Claire Gibson


  • Nashville, TN, USA

Claire Gibson is a correspondent who lives in Nashville and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. Growing up as an Army brat, Gibson moved from state to state at a speed illegal on most major highways. After spending time traveling across mainland China, Gibson earned degrees in Political Science and Asian Studies, and later settled in Nashville, where she began a freelance writing career covering topics of travel, faith, food and education. When she’s not writing, drinking coffee, or running with her Vizsla named Cooper, Gibson is likely out hunting for the world’s best margarita. Her work has been featured in The Christian Science Monitor, The Tennesseean, Darling and Bearings, among others.

  • On May 31, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best tours of Nashville?

    If you're traveling from far away, there's nothing worse than guessing your way through downtown, looking for historic sites and trying not to get lost in the shuffle. 

    To ward off that kind of dawdling disaster, taking a tour can be one of the best ways to learn your way around and see some of the history and music, all at once.

    One of the best tours in town is the Country Music Hall of Fame. Through the tour, you'll learn about country music roots as well as seeing some of Nashville's greatest music halls—including the site of the original Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium. For an additional $11 per ticket, guests get a chance to see the historic RCA Studio B, where Elvis Presley and other greats recorded their hits.

    Another, lesser known tour of Nashville is Bill DeMain's Walkin' Tour. For just $16 for adults, $10 for children, guests get to join Bill on a tour through Printer’s Alley, Ryman Auditorium, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Hatch Show Print as well as the former sites of long-lost treasures like: Castle Recording Studio, Skull’s Rainbow Room, The Maxwell House Hotel, Ernie’s Record Mart and Sho-Bud Steel Guitar Company. 

  • On May 31, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best outdoor activities in Nashville?

    There's nothing better than Nashville in the summer time!  For fun in the sun, check out my former blog post about some of the best things to do in Nashville from May - August.

    In addition to Grassy Knoll Movies, the Farmers' Market, Stand Up Paddleboard classes, or canoeing the Harpeth River, Nashville has recently established a bicylce sharing program called B-cycle. Guests can rent bikes out from any of the 21 stations across town for just $5 per bike, per day, plus a usage fee (though the first hour is free, every additional HALF hour is $1.50). For more on how to make the best of B-cycles, read some tips and tricks I learned on my first ride, here

    Finally, it's worth it to check out Live on the Green or Musician's Corner for live music events that are free aroudn town during the spring and summer months. You never know who you might end up seeing on stage or in the crowd. Last week, Robin Williams was spotted enjoying the show! 
  • On May 31, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What new hotels are in Nashville?

    With the opening of Nashville's new Music City Center, the hospitality industry has been banking (and building) on the philosophy of "if we build it they will come." So, new hotels are abundant in Nashville's downtown corridor. Here are two to check out this year:

    The Omni Hotel is slated to open Fall 2013. In addition to 80,000 square feet will be five culinary and entertainment venues — including a steak and chop house and an outdoor eating space, live music space, 800 guest rooms and a rooftop pool deck with prime city views.

    Loews Vanderbilt recently re-opened after extensive renovations. The new hotel includes a fully revamped bar and restaurant—a Southern brasserie influenced by French techniques—called Masons, led by Chef Brandon Frohne. 

  • On May 30, 2013
    Claire Gibson is now following Amsterdam
  • On May 28, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    Where can you get the best view of Nashville?

    Photo credit: Claire Gibson Nashville's city skyline is remarkable in its simplicity and beauty. On days when the sky is blue, the skyline looks briliant and natural, almost like an extension of the river itself. To catch a glimpse of the skyline in all its glory, there are a few perfect spots to take it all in...

    1. The Pedestrian Bridge. One of the most beautiful but least appreciated views of Nashville is on the Pedestrian Bridge, which you can access from 1st Avenue. 

    2. LP Field. Whether you're at a game, or simply walking by the stadium, LP field offers one of the most direct views across the Cumberland River and to Nashville's riverfront downtown. 

    3. The Highways. Don't underestimate the power of viewing a city from its streets. I-65 and I-40 both make large loops around the city, and offer views that take my breath every single time.

    Happy travels! 
  • On May 22, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    Should visitors rent a car in Nashville?

    In a word, yes. Nashville's public transit system isn't exactly easy to navigate, and since Nashville's roads and highways are rarely crowded with traffic, using a rental car is easy, convenient, and relatively inexpensive. Parking is typically plentiful and free (except for some areas downtown), so visitors can easily ride from one area of town to another without much hassle. 

    When you have a rental car, it will enable you to see all of Nashville's great neighborhoods, as well as some great attractions outside of the metropolitan center, like Arrington Vineyards, or Andrew Jackson's home at the Hermitage.  Though not required, a rental car will certainly make your trip to Nashville more enjoyable. 
  • On May 22, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What is public transportation like in Nashville?

    Nashville, unlike its Northeaster metropolitan neighbors, doesn't exactly have a public transit system that is reliable or widesweeping. Parking is also not a major issue (except for some areas downtown), so if you're driving a rental car from East Nashville to 12 South, you'll be able to find free parking and enjoy the convenience of your own ride. However, if you're trying to stay within a budget or remain a little more environmentally friendly, Nashville MTA offers bus services across town, and a new East-to-West connector, called AMP, will hopefully launch sometime in the next few years. Unlike the buses, the AMP will be a rapid transit that follows one of the cities most-traveled corridors, and will offer tourists a chance to go from West End to East Nashville's five-points district very easily. 

    You can pay your fare in cash when you board the bus. The fare box accepts $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills as well as U.S. coins, including the $1 coin. Drivers do not give change. Change cards will be issued at the fare box for money paid over the fare amount. In addition, tickets are available online at

  • On May 13, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are quirky local customs in Nashville?

    Every city has its own idiosyncracies. Nashville has some funny customs too. We say "ya'll," that's for sure. Also, you'll notice that no one is a stranger—everyone talks to everyone whether you met three years ago or three minutes ago. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation in line waiting for your coffee, it's something we all do on a regular basis. Or, rather, don't be surprised when someone strikes up a conversation with you
  • On May 9, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best neighborhoods in Nashville?

    Ask anyone in Nashville, and they'll tell you their neighborhood is the best in Nashville. But the great thing about this little city is that it has these mini-boroughs that each have their own flavor. Here are my favorites (in no particular order, mind you):

    1. East Nashville. For the last ten years or so, East Nashville has been considered Nashville's "it" neighborhood. After a 1998 outbreak of tornados ripped through and destroyed much of the community, new residents moved in to renovate and rejuvinate. Today, East Nashville is home to some of the city's most famous musicians, including Jack White, The Black Keys and Ben Folds, and offers up some of Nashville's best food and funky atmosphere. If you're not sure where to start, go to 5 points, the spot where Woodland and S. 10th Street meet. 

    2. 12 South. Another recently gentrified neighborhood in Nashville, 12 S is the main drag that runs north and south, and is now home to a row of restaurants, shops, and homes that value small-town neighborhood feel. Though questions have been raised about how quickly the area has developed (and tempers have flared over parking issues and the new construction of 4-story buildings on an otherwise residential road), 12 South still maintains the laid-back feeling of your own neighborhood, even if you don't live there. Park on a side street, like Ashwood or Dallas, then take a walk. Don't miss Imogene + Willie, Burger UP, Edley's BBQ, 12 S Taproom, Local Honey, or Serendipity. 

    3. Germantown. The newest kid on the block, Germantown has been blooming right before our very eyes. With the establishment of high-end restaurants like Rolf + Daughters, Silo, and Germantown Cafe, this little nook of historic homes and great city views has taken to new heights. Developers are creating high end urban flats in Werthan Lofts, and young professionals are taking note. Also, keep an eye on 100 Taylor Street, an old flour-mill turned creative hub for new entrepreneurs, arists and designers.

  • On May 8, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best food gifts to buy in Nashville?

    Nashville is best known for music, but guessing someone's music tastes is about as hard as picking a zebra out of a line up. Why not bring home something they can taste rather than guessing at their favorite music flavor? Here are some great places to stop in before you leave. You'll head home with more than a few treats!

    1. Chucklet + Honey — cookies of all kinds!
    2. Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co.— try the original salt and pepper variety.
    3. Sweet 16th Bakery — in East Nashville, find something you don't like... I dare you.
    4. Bang Candy Company— handmade marshmellows, syrups, and other adventurous treats
    5. Bellemeade Bourbon — two Nashville guys making their great-great-great-grandfather's bourbon.
    6. Tricycle Sweets Company — One lady, three wheels, great bakes!
    7. Roast Inc. — go home with a pound or two of these perfect coffee beans
    8. Papa C's Pies — go with the strawberry rhubarb in summer or the jack daniels pecan in fall. YUM.
    9. The Peach Truck — the best Georgia peaches brought to you by Stephen and Jessica Rose, two of Tennessee's finest.

    Happy tasting!

  • On May 7, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best souvenirs to buy in Nashville?

    Who doesn't love a good souvenir? Answer: nobody. In other words, if you're going to take the time to travel, you might as well come home with some good booty. Here are a few ideas:

    1. A pair of genuine boots. You have some options in Nashville. If you're looking for a high-end boot that will last forever, go with Peter Nappi. If you're looking for the classic, rhinestone-crusted, embroidered pair, try Nashville Boots on Harding Pike. 
    2.  A stash of foodie treasures. There are plenty of local foodie finds that are worth taking home to your family. Think Olive and Sinclair ChocolateBang Candy Co.Bellemeade Bourbon, or a pound or two of coffee from Roast, Inc
    3. A tailored pair of blue jeans. Located on 12th Ave S., Imogene + Willie manufactures some of the nation's finest designer jeans. 
    4. Wildsam Field Guide. Head over to Parnassas Books in Green Hills, and find a copy of the Nashville Wildsam Field Guide. This travel guide will not only help in your journey, but will be great reading on your way home. It includes essays from Nashville greats like Tony Early, J. Wes Yoder and Roseanne Cash, not to mention a plethora of illustrations that will bring Nashville back to life when you're back at home. 
    5. Records. Before you leave Nashville, make sure to stop in at Grimeys and pick up some vinyl. Don't have a record player? That's okay. Put them up on your wall as art until you decide to invest in a good old analog player. You won't regret it!

    Happy shopping!
  • On April 29, 2013
    Tom Flournoy is now following Claire Gibson
  • On April 29, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are some things to know before visiting Nashville?

    Nashville isn't a complicated city. We like music. We're friendly. We have a few attractions you just can't miss. But if you're headed to Nashville soon, here are a few tips from the insider's view:

    1. Don't rely too heavily on public transportation. Taxis or a rental car will serve you better.

    2. Get to know your way around. The highways are a little tricky—but a quick tip: I-40 runs east to west, I-65 runs north to south, and I-440 is like an underbellied mirror image of the Cumberland River. If you want to get downtown, just get on Broadway.

    3. There are two cities—and both are worth seeing. There's old Nashville, which includesThe Grand Ole Opry, The Loveless Cafe, Broadway, Honky Tonks etc. Then there's new Nashville, full of young entrepreneurs, craft brewers and clothing designers. To find the "new," just head to a coffee shop and ask the barista. Chances are you'll find something great. 

    4. Don't compare us to Austin. It's like saying Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have a lot in common. It may be true, but it's better to keep the analogy to yourself. I promise. 

  • On April 29, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What is the weather like right now in Nashville?

    Nashville weather, particularly in the spring and fall, is incredibly unpredictable. From March to mid-May, temperatures swing from the 50s up to the 80s, and everywhere in between. There are random thunder storms, hail storms, and even the occasional tornado watch if things get dicey. So, if anything is to be expected, it's rain. Lots of it. So if you're on your way to Nashville—bring a slicker! 

    Once we move into the summer months, weather will get much more predictable: Hot, Hotter and Hottest. Though Nashville doesn't have the reputation for humidity like cities futher south, don't think you've missed out on that gem of southern summers. Steam rising from the pavement early in the morning is one of the signs of the season, and if you have curly hair, don't fight it. Embrace it. 

    Happy travels!
  • On April 24, 2013
    Laurel Mocklar is now following Claire Gibson