A Local’s Perspective: Your Ultimate Travel Guide to Nashville Hotspots
Ah, Nashville. Music City. The heart of country music. Whatever you like to call this destination, it sure is a place that’s on many bucket lists of travel lovers far and wide. And if you’re planning to visit anytime soon with your travel crew, I’ve got something special for you!
As friends of Tripbound and locals of Nashville, Keith and Dawn have put together the ultimate travel guide to hotspots around town. Trust me – if you didn’t have the calendar blocked off for a getaway here before reading, you definitely will after!
1. Phat Bites
You know it’s a good spot when Guy Fieri puts his stamp of approval on it during his TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. And Phat Bites—Phat standing for “Pretty Hot and Tasty”—certainly lives up to the hype as a quirky, graffiti-laden deli serving unique and fat wraps and sandwiches, skinny salads, and a massive selection of sides since 2001.
Stop here during your stay for a quick lunch or evening hang while surrounded by live music, comedy, and a full bar! But, don’t forget to order up some hummus. It’s a must because there are often more than ten types and flavors to choose from!
This sports bar is a local chain that offers a cozy indoor atmosphere and beautiful view of Old Hickory Lake from the outdoor patio. While it’s a favorite watering hole for boaters, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with it, too, while watching an endless parade of boats passing through the marina over a casual lunch or dinner.
The main reason why we love Sam’s Sports Grill? It’s hidden in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Old Hickory, making it feel more like a hometown pub than a tourist stop.
3. Bar-Hopping via an Electric Scooter
Trade in the traditional and often cliché pedal hopper for an electric scooter! There are multiple scooter sharing brands available in Music City—from JUMP (Uber) to Lyft, Lime, Bird, and more to come—making one easy to find in most neighborhoods.
Many, if not all, are controlled by an app. Find one and unlock it using your phone, rock the helmet, and hop on to begin your bar-hopping experience! We recommend starting in East Nashville’s Five Points area so you can enjoy a drink at 3 Crow Bar or a meal at Batter’d & Fried. Though, don’t let the name fool you. It serves a large menu of sushi and seafood in a casual bar setting!
And once you’ve fueled up, step back onto your scooter and use your GPS to snake through neighborhoods. After a short ride, you’ll find yourself downtown in no time.
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This massive, dog-friendly park is only minutes from downtown and features 132 acres of outdoor enjoyment. From the iconic Parthenon to the short walking trail, historical monuments, sand volleyball courts, and more, your family will have the chance to soak up some sunshine. Food and drink vendors fill the park on weekends, so you can grab a convenient bite to eat! And if you do, be sure to try The Grilled Cheeserie food truck for a gourmet melt.
Best of all, during the summer months, you can attend Musicians Corner, a free concert series that’s perfect for all ages! Past artists have included Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill, Ben Rector, Martin Sexton, and many, many more.
If you’re making the trip to Music City, a tour of Ryman Auditorium should be a no-brainer. After all, it’s considered the Mother Church of Country Music. So, you’ll get the chance to bask in its magic and learn about its impact on American music while touring the dressing rooms and admiring artifacts dating back more than 125 years. Not to mention, you’ll get to explore the “who’s who” of artists who have performed here—from Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and many more.
Just be sure you take advantage of the on-stage photo opportunity (if available) and spend a few minutes reflecting on all that’s taken place in the auditorium! Tours are available daily from 9am – 4:30pm, with the last ticket sold at 4pm.
6. Hot Chicken
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This is, without a doubt, a local specialty in Nashville. That said, when you’re here, you can find dozens of restaurants with hot chicken on the menu. But, it all started with Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.
As the legend goes, Thorton Prince’s girlfriend had grown tired of his infidelity and aimed to punish him by feeding him fried chicken with a painful amount of peppers and spices added. Unfortunately for her, he loved the chicken. And fortunately for us, Nashville hot chicken was born.
Though, don’t say we didn’t warn you to choose your heat level wisely! While Hot and Extra Hot retain a great flavor, the amount of heat is likely too much for the uninitiated.
Ready for some good belly laughs after eating your way through Nashville? You’re in luck. The comedy scene is growing here, and several restaurants now boast open-mic nights every week. But, Zanies Comedy Club is still the best.
And, we’ve got some proof to back that claim up! It’s a phone-free venue and small enough to feel slightly seedy, in the best way possible, but large enough for your favorite national comics to perform. If you can’t work up the nerve to sit in the front row, and risk being mocked by the comics, take a seat in the balcony along the railing. You’ll have an unobstructed birds-eye view of the show without the fear of becoming an unwilling participant!
As the largest non-gaming hotel in the continental United States featuring beautifully decorated atriums maintained by a full-time horticulture team, this hotspot is like a city unto itself. And good news for you – you don’t have to be a guest to savor all that Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland has to offer!
Take a stroll throughout the resort to revel in the grandeur—from the more than 50,000 tropical plants as well as lights and water features. Taste local fare at any one of the nearly 20 on-site restaurants (Wasbi’s Sushi is a real standout, however, with its seating area in one of the atriums). Enjoy a grown-ups night out at the speakeasy-esque Library Lounge at Old Hickory Steakhouse. And jump on the Delta Riverboat Cruise to ride the river that runs throughout the property. The possibilities for fun are endless.
And, fun fact – our wedding was at Opryland!
Any performance at the Schermerhorn Symphony is a real treat. The building is beautifully designed and, unsurprisingly for Nashville, the musicians are immensely talented. Our personal favorite concert series, however, is the Movie Series!
The film is projected onto several large screens that can be seen from any seat in the house. And the soundtrack is removed because it’s instead played live in real-time by the orchestra. The precision timing and tempo changes are truly impressive. Some standouts have to be Singin’ In The Rain and Home Alone!
Tripbound Tip: Wanting to stick to your vacation budget? Aim for balcony seats behind the orchestra. They’re typically priced low, but, in my opinion, they offer the best view of the musicians.
10. Acme Feed & Seed
Located on lower Broadway, Acme Feed & Seed is a great place to enjoy delicious food and live music. It definitely offers a different vibe than its neighboring bars. That’s because the main floor band (there are three floors!) typically plays R&B or Blues as opposed to Country music!
If you decide to add this hotspot to your list, there’s no better time than brunch time on Saturday or Sunday to visit! Also, be sure to check out the rooftop bar before leaving. It offers a view of the river and allows you to listen to the honky-tonk bands at a volume that still allows for good conversation.
Where to Stay?
Look no further than Wyndham Nashville! It’s located just one mile from the Grand Ole Opry along the Cumberland River, making it the perfect place to stay and explore the city’s rich country music history. We think you’ll love the super convenient shuttle service to downtown Nashville for a small fee, two outdoor pools and one indoor pool, hot tub, and spacious one- and two-bedroom suites.
Ultimately, there’s so much to do and see in Music City. But, we hope that with this guide, you can relax knowing that the hassle and stress of crafting the perfect family-friendly itinerary have been lifted off your shoulders.
Keith Hodges moved to Nashville in 2001 and Dawn arrived in 2005. Having each lived in several different parts of Nashville, they’ve witnessed the drastic growth first-hand. Dawn works as a pastry chef and wedding cake decorator at Gaylord Opryland Hotel, and Keith works for a company that provides video for concert tours, Moo TV. They currently reside in Hermitage, an area that’s felt Nashville’s urban sprawl over the last several years. They enjoy working on music and art at home, exploring the lakes and trails that Nashville has to offer, and occasionally stopping into their favorite local restaurants and bars.