On April 24, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:If you're making your first trip to Nashville, boy are you in for a treat! After growing up and moving every two or three years, I've lived in more states than you can shake a stick at, and I've decided to call Nashville home because it's such a friendly, welcoming, and exciting town. Here are some of my favorite things to do when friends come to town:
1. Go hear some music. You're missing out if you miss the music. Every night there's something different available in Nashville, from free concerts to expensive headliners—my favorite concert hall is The Ryman. The acoustics are perfect, the lineups are always top-notch, and there isn't a bad seat in the house.
2. Make friends with local artisans (i.e. shop local). Take a tour of Nashville's new "maker" culture. From Imogene + Willie's denim emporium to Otis James' sewing rooms, there are young people in Nashville using their hands to make something one of a kind that you can only find in Nashville. There's also great local shopping in East Nashville.
3. Get a good meal. Nashville's restaurant scene is in the midst of a major renaissance. More local restaurants have popped up in the last few years than I can keep up with—and the food just keeps getting better. Check out these restaurants, or the five best food experiences in Nashville. Or, if you're looking for brunch, here are the five best places to find it.
4. Enjoy the great outdoors. Nashville is full of nature—from hiking trails to the river front, there are plenty of ways to get outside (and most of them are free). From stand-up paddleboard to movies in the park, a picnic in Centennial Park, or a trip to the farmers' market, you'll miss too much of Nashville if you stay inside!
5. Check out the city's best bars. Nothing screams vacation like a good martini. And no one makes a martini like The Patterson House. If you're looking for a patio try Pub5, Three Crow, or Edley's BBQ. If you're wanting to hole-up, you'll like Holland House, Bar No. 308, or Rumours.
On April 24, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:Brunch is the best meal of the weekend. Will you go for eggs and bacon? Sweet french toast? Or will you turn the menu over for a plethora of lunch-inspired picks? The options are limitless. But in Nashville, here are a few must-see restaurants, for those of us who love the 10 a.m. meal.
1. Tavern. Buy-one-get-one mimosas? Yes, please. Add to that a goliath list of omlettes, eggs benedict, southwestern scramble that will fill you up for the whole day—and you've got a recipe for brunch success. The atmosphere can be loud and boisterous, but if you show up before the noon crowd, you'll get a table in a jiffy.
2. The Southern. Make reservations, because otherwise, on a Saturday or Sunday morning, you'll get the standard line from the hostess: "It'll be about 2 hours." But once you find your way to the table, you won't be disappointed.
3. Marché. Chef Margot McCormack serves lattes in bowl-sized mugs and fills mimosas with top-of-the-line bubbly. She takes brunch seriously, and it's paying off in long lines, and a full restaurant every morning of the week. Try the french toast, or if you're trying to go for the lighter side, the apples and brie are a good choice, too.
4. Germantown Cafe. As soon as you sit down in Germantown Cafe, you'll get a basket full of small, cinnamon-sugar dusted donuts. Then, take your pick from a long menu of tried and true favorites, like the sweet potato hash, or the chef's famous chicken salad. Afterwards, enjoy a walk through one of Nashville's most historic neighborhoods.
5. Sky Blue Cafe. On the East side of town, Sky Blue is making a name for itself as one of the best breakfast spots around. Though it doesn't have a the pomp and circumstance of a more established brunch spot, Sky Blue has that mom-and-pop feel that I'm always looking for on a weekend morning. Small and intimate, Sky Blue offers breakfast all day.
On April 22, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:I must admit that my husband and I are still in that recently married, yet to procreate demographic. But we don't discriminate against those with little ones. In fact, we hope to have a few (or five) of our own someday. In the meantime, we've kept a keen eye out for the best places in town to have kids in tow. Here's what we've seen:
1. Burger Up - Upscale burgers with down-to-earth atmosphere, Burger Up is always busy—and always full of families, particularly in the 5 - 6 o'clock hours. Luckily, that's also happy hour. And your kids will be after a delicious burger and fries—with portions large enough to share with a sibling. After 7 p.m. things get busier, and the wait gets longer.
2. Rosepepper - This Cantina has delicious mexican favorites (tacos, chimichangas, burritos), plus a really great happy hour deal for parents: half priced margaritas. But with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, the wait is never too long, especially if you arrive before 7 p.m. Take a look at our favorite margaritas in town and a Rosepepper hack, too, if you're looking for a deal.
3. Turnip Truck - The Turnip Truck has two locations in Nashville, one (our favorite) in the Gulch, and the other in East Nashville. The Gulch location always offers an interesting variety of choices on the hot bar: meatloaf, soups, collard greens, curries, breads and desserts—not to mention an extensive salad bar, too. Choose what you want, leave what you don't. It's that simple!
4. Five Points Pizza - Located in East Nashville's hoppin' five-points area, Five Points Pizza offers incredibly delicious, massive pie options. Our favorite is the South Brooklyn. You'll find the place filled with the aroma of basil and mozzarella, and teeming with families just like yours.
5. Edley's BBQ - Just across the street from Burger UP you'll find Edley's, an order-at-the-front joint complete with brisket, chicken, turkey, and pulled pork options, and plenty of sides to choose from too. There's an outside patio, an inside bar, and plenty of people watching wherever you sit.
On April 18, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:If you're looking for a food "experience" Nashville has plenty to offer. From high-end chefs to hole-in-the wall treasures, look no further than these story-worthy bites.
1. The Catbird Seat. If you can manage to score a highly coveted reservation with famed chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson—you're in for a treat. A prixe-fixe menu with optional drink pairings, The Catbird Seat gives youthe birds' eye view into the kitchen. Watch as Josh and Erik whip up multiple courses, using exotic ingredients, eye-popping flavors and unexpected twists on original fare. It's an experience unparalleled in Nashville.
2. Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. On the other end of the food "experience" spectrum you'll find Prince's—a James Beard Award nominated restaurant steeped in southern history, grease, and lots and lots of heat. Stand in line late at night for your chance at spicy fried chicken served on smushy white sandwich bread. Then you'll know what the craze is all about.
3. Bluebird Cafe. With a menu complete with traditional sammies, sides, and drinks to slosh, the Bluebird cafe has gained noteriety for its regular appearance on ABC's new show, Nashville. But it's been iconic long before hitting the t.v. screen. Every night, enjoy live music in the round as you imbibe a glass of wine or a cocktail. But don't talk during the performances. That's a big no-no.
4. Mas Tacos Por Favor. Once Nashville's premier food-truck, Mas Tacos Por Favor has parked it in East Nashville. Now, it's brick-and-mortar (and not much more) location still offers it's delicious tacos with just the right amount of kick. Don't walk away without at least one fish taco. Open Tuesday, Thursday for lunch and Friday for lunch and dinner. Saturdays, brunch is offered from 9 until 3.
5. The Peach Truck. Tennessee isn't exactly known for its peaches—we leave that to our southern sister, Georgia. But thankfully, married duo Stephen and Jessica Rose are bridging the gap, bringing fresh peaches to Nashville straight from Stephen's family farm in Georgia. Every summer from May - late July, these two huff it old-school in his green Jeep Gladiator, offering passersby a taste of true summer sweet. One brown bag of peach truck peaches runs for $6.
On April 17, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:Whether you are a spectator or participator, Nashville has plenty to see and do when it comes to competition.
There are the obvious choices, like LP Field to see the Titans play on any given Sunday, or Bridgestone Arena to see the Predators take to the ice.
Then, there are a few lesser-known gems. Want to catch a raucous time with the Nashville Roller Girls? Head over to the Municipal Auditorium or the Tennessee Fairgrounds (depending on the scheduled date), and be prepared to sign a waiver—even this spectator sport comes with some risk.
There are road races scheduled regularly around town, with the Music City Marthon always in April. Also, if you're interested in catching college sports: basketball, football, soccer, volleyball or baseball—check out the local universities: Vanderbilt University and Belmont University both maintain Division I programs competitive nationwide.
On April 11, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:When it comes to nightlife, Nashville has everything you'll need to make some memories. Whether you're looking for twangy two-stepping, underground music or a just a real good drink, you'll have more than enough to choose from in the 615 (that's Nashville's area code, if you were curious).
Roberts Western World. Anytime after 10 p.m. this place wil be rocking, rolling, and banjoing like crazy. It usually gets pretty packed, so don't plan on having a heart-to-heart with your dance partner. You'll be lucky if you catch their name amidst the loud music and teeny-tiny dance floor—but you'll laugh a lot!
The Stone Fox. New to the Nashville scene, brother and sister duo Elise and William Tyler opened The Stone Fox to offer a music venue managed by musicians. After 9 p.m., there's usually a small cover charge—and every night there's something new on stage. Techno? A dance party? Electronica? Rhythm and Blues? The Stone Fox has it all.
Bar No. 308. It's not just that this is my favorite bar in Nashville (although it is). Bar No. 308 seems to bring together a fun, interesting crowd every single night of the week. Looking for some flair in your ho-hum cocktail? Ask for "The Big Woo," or the "Monkey's Paw."
On April 10, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:Nashville is definitely a kid-friendly town. Go to any bar or restaurant before 7 p.m., and you'll see Nashville families out in storm. Head to the park, the zoo, or a museum, and you'll find kids there, too! But here are my three favorites, a few lesser-known treasures that kids will love while visiting Nashville.
- Dragon Park - A park with slides, swings, see-saws, and a full-sized dragon (sculpture that is) located just a few blocks from Hillsboro Village. Kids can climb and run and jump out the wiggles while parents relax at this well-shaded park. The city plans to revamp Dragon Park sometime in 2013, so get there while the dragon still exists!
- Las Paletas - What kid doesn't like a popsicle? Better yet, what adult doesn't like a popsicle? And these popsicles aren't your normal fake-fruit, dyed variety. They are made with fresh ingredients, and will make your mouth pucker up with every bite. My favorite flavor is the raspberry-strawberry, and my husband always goes for pistachio.
- The Greenway - Over on the west side of town, at the corner of 51st and Wyoming is an entrance to the Greenway, a 3-mile paved loop that circles around McCabe Golf Course. But all along the trail are nature's goodies: creeks to splash in, dogs to pet (on leashes of course), birds to watch and flowers to pick. There's even a train that runs alongside the far west side!
On April 9, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:For many years, Nashville wasn't exactly known as a hub for cultural experiences. Instead, it got a bad wrap for chain restaurants, kitschy honky-tonks, and twangy music. But in recent years, Nashville's affordable neighborhoods, low cost of living, and proximity to the rest of the eastern seaboard has made it a mecca for creative-types looking for a place to call home without the price tag of a New York City or San Francisco.
The result? Restaurants, collaboratives, music, and art abound. Two years ago, Nashville launched it's first Fashion week. For the first time (ever?) Nashville's local eats are outpacing chains in development. And the world is paying attention. So if you're coming to Nashville for a visit, and want to know what's new on the scene, just stop into a coffee shop (a local coffee shop) and ask someone! Chances are, you'll end up somewhere or with someone cutting edge.
On April 8, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:Nashville has plenty to offer by way of history, art, science, and, you guessed it, music! So while you're staying near the Cumberland River, take a few hours to check out some of our favorite museums:
- The Frist Center - Whether you're interested in the newest exhibit, taking a class, or grabbing a bite to eat at the popular Frist Cafe, this downtown attraction has something to offer every art appreciator, young and old. Check the website for updated events and exhibits.
- The Hermitage - Explore the former (and preserved) glory of Andrew Jackson's homestead. Over 1,000 acres of pristine Tennessee farmland, full of the history of our nation's fourth president.
- Cheekwood Botanical Garden - Founded in the late 1800s by the Cheek family, who are also well known for a certain special coffee blend better known as Maxwell House, Cheekwood Botanical Garden offers the sounds and sights of nature, plus plenty of history and Tennessee lore, too.
- Country Music Hall of Fame - Your trip to Nashville may not feel complete without a little learning in the field of music. "Platinum" tickets to the hall of fame include a stop at the historic RCA Studio B, where greats like Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins and the Everly Brothers laid down tracks.
- Bellemeade Plantation - You may be surprised to know that thoroughbred horses haven't always been the boon of our northern neighbor, Kentucky. No, John Harding and his family made a living at Bellmeade Plantation racing and breeding thoroughbreds long before Kentucky came into the horse-breeding picture. But public policy (namely Prohibition) led the whiskey distilling and horse racing culture away from Tennessee, leaving Bellemeade Plantation in a state of dissaray. See the home and grounds restored to their former glory, and enjoy a wine tasting at the end of the tour.
On April 6, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:Nashville has a long way to go when it comes to luxury hotel options. But thankfully, with the creation of the Music City Center, downtown developers saw the new convention site as an impetus to creating excellent hotel accomodations.
The Hermitage Hotel, Hutton Hotel and Union Station are all within a short distance from Nashville's main downtown attractions, and hold some of the highest standards in luxury.
For a more quaint experience, check out Little House Nashville. This 19th century servants' quarters has been updated to a LEED certified status, and offers visitors their own private kitchen and garden.
On April 4, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:You may not think "Nashville," and "romance," fit in the same sentence, but on a second look—you'll be surprised! Here are just a few ideas for tourists and locals alike to amp up the wow-factor in your next tête-à-tête.
- Book a dinner at the Catbird Seat
- Walk along the Pedestrian Bridge at sunset
- Take a picnic to Centennial Park (For food, Bread & Co. is right across the street, or Produce Place is just a few blocks away)
- Enjoy a movie in the park on a blanket with some wine
- Head to the East Nashville farmers' market to stock up, and then whip up a candelit dinner
- Take a tour of the botannical gardens at Cheekwood
- Find a hideaway along the trail at Percy Warner Park
- Imagine life without electricity on a tour at the Bellemeade Plantation
- Take a trot on a horse at Juro Stables in Mt. Juliet
- Go behind the curtain and speakeasy (and drink well) at The Patterson House
- Find the back patio at Rumours East, and sip some wine on the swing
On March 29, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:Looking to tap your toes? Well, you've come to the right city. Now, it's about choosing the right music venue. And that's no easy feat in a city that you can find music every night of the week in every corner of town. Here are a few local favorites:
1. 3rd and Lindsley: Home to a weekly show "Nashville Sunday Night," hosted and broadcasted by Nashville's independent radio station, Lightning 100. Tickets for Sunday night shows are just $10, and the venue boasts an open stage that's close to the floor. You'll mingle with the musicians, since all they'll do once the set is over is take one step down, grab a beer, and watch the next group step up. Intimate, cosy, always a good show.
2. Marathon Music Works: This new venue opened in November 2011, in Nashvlle's Marathon Village neighborhood. A much larger venue, MMW can host 1,500 music lovers at a time, and typically sells tickets in advance for around $25, and on the day of the show for around $28. Booking is completed by one of Nashville's best audiophiles, and the line up offers a range of sounds. Large, loud, and fun.
3. The 5 Spot: Want to know the bands before they get famous? Check out the 5 Spot, a part sports bar part music venue that opens the stage for Nashville's newest up-and-comers. It's made a regular appearance on ABC's "Nashville," and rightly so—the 5 Spot consistently keeps a lineup that's entertaining, interesting and surprising.
On March 29, 2013Claire Gibson answered the question:In a word, Nashville's restuarant scene is changing. Fast. Just a few years ago, your dining options were limited to chains and a few courageous restaurateurs who'd gone out on a limb to open a local establishment. Now, there are new restaurants opening (what feels like) daily, and too many great places to choose.
Frankly, it feels like Nashville's neighborhoods have very distinct styles, and the restaurants are following suit. In the Gulch (near downtown), you'll find high-priced drinks and high-end bars, sushi, and cuisine for the glitterati. In 12 South, expect restaurants that are more casual, where walk-ins are always welcome. In East Nashville, the neighborhood many artists and musicians call home, you'll find eclectic style and interesting new fare that's willing to push the limits.
But with all the new, don't forget Nashville's culinary roots. Arnold's Country Kitchen and Loveless Cafe have stood the test of time—and while lines might be a problem—finding good food won't be.