yellow end tables).

Old Made Good in Nashville Old Made Good in NashvilleAfternoon. I always have the same airport routine (if it’s not a Sunday or Monday), and that’s take my visitors to Woodland for a little shopping at Goodbuy Girls and the other East Nashville greats—including DCXV Industries and Pony Show—then lunch at Silly Goose, which could not be more delicious. Basil lemonade and Mexico City couscous? Yes, please!

DCXV Industries in Nashville Silly Goose in NashvilleLastly, ice cream at Jeni’s next door is a must pre-flight—I recommend the brown butter almond brittle paired with the salted caramel—and coffee at Ugly Mugs if the visitor is a serious java-phile (is that even a word? if not, it should be).

Then, it was off to the airport and I mourned the departure of a great friend who really should get her butt to Nashville for good (this city needs even more creatives). Good thing I’ll be seeing her in NYC in just one month!

*****

And that’s a wrap: how I best make use of five days with a first-time, out-of-town visitor to Middle Tennessee, though I would have definitely added hot chicken like Hattie B’s, a visit to the Frist Center and a trip out to Loveless Cafe if we’d had even more time.

Johnny Cash wall in NashvilleTennesseans, what would you add to my Nashville itinerary next time? Non-Tennesseans, what are you dying to do (or read about) in regards to Music City?

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Comments ( 42 )

  1. Great writeup. I LOVE Silly Goose!

    And I need to make it to Pinewood Social. It seems to ooze hipster coolness…but in a good way.

    I’m definitely hanging on to this for when I have visitors. Thanks!
    Laryssa recently posted..Summer Internship Ideas for the Aspiring FilmmakerMy Profile

    • I’m not a hipster (nor cool) and I love it, ha! If you ever see me working there (which I do at least once every week or two), come say hi =)

  2. Um I literally have SO MANY COMMENTS.

    1. I want to see what the Kristin-made Alex’s Itinerary to Nashville would be.
    2. You bought a condo?! I remember you looking for one but did I miss an announcement? Show us the goods girl.
    3. So glad to hear Ella is okay. I was thinking of your guys.
    4. Love how much yoga and healthy eating you do.
    5. You keep as busy as I do!

    Yup I think that covers it. While we’re at it though, can we have a house update post soon please? I want to see all the beautiful things you are working on :)

    • HA!

      1. Action-packed with even more active adventures (SUP on the river, duh, and likely some acroyoga, plus hiking, biking, the whole nine yards). Um, seriously, when are you coming? I’ll get to work!

      2. Yes, but still on the DL (hence the vague reference). More info on the blog in June, methinks (not even fully furnished yet).

      3. THANKS.

      4. Trying to learn balance. I’m an all-or-nothing girl usually. I did 30 days of hardcore Paleo, and now am trying to scale back to an 80/20 mix (i.e. skip the starches and carbs when possible but not killing myself over it as my favorite thing about travel is eating!).

      5. Well, duh! Why do you think you’re my favorite? =) #birdsofafeather

      House update: We haven’t done much in a looooong time due to the crazy weather we had last year (all rain, all the time) followed by a very non-Southern winter (all snow and cold, all the time). Most of what we’re doing next is outdoor stuff, hence the need for good weather. Garden and picket fence are on the docket for May—will definitely blog when done! Problem is we’re never here to actually work on said house ;-)

  3. AH! Seriously, between your Instagram feed, Nashville (the series), and now THIS… I’m basically convinced to go visit the South sometime soon! Thanks for putting this together – Imma bookmark it!
    Pauline recently posted..The Quick and Dirty Guide to NYCMy Profile

  4. Gah! I’ve been to Nashville a few times, but always with my family. Who are only interested in the super touristy options (honky tonk row for going out every night, basically; plus we’ve done the hall of fame, ryman, cheekwood, belle meade plantation, etc.). And they have waaaay different food/restaurant tastes than me and basically give me a wtf look whenever I suggest something. I can’t wait to go back with just my husband at some point to check out all the great sounding restaurants and bars and shops you’re always posting about here and on insta, which are much more up my alley!
    Charise recently posted..Travel: Eating Internationally in BerlinMy Profile

    • I totally know how you feel as my family is a bit like that, too. You definitely need to come back with just your husband so you can get a taste of real Nashville ;-)

  5. An old co-worker is the wife of Chef Trey of the Farm House. It was exciting to read about it here too!

    • Nice! They’re cooking at City Grit in NYC tonight, I just saw on Facebook. Love that place! It’s become one of my go-to restaurants; so consistent and delicious, and the service is always on point.

  6. My major takeaway from this post is that it looks like there are some insanely amazing food options in Nashville! I’ve never visited the city, but would love to someday.
    Laura recently posted..Lyon: Culinary Treats and Colorful StreetsMy Profile

    • Haha, I’m glad that’s your takeaway as it is definitely true! And that’s just a very small sampling of our awesome culinary scene too =)

  7. I DREAM of visiting Nashville one day. For some reason, even though I’ve never been there, I always think if I was going to go and live in the US again, it would be there!
    Diana Edelman recently posted..The most horrifying Thailand momentMy Profile

    • I just know you would love it! So much more laid back than a lot of other American cities (not to mention, great culture and low(er) cost of living).

  8. Of course, we were dying to know! ;-)

    ~~~In love with ‘em tulips~~~

  9. Bookmarked! Some day I will make it to Nashville! My vacation days are so precious and I wish I had more! :)

    Looking forward to seeing more about the new condo and house updates when you make them.

  10. So many good recs here! It means I need to get myself back to Nashville ASAP.
    Caroline Eubanks recently posted..Photo Friday: Eureka Skydeck, MelbourneMy Profile

  11. I wish I could go there sometime soon! Nashville has been on my bucket list for the longest time. Plus, tons of things on this itinerary sound like things I’d really enjoy.

  12. You should check out the community class at Yoga Harmony, it’s pay what you can and the money gets donated to a local non-profit. Plus all their instructors are amazing and the classes are awesome!

    • I’ll look into it. I like Steadfast and Shakti because they’re both a block or two from our condo, meaning no driving necessary!

  13. The Lane Motor Museum on Murfreesboro Pike is so fun and interesting. It is especially great if you need a bad weather activity. It is such an unknown jewel of Nashville!

  14. Loved the trip around my hometown! What about Las Paletas? Love that place!

  15. So glad that I saw this! You are now one of my “must reads.” Just moved to Nashville and we have a 10 month old so I need new places to try! Thanks!

    • Awww, that’s so nice! Thank you. And congrats on moving to my town…hope you love it ;-) When your 10 month old gets big enough, take him/her to the public library for the marionette shows. So cool!

  16. Hello. Today the usage of yahoo. It is an quite well published article. I will be guaranteed to save them and go back to read extra of this useful information. Thanks for the post. I’m going to certainly comeback.

  17. what a great post on Nashville, thanks for sharing so much of your amazing town with us. I’m a long time lurker, have been reading your blog for several years and love it. You seem so down to earth and always make me laugh.
    This post was perfect timing because I am actually heading to nashville in a couple weeks and I’m really looking forward to it. Are the hotels usually crazy expensive in Nashville? I was surprised to see some of the rates, even for airport area hotels etc. I’m also heading to new Orleans and the fanciest hotels there don’t seem as expensive. Maybe there is something big going on that weekend (I did a search but didn’t see anything major), its the May 17 weekend.
    I’m so excited to check out Nashville and will likely go to a couple of the restaurants you recommended.
    Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi Dana! Thank you for the sweet words, and I’m stoked you’re coming through this way. Unfortunately, yes, Nashville hotels are (almost always) ludicrously priced. A big reason is the demand is greater than the supply, and there are six new hotels opening up this year that hopefully will drive down the prices some. Have you tried Airbnb? It’s not as ubiquitous here as in other cities, but I’ve found some good deals on house or condo rentals in the Vandy area or East Nashville for friends in the past. Feel free to email me at CamelsAndChocolate (AT) gmail if you aren’t sure about a neighborhood and want my input on whether it’s safe to stay in or not.

      • Thanks so much Kristin! I was just in Nashville and I absolutely LOVED the city. Unfortunately I only had a couple days there but I SO wanted to stay longer. We ended up staying just outside in Brentwood, which was fine as we had a car anyway and it was only about a 10 min drive into town. Most of the hotels were indeed either crazy expensive or booked solid when we were there. I noticed there were lots of bachelor and bachelorette parties so that’s probably why it’s also hard to find space. But ’tis the season! Thaks for the suggestion, I might look at Airbnb next time. I haven’t tried it before. All I know is I can’t wait to get back. What a great city, and everyone was super friendly everywhere we went. If I wasn’t a Canadian (so rather difficult to move to the U.S) I’d be moving there tomorrow. Thanks again :)

  18. Love reading about all the fun stuff to do in Nashville. I live up in Paducah, KY and usually we are just driving through with quick stops at Trader Joe’s or Costco or The Frist. When we fly out of Nashville we always stop and eat at Awash Ethiopian. Best Ethiopian food around! Zee is amazing and it’s a great hole in the wall.
    Hey, some year you should come on up to Paducah for the Lower Town Arts & Music Festival. Great regional art, music, and food. Check it out and see what the wild west of KY is up to. Great blog!

    • Wow! I had no idea Nashville had decent Ethiopian (I love Ethiopian but usually get it in Atlanta when I’m down that way). Thanks for that! I’ll have to try it sometime and put your festival on my radar, too. I LOVE Kentucky and have yet to visit Paducah.

  19. I have visited many Nashville vacation sites, and have read over a 100 articles on this subject, but no where have I found an article this satisfactory. You article gives a clear day to day schedule of activities, unlike other ambiguous content of cliché Nashville vacation. I am really glad I came across this page. Thank you so much.

  20. Cute graphics to have fun with and learn.
    It is a storytelling game about a tiger, sim of listening to a storyteller reading the story to your children. Your babies are going to like this. Interactive storytelling experience with animals for children and babies. Quick to watch and funny to get in touch with the outdoors. Learning tale play for your 3 year old kids who certainly love tigers. Simple style to learn reading by getting the story spoken by the narrator. Funny animal and his funny tale that teaches about saving the planet and nature. Learning game that is kid proof because of the lack of payments. 6 year old kids will like it and also shall every other toddler that learned how to swipe his hand on the screen. Interactive tale for kids, tiger in the forest in trouble. Only your kid can help it while practicing reading.

  21. Cute drawings to have fun with and learn.
    It is a storytelling game about a goat, sim of listening to a narrator reading the tale to thine toddlers. Anyones children will love it. Interactive storytelling experience with tiger for children and babies. Quick to watch and fun to get in contact with nature. Learning story play for your 4 year old children who surely like tigers. Easy way to learn reading through getting the story spoken by a lector. Cute goat and his funny story that teaches about saving the environment and ecology. Teaching game that is kid safe because of it’s lack of payments. 3 year old children will adore it and so will any other baby which learned how to drag his hand on the screen. Interactive story for children, goat in the forest in trouble. Truly your child can help it while practicing reading.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Want to go on the ultimate Nashville vacation? What to eat, drink, see and buy according to Music City-native Camels & Chocolate. […]

  2. […] into a scene from “how to be a NYC baller like Nicole.” You may remember Nicole had visited us in Nashville last month and had all sorts of fun planned for us on our quick visit. On Friday, we had a ressie […]

  3. […] was the absolute hostess with the mostest and even wrote about our visit as well. She also has an Ultimate Nashville Vacation guide for more fabulous ideas if you’re thinking about a visit to Music […]

  4. […] I’m no stranger to putting together the Ultimate Nashville Itinerary for visiting friends, but this was a very different case. 1) I was dealing with a four year old, so […]

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