Where to stay //
12 South: This trendy little ‘hood basically has it all. Lined with great shopping, delicious grub, and adorable houses, we found 12 South to be the perfect place to call home during our second trip to Nashville. It’s relatively quiet compared to other areas of Nashville (no real nightlife to speak of) — something that we appreciate in our old-ish age. This short stretch of [great] retail and dining, is perfectly walkable. If you can score an Airbnb in the neighborhood, chances are you’ll be within walking distance to just about everything 12 South has to offer.
Where to eat //
Barista Parlor: The space in itself is worth the visit, but after that first sip of pour over and bite of [probably the world’s best] breakfast biscuit, you won’t care if you’re eating in a filthy bathroom stall! The large space makes any crowds seem less so. We’ve been many times at many hours and never had to wait, though for this breakfast, we’d wait forever. (The Gulch)
Josephine’s: It’s impossible to place a bad order at Josephine’s. Simple ingredients create outstanding dishes. Excellent wine list. Make sure to order the buffalo cauliflower and the apple cobbler — you can thank me later. (12 South)
Jeni’s Ice Cream: All the ice cream. All the goodness. You’ll find a few of these about Nashville. (12 South)
Bar Taco: Order from a checklist and hand it to your server upon completion. From there you’ll be served each dish in the order that it’s prepared. Excellent PITCHERS of margaritas and street tacos that rival some of the best. A fun, bright, hip atmosphere — great for groups! (12 South)
Moto Cucina + Enoteca: This was one of our “fancier” dines. Full service Italian with an oddly chic, old-timey feel. Perhaps it was the spot on service that made me feel as though I was stepping back in time, because the space itself is hip and industrial. Excellent pasta, wines, and main dishes. Great small plates for sharing. (The Gulch)
Proper Bagel: I can’t tell you the last time I had a bagel. And I’ve only ever had one bagel that rivaled those at Proper Bagel! Great space, albeit quite small. There’s usually a line out the door and seating is limited. But don’t be discouraged, you’ll be rewarded with the sweetest carbs and the creamiest cheeses upon order — it’s worth the wait!
Butchertown Hall: First of all, our service here was wretched. And I mean wretched in the most wretched way. The wretchedest of wretcheds. But if you can handle blatantly inattentive service, the food is on point. We went at off hours, and shared the restaurant with one other couple (the empty restaurant made the wretched service all the wretcheder), but rumor has it the wait is usually quite long. The brisket was definitely the hit at our table. (North Nashville)
Turnip Truck: This little natural grocer is where we fill in all the blanks (and the refrigerator). Green juices, salad bar, kombucha, beer, snacks, you name it. (The Gulch)
What to do //
Pinewood Social: This trendy, social gathering spot is pretty cool. Along with pretty tasty food and drinks, you’ll find a great place to gather and play, whether it be bowling or bocce. Call ahead for reservations.
Ascend Amphitheater: When you arrive at Pinewood Social, you’ll likely hear the magical sounds of a live performance at the Ascend Amphitheater, located just across the highway. If you bring a blanket (and a bottle of wine), you can join the small crowd that has gathered on the side of the road to enjoy the show — for free! While you might not see much, you’ll certainly get a brilliant earful of sweet, live tunes.
Cumberland Caverns: This should be on everyone’s bucketlist. Just outside of Nashville, these caverns are home to the Bluegrass Underground. Grab tickets ahead of time and enjoy a show more than 300 feet underground! Skip the tour and get in line for the show — seating is first come, first served. Be sure to bring lots of layers (it’s cold down there!) and your own snacks (the snack bar is about as fancy as those you find at high school football games).
Mercy Lounge: Because live music in Nashville is everything.
Bluebird Cafe: It doesn’t matter who’s playing. If you’re in Nashville and can snag Bluebird tickets, just do it.
The Ryman: Iconic in every way! If you can find tickets to a show, grab them. We caught The Head and the Heart show and DAMN was it amazing! A mellow venue with the option for a “large” wine. We really enjoyed the bench seating in the balcony. I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house…
Merle Haggard Wall Art: Wall art is a big deal in Nashville. You can find a handful of popular walls in 12 South alone. We went out of our way to catch a glimpse of this wall. The train tracks and blue skies made it a worthwhile adventure!
Vanderbilt: I have a thing for college campuses. So it’s no surprise that we found ourselves and Vandy for a little afternoon stroll.
Downtown Nashville/Live Music/Broadway: A must do. This stretch of Nashville makes for a rowdy night, but bar hopping along Broadway is a pretty unique experience. Live music pours out of every door and window all night long and you’d be hard pressed to find a bad performance. Even the streets are lined with musicians of all ages!
Country Music Hall of Fame: I have mixed feelings on this experience, but ultimately, it’s something I’m glad we did. A lot of great exhibits (the Dylan Cash Exhibit was a highlight!) and some cool history to be absorbed.
Radnor Lake: No trip is complete without exploring the landscape! Radnor lake has miles of beautiful trails and is great for working off all of those breakfast biscuits and Jeni’s Ice Cream cones.