Claire Gibson

Correspondent

  • 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 March 27, 2013
    Caroline Patek is now following Claire Gibson
  • On March 26, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    Where is the best Nashville shopping?

    Let's be honest. You can find J. Crew or Pottery Barn or any other big-name retailer in just about every city across the country. Or online. So while you're in Nashville, I dare you to check out some of the great local treasures and shops that make our city unique. Here are a few of my favorites:

    1. Shoppes on Fatherland—This new development houses 23 "incubator" shops that range from antiques to high-end teas, to furniture and clothing, too. Since the space (and likewise, the rent) for each shop is so small, it allows for first-time entrepreneurs to put their ideas to the test before branching into bigger (and likewise, more expensive) locales. Don't miss Pistils n Petals

    2. Antiques on 8th—Up and down 8th Avenue, you'll find a host of antique shops that range from "whoa" expensive, to "wow" bargains. There are always interesting mod-vintage finds at Pre to Post Modern, and goods for the serious antiquer across the street at Dealer's Choice. My favorite place to get lost for an hour (or five) is the Downtown Antique Mall, which is closer to downtown, but still on 8th Ave. While you're driving down that one street, don't miss Grimey's—for all your vinyl record needs. 

    3. Downtown Franklin—just a 30 minute drive from Nashville is Franklin, a quiet, cozy downtown strip that includes upscale boutiques, furniture stores, and restaurants. Parking is usually plentiful (and free) so plan to spend an afternoon looking through Philanthropy, the Iron Gate, and more. 

    4. 12 South—start at the corner of Ashwood and 12th, and start walking south to find a host of interesting local shops. Wags and Whiskers (for your pets), Serendipity, Halcyon Bike Shop... and with a new apartment complex and retail space opening soon, there's sure to be even more options. 

    Happy shopping!
  • On March 25, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What’s the best time to visit Nashville?

    There's no doubt in my mind that the best time to visit Nashville is September - November. These late fall months will bring mild weather, beautifully golden-red leaves, and plenty to enjoy indoors and out. 

    In the fall, you can soak in all the hiking trails and outdoor adventures Middle Tennessee has to offer. Take a ride on the Natchez Trace Parkway to see the changing leaves, head out to Arrington Vineyards for wine and music on the hill, or venture out to Tennessee's newest state natural area: Virgin Falls. This is the time of year when you'll see outdoor concerts, farmers' markets and restaurants filled with patrons hoping for porch seating.

    If you can't make it to Nashville in the fall, your next best bet is spring—but try to book your itinerary prior to Memorial Day. Somehow, every year, that holiday marks the return of mosquitoes and humidity! Whenever you make it to Nashville, you'll find there's plenty to explore! 
  • On March 25, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What should I pack for a trip to Nashville?

    Packing is always difficult when you're heading to a place with unpredictable weather. Nashville is one of those places. Winter can (and will) be mild or brutal. Spring can make you freeze or sweat. Summer... well it's going to be hot. And fall is just as tempermental as the rest. Your best bet is to first check the forecast, even just the day before you leave. 

    But on the whole, Nashville is an incredibly casual city. I can't think of a single restaurant that would turn you away at the door for wearing jeans—and by and large, that's the uniform of choice here in Music City. Cowboy boots are always fun, but if you're trying to fit in like a local, I'd leave the cowboy hat at home. Comfortable footwear, a rain coat, and a scarf (which can come in handy in three of four seasons) will make your trip a success.

    Happy packing!
  • On March 18, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best restaurants in Nashville?

    Rolf and Daughters. photo credit: Eric Staples I'm a big fan of a well-prepared meal. I'm a bigger fan of not doing dishes. But I'm the biggest fan of not walking out of a restaurant feeling like it was a wasted meal—and when you're on vacation, you only have a few chances to get it right. So here's a little cheat sheet to some of our favorite spots in Nashville.

    1. The Catbird Seat. ‚ÄčThirty-two coveted seats around a U-shaped kitchen. Two widely acclaimed chefs with wildly inventive imaginaitions and palates. One too many drinks. These are the makings of a night at the Catbird Seat, arguably Nashville's most modern, far-reaching restaurant. With a pixe-fixe menu of small plates and courses, chefs Josh Habiger and Eric Anderson will be at work in the center ring, awakening your senses and your memories of chemistry class. A night at the Catbird Seat is part food-business and part show-business—and it's the best reservation in town (just make sure you make it about 2 months in advance). 

    2. Rolf and Daughters. Located in Nashville's newest nook of Germantown, Rolf and Daughters offers a cozy atmosphere and delicious food, coupled with a near pefect list of specialty cocktails that make it a must-see stop on any trip to Nashville. The menu of small plates, appetizers, and pasta bowls begs for an "order as you go" and "share everything" mentality, with chicken liver pate, beef skirt, and Siberian kale among the most popular items. If you're in the mood for bourbon, don't miss the "Man Around Town," an old-fashioned with a hint of chocolate. 

    3. Margot. Recent James Beard Award nominee Margot McCormack whips up rustic French and Italian cuisine in this East Nashville cafe, a rehabbed 1930s era service station. Though the small menu changes daily, you can always expect a fresh, simple, and seasonal meal that is both affordable and sophisticated. It also helps that this is where my husband and I had our fist date... but I'm not biased. 

    4. The Yellow Porch. Sometimes I can get a little tired of the restaurant "scene" in Nashville, and if that's happens, we make a reservation at The Yellow Porch. With a list of rotating seasonal entrees (including a perfect filet mignon every single time), this spot offers a warm, cozy dining experience and a long history in Nashville. The wine list is intriguiging and eclectic, the service is welcoming and helpful, and the mussels? Order them. 

    5. City House. Ask anyone in Nashville what restaurant to try, and most likely this will be the restaurant they suggest. With famed chef Tandy Wilson at the helm, and multiple James Beard Award nominations under his belt, City House has propelled Nashville's restaurant scene beyond just regional recognition, and rightly so. With inventive twists on rustic Italian fare, Wilson keeps it approachable with a wood-burning oven that fires up pizzas, including the popular Belly Pizza that features belly ham, mozzarella, grana padano, oregano and chiles.

    Since I really can't just choose five restaurants, here are a few others you might consider: Burger UP, Lockeland Table, Silo, Rosepepper, and The Silly Goose. Bon Appetit! 
  • On March 13, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best free things to do in Nashville?

    There's no need to break the bank in Nashville. If you're looking for a free afternoon or evening in music city, check out these exciting options:

    1. Local Learning: Within a small radius, Nashville has its fair share of colleges and universities that offer guest lectures, free music performances, and even movie showings that can entertain and educate! Check out the calendar of events at Vanderbilt, Belmont, and Lipscomb Unviersities. 

    2. Grimey's: Nashville's own Mike Grimes has created a one of a kind vinyl shop on 8th Avenue, and regularly offers free in-store performances and signings. Check out the website for weekly updates, but this is a great way to check out some local music for free! 

    3. Arrington Vineyards: Just a few miles down the road from Nashville proper, you'll find Kicks Brooks popular establishment, Arrington Vineyards. Take a picnic and enjoy the free sunset, music, and scenery. If you're interested in wine, you will need to purchase a bottle from on site. But it's delicious!

    4. Parnassus Books:Nashville's home-born book shop located in Green Hills often offers free author readings and signings, and brings in authors from across the nation. Check out their online calendar for upcoming events.

    5. Percy Warner Parks: Want to get outside? Check out Percy Warner, an area with hiking trails that range from 2 miles to 5 miles—and a perfect cost-free afternoon in Nashville. 
  • On March 12, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best attractions in Nashville?

    It's no secret that Nashville is in the midst of a cultural renaissance. But there are plenty of attractions across our city that have stood the test of time. If you're looking for deep-seeded history, refined art, and good old country music—Nashville really does have it all.

    1. Country Music Hall of Fame. There's really no excusing a trip to Nashville that doesn't include a trip to a museum of music greats like Hank Williams, Emmy Lou Harris and the Everly Brothers. While you're there, grab a ride over to RCA Studio B, or stop in at Hatch Show Print.

    2. Schermerhorn Symphony Center. After an afternoon with casual country, you may enjoy a fine evening at the Nashville symphony. With a constantly evolving list of concerts and performers (and over 140 performances a year), the symphony has taken to new heights with a beautiful, acoustically driven concert hall which opened in 2006. 

    3. The Hermitage, Home of Andrew Jackson. To take a break from music, venture out toward a nook of Nashville called Lebanon to see the home of our nation's seventh President, Andrew Jackson. Known for his strong stance against a national bank, and his tragic role in Indian removal, Jackson's residence is equally filled with history and strife. Tours are $20, and run daily until 4:30 PM (fall/winter), or 5:00 PM (spring/summer). 

    4. Grand Ole Opry // Ryman Auditorium. To enjoy live music in Nashville, there simply isn't anything like the Grand Ole Opry, or its original site, Ryman Auditorium. While the Opry offers concertgoers a chance to see classic country artists and up-and-coming folk bands, the Ryman has become an intimate atmosphere for national sell-out shows and music of all genres. Whichever you choose, you will enjoy what this city is known for: it's phenomenal music. 

    5. Centennial Park. Located directly in the heart of Nashville, Centennial Park is home to pristine lawns, flowing fountains and the city's iconic Parthenon (a concrete replica of the Athenian meeting place built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition). With a one-mile walking trail and in close proximity to shopping and retail, Centennial Park is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon picnic before jetting off to the next site to see. 


  • On March 12, 2013
    Shannan Finke is now following Claire Gibson
  • On March 11, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best bars in Nashville?

    Ben Clemons, Bar No. 308. photo credit: Eric Staples. In recent years, Nashville has certainly upped the ante when it comes to places to get a good drink. If you're not looking for the "honky tonk" experience, that's probably for the best. Though there are plenty of great bars to choose from, here are my five favorites (and where you'll find the locals): 

    1. Bar No. 308. This East Nashville establishment is owned by husband and wife duo Ben Clemons and Alexis Soler, a pair of longtime bar porfessionals who fell in love at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2009. Though they'd tended bars seperately in Miami and New York City, Ben and Alexis quickly found a home in Nashville, where they felt committed to opening a utilitarian bar that employs quality ingredients, and a whole lot of cozy atmosphere. If you're looking for a little fun, ask for the "Big Woo." 

    2. 12 South Taproom. On any given weeknight, crowds of Nashville locals post up at the Taproom for happy hour, where 2 for 1 specials make this beer garden a regular stop. If you're interested in craft brews, the Taproom has all the local flavors, as well as a long list of imports on draft and bottled. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and isn't offended to offer descriptions and suggestions to beer novices. Go early if you're looking for a table—it's first come first served, and people like to stick around. 

    3. Patterson House. This bar has probably garnered most national attention—and rightly so. A speakeasy with highly-trained bar tenders who stir and shake and serve up boozy delights, Patterson House is a must-see on any trip to Nashville. Prepare to pay a pretty penny for each drink, but here, it's all about the experience. The small lounge is separated from the outside world with large velvety curtains, and seats only a few dozen people at a time under large crystal chandeliers surrounded by shelves of vintage books. You'll feel like you stepped into the 1920s... and the drinks are good too. 

    4. Rumours East or Rumours Wine Bar. These two spots are owned by different people, but share the same name, and since they both keep a long list of delicious wines and craft cocktails—I just couldn't decide. On the East side, enjoy the outdoor patio complete with porch swings and twinkle lights while you sip on your choice vintage—or, if you're closer downtown, stop into the newly opened Rumours for a pour. Either way, you'll enjoy impeccable service, and if you're hungry, the menu is pretty stellar, too. 

    5. Oak Bar. Located downstairs from renowned Nashville restuarant The Capital Grille, Oak Bar offers unparalleled expertise on the spirits of the south: bourbon, rye, and whiskey. Here, you'll want to stick to the basics: Old fashioneds, Manhattans, or a classic mint julep. The old Hermitage Hotel bar has a rich history, and is so dark and intimate, you may never want to leave. But then again, if you're staying at the hotel, you may not have to. 
  • On March 11, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What are the best bars in Nashville?

    Ben Clemons, Bar No. 308. photo credit: Eric Staples. In recent years, Nashville has certainly upped the ante when it comes to places to get a good drink. If you're not looking for the "honky tonk" experience, that's probably for the best. Though there are plenty of great bars to choose from, here are my five favorites (and where you'll find the locals): 

    1. Bar No. 308. This East Nashville establishment is owned by husband and wife duo Ben Clemons and Alexis Soler, a pair of longtime bar porfessionals who fell in love at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2009. Though they'd tended bars seperately in Miami and New York City, Ben and Alexis quickly found a home in Nashville, where they felt committed to opening a utilitarian bar that employs quality ingredients, and a whole lot of cozy atmosphere. If you're looking for a little fun, ask for the "Big Woo." 

    2. 12 South Taproom. On any given weeknight, crowds of Nashville locals post up at the Taproom for happy hour, where 2 for 1 specials make this beer garden a regular stop. If you're interested in craft brews, the Taproom has all the local flavors, as well as a long list of imports on draft and bottled. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and isn't offended to offer descriptions and suggestions to beer novices. Go early if you're looking for a table—it's first come first served, and people like to stick around. 

    3. Patterson House. This bar has probably garnered most national attention—and rightly so. A speakeasy with highly-trained bar tenders who stir and shake and serve up boozy delights, Patterson House is a must-see on any trip to Nashville. Prepare to pay a pretty penny for each drink, but here, it's all about the experience. The small lounge is separated from the outside world with large velvety curtains, and seats only a few dozen people at a time under large crystal chandeliers surrounded by shelves of vintage books. You'll feel like you stepped into the 1920s... and the drinks are good too. 

    4. Rumours East or Rumours Wine Bar. These two spots are owned by different people, but share the same name, and since they both keep a long list of delicious wines and craft cocktails—I just couldn't decide. On the East side, enjoy the outdoor patio complete with porch swings and twinkle lights while you sip on your choice vintage—or, if you're closer downtown, stop into the newly opened Rumours for a pour. Either way, you'll enjoy impeccable service, and if you're hungry, the menu is pretty stellar, too. 

    5. Oak Bar. Located downstairs from renowned Nashville restuarant The Capital Grille, Oak Bar offers unparalleled expertise on the spirits of the south: bourbon, rye, and whiskey. Here, you'll want to stick to the basics: Old fashioneds, Manhattans, or a classic mint julep. The old Hermitage Hotel bar has a rich history, and is so dark and intimate, you may never want to leave. But then again, if you're staying at the hotel, you may not have to. 
  • On March 8, 2013
    Hayley Bosch is now following Claire Gibson
  • On March 8, 2013
    Claire Gibson answered the question: Claire Gibson

    What is the best way to see Nashville in one day?

    Only have one day to see music city? Never fear. Here in Nashville, we like to think our metropolitan area is really just a big small town. To do it right, spend the day soaking in the best of each of Nashville's neighborhoods. Here are some ideas for one amazing Nashville day:

    Morning in East Nashville. Start with a cup of coffee and homemade biscuit at Barista Parlor in the neighborhood famed for its artist residents and eclectic style. Follow that up with some shopping at the Shoppes on Fatherland, a small nook of newly opened locally-owned boutiques, just down the road. 

    Afternoon in Downtown + SoBro: Take a 90-minute walking tour with Nashville native, Bill Demain. Enjoy the stories he'll tell of country musicians and and the sites you'll see, like Ryman Auditorium and Hatch Show Print. For lunch, enjoy the creations of Chef Matt Farley at The Southern in Nashville's bourgeouning "SoBro" neighborhood. Try the po' boy or the southern burger— you won't be disappointed! 

    Evening in West Nashville: Take an easy walk around Centennial Park as the sun sets. Hopefully that will  re-awaken your appetite for dinner! You can find a cozy table for classic Italian cuisine at Cafe Nonna's or enjoy some innovative creations at Park Cafe

    Night-life in Midtown: You can't leave Nashville without seeing some live music! Catch a show at one of Nashville's many music venues like Mercy Lounge or it's neighbor, Cannery Ballroom. They both have nightly shows that typically sell tickets at the door. If you've planned in advance, you could also check out a show at the city's legendary Station Inn. Whatever you do, make sure you brought your dancin' boots!

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

    What is the best way to see Nashville in one day?

    Only have one day to see music city? Never fear. Here in Nashville, we like to think our metropolitan area is really just a big small town. To do it right, spend the day soaking in the best of each of Nashville's neighborhoods. Here are some ideas for one amazing Nashville day:

    Morning in East Nashville. Start with a cup of coffee and homemade biscuit at Barista Parlor in the neighborhood famed for its artist residents and eclectic style. Follow that up with some shopping at the Shoppes on Fatherland, a small nook of newly opened locally-owned boutiques, just down the road. 

    Afternoon in Downtown + SoBro: Take a 90-minute walking tour with Nashville native, Bill Demain. Enjoy the stories he'll tell of country musicians and and the sites you'll see, like Ryman Auditorium and Hatch Show Print. For lunch, enjoy the creations of Chef Matt Farley at The Southern in Nashville's bourgeouning "SoBro" neighborhood. Try the po' boy or the southern burger— you won't be disappointed! 

    Evening in West Nashville: Take an easy walk around Centennial Park as the sun sets. Hopefully that will  re-awaken your appetite for dinner! You can find a cozy table for classic Italian cuisine at Cafe Nonna's or enjoy some innovative creations at Park Cafe

    Night-life in Midtown: You can't leave Nashville without seeing some live music! Catch a show at one of Nashville's many music venues like Mercy Lounge or it's neighbor, Cannery Ballroom. They both have nightly shows that typically sell tickets at the door. If you've planned in advance, you could also check out a show at the city's legendary Station Inn. Whatever you do, make sure you brought your dancin' boots!

  • On March 6, 2013
    Sarah Gleim is now following Claire Gibson
  • On March 6, 2013
    Michelle Doucette is now following Claire Gibson