The Ultimate Guide to a Weekend in Nashville

Broadway street in Nashville with many bars.

For singers, song writers, and country music fans from around the world, Nashville is the place to be. Surprise I am a country music fan! However, don’t fret if you are not there are plenty of things to do and also a whole alternative music scene brewing in Nashville.

Nashville has so much more to offer than just it’s music scene, it has a rich history, booming art scene, and a dynamic food scene that will make your bellies scream with excitement.

So here is your guide for a Smashville Nashville Long Weekend!

Arrival/ Thursday

Firstly, the airport in itself is pretty entertaining in Nashville. As soon as you get off you hear country music, as there is a Tootsie’s Honkytonk located inside the airport.

Transportation

If you have a car great, but if you do not then be warned you will have to Uber/Lyft to many places to see all Nashville has to offer or use Bird or Lime Electric Scooters. Nashville is spread out amongst many neighborhoods that you definitely want to check out!

Sarah in front of Draper James Scooting around 12 South Neighborhood in Nashville.
Sarah Fay scooting around 12 South Neighborhood in Nashville on a Bird Scooter.

Where to stay?

I have been to Nashville twice, once on a budget, and once had the luxury experience. It is hard to go wrong either way, I had a blast in Nashville. If you are looking to splurge stay at the Renaissance Nashville! I loved my room there and it was smack dab in Downtown and close to Broadway.

I have been to Nashville twice, once on a budget, and once had the luxury experience. It is hard to go wrong either way, I had a blast in Nashville. If you are looking to splurge stay at the Renaissance Nashville! I loved my room there and it was smack dab in Downtown and close to Broadway.

However, if you are on a budget, I can highly recommend Nashville Downtown Hostel (also very close to Broadway). If you are wondering why I keep mentioning Broadway it is because that is the main street with all the Honky Tonks and bars that are going every night of the week.

Moreover, they have female only dorms, coed dorms, and private rooms as well as the perfect lounge areas to meet other solo travelers or people to hit up the town with. Also, the staff was very helpful and gave me some cool spots to check out throughout the city that were less touristy.

If shopping is on your agenda, I would head to the nearest western wear store to find the cutest pair of boots. There are many quality shops throughout Nashville and they make for such usable souvenir. This way you will have them to take some really clutch photos during your stay Nashville.

Not ready to call it a night?

Head to Bobby’s Idle Hour in Music Row for Writers night every Thursday night at 7 pm, close to Vanderbilt University. It is awesome because they allow artists to sign up of all skill levels, however the talent pool is high in Nashville so be warned!

Here you will be able to here writers showcase their own songs, which I always prefer over cover bands.

Then head for a late-night dinner on Broadway at ACME Feed and Seed for some amazing southern cooking. This huge restaurant, bar, sushi bar, and honky tonk will not leave you bored. There is always great music, and with long shared tables you will more than likely meet interesting neighbors as you enjoy all ACME has to offer.  

At ACME Feed and Seed I highly recommend the Hot Chicken with sweet potato fries. It was spicy, but oh so good. Also, the entertainment was lit. Each floor had a different menu, so everyone can be satisfied at this joint.

Fri- Yay!

Those boots were made for walking, so get up bright an early to fit in as much as you can your first full day in town. But wear comfortable shoes if you haven’t broken those boots in yet.

Then head over to the Frothy Monkey Downtown for a healthy, quick breakfast, and an amazing cup of coffee. I had the California for breakfast – 2 Fried eggs* over medium, avocado, sprouts, atop sourdough toast. House-made salsa $8.50.

It was amazing. There are multiple locations so you are bound to stop in here once during your stay!

Then take a stroll to the Country Music Hall of Fame, where you will pass by the legendary Ryman Theater, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. While I heard the tour is lovely, I chose to tour the new Grand Ole Opry and see a performance there. You can still check out a live performance at the original Ryman for a more intimate experience.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum sign lit up in Christmas lights.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is 350,000 square feet of country music artifacts and memrobelia. The general admission is $24.95 for adults, $14.95 for youth ages 6-12, and free for children 5 and under. Discounts are available for adults over the age of 60, students, and AAA members ($22.50) while military only pay $21.50 with a valid ID. I highly recommend this if you are a country music fan. So if you do not like country then skip it, since it is on the pricier end.

After head out to the Bicentennial Park to check out the full-size replica of the Parthenon and get some fresh air. From there you can scoot or drive around the Vanderbilt University Campus, which is beautiful in itself.

Friday Night

Grand Ole Opry June 2014 with my mom in Nashville, TN.
Grand Ole Opry Nashville, TN June 2014 with my Mom.

Head out to the Grand Ole Opry to get a real taste of the music scene in Nashville. Catch a tour and performance, where you see a live recording of the radio show that has launched many country music careers.

Afterward, you can explore the Gaylord Opryland Hotel that has a massive atrium and is home to a few really good restaurants. This place is huge! Interestingly enough it is the largest non- casino hotel in the U.S.!

They don’t call Nashville, ‘’Nashvegas’’ for nothing. The nightlife here is full of surprises, music, dancing, and good times. Notably, Nashville has something for everyone. Whether you want the craziness of Broadway or the Indie/Alternative scene in East Nashville or Germantown there is something for whatever mood you are in.

My favorite bars to check out up and down Broadway were Whiskey Row, Tootsies, and Robert’s Western World. I danced the night away and even tried line dancing at Wildhorse Saloon the first time I went and got hooked.  

When your late-night cravings kick in, Robert’s Western World will have your stomach satisfied with their famous grilled cheese or fried bologna sandwich with chips.

Sarah Fay in Front of Robert's Western World on Broadway in Nashville.
Robert’s Western World on Broadway in Nashville.

Saturday

Hopefully you weren’t horsing around too much on Friday night, since there is so much to see still! To begin your day head over to sit- in for brunch at the historic Woolworth on 5th lunch counter where the sit-ins took place in the 1960s. Sit-ins were a key peaceful protest during the Civil Rights Movement that aimed to desegregate the south.

The place has been entirely restored and you will be eating Southern Cuisine surrounded by history.

Woolworth's in Nashville where the famous lunch counter sit- ins happened
Woolworth’s Lunch Counter in Nashville where famous Civil Rights Lunch Sit- Ins occurred.

After you get your stomach stuffed there are two options, depending if you have access to a car or not.

  1.  If you have a car drive over to what some say is the most well-preserved house of the USA’s early Presidents “The Hermitage” President Andrew Jackson’s house. The Jackson Family kept the home in their hands for many years which is why original home furnishings, wallpaper and family possessions, as well as the beautiful garden and grounds outside of the home still exist today. It is about 20-minute drive from Downtown, but is entirely worth the journey. The Hermitage is indeed a former Plantation. While President Jackson fought for the common man, he did indeed own slaves to manage The Hermitage’s cash crop cotton. There are still slave cabins one can visit on the plantation, as well as the graves of the former President and his wife. Tours are available year-round, excluding certain holidays for $20.
  2. However, if you don’t head over to the Belle Meade Plantation that is accessible by public transit from Downtown. Belle Meade’s history as a premier thoroughbred stud (horse) farm is astounding. Almost all Kentucky Derby horses can trace their bloodline back to Belle Meade, and the mansion is full of horse portraits, original artifacts, and racing silks. It’s also home to Nashville’s only winery, with proceeds going benefit the upkeep of the property. Fun Fact: If you watched the movie Seabiscuit you will know one of the most famous horses that can trace their lineage to Belle Meade!
Sarah Fay at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, TN
Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, TN

After you get your Nashville History fix for the day, head over to 12 South Street Neighborhood only a short drive or Uber/Lyft. Because if you haven’t taken photos in front of the Murals did you even go to Nashville? Not only will you find amazing street art murals, but you will also get some really great food for lunch.  

Another great spot for lunch that I highly recommend is Edley’s with some amazing Southern BBQ. I had my favorite a Pulled Pork Platter that came with two sides, pickles, and cornbread for $10.

There were many sides to choose from, but I had their black-eyed peas and mac and cheese.

From there take a walk around the 12 South Neighborhood where you will find many shops, businesses, and all those fancy street murals that you see all over Instagram.

My favorites were the I Believe in Nashville Mural, the Draper James Store (owned by Reese Witherspoon), and the giant Nashville Peace mural. Not to mention, you will get some amazing pics for Instagram. Also, don’t forget to head over to the Instagram famous Five Daughters Bakery. I DONUT think you can take a bad picture of this place! If you are looking for a high-quality Donut, with unique flavors that are constantly changing with the season this is the place for you. You can even tune into their live donut cams to make sure your favorite flavor is still in stock before you head over!

Saturday Night

After you are done with your site seeing and ready to get back to the Music, head over to the Blue Bird Café to catch a performance for FREE!!! Well not entirely, they expect each person attending to spend $10 on food and/or beverages. Trust me, it is worth it! For instance, artists such as Taylor Swift were discovered on this small stage. Also, if you are a fan of the CMT show Nashville the show often revolves around this location.

In fact, I have been both times that I have gone to Nashville and I believe this experience is a must while you are in Nashville. If you do not get one of the few reservations in advance, then head to the show an hour early and line up to make sure you get in. There are a few seats available for walk ups.

Above all, for a cool dinner experience head over to Pinewood Social. The Pinewood Social boasts 13,000 square feet, and is an adult playground that is a day to night experience. In addition to a nightlife hot spot, during the day it is a co-working space with an amazing coffee shop CREMA. While at night you can bowl, take on your friends at Karaoke, and have dinner and drinks before a night out on the town.

If you are all Honky- Tonked out, Nashville has a very good indie/alternative/rock scene, so I suggest you head over to East Nashville for a change of pace from Broadway. Some of my favorite places to go out in East Nashville were Rosemary’s that was like a speakeasy with a good DJ. It made you feel as if you were in somebody’s house party. Then if you want to dance into the wee hours of the night head over to The Basement East or The 5 Spot.

Sunday

The weekend is wrapping up, but there are still things to do! To begin your day, head over to The Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village. Time your visit perfectly by checking out their online cam to see how long the wait is. Keith Urban loves this place so I am sure you will too!

When you finish either check out the boutique shops, or head to the legendary Hatch Print Shop for a tour. The Hatch Print Shop keeps with its’ 19th century traditions and practices of the letterpress poster shop it was founded on three generations ago. Most noteworthy, since 1879 this letterpress print shop has produced posters for artists such as, Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Jack White, and many others.

Hillsboro Village Mural and Boutique one of many in the neighborhood.

Moreover, with only a few hours left in Nashville before you fly home or to your next destination, you cannot leave before deciding who has the best Hot Chicken? The Hattie B’s vs Prince Chicken rivalry breaks up families, relationships, and is HEATED to say the least. So why not try a bit of both before you skip town.

In short, I preferred Prince’s because the chicken was much spicier and I like it HOT!

Finally, get your but to the Airport or where ever you have to be. You will definitely be feeling this weekend come Monday!

The Ultimate Guide to Nashville Tennessee by Travels of Sarah Fay

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1 comment

  1. Amazing travel guide about nashville tour, Thanks for sharing this ultimate guide with us. Nashville hosts Tin Pan South, the largest songwriter s festival in the world. great post keep sharing.

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