A friend of mine recently packed up her life and decided to move from Houston to Nashville, which I thoroughly envy if I am being honest. I have always wanted to move to another city or even another country, but either it hasn’t been the right season yet or I have yet to find the courage to make the move. Emphasis on the ‘yet’. Anyway, this friend of mine is doing her best to convince me that I should relocate to Nashville with her. Obviously, before you can consider moving someplace you have to visit, right? I have been to Nashville once before, but I didn’t really experience it the way I would’ve liked, so in my true fashion, here are the highlights on the best neighborhoods, spots to drink, spots to eat, and what to do in Nashville, TN.
I started my trip with dinner and drinks at Hampton Social. This three-story restaurant offers an environment for any mood with a chill lounge on the first floor, a full-on dining experience on the second, and my personal favorite, the rooftop terrace on the third with a better-than-mediocre DJ. It was a vibe. The drinks were vibrant and the fish tacos were bomb!
A day in Franklin
Saturday we decided to step away from Nashville and explore my friend’s area of town, Franklin, Tennessee. The day started with a stroll around a farmer’s market and a visit to one of my favorite stops of the trip, The Factory at Franklin, which is an awesome indoor space featuring different artisan shops and several spots for culinary treats including specialty donuts, ice cream, local coffee, and fruity beverages so you can pick your poison!
After grabbing a coffee at Honest Coffee, we headed over to the city center of Franklin for a full day of shopping. Brunch was our first priority, and we decided to hit up 55 South, a popular diner that was featured by Guy himself on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. We enjoyed 2-4-1 mimosas and I ordered the chicken biscuits & sausage and gravy plate, which is now easily one of the top brunch meals that I’ve ever had. Ever.
The quaint town of Franklin is full of small boutiques and shops selling everything from candles to home decor. Basically, it is a stereotypical small-town, but in this case, I actually liked a lot of the shops! More often than not in a small town the clothing shops border a fine line of ‘I could wear this, but also my 80-year old grandmother could’. That was not the case at all here! Our favorite store by far was called Jondie. We both spent way too much money after making not one, but two stops throughout the day. My purchases included a chic vegan leather jacket, mini skirt, and a fan favorite oversized sweater for the fall season. Their sister store, Mimi Dottie, was equally as cute.
A Site Worth Seeing
When I travel, it is always difficult deciding what landmarks or popular scenic spots are worth venturing to. It is easy to get caught up in touristy attractions, that, let’s face it, are a waste of time or a disappointment. I try to find local spots that are hidden gems and places that are actually worth the time. For this three-day trip to Nashville, I decided to visit The Parthenon in Centennial Park, which immediately stuck out to me during my Google searches. This attraction was built in 1897 and is a full-sized replica of the Parthenon in Athens. The surrounding park was beautiful as well and I enjoyed spending an hour or so walking around taking in the views and soaking in the beautiful weather.
Any place but Broadway
When you think of Nashville nightlife you immediately think Broadway street, with the neon lights and live country music on every block. What you don’t think of are the hundreds of drunk people, the terrible traffic, and the bachelorette parties. Oh my god, they are everywhere. As soon as I got a glimpse of this chaos, it was a ‘no for me dawg’. I honestly wanted nothing to do with that area. Maybe it is because I am no longer a twenty-something, but I prefer the local neighborhood hideaways when it comes to nightlife. I decided to explore and see what I could find. What I found was Printers Alley, an alley that I literally stumbled upon by mistake, which offered all the live music and excitement of Broadway, minus the wasted women sporting multi-colored wigs and large sloppy crowds. The live music at Skull’s Rainbow Room was a treat, and the crafted drinks and rooftop views at Jane’s Hideaway were much more my speed.
All about the Vibe (have I used that word for you enough, Amber?)
When you are on vacation or traveling, you want to spend your time in spaces that make you happy. For me, that usually includes a dimly lit bar, mid-century modern decor, or a DJ in the corner who sprinkles in just enough early 2000s hip hop and R&B that I am somwhere in between sitting in my seat sipping my cocktail and dancing between the tables. There were a few spots in Nashville that did it for me, one being Stateside Kitchen. From the black and white checkered tile to the moody lighting to the high windowed ceiling, I was loving every bit of it! For those of you who plan to visit this place, I am not an old fashion girl at all, but their ‘banana foster old fashioned’ was incredible!
Another cool spot worth visiting was Pins Mechanical Co, a huge space with a modern take on bowling, a bar with cocktails that give you major nostalgia (the one featured below is called The Lisa Frank, which obviously I choose because of the name and didn’t even care to look what was in it), and rows and rows of classic pinball machines. This place is also family friendly until 7pm, so make it a day out or a date night, whichever floats your boat.
And the Best Part of Town Is…
Of all the spots to visit in my opinion, hands down the best area is easily 12th Avenue South. This neighborhood, just a short drive from the heart of Nashville, was relaxing and reminded me of Venice beach. The stretch of shops was elevated by the addition of an awesome flower truck, electronic bikes to rent, and great patio eateries. The 1/2 mile stretch includes everything from gourmet dining to wonderfully curated vintage clothing shops. My personal favorite spots were UAL (United Apparel Liquidators, which is one of my favorite shops to snag discounted designer finds), bartaco for their spicy marg (order it extra spicy), and White’s Mercantile, where I purchased and beautiful Tiana NY hand-beaded bag. Plan to spend at least a full afternoon walking this street!
James Beard Classic Dining
On my last day, my friend and I decided to grab a quick lunch before she dropped me at the airport. We headed over to Arnold’s Country Kitchen, which from the outside doesn’t look like too much, and from the inside, it doesn’t either. This cafeteria-style meat-and-three sides dinner concept has been serving up collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, and gizzards (No, I didn’t get those) for 28-years and was awarded the James Beard Classic Award in 2009. Holy. Shit. I didn’t expect much from the looks of this place, but wow, it was nothing short of incredible. If you go to Nashville and do not stop here, you are doing yourself a disservice.
Overall my three-day trip to Nashville was a success. The weather was perfect, the landscape was gorgeous, the food was 10/10, the shopping and entertainment did not disappoint, and the company was one-in-a-million. Will I be moving to Nashville? I guess we will just have to wait and see! xxx