While I’m planning a bachelorette party for Alabama later this summer, many of you have emailed me saying you’re coming to Nashville soon to celebrate a pal’s upcoming wedding. So—in hopes that I’ll keep you from spending the entire three days camped out on Broadway—I figured I’d give you a rundown on how I would plan a bachelorette weekend in my own city if tasked with such a chore.
Where to Stay
Let’s start with where to make your base. There are plenty of awesome Nashville hotels that I love like Loew’s Vanderbilt, the Hutton, Omni Nashville or the Hermitage, but as hot as Music City is right now—and the fact that there are far too hotel rooms than there are people visiting, particularly in summer months—there’s a chance they’re all going to be sold out, in which case you might want to consider Airbnb instead. If you’re a smaller group (say 6 people), you’ll likely be able to find a great place around Music Row/Vanderbilt/Belmont that would provide you a central jumping off point from which to explore the city. If you have more than that, you’ll probably want to find an actual house in East Nashville—the Williamsburg of Music City—which is still super close and convenient to downtown. Whatever you do, steer clear of staying in Brentwood or Franklin. While Williamson County is lovely, you’ll be so far from all the action that you’ll spend as much in cab fare as you would the extra dollars to stay in Davidson County.
How to Get Around
Nashville’s cab scene is hit or miss. It used to be that cabs would only hang out on Broadway and if you were trying to catch a ride to or from another part of town, you were screwed. Not to mention, they were quite pricey. Then, Lyft arrived and started to change that. Shortly after, Uber came to town. Personally, I prefer Lyft; the drivers always get there within minutes, and I’ve yet to have a bad experience. Plus, it’s way cheaper than Uber. But if you’re of the fancier persuasion and prefer black car service, Uber might be the choice for you. Just download either app before you arrive as you’ll probably want to Lyft or Uber it from the airport if you’re not renting a car.
If you’re staying at a hotel like Loew’s—in which case, I must insist you at least grab a drink at Mason’s—you’ll have complimentary shuttle service within a certain radius. Take advantage it. There are also B-cycles for those of you who are more adventurous.
Obviously, this depends on the bride and the tastes of those coming, but I do hate seeing first-timers come to the city I love and spend it all in the tourist traps of Lower Broad. Don’t get me wrong: Broadway is great, and there are plenty of places I do recommend you check out there; however, to spend your entire weekend on our tourist strip is pure blasphemy. Thus, this is what I propose:
6pm. Dinner at Etch if you want a fancy meal. Deb Paquette has been hailed far and wide for her inventive cuisine like a cauliflower steak, not to mention noted on every “best of” list (like Zagat’s top restaurants in the country). The woman is a genius, and save room for the best part: desserts by pastry chef (and my former roommate!) Megan Williams.
Or you can skip on down to The Farm House next door if you want more casual. If you want a taste of what upscale Southern is like, The Farm House your place.
Bonus: It’s a short walking distance from the next place I’ll recommend, which is…
8:30pm. Singer-songwriter show at The Listening Room Cafe. Sure, you could try to get tickets to the Bluebird Cafe, but it’s a crapshoot, and Listening Room always puts on a good show from an eclectic group of musicians.
But if you truly want the Nashville experience, you can head out east near the airport and take in a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Sure it’s one of the most well-known attractions in Nashville–but for a reason. Where else could you see the likes of Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, the Band Perry, Dustin Lynch, the Nashville TV stars and more perform all on the same night? And tickets are cheap, starting around $29.50. There are two shows every Friday and Saturday night: one at 7pm and one at 9:30pm. The only drawback is that it’s a ways away from the heart of the city so you’ll need to drive or take a Lyft.
11pm. Get a feel for East Nashville and its bars with a little bit of an EN pub crawl that includes Bar 308, Crying Wolf, Three Crow, Mad Donna’s and Lipstick Lounge.
11am. Brunch at The Southern. One of my favorite spots for any meal and they allow you to make group ressies. Score! That’s harder to find for brunch in these parts than you’d think.
And take a gander at the art, including the half-naked pin-up girl marking the bathroom entrance and the cowboy made out of Nashville street trash.
1pm. You’re already downtown, so might as well hit up some local attractions, no? You’ve got Hatch Show Print inside the Omni, which is a great spot for watching letterpress be made and picking up local art.
There’s also the Johnny Cash Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B, the Frist and much, much more. (This wall below is actually not at the museum but across from The Farm House and makes a great photo opp for groups.)
5pm. Drinks at Pinewood Social. If you have a group larger than eight (the max allowed for reservations), I recommend getting there on the earlier side, grabbing some cocktails at the bar, maybe eating dinner here and putting your name down for bowling. While bowling may normally be a later-in-the-evening kind of activity, it would be easier to nab a lane before the dinner crowd arrives and then you can move onto your next stop.
Your other option is to arrive at the Patterson House, owned by the same team as Pinewood, and grab a booth in the dimly-lit speakeasy.
If you go for this route, I’d recommend heading over to Rolf & Daughters in Germantown for dinner afterward. Obviously, you’ll want to book a table, but that goes for all the restaurants in Nashville right now.
11pm. Once you’ve had dinner, get thyselves over to Broadway for some Honky Tonk fun. When I was in my early 20s, it used to be that no local would ever head down to Lower Broad, but now my friends and I go there at least once a month. You can’t deny the raucous fun that is the swingin’, line-dancin’, Honky Tonk bars. Two I’d recommend are Paradise Park and Robert’s Western World, though really they’re all kind of the same.
10:30am. Brunch at Tavern. There still aren’t a ton of places that serve brunch in Nashville compared to how many restaurants there are, and even fewer take reservations. This place will be an absolute madhouse if you get there any later than when it opens, so plan to arrive right then. The red velvet waffle with cream cheese drizzle is worth it, I assure you. Tavern also has one of my favorite burgers in town if you need more grease to soak up last night’s escapades.
Or if you’ve been jonesing for some Nashville hot chicken, belly up to the counter at Hattie B’s, which opens at 11am on Sundays, and see if you can take the heat. Or grab some quality BBQ at Edley’s (get the Tuck and thank me later). Or you can take your place in line at Fido Cafe, a Nashville staple, and see what the specials are for the day. Fido’s drinks are the bomb—yes, I’m bringing “the bomb” back, what of it—and I’ve never had anything Chef John has made that wasn’t stellar.
12:30pm. Either way, all three spots are along the Vandy strip, and you can either head down 21st to Hillsboro Village, home to some of my favorite boutiques in town, for a little retail therapy or hit up Rebar, Loser’s and the surrounding dives for a little day drinking. Nearly all of them offer 2-for-1 deals all day on Sunday, and this has become my friends’ and my favorite way to celebrate birthdays. Who doesn’t love a little Sunday Funday?
And if you’re not a big drinker—or would rather have a more productive Sunday—you can head over to 12South for retail therapy. Some of my favorite shops include MODA Nashville (women’s fashion), Cadeau (home goods), Hero (designer clothing), Judith Bright (jewelry), Katy K (vintage) and White’s Mercantile (a little bit of everything).
5pm. If you’re still around for the evening, Sunday Supper at City House is a must, but you need to make your ressie a couple weeks in advance as it’s also one of the harder-to-book tables in town (just on Sundays, mind you).