It’s not uncommon that I have visitors to Nashville; it’s one of those places you live where people just want to come visit you. So I was more than happy to plan a Nashville weekend for two of my best New York friends to celebrate a big birthday with food, cocktails, laughter, bear hugs and—what we do best—photo shoots.
This post was last updated in January 2023.
Planning a Nashville weekend is easy; the hard part is narrowing down what you’re going to do. Are you coming to Nashville for the restaurants? The music scene? Nashville’s murals? A little bit of everything? I always ask friends what their priorities are before I plan them their perfect Nashville weekend itinerary.
Where to Stay in Nashville
Nashville hotels aren’t cheap, so a lot of what neighborhood you choose to stay in while in Nashville is dependent on your budget; there are also thousands of vacation rentals in Nashville if you prefer to go the house route.
If you’re coming to do the tourist thing, you may be inclined to stay downtown. Personally, I prefer the neighborhoods with more personality: Five Points, Lockeland Springs, Germantown, Music Row, 12 South. Nashville’s hotel scene is absolutely exploding. As of the start of 2023, there were 269 hotels with 38,755 hotel rooms already available and another 2,208 rooms slated to open this year and next. These are a few of my favorite Nashville hotels for a special occasion:
- 1 Hotel Nashville
- Four Seasons Hotel Nashville
- Conrad Nashville
- Graduate Nashville
- Kimpton Aertson
- The Germantown Inn
- Thompson Hotel
Your Perfect Nashville Weekend Guide
Coming to Music City? Whether you’re staying three days or five, here’s your play-by-play guide to planning a Nashville weekend.
Day 1: East Nashville
You can’t come to Nashville without taking a taco crawl (seriously, it’s a thing), and Mas Tacos has the best tacos in Nashville. After eating an early dinner at this East Nashville staple, you can either head to Five Points to check out the local bar scene or venture into downtown for the Honky Tonks. As a local, I will not go to Lower Broad on a weekend, so a Thursday is my limit when visitors come to town.
Day 2: Hillsboro Village + Broadway
Up and at ’em and off to Fido Cafe for breakfast. This Hillsboro Village restaurant is one of my favorites as it offers a delicious all-day breakfast menu, but it’s so ridiculously crowded on weekends that I’ll only go during the week.
Since we were already in Hillsboro Village, we walked around a bit as I showed them some of my favorite walls and murals.
From there, we hopped in my car and drove to Downtown Nashville where I parked and we explored the area by foot.
On Josh and Trina’s last visit, we avoided Broadway for the most part. This time, it was a blissfully gorgeous fall day, and even though the street was already packed at just lunchtime on a Friday, we decided to take a mosey anyway.
Trina, who could make a garbage bag a style statement, picked herself up a new outfit with some boots to match. If you’re looking to buy cowboy boots in Nashville, there’s no shortage of options along Broadway and 2nd Avenue.
I, on the other hand, decided hats just aren’t my thing. (You’re welcome.)
By this point, we needed a drink, and to escape the masses on Broadway, we walked up Second Avenue and stopped in at one of the many bars that were open midday and had seating galore.
I hadn’t made dinner plans for the evening as I anticipated us being pretty wiped, and I was right: Instead, we arrived at Bastion the minute it opened, had a couple rounds and some nachos and called it a night. This is one of my favorite bars, but there’s also a restaurant component for which reservations are required. You can always go to the bar side and order nachos, though.
After heading back to the condo and crashing—midday drinking is tiring, y’all—we all woke up around 9:30, planned to get up and head out, then went to bed for good at midnight instead. I guess this is the difference in celebrating a birthday in your mid-20s vs. your mid-30s: You’d much rather spend your Friday night catching up on sleep than losing even more of it!
Day 3: Germantown + Nashville’s gay bars
On Saturday morning, we went down to Bicentennial Mall, one of my favorite green spaces in Nashville, for a yoga festival. There’s almost always something going on down here at the mall, but even if not, Nashville Farmer’s Market is open seven days a week and worth a visit.
From Germantown, we went to the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium for a back-eating event. The cool part about our NFL team’s stadium is that it is connected to downtown by a pedestrian bridge, meaning you can be out and about and then walk right over to the game or event without ever needing to get in a car.
That night, we all had dinner at the Farm House, my favorite of all the Nashville restaurants. Chefs Trey and Bobby spoiled us rotten with so many decadent fall dishes, and we wound up sticking around after to have a round or two of beers with them.
After that, we toyed with the idea of going home as we were all nodding off into our beers, but then we rallied and went to Church Street, home to Nashville’s small collection of gay bars and also home to Play, where the drag queens congregate.
We had a blast watching Deception and the other queens do their routines and could not wait to come the next day for drag brunch.
Day 4: drag brunch + Shops on Porter
Somehow I’ve never been to Nashville’s famed drag brunch, and Josh’s actual birthday seemed like the perfect time to go to Suzy Wong’s House of Yum. I was surprised to find that not only was this brunch a whole lot of fun, but the food was pretty tasty, too.
We ordered the fishbowl drink to share, and quickly polished it off.
And Josh even got a little serenade from Dolly herself (who had played Taylor Swift the night before at Play … Nashville’s a small town!).
I’d seen on social media that the Shops at Porter East were having their First Sunday market, so we swung by there to support my friends. The Shops at Porter East are one of my go-to stops for gifts: at Apple & Oak and all the surrounding small business.
After the market, SVV and Ella went home, and Josh, Trina and I went down to the Entrepreneur Center for another winter market, where we were sidetracked when we saw a s’more truck. Naturally, we had to get some.
We had a couple hours to kill, so popped over next door to Pinewood Social for cocktails in the meantime. Is there anything better than a lazy Sunday Funday with your best people? I can’t think of anything.
Our dinner ended pretty early, then it was back to the condo for an early bedtime.
Day 5: East Nashville + Cornelia Street Airpark
Last time Josh and Trina were here, I’d taken them all over East Nashville, so we skipped the Eastland Avenue corridor and the shops on Woodland and made our way to Cornelia Street Airpark. Every band needs an album cover, wouldn’t you say? I think this is our new one.
This former airport was acquired by the city five years ago and is now part of Shelby Park. It’s also a popular spot for runners, bikers and—if you are us—photo shooters.
We stopped by Barista Parlor, one of my favorite Nashville coffee shops despite its snobby hipster vibe, for a tea before we continued onto the Gulch for one last stop.
I’d been meaning to swing by the Gulch to check out Kelsey Montague’s WhatLiftsYou wings mural, and it was truly worth the wait. At 60 feet tall, it took Kelsey 60 paint pins to create! Cool, right?
Then, it was off to drop these two at the airport, and since it was the height of rush hour, we had a good 45 minutes ahead of us, in which we picked up Hattie B’s hot chicken for the drive and belted out 90’s tune. It seemed an appropriate goodbye.
Looking for other Nashville travel tips? Start here:
- Eat + Drink Nashville: The Best Restaurants & Bars
- Planning a Bachelorette Weekend in Nashville
- Bachelorette Reboot: Planning an Epic Weekend
- The Ultimate Nashville Vacation
- Nashville Neighborhoods: SoBro + Rutledge Hill
- Nashville Neighborhoods: The Best of the Gulch
- Our Nashville Urban Adventure