It has been about 2 months since my trip to Las Vegas, which means it has been too long since I have had a weekend vacation. So I spent this past 4 day weekend of mine exploring Nashville! One of my best friends from college, Brandi, moved there in October and I finally found a long weekend deficient of plans or to-do lists so it was the perfect time to fly out there. This city of HUGE and you could spend a couple weeks there trying to see and do it all but not many of us get that luxury (and honestly, if I were to spend weeks anywhere it would be Europe!) But it is very possible to see and do a lot of awesome things during a weekend trip. Here is how I spent my little mini-vacation in Nashville complete with tips, tricks and recommendations.
Nashville is known as the Athens of the south. Therefore it only makes sense to build a complete replica of the Parthenon from Greece. In the heart of Centennial Park stands this full scale model built in the late 1800s. It’s amazing just walking around the outside and seeing the detail in the stone carvings but the inside is a museum ($7 admission for adults). The first floor has a lot of info and history on this model and the fair it was the centerpiece of. Theres also a few art exhibits on display throughout the first floor. The current main showcase is a series of Civil War wounded paintings by Dane Carder. Awesome paintings of real documented cases but not graphic, definitely check them out.
The second floor is the model we were all expecting, complete with a 40 something foot tall replica statue of Athena just like in the real Parthenon. Supposedly people in Ancient Greece thought their Parthenon was too gaudy/ flashy so they usually preferred to worship their wooden statues at home.
**Warning: Parking is free but complicated. Most people park up on the grass on both sides of the road. I recommend if you have a car or low vehicle you do not try to hop the curb. They are much higher and more oddly angled than they look. Cars definitely have a rough (and possibly damaging) time trying to get on and off of these areas. My friend and her car are troopers, but they got lucky haha
In a perfect world, I would have seen a show at the Grand Ole Opry but not everything is always attainable. However, it is extremely easy and definitely necessary to take a walk through the Gaylord Opryland Resort Hotel. This hotel, connected to a convention center, felt so Disney to me because of its elaborate décor, 17 restaurant options, many gift shops and HUGE atrium complete with an indoor river and many waterfalls. It is ridiculously expensive to stay in this resort but it is completely FREE to walk around. The atrium alone takes at least an hour to walk through, not including stops through the many shops, candy stores or attractions (such as a riverboat ride). Some tips and recommendations:
- Park at the Opryland mall and walk over to the hotel. It is not a long walk by any means, 5 minutes or so, and you don’t have to cross any streets. Doing this will save you the hassle (and heartache) of paying over $20 to self-park at the hotel.
- Wear comfortable shoes. The atrium is amazing to walk through and you should definitely do it! But I underestimated how much walking it would take to get through the atrium to restaurants and shops and back through. Luckily there are many places to sit and take a breather.
- Be aware that a lot of the restaurants are not open during lunch. We originally wanted to go to the Irish pub but it did not open until 5pm, so we went across the hallway to the Jack Daniels Restaurant. It was delicious and I definitely recommend trying the brisket and the bbq sauce they keep on the table! Also be aware of your dining options. After eating at JD’s, we walked through another part of the atrium and found a sushi place right next to the indoor river which we slightly wished we ate at instead.
The main strip of Broadway!
Downtown Nashville is a MUST no matter how much or how little time you have in town. You must go check out Broadway where it seems all the main buzz is. Go in the touristy shops, bar hop and definitely stick around for some live bands which are in basically any bar you choose. We walked through some shops and went past a few bars listening to the various singers before we decided on the Tin Roof. There we ate, drank and watched 2 amazing bands.
Some tips and recommendations:
- I recommend parking in one of the parking garages. You may have to walk 5 more minutes but they’re a little easier to get in and out of than the scattered parking lots and usually cheaper. Definitely opt to buy more time than you think you’ll need though. We were originally planning to just walk around and then leave so we paid for 4 hours at $10. We ended up going back and buying 4 more hours because we wanted to stay longer. So we paid $20 for 8 hours when we could have just bought 8 hours in the beginning for $12.
- If you don’t like crowds but still want to see some musicians, hang around from about 4pm until 7 or 8pm.
- Take a minute to learn about some history. Downtown Nashville is mostly old historic buildings with tons of character and plaques to prove their age. One of the coolest historical stops we made was in the Hard Rock Café gift shop on the corner of Broadway and 2nd This building used to be the Silver Dollar Saloon and, even though that bar has moved a few buildings down, this building still has a good bit of the original floors from the late 1800’s. The lady in the store told us the story of how the Silver Dollar’s owner was so rich, he put hundreds of real silver dollars in the floor for decoration and would shoot people that tried to take them.
- Get your fortune told by Elvis and then keep your eye open on the streets for one of the many Elvis impersonators.
12 South is one of the self-proclaimed “hipster neighborhoods” in Nashville and it is awesome! Full of that college town vibe, the 12 South neighborhood is home to lots of unique restaurants, coffee houses and little stores. Some recommendations:
- Burger Up: This little restaurant/bar boasts artisan burgers, truffle fries and craft beers.
- The Frothy Monkey Coffeehouse: There are tons of awesome coffee joints in Nashville but how could we pass up a placed named the ‘FROTHY MONKEY’? It doesn’t strike me as a quiet coffee shack to do schoolwork considering it was after 11am and still packed with people BUT the staff is incredibly friendly and the coffee is great.
- White’s Mercantile: This old service station turned eclectic boutique shop is home to lots of really cool items that, even though the average person couldn’t afford, is still a lot of fun to see. Lots of great gift ideas for anyone and everyone. Women’s jewelry and clothes to mens grooming supplies to pet supplies to home décor.
- Sloco: We did not have the time (nor empty enough bellies) to go into Sloco but as an avid Food Network fan, I couldn’t help but be amazed that a Chopped winner’s restaurant was right in front of me! Sloco does fast gourmet sandwiches with the mindset of going organic and eating local. They also donate 5% of all profits to community food advocates.
East Nashville is the largest of the “hipster neighborhoods”, spanning three zip codes. It is not as easily walkable as the one street of 12South, but still is worth going to and most things are right next to one another! The old houses in this area are also really neat to look at. Many of the have funky décor and modifications. This artsy fence definitely caught my attention.
Some other recommendations:
- The Groove: This is an adorable new and used vinyl and CD’s shop. This place is pretty well hidden, located on the corner of Gallatin Ave and Calvin Ave. But if you stumble upon it, you should definitely go in whether you’re a fan of old vinyl records or not. HINT- the 99cent stack had a lot of awesome options and you get 15% off on Mondays.
- Barista Parlor: This is supposedly the best coffee shop in all of Nashville. We had just left the Frothy Monkey in 12South and we did not want to jitter through the rest of the day by having another latte BUT we did walk in there. The rich aroma was incredible and the atmosphere was so chill and open. All their furniture is reclaimed wood and the light fixtures have an industrial design. And if coffee doesn’t do it for you, they sell tons of unique chocolate bars made with cocoas from around the world.
Amazing graffiti behind the wall of Barista Parlor
- Fuselage Design: I had an extremely difficult time exhibiting self-control and not buying everything in this funky store. And literally everything, because even much of the furniture the merchandise sits on was for sale too. They had lots of reclaimed metal décor and marquee lights, clothes, shelf décor/trinkets, handmade recycled jewelry, local handmade soaps, etc. What I thought was incredible is that the owner, Anna Cox, builds things out of scrap airplanes. She has an in with a guy who lets her salvage old aircraft before they get broken down and turned into soda cans. The checkout counter, several chairs and many tables holding merchandise were made out of old airplane wings. She will even make you custom pieces. Definitely take a walk through this store.
- Mas Tacos Por Favor: The locals rave about this place and it was also featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. And let me tell you….it is a dumpy looking little joint. As you walk up to the building you’ll ask yourself “Am I in the right place? This can’t be what everyone is talking about.” Oh but it is! Walk inside and you’re greeted by chill music and funky décor but best of all….AMAZING food! They offer 5 to 6 all homemade, artisan tacos at $3 each. We got the sweet potato and quinoa taco and the skillet chicken with verde sauce taco as well as a side of fried plantains (also $3 and better than any I’ve ever had). Everyone around us kept ordering one of the soups which made me want to try some (also super cheap) but I did not have enough room in my belly. Someone get soup and let me know how it was!
It was a great weekend in Nashville and we saw a lot! I do have some things left on the list to do and see for the next time I visit Brandi but I don’t think I could have spent my weekend vacation any better!
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS OR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A WEEKEND IN NASHVILLE! 🙂 Or if you have a recommendation on where I should go for my next weekend vacation, leave that below as well!
Before I go…..*Extra Photo Dump*
Brandi and I in front of the Parthenon
The inside of Mas Tacos
These amazing little stickers/paintings were all over 12South
And lastly, I have missed Publix so much since moving out west and I was SO EXCITED to go into one haha