24 Hours in Nashville: Our Highlights and Tips

We took advantage of a seat sale to book mini-mileage run to Nashville Tennessee in February 2018. In this post, we’ll talk about what we did in the 24 hours we had in the city and give you some tips to plan your trip.

What’s Nashville Like?

Nashville is a must-do pilgrimage for country music fan and aspiring musicians. While some cities boast of their live music scene, it is alive and well here and probably the most vibrant one we’ve experienced. A casual stroll down the Honky Tonk Highway on lower Broadway Street will take you past 20+ live music venues where you can “honky tonk hop” to experience as many as you wish.

Mural in Nashville's Gulch neighbourhood
Mural in Nashville’s Gulch neighbourhood

While not quite in the South, the Mid-West, or the Rust Belt, Nashville Tennessee is somewhat in the middle of it all and you can see the influence of these 3 distinct areas in the architecture, the infrastructure, and food/cultural scene. Nashville is not an architectural gem to visit; it’s more about the music, the vibe, and the food. It’s kinda gritty, a little industrial, showing signs of gentrification and growth due to all the new construction in the downtown core. Public art fans will have fun exploring the city to find its 50+ murals.

Getting Around:

From the Airport: BNA – Nashville International Airport is about 20 minutes from downtown and you can rent a car, take a taxi or ride-share (Uber/Lyft), or the #18 bus.

Within Nashville: Getting around within Nashville is easy and here are some options for you to consider.

  • Bike Share: B-Cycle Bike Share lets you ride across the city with 36 stations to pick up and drop off bikes.
  • Free Bus: The Music City Circuit is free and stops at more than 75 locations across the city between 06:00-11:00 and runs every 15-30 minutes.
  • Rental Car: While it’s easy enough to drive, there are a lot of railroads and so you may want a good map to avoid getting stuck at a train crossing. Parking downtown is limited and expensive, so we recommend parking at Library Garage. If you are renting a car, we recommend renting one from the airport for convenience.

Where to Stay:

A deluxe King Room at Holston House
Deluxe King room
Avocado toast at Tenn at Holston House
Avocado toast with poached eggs at Tenn, the hotel’s restaurant
View of the lobby/bar/restaurant Tenn at Holston House
View of the lobby/bar/restaurant Tenn

We recommend staying downtown for convenience and really enjoyed our stay at a new Hyatt Unbound Collection Hotel, Holston House because it was close enough to everything, without being right in the middle of it so we were able to relax and enjoy a quieter atmosphere. For more information about Holston House, check out our detailed review here.

Where to Eat:

It’s difficult to get consensus on where to eat and while we skipped the most popular ones touted by travel guides, but if there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s Nashville Hot Chicken; you cannot come to Nashville without indulging in this local dish.

Our meal at Hattie B's
Our meal at Hattie B’s

We chose to indulge in Nashville hot chicken at Hattie B’s, a local change that serves up the deep fried spicy chicken loved by locals and visitors. We each ordered a small white (breast/wing quarter) plate with 2 sides and some local craft beer. As for spice level, we chose medium because we were warned about how spicy it is but we could have gotten the “Hot!” for a bit of an extra kick. While we were hungry, it was way too much food and we could have shared a large white and split the sides. We enjoyed all the sides: Southern greens, Pimento Mac & Cheese, Red Skin Potato Salad and the Black Eyed pea Salad but if we had to pick two favorites, we’d go for the Mac & Cheese and the Red Skin Potato Salad. We also recommend ordering extra pickles.

Bollywood wall projections at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Bollywood wall projections at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Kale Pakora Chaat at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Kale Pakora Chaat at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Lamb Vindaloo at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Lamb Vindaloo at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Wall at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Wall at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Paneer tikka at Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Paneer tikka at Chauhan Ale and Masala House

Another restaurant that was at the top of our list was the Chauhan Ale & Masala House for Indian food and craft beer. As we were having dinner on a Saturday, we made a reservation because while they accept walk-ins, it is a very popular place; we reserved 2 weeks in advance and had limited options! Not only was the food delicious here, but the ambiance and décor was very fun and unique, with Bollywood movies being projected on the walls of the restaurant on one side and a huge fireplace on the other. We ordered way too much food again and enjoyed everything we had and it would be hard not to order the same items if we went back. We had the kale Pakora Chaat, some Naan, the Paneer Tikka with mint chutney and pickled slaw, and the Lamb Vindaloo with rice. We also each has a Saffron IPA which paired well with the food.

Where to Drink:

There are tons of bars in Nashville but as craft beer fans, we decided to visit a few breweries instead.

1)    Bearded Iris: We really enjoyed the beer here and the unique and eclectic tasting room. They also have a nice patio that gets sun in the early afternoon. The Bearded Iris is quick bike ride or drive from downtown.

The tasting room at the Bearded Iris
The tasting room at the Bearded Iris

2)    Smith and Lentz: We also enjoyed the beers here and their interesting names; my favorite was truly thre “Finding Jebus IPA”. While the tasting room is all right, it’s nothing special and we weren’t fans of the large TV projection screen inside. Outside, there is a nice backyard patio with corn toss games which we enjoyed and would recommend here for an outdoor beer experience.

Beer list at Smith & Lentz
Beer list at Smith & Lentz

Points of Interest:

Known as “Music City”, Nashville has some great live music venues and museums for music fans of all ages:

  • The Honky Tonk Highway, the part of lower broadway Street that has all the live music venues and bars is open daily from 10:00-03:00 but it gets a lot livelier around 21:00. As far as I could see, most places didn’t charge a cover as the practice is to have a drink and listen to some music and tip the musicians. There are 20+ bars so you may want to do some research prior to your visit or just “honky top hop” as pleases you. We went to see one of our favorite bands play, Typhoon, so we didn’t get to visit the bars on the Hinky Tonk Highway but enjoyed our walk down the street.
  • The Johnny Cash Museum is a good place for fans to “walk through the life of the Man in Black”. The museum is usually opened daily between 09:00-18:00 and tickets cost about $20.
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame would be something that country music fans would enjoy and it has regular exhibits as well as special ones. It’s open most days between 09:00-17:00 and tickets cost about $42 for adults and $29 for youth.

When to Visit:

We visited during off-season which is probably why we found a deal on the flight and this coincided with opening specials at Holston House. We were worried about snow though as it has been a colder and snowier winter in Nashville. While we did enjoy ourselves, it was a little cooler than we would have liked which made it a little more difficult to enjoy being outside. As it can get very hot in Nashville in the summer, visit during the spring and fall might be good options for comfortable weather. For example, the average temperature in April is between 9 – 22 Celsius and between 16 – 26 Celsius in September. For more information about the weather, have a look at USA today’s Travel Tips.

Have you been to Nashville? Did you enjoy your visit? Is there anything else you’d recommend we check out on a future trip?

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