By: Savannah Abbott
Nashville is such a dream. It’s like the perfect mixing bowl of uptown culture and art stirred in with simple country living. I love every single bit of it. I can confidently say that if my husband and I were to ever move, this would be the first destination on our list. Nashville is simply full of life.
Our first trip to Nashville was two years ago, and I think we just chose a spot on the map that we hadn’t been to but wanted to see. Thank God my finger landed where it did! When we were trying to decide where to road trip to this summer, we felt inclined to go somewhere we hadn’t been before, but our discussion just kept going back to Nashville. So, we booked a precious Airbnb (more about that below), and began stalking The Nashville Guide on Instagram to make sure we didn’t miss any must-see spots.
When we travel, we try to make a point to not be too touristy. Sure, there are always things you just have to see when you go to a city for the first time, but we aren’t the folks who want that to be our entire trip. I want to see what you, the people of Nashville, see. I want to really live wherever I am for whatever duration of time I have. Nashville 1.0 was great. We ate at some awesome places (Pharmacy, Acme Feed & Seed, Pinewood Social), we karaoked with Santa here, we saw Vince Gill at The Opry and we soaked up the Tennessee sun on many a patio. But, we didn’t really know where we were going or what we were doing. We hadn’t “figured out” Nashville yet, in a geographical sense. This time, we were seasoned professionals. We already had a list of places to see and things to do that we made during our first trip (there’s just never enough time to make it all happen, and we discovered something new at every turn), and the amount of things I was screenshotting from TNG’s Instagram was quickly getting out of control. I knew the only way to squeeze it all in was to draw out a meticulous plan, and that’s exactly what I did.
Below you’ll find what I would call a perfect day in Nashville. We didn’t do all of this in one day, but we did do it all, and if 24 hours is all you have, just go ahead and hit print on this itinerary. This is all you need to carry you from dawn to dusk!
Wake up at your charming Airbnb – the local way to stay
*TIP – Be sure to research the “boroughs” of Nashville. See where you will be dining and shopping and hanging out the most, and pick a house in that area -- walking is free, and it’s exercise. We stayed in 12 South via this rental company.
Grab a bite at Barista Parlor in The Gulch
*TIP – You will likely have to park and walk, which is fun because it’s just so pretty. Bring quarters for a meter and your camera – this place has style.
Check out the wall murals in The Gulch while you are there. Sure, you’ll be an Instagram cliché, but who cares?!
Tour the Ryman Auditorium
*TIP – You will without a doubt have to pay to park downtown, but be sure to shop around. We pulled into the first parking lot we saw, and it was going to be $30. We got back in the car (because we are just too cheap for that) and found a garage across the street that was $10. No matter the price, the Ryman was so worth it. It is absolutely beautiful and so rich with history. It also took no longer than an hour to tour, which was great because it didn’t eat up half of our day.
Walk around the Farmers’ Market
*TIP – The parking lot at the market is in no way adequate for the crowd that it draws. Be prepared to circle the lot for a good minute until you catch someone leaving. Also, bring a bag to stow your purchases in. I didn’t plan on buying anything and left with my hands very full, which made picture taking a challenge!
We went ahead and had lunch while at the Farmer’s Market, which I would totally suggest! There’s something about being surrounded by all of that freshness that makes everything taste better.
Whiskey Water, Her Bookshop, Kitty, Draper James, White’s Mercantile, Vinnie Louise, Hero….just to name a few. Click the shop names to browse their websites.
I’m a big fan of a quick rinse and wardrobe change to transition into the evening.
Dinner at Saint Anejo
*TIP – Get the queso. It is SO good. And add on the Casa Perfecta margarita, but brace yourself for the kick! If you truly do go to The Opry after this, you will want to make this an earlier dinner, as the two aren’t particularly close together.
Catch a show at The Opry
I realize this falls more on the touristy side of Nashville hotspots, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re there. For me, it’s like stepping into a time warp and being placed back in front of the television in my grandparents’ living room when I was 6 years old. There’s just something special about the atmosphere there. The best part of the Opry experience is that you get a mini concert from several artists in two quick hours. We scored tickets to a seven-person lineup during our trip. We may or may not have had to call repeatedly for an hour to get through to purchase said tickets, but that’s beside the point!
*TIP – Uber over to your show. There is also a large mall and the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in that area, and it’s worth the $15 for someone to drop you at the door and pick you right back up in the same spot.
Round out the night in Printer’s Alley
As far as nightlife goes, this is probably my favorite Nashville locale. It’s just so quaint. The entrance to the alley has a lighted arch that says “Printer’s Alley” (naturally), and our favorite nighttime spot in all of Nashville sits at the very end of it. Skull’s Rainbow Room is a classy, speakeasy-style joint that has been authentically redone. With checkered floors, craft cocktails and a live jazz band humming in the background, walking through the door literally takes you back in time. They also have live Burlesque shows throughout the later hours of the evening.
A less sophisticated (but equally incredible) establishment nestled in Printer’s Alley is Ms. Kelli’s Karaoke Bar. We happened upon this gem by accident one night, and it ended up being the best night of our entire trip. Karaoke holds a special place in the hearts of my family members – it’s a vacation staple. Just think about it; when does karaoke not end in a hilarious story? When we walked into Ms. Kelli’s (at the same time the Stanley Cup Finals were taking place just down the street) there were maybe eight people inside, and my sister and I immediately squealed in excitement. What is better than having the bar completely to yourself with no one to make fun of you?
Things got even better when we realized we were in the presence of the best DJ in America. Seriously. He was pulling out song after song that we hadn’t heard in 10 years, yet we still knew all the words. I gave new meaning to the phrase “dance like no one is watching.” It was no surprise when the bar started filling up after the Preds’ loss, and we quickly realized that karaoke-ing in Nashville is not the same as other places, because (go figure) everyone in this city can legitimately sing. Boo, no fun. We still sang our hearts out, despite a few pairs of judge-y eyes from people who simply weren’t on our level. Although we left without a record deal, Ms. Kelli’s, and all of Nashville, still holds a special place in our hearts.
Until next time, Nashville.
Hi! I’m Savannah Abbott – the gal behind EZRA&OLIVE, an online paperie and blog. I’m an avid creator, writer, designer and shoe-shopper. I’m Texan, born and raised, but I love a little Nashville! Thanks for following along on my Nashville adventures. For more from EZRA&OLIVE Lifestyle, follow me here and visit the blog! xo
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