A bustling city that’s as much a destination for business travel as bachelorette parties, Nashville, Tennessee, truly has something for everyone. And while it’s best known for its legendary music scene, the city is also host to a variety of delicious eateries, stylish hotels, chic boutiques, and must-visit museums. Here, The Scout Guide Nashville editor Sara Garner and assistant editor Ann Whitten Reynaud share insider recommendations for how visitors can make the most of a weekend in the Music City. Organized by neighborhood and including everything from which honky-tonks to visit to where to shop for home furnishings, this Nashville travel guide has everything you need to have a top-notch stay.
If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s both comfortable and convenient, the Omni Nashville Hotel (250 5th Avenue South), located right across the street from Music City Center—which is connected to the Country Music Hall of Fame—is an excellent option. The Westin Nashville (807 Clark Place), located adjacent to Music City Center, is also in the heart of the entertainment district, and is home to Rhapsody Spa, which Garner and Reynaud rave about. For a chic, retro vibe, consider checking into the Fairlane Hotel (401 Union Street), which boasts an incredible penthouse complete with a roof deck, plus a fantastic restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Downtown attractions include Hatch Show Print (224 5th Avenue South), which has been printing show posters for stars including Dolly Parton and Hank Williams Jr. since 1875; the historic Ryman Auditorium (116 5th Avenue North), also known as “The Mother Church of Country Music;” the Johnny Cash Museum (119 3rd Avenue South); the inspiring and family-friendly Frist Art Museum (919 Broadway); and, of course, the numerous honky-tonks that line the end of Broadway next to the river. Garner and Reynaud’s favorites include Tootsies Orchid Lounge (422 Broadway)—an institution that recently added a rooftop bar, and Robert’s Western World (416 B Broadway), where you can get a “Recession Special” lunch consisting of a fried bologna sandwich, chips, and a PBR for just $6. Bars from numerous country stars, including Florida Georgia Line’s FGL House (120 3rd Avenue South) and Blake Shelton’s Ole Red (300 Broadway), also line this popular stretch of town.
If you’re looking for a hotel that feels quintessentially Nashville, the Thompson Nashville (401 11th Avenue South) is the spot for you. Home to Marsh House, a fantastic restaurant from James Beard Award-winner John Besh that offers a not-to-be-missed brunch, it also features the recently opened indoor-outdoor rooftop bar L.A. Jackson, where you can take in the Nashville skyline. Other culinary attractions in this neighborhood include Adele’s (1210 McGavock Street), which offers seasonal local fare, delicious ramen spot Otaku Ramen (1104 Divison Street), and the hip upscale Mexican joint Superica (605 Overton Street). Last but not least, don’t leave before popping into women’s store e.Allen (312 11th Avenue South), which carries chic designer pieces, luxury denim, shoes, and handcrafted jewelry and gifts.
Hip East Nashville is a destination for both its unique boutiques and its eclectic eateries. While you might need to wait in line, the bustling Mas Tacos (732 McFerrin Avenue) taco truck serves up a truly tasty lunch, and equally popular The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden (731 McFerrin Avenue) offers an excellent burger, tater tots, and house-made sodas and shakes. For a delicious cocktail in a minimalist speakeasy-style environment where there is no menu because all drinks are personalized, visit Attaboy (8 McFerrin Avenue). In the evening, East Nashville’s dinner spots are some of the hottest in town. Check out FOLK (823 Meridian Street) for a delightful tapas-style menu, and Lockeland Table (1520 Woodland Street) for a true East Nashville community-style kitchen and bar.
Home of the Bluebird Café (4104 Hillsboro Pike), the famous listening room where singer-songwriters get their big breaks and frequently perform the songs they wrote that went on to be recorded by music industry legends, Green Hills is also where you’ll find exceptional shops. Must-visits include the gorgeous Providence Interiors (2209 Bandywood Drive, Suite C), which always feels fresh and bright thanks to layered neutrals and beautiful vignettes; Ever Alice Studio (2209 Bandywood Drive, Suite G), where you will find an in-house jewelry line along with an exquisite collection of women’s fashion items; Bandywood Fashion Square (2130 Bandywood Drive), which features a one-stop-shop for all of your everyday needs; and Yearly Co. (4107 Hillsboro Circle), where you will find beautiful, handmade 14k gold bangles.
Set aside a few hours to explore Belle Meade, beginning with Cheekwood Estate & Gardens (1200 Forrest Park Drive), a 55-acre site that includes a historic home and grounds that have been converted into a museum of art and botanical garden. Next, head over to Highway 100, where a charming stretch of shops awaits. Stop at cold-pressed organic juice purveyor Fix Juice Co. (6017 A Highway 100) to refuel before browsing for little ones at Magpies (6019 Highway 100) and tweens at The Girl’s Shoppe (6027 Highway 100), taking in the gorgeous home goods at G&G Interiors (6033 Highway 100), checking out the exquisite jewelry collection at Cindi Earl Fine Jewelry. Also in the area is Sam’s Place (6051 Highway 100), a high-end sports bar that offers a variety of local draft beers, is the perfect respite for a reluctant shopping partner.
An area that has truly become a destination in recent years, Twelve South is the perfect place to stroll thanks to highly curated shops like women’s boutiques Emerson Grace (2304 12th Avenue South), Imogene + Willie (2601 12th Avenue South), and Draper James (2608 12th Avenue South), which carry chic closet staples as well as the latest trends; Ceri Hoover (2905 12th Avenue South, #105), where you can find a great pair of leather boots you’ll wear for years; Judith Bright (2307 12th Avenue South), which features unique handmade jewelry; and White’s Mercantile (2908 12th Avenue South), a tasteful and inspiring gift shop. In addition, the neighborhood is home to not one but two ideal options for getting an afternoon sugar fix: Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams (2312 12th Avenue South) and gourmet donut shop Five Daughters Bakery (1110 Caruthers Avenue).
Just a five-minute drive from downtown, Germantown offers a variety of dining options worth visiting. If it’s caffeine you’re seeking, pay a visit to the beautiful coffee shop Barista Parlor (1230 4th Avenue North). For a delicious raw oyster appetizer and a glass of sparkling prosecco, head to Henrietta Red (1200 4th Avenue North). For farm-to-table fare in a lovely environment, head to 5th & Taylor (1411 5th Avenue North), which offers a delicious brunch. For incredible pasta and seasonally-driven dishes, try Rolf and Daughters (700 Taylor Street). If you’re looking for a romantic and intimate space, book a table at the charming City House (122 4th Avenue North), where you can indulge in Italian favorites with Southern flair. Finally, you cannot leave Germantown without checking out the whimsical Champagne Garden at Geist (311 Jefferson Street), where you can saber bottles of champagne next to a wood stove fireplace.
Head west from Downtown on the rejuvenated Charlotte Pike corridor, where you will find hidden gems, such as the French-inspired restaurant Miel (343 53rd Avenue North) that makes a conscious effort to provide local, organic and overall responsibly sourced ingredients. Don’t miss out on Joyful Hour across the street at Hathorne (4708 Charlotte Avenue), where you can enjoy specials on cocktails and bites, including the infamous Hathorne burger. Stop by The Cafe at Thistle Farms (5122 Charlotte Avenue) for Nashville’s only afternoon tea service and a slice of homemade strawberry cake, and feel good about supporting a good cause—the Thistle Farms organization helps to empower and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.
Next, head to Sylvan Park, where you will find a serene, family-friendly neighborhood with shopping and dining options to match. Answer. (132 46th Avenue North) and Park Cafe (4403 Murphy Avenue) both have inviting atmospheres along with an extensive list of craft cocktails. Also stop by Elle Gray (4429 Murphy Road), the chic little boutique that has everything from hats and scarves to jewelry and jeans, and pop in Duet (2926 West End Avenue) to peruse their contemporary collection of high-end designer finds.
Franklin, located 25 minutes from downtown Nashville, is well worth the trip thanks to its charming, small-town feel and lovely shops that will be of particular interest to design-minded visitors. While in the area, head to The Iron Gate (338 Main Street) for gorgeous and unique home goods, and Rock Paper Scissors for an adorable collection of paper goods and gifts. Located right off the square, OAK (214 East Main Street) is packed with a unique selection of modern and vintage finds. The Factory at Franklin (230 Franklin Road) hosts a variety of shops and restaurants, including a warehouse of antiques and one-of-a-kind treasures. And don’t leave Williamson County without popping into interiors market and design studio Onyx & Alabaster (134 2nd Avenue North) and design and art destination Interior Anthology (1250 Old Hillsboro Road) to fulfill all of your interior decorating needs.
Photography by Mary Craven Photography. For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee, follow The Scout Guide Nashville & Franklin on Instagram.