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?
Besides, 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.
Day 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.
Day 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.
We 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.
Since 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.
Evening. 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.
And his deviled eggs are so so so so good. We had a few cocktails and approximately 17 courses before moving onto our next stop…
…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.
Day 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!).
Afternoon. 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.
Evening. 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.
Plus, we found Derby hats (not these, silly) at one of the adorable stores on the square, so the afternoon was a definite success.
Evening. 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.
Day 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.
I had a quick client meeting at Pinewood Social, so Nicole tagged along and we sipped coffee drinks on the couch while we each worked.
Then, 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).
Evening. 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 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).
Afternoon. 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 (Updated to add: It’s now closed! Sad). Basil lemonade and Mexico City couscous? Yes, please!
Lastly, 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.