Roam Guide / Nashville, Tennessee
Wendy Witherspoon is an independent stylist with Stella & Dot, a fashion brand which features boutique-style jewelry and accessories. She makes regular appearances on local TV show, Twin Cities Live and writes a style column for Edina Magazine. Her entrepreneurial background and experience raising three daughters, inspired the launch of Prink Style in 2015, a subscription based service that helps tween girls find fun, unique clothes that match their personal style. In this Roam Guide to Nashville she shares trip favorites that reflect her savvy and outgoing personality, and blends perfectly the many perspectives that play into organizing a girls trip of varying interests and budgets.
Best time to travel to Nashville? The weather is most inviting in Spring, Early Summer or Fall. I went in early June with eight friends to celebrate our collective milestone birthdays (40!) and the weather was perfect, comfortable and in the mid-70’s. With so many people to consider, Nashville covered all the bases- activities for various interests, a great food and music scene, good weather and reasonably priced, direct flights from all over the country. Most importantly, with a wide range of budgets, we didn’t ever have to exclude anyone or anything. We also considered Austin for the same reasons.
Rtip: Nashville sits right in the middle of Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains are only a 3.5 hours drive to the east. If you decide to extend your stay and visit this popular National Park see our informative Roam Guide on the best way to navigate the area. If this is not on your itinerary, you can also make a day trip to do some hiking near the area’s waterfalls, like Burgess, Cummins, and Foster. Alternatively, Arrington Vineyards is a mere 30 minutes drive.
How to get there?
Nashville is really a perfect distance for a long weekend with direct flights from multiple cities on many airlines. I’ve flown Southwest from Minneapolis several times very affordably.
What’s the best way to travel around Nashville?
Having a rental car can be helpful if you are traveling with family or a large group, or if you want to venture outside the city. If you plan on drinking or don’t want to rent a car, Lyft and Uber operate in Nashville, and there are also multiple cab companies.
Where should we stay?
Our group stayed at the Omni, it’s centrally located downtown, walkable to Broadway, offers a free shuttle when you want to explore further and has reasonable rates for varying budgets. The rooftop pool was a great meeting place for our group, offering us the opportunity to lounge poolside while waiting for everyone to arrive on their respective flights. If you prefer a smaller hotel, two great boutique options are The Hutton Hotel and The Thompson Hotel. Both are beautiful properties and in good locations.
Rtip: If you interested in a rental, check out this Carriage House near East Nashville with a spectacular outdoor space and a private pool. Another great place to stay is the charming 12 South neighborhood, there are so many beautiful rentals like this home that sleeps 10 and includes a rooftop patio. This a fantastic area to explore on foot and an easy Uber ride from the rest of the city. If you want to be on the West End stay like a local in this 3 bedroom vrbo.
Tell us something we don’t know?
There always seems to be a lot of confusion around the difference between Music Row and Broadway in Downtown Nashville. If you really think about it, it makes sense to mistake the bars and music venues “all in a row” on Broadway, for “Music Row.” However, the actual “Music Row” is west of town and refers to the area where many music companies keep offices. It’s a relatively quiet area only accessed by studio tour in combination with your visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
What should we do?
Oh, there is so much to do in ‘Music City!’ Our group had varied interests so from time to time we split up. The country music fans in our group visited the Johnny Cash Museum and LOVED it. The rest of us explored East Nashville, where we shared ‘melt in your mouth’ donuts at Five Daughters Bakery and did some shopping at the IDEA Hatchery and the Shoppes on Fatherland, both have a great selection of unique goods from local makers. Later we all met up at Biscuit Love in the Gulch for a taste of their iconic Southern biscuits. We shared an order of their ‘Bonuts’, which is basically fried biscuit dough covered in sugar. Yes, they are as good as they sound, and totally worth the wait. After we had our fill we stopped by Third Man Records to peek around and then walked to sample some local cider at The Pub Nashville.
Although some avoid it like the plague, you can’t visit Nashville without spending some time on Broadway. Where hoards of tourists flock for some good ol’ fashioned honky tonk. We all headed to the infamous Margaritaville one evening to sip on sugary drinks and get a prime spot to watch Faydra, a musician from our hometown of Superior Wisconsin. We had a blast cheering her on and she was thrilled to get some love from ‘home.’ We did stop at a few other venues while we were there, how could we not? And although crowded (as they all are) the two worth mentioning are Tootsies Orchid Lounge, this place is huge, with different bands playing on three floors and a great rooftop with pretty city views. If you can squeeze you way to the top, that is. The other is Tin Roof, they have two stages and a variety of musicians and genres, as well as a good mix of locals milling around.
Part of my job requires me to be active on social media so I made a point to track down the most ‘Intsagrammable spots’ in the city. Not everyone was into this idea when we began, but once we got started we had a ton of fun. We certainly learned more about the city and captured some great memories. It was really a perfect, no expense activity for our group. I printed a Mural Map of Nashville and a few ‘shot’ examples and we made our way to a few favorites. Be prepared to wait at some of the more popular murals, like the Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural but you can send someone to grab take-away drinks from the Juice Bar or to stand in line for a table at Biscuit Love.
If you have time, explore the darling 12 South Neighborhood. It’s walkable, full of pretty architecture and has great shopping. We went early and got a coffee at Frothy Monkey, people watched for a bit and then took a leisurely stroll to all the boutiques and shops lining the streets. You will find Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James flagship store, Imogene and Willie, White’s Mercantile and Emerson Grace… the list goes on and on. Stop at Sprinkles cupcake vending machine or the S’more Love camper and share a sweet treat. If you need more get in line at the Flipside, they have delicious chicken and waffles and a fabulous Bloody Mary, with big toppings, like crab legs. And don’t forget to snap a picture by the iconic, I Believe in Nashville mural before you go.
Where should we eat in Nashville?
We had a foodie friend with us, so we really tried to hit all the hot spots but you can’t possibly try all the great Southern food in just one weekend. I will give you our highlights, not yet mentioned;
Milk & Honey was a crowd favorite, even with the lengthy wait. We ordered coffee and shared a cinnamon roll while we inched our way through the line, so we couldn’t complain. Serving sizes are HUGE so we ended up with a lot of extra food. Think about splitting dishes if you'd like to sample more. If you are a fan of Bloody Mary’s, try one here, they are legit.
Bacon fanatics you must have dinner at the Butcher & Bee, the Bacon Wrapped Dates and the Braised bacon , ANYTHING with bacon! We also really enjoyed their Falafel and Meatballs. I can’t to forget to mention Black Rabbit, which gets a resounding ‘AMAZING!’ from the whole group. We ordered family style and shared. For small plates we ordered the oysters and sourdough and the pork and beef tacos and for the large, 1/2 chicken and the brisket. Everything was incredible. Obviously, otherwise how would I remember exactly what we ate? They also have an incredible menu of craft cocktails and the space itself has a wonderful, sophisticated vibe.
And finally, you can’t leave Nashville without trying the hot chicken at Hattie B's. No reservations here, it is casual dining and served cafeteria style. Customers pick their spice level, so don’t be scared off it you normally avoid anything hot. To skip the lines, go during off hours and save room for more southern food by having this meal as a snack. Speaking of hot chicken, it’s a specialty in Nashville. The Southern Steak and Oyster has the most incredible Hot Chicken Salad, few of us are still dreaming about it! Also, they have a great variety of southern oysters, as the name suggests.
Rtip: If you need a break from traditional fried southern food, we suggest you visit Henrietta Red for their raw bar and daily Happy Hour specials or sit on their gorgeous patio for an unforgettable brunch. If you are a serial brunch’er you’ll also love Mockingbird Cafe for their classic comfort food and boozy breakfast cocktails.
Where should we go for a drink?
You don’t have to go far to find a alcohol in Nashville. For something unique, try the Treehouse. It’s a legit bar in an actual tree. It was very cute, we walked there after dinner at the Butcher and The Bee. A friend of mine swears by the rooftop bar at the Thompson Hotel. we didn’t get to check it out but plan to next time.
Rtip: The best place to get a solid cocktail is at The Patterson House. It’s a modern speakeasy and it’s upscale, especially for Nashville. Despite it’s many rules (no cellphones) its still cozy and unpretentious.
Where can we do a little shopping?
From souvenir shopping to clothing boutiques, there are so many options. As mentioned above 12 South and East Nashville have a plethora of stores to peruse. I am also a fan of the small women’s boutiques in Hillsboro village- like the Impeccable Pig.
What is the can’t miss item on your itinerary?
Is it weird if I say the Hot Chicken salad from The Southern Steak and Oyster? Because that was my first thought.
What would you do differently next time?
We’ll make it a priority to check out the Belle Meade Plantation. They offer an amazing group tour and it’s only a 15 minute uber ride from the 12 South Neighborhood.
What to pack for Nashville?
With Nashville's easy breezy style - I brought a couple of colorful, comfortable dresses that I paired with neutral sandals. I always bring a versatile pair of Stella & Dot earrings, that transform from chandelier earrings to a stud, so they go with everything. My other outfit to beat the heat was my favorite white jean shorts paired with a cute graphic t-shirt and a Panama hat. Perfect for sitting by the pool or strolling Broadway. Don’t forget a great cross body bag. I like one for traveling that gives you the option to wear it three ways and easily transitions from day to evening. Finally, I never go anywhere without a good book and this one was fantastic. There nothing better then some down time to relax and escape.
Click to see everywhere we suggest in Nashville in Google My Maps.