If you live in the Midwest, you’ve probably been dying to get the hell out of town lately. I love Winter, but come February, I’m pretty much over it, and this year, Mother Nature decided to play a horribly mean trick on us all. Winter is still lingering, and while the temperatures are finally above freezing, we still have a long way to go . . . and it’s almost May.
This gross weather is exactly why my husband and I decided to get away for a long weekend in Nashville and Memphis a few weeks ago. Since we have a few big trips coming up, we didn’t want to fly anywhere or take too many days off work, so Tennessee was the perfect choice. It was close enough to drive, the temperatures were significantly warmer, and we had never been. We left work early on a Thursday, and it took us about seven hours to drive to Nashville (not bad at all if you have a good playlist and a serious snack situation).
To say I instantly fell in love with the city is probably a bit of an understatement. After walking around for just a few minutes, we both said we would love to move there in a few years. You get all the perks of a big city, but you’re surrounded by the beautiful country. Not to mention that city has so much amazing history. We packed a lot into our few short days (we were only in Nashville for less than a day and a half), but not so much that we weren’t able to relax and take our time. There’s so much to do, eat, and see in Music City!
1. Where to Stay
My husband and I have never been too fussy about where we stay when we travel. We want to be comfortable, but we don’t need anything super fancy since we spend most of our time out of the room anyway. For Nashville, we ended up getting the best of both worlds. We found a great deal at the Hilton Garden Inn, which was so lovely and in the perfect location. It’s about a five minute walk (if even) to lower Broadway, aka Honky Tonk Highway where all the bars are. Other perks? There were freshly-baked cookies in the lobby every night, and it’s right across the street from Martin’s Bar-B-Que, which tastes as amazing as it smells.
If you’re looking for something a little fancier, we took a quick walk through Union Station Hotel, and this is definitely where you’d want to be. It’s a former railroad terminal that opened in 1900, and the decadent and detailed decor will make you feel like you stepped back in time (in the best way).
2. What to Do
There is so much to choose from when you’re looking for things to do in Nashville, which means there’s something for everyone. I was pretty much in heaven, because — fun fact — I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan, so my number one priority was going to his museum. While the museum was a bit jammed and really narrow to walk through, it was still amazing to see things from his childhood, guitars he used on stage, love letters her wrote to wife June Carter, and pieces of the home they shared together.
My Johnny Cash obsession aside, we spent a big chunk of the afternoon exploring lower Broadway, popping into a few honky tonk bars and cowboy boot shops. And when you’re there, make sure to check out the original Grand Ole Opry, which is right off Broadway and now called the Ryman Auditorium. So many legends walked that stage, including, yep, Johnny Cash (another fun fact: he met June Carter for the first time backstage at the Opry). We also took a walk down to the river and sat and watched all the pedal taverns go by (it was highly entertaining).
We then took a drive out to the 12 South neighborhood, which is basically the most picturesque part of the city. There are so many cute shops and cafes, including Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James (they offer you sweet tea upon entering the store), and tons of art murals perfect for your Instagram feed. We also caught Amelia’s Flower Truck, which sets up shop around the city depending on the weather. And at night, we went back to lower Broadway to soak up everything those bars had to offer. My favorites were definitely Acme Feed & Seed and Robert’s Western World, which has a grill behind the bar and simultaneously serves grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers with your beer.
3. Where to Eat
The food. The food, you guys. Everything we ate was so good, and that almost never happens. For breakfast, we found this amazing place called Milk and Honey, which was about a 10-minute walk from our hotel. I got the Apple Cinnamon Porridge (which tasted like the insides of an apple pie), my husband got the Protein Breakfast Bowl, and we shared the Avocado Toast (we were hungry). It was one of those meals where you keep going even after you’re full, but it was so fresh and healthy! While we did wait a bit for our table (about 45 minutes), we just took a walk to the Starbucks up the street and grabbed coffee to kill time (we also marveled at the insane line at Biscuit Love around the corner, which was at least four rows of people deep).
Since we were too busy sightseeing to grab lunch, we got Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and a doughnut from Five Daughters Bakery instead, which is pretty much the perfect meal if you ask me. I’d never had Jeni’s before, and the ice cream is just on another level. With flavors like Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk and Gooey Butter Cake, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. And in addition to Five Daughters being extremely Instagram-worthy, they also have amazing doughnuts, like Lemon Blueberry and Parent Trap Cookies and Cream. And if you want to cut back on the calories, they also have Paleo options, too!
For dinner, we headed over to Pinewood Social, which was like a popular bar, a comfortable and welcoming coffee shop, your friend’s living room, and a trendy restaurant all wrapped into one (oh, and there’s a bowling alley in the back!). We sat at a table with a few people working on their laptops, and once again ordered way too much food (worth it). We munched on kale and cabbage salads and blue cheese, walnut, and honey toast.
And if you’re a coffee addict like me, then you have to try Three Brothers. It took a few minutes to get there by car, but it’s right next to Vanderbilt University, which is also worth seeing (the campus is gorgeous). We went back multiple times during our short time in Nashville. The coffee is that good.
I have a lot more to share from our trip, including the best Instagram spots in Nashville (yes, I am that person), a travel guide to Memphis, and a Graceland post, so keep an eye out for those in the next few weeks!