What to do in Nashville?
March 24, 2013 10:36 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Nashville, TN for a day -- help me see as much of the city as possible. Bonus: what's the parking like there?

So I'll be in Nashville for a wedding in May. My current plan in to road trip out there and arrive the day of the wedding, have a couple hours to myself before needing to get ready, and then spending the next morning in Nashville before driving out around noon. It'll be over a weekend.

When I visit new cities, my goal is to get a feel for the culture of the city. What can I do with my time constraints?

Where should I eat? My only diet constraint is low gluten, and I'm willing to break that if I'd be missing out on something amazing.

Also, what will parking cost me / are there places I can park for free? I'm from Philly and used to parking being a nightmare.
posted by DoubleLune to Travel & Transportation around Nashville, TN (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite place to eat in Nashville if you want the "southern food" experience is Loveless Cafe. (There are tons of excellent non-Southern restaurants in Nashville, but Loveless is a classic). It's a way out of town, but worth the trip IMHO.

In downtown, Puckett's Grocery is also good. In the same general area, Broadway is known for bars and honky tonks, and you might want to check it out, but it'll probably be pretty dead if you're there in the morning. I like the Country Music Hall of Fame and museum, which is nearby. Gruhn Guitars is awesome if you like musical instruments. The Ryman Auditorium tour is neat, lots of amazing history there.
posted by primethyme at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update: I decided to fly instead, and will get there a day early. I'll have all day Friday to whatever I like, and will probably go out that night, so recommendations for nightlife are welcome!
posted by DoubleLune at 11:21 AM on March 24, 2013

Best answer: We were just there this past summer. There seems to be two cultures - tourist culture, and local culture.

The farthest we got from tourist culture in our day or two there was taking a trip to Mas Tacos Por Favor and having some great food - nearly the best food we ate on our whole trip part from - but the neighbourhood around it wasn't particularly walkable and there wasn't much to do nearby. We used this NYT article to seek out food, though we were just as happy with the "Recession Special" at Roberts.

For the Broadway tourist attractions, there's a parking lot directly behind Gruhn Guitars, and it wasn't expensive and we always found a spot, so we could take a walk around Broadway. But here is a Park it Downtown Map that we found helpful. There we had our fill of rinky dink gift shops (with Willie Nelson and Elvis fortune tellers) and we particularly liked Mike's Ice Cream. We wandered Broadway hoping to hear some good music, while popping into Tootsie's and other legendary places for sentimental reasons. The band whose matinee we most liked catching is Lane Kristian and the Jakehead Mob on Tuesdays at the Bootlegger's Inn. We did the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which was very well-done (though we missed the old one we'd visited over a dozen years ago.) What my I really loved was the Frist. My husband went to Third Man Records, and found it frustrating to get to because of the construction in the area - but liked it a lot. The Ryman is beautiful, but we didn't do it on this trip, and we spend most of our time in Hatch Show Print, because that's what we're really into.

It depends what you're into, I guess. We would have liked to find little neighbourhoods to wander, but had no luck and we were there when it was really hot. But we were also fine with the traditional tourist stuff, as we're hillbilly/honkytonk/rockabilly/country/western fans and we knew what we were getting into there.
posted by peagood at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Parking should be easy most places. You might not be able to find free parking right downtown, but there are plenty of cheap lots and garages (unless some big event is happening).

Here are my recs which are primarily historical and/or musical in nature (in no particular order):

The Hermitage
Ryman Auditorium
Bill DeMain's Walking Tour
Bellemeade Plantation
Bluebird Cafe

Robert's Western World

Silly Goose
Catbird Seat

I second Loveless, Mas Tacos, the Frist, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

There aren't many "wanderable" neighborhoods. But if you do want to park and explore, I would recommend Hillsboro Village and Five Points. Five Points has a number of bars and clubs, and is walkable. You might head down there on a Friday night, and wander till you find one that suits.
posted by kimdog at 11:38 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aw man. I love Nashville.

The Loveless is a classic, but it's a longish drive. If I had very limited time, then the Loveless would not be my choice. Instead for breakfast hit the Pancake Pantry And later get a burger at Rotiers.

Don't miss the Bluebird.
posted by 26.2 at 11:42 AM on March 24, 2013

Best answer: Check Nashville Scene for music listings. you can sort by date, genre, neighborhood, etc.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:31 PM on March 24, 2013

Best answer: Nightlife: The Station Inn. I'm a native and this place is my all time fave. I also strongly recommend seeing the Parthenon at Centennial Park on West End.
posted by michellenoel at 12:32 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Prince's Hot Chicken. Garden & Gun has some other recommendations, as well.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:55 PM on March 24, 2013

If you want some really great soul food that's not as far of a drive as The Loveless Cafe, try Monell's. It's family style, meaning you'll sit at a table with a bunch of strangers, but it's not a bad experience. And besides, the food is so good, you'll be too busy eating to pay too much attention to the people around you.

And depending on what time you go (as well as how full you are afterward), try the Cupcake Collection right next door for dessert.
posted by dean_deen at 3:05 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I got sent to Nashville for a week of training once. I had no idea about the Parthenon copy, I was just walking around in a park and went "hey, what's that building?" Impressive enough from the outside. I walked in expecting I don't know what, certainly not what was there. Athena bloody Parthenos, fully armed and gilded, all forty-plus feet of her and it might as well be a hundred. It was an utterly hair-raising moment. I would not have been the least surprised if she had become aware of me, and given me a WELL, WHAT DO YOU WANT, WORM? look.

YMMV but I found the building and HER worth the visit all by themselves.
posted by jfuller at 6:39 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding Hillsboro and also East Nashville as walkable neighborhoods. The great Fido's is in Hillsboro and it's on a street/area with a lot of cute shops, etc. East Nashville runs along the Shelby River Bottoms, which includes a nice nature/walking area.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:48 PM on March 24, 2013

Best answer: p.s. -- I am biased because my relatives in Nashville are foodies and vegetarian, but the restaurants we went to were quite progressive, including in terms of dietary restrictions, so I'll bet you will do alright at most places even with avoiding gluten.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:53 PM on March 24, 2013

The Walkin’ Nashville Music City Legends Tour was a highlight of a trip a few months ago.
posted by Sculthorpe at 8:02 PM on March 24, 2013

Best answer: Nashville resident. Here's some stuff I recommended to guests for my wedding:

-Frist Center for the Arts
-Country Music Hall of Fame

-Arnold Myint, of Top Chef fame, has several pan-Asian restaurants in Nashville. Try Suzy Wong's House of Yum on Church Street or AM on Belmont.
-Across the street from AM is his mom's restaurant, International Market. It's a cheap, awesome buffet-style Thai/Burmese cafeteria and Asian grocery.
-If you go ahead and make a reservation now, The Catbird Seat is the hottest restaurant in town.
-Other finer-dining recommendations include Holland House, Tayst, City House, Eastland Cafe, Margot, Silly Goose, Germantown Cafe, Virago, Tavern, Tin Angel, Rumours, Sunset Grill
-Solid local casual favorites include Rosepepper (Mexican), Mas Tacos Por Favor, Wild Cow (vegetarian), Woodlands (vegetarian Indian), Blackstone Brewery, Mafiaoza's, Bosco's, Jackson's
-For soul food, go to Monell's. Loveless is a real schlep.

-The Brazilbilly house band at Robert's Western World
-Mercy Lounge/Cannery
-3rd and Lindsley
-5 Spot
-The Basement
-Station Inn
(Check the Nashville Scene to see who's playing.)

Flying Saucer
12 South Taproom
Holland House
Broadway Brewhouse
Patterson House

-Bongo Java/Fido
-JJ's Cafe
-Noshville Deli
posted by elizeh at 7:56 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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