Bars, tourists in cowboy boots and hats, and spicy chicken- that’s what I imagined Nashville would be when I booked a trip with college friends. I was going because that’s where they wanted to go… and maybe a little bit because I wanted some of that spicy chicken, but in all honestly I was not sure what I was going to do, or more importantly, enjoy doing, while in Music City. I’m a city dweller who likes hitting up the best restaurants, dressing up for a slightly expensive cocktail at a rooftop bar, and enjoying time outdoors hiking trails and chasing waterfalls. Broadway did not interest me at all and listening to live country music had me cringing.
Nashville was all of the things I mentioned above and it turns out I was right about Broadway… I hated it. Luckily I had done a little research before getting to Nashville and booked some dinners and bars that were more of what I wanted out of a vacation. In the end, I realized that Nashville has a little something for everyone. One of the things that the city does best is appealing to the tourists and Instagrammers who visit. You cannot turn a corner without running into something that is camera-worthy. From murals, to boutiques, to immersive drink and dinner experiences- you best have your phone out and ready because you’re going to want to be Instagramming your whole Nashville trip!
Nashville has… probably the most wall murals I’ve ever seen in one single city. You can’t go a block without running into a painted wall that’s being used to make a statement, educate passer-bys, or sometimes, just make people smile.
My group of five did a golf cart tour of the city (https://joyrideus.com/nashville/) that started out by taking us to about 10 or 11 of the famous wall murals to take photos in front of. We had a blast interacting with the scenes and putting our own spin on stances and poses.
My favorite mural was one inspired by all of the great things that Nashville has to offer and welcoming both travelers and residents to the city with a road, tunnel, and suitcase. The suitcase was fun to interact with and the mural itself was bright and cheery. No matter what type of backdrop you’re looking for, Nashville probably has it painted on the side of a building somewhere.
A lot of the shops, bakeries, and restaurants in Nashville also have really cute accent walls, so be sure to make time to wander the streets, especially in The Gulch, to find some great photo ops that you may miss if you’re not looking for them.
If I could have spent my entire Nashville trip in The Gulch area, I would have been thrilled! The Gulch is broken into two parts: The original Gulch and the “new” Gulch. The original area is home to many cute restaurants, bakeries, and boutiques that will have you wandering in and out of storefronts all day long. The new area of The Gulch is much more of a city-vibe and less of a neighborhood experience unlike the original Gulch area.
We had fun exploring both parts of the Gulch one of our days in Nashville and definitely didn’t turn down anyone’s offer to take our picture, (especially when the picture turns out to look like an album cover like this one does!). The eclectic businesses and facades in the original Gulch area had us feeling like we were in a cute costal town.
The upbeat city atmosphere of the newer area was perfect for our dinner plans at Sunda New Asian, a FANTASTIC authentic Asian restaurant that has me craving Pad Thai like crazy right now.
DOWNTOWN & BROADWAY
Broadway was by far my least favorite part of Nashville… I know, I know, unpopular opinion but I’d much rather spend my time at the unsuspecting speakeasy we found than crushed into a rooftop bar on Broadway. But can you say you’ve been to Nashville without partying it up on Broadway?
We started our Broadway journey at Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa, right in the middle of the Broadway bars. The multiple music stages and floors here were fun and the food at the sit-down portion of the place was a great first dinner for our trip. I loved that this bar felt a lot more modern and new compared to some of the other popular spots, (looking at you, Tootsies). There were plenty of lights, murals, and photo ops to pose for a fun picture in front of.
As a hockey fan, one of my favorite things about the set up of Downtown Nashville is that Bridgestone Arena, home of the NHL Nashville Predators team, is central to everything and stands out from the surrounding architecture. For a great view of the arena, head to the rooftop bars on the opposite side of Broadway. I’d love to see this area of the city during a hockey game because I know it would feel like NHL playoffs for every home game.
The Country Music Hall of Fame could really have its own blog post with how much history and success stories it holds, but I am certainly not the one to tell that story. From outfits and costumes worn by the original country music legends to gold-trimmed cars owned by the one and only Elvis, this is a country music lovers dream come true. While this was not my cup of tea, I appreciated all of the memorabilia. My favorite part of the Hall of Fame had to been the extensive collection of gold records that covered the walls. The display was not only interesting but also aesthetically pleasing.
Near the end of the Hall of Fame there were also plenty of interactive displays such as a recording studio and life-size Taylor Swift bus.
My personal favorite spots in Nashville had to be the restaurants, not just for the food but also for the great theming and immersive dining experiences. The Hampton Social, a small chain in the Southern United States, was one of those places that we experienced. The set up of this restaurant is basically an Instagram post waiting to happen. The pink backdrops and cute signs will make for some great post-brunch content.
While the food may not be everyone’s highlight when in Nashville, it certainly was mine! I enjoyed eating my way around the city and would happily go back just for dinner and a drink. As mentioned above, The Hampton Social was one of my favorite spots we ventured to. The spicy rigatoni I had here was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever ordered out. The drinks at this spot absolutely deserve recognition due to the multitude of flavors and presentation. I’m happy to report that The Hampton Social has a few locations in Florida, so I’m sure I’ll be visiting this restaurant again sometime soon.
Now we can’t talk about Nashville food without stopping for some GooGoo Clusters. This sweet treat originated in Nashville and is celebrated at their store location right off of Broadway. You can purchase a box of the original GooGoo Clusters to take home as a temporary souvenir or make your very own cluster and choose from a variety of fillings and chocolate shells. You can then watch the Cluster-pros build your very own GooGoo and cheer them on from the other side of the glass just like you’re at a hockey game. While the custom treat I made was interesting, I think I’ll stick with the original GooGoo.
Believe it not, one of the best meals we had while in Nashville was at the breakfast place, Snooze Eatery. This diner-style spot has quirky colors, eclectic tables, and delicious dishes that you won’t find at your normal AM eatery. The pancakes and french toast here are works of art, topped with fruit, syrups, and streusel. The sides here aren’t standard either- you can get bacon topped with brown sugar and cayenne that will make you wonder why every other breakfast place doesn’t experiment with their dishes.
Last but certainly not least is any ice cream masterpiece from The Legendary Milkshake Bar. I know, that’s not a picture of a milkshake… but in my defense we has just had lunch and I knew there was no way I could down a milkshake topped with a whole slice of cheesecake. I got a scoop of the cotton candy ice cream and was happy to see that even a boring cup of ice cream could be photogenic. The show stealer for this place is, of course, the milkshakes. If you’re willing to drop $15 on a milkshake then you’ll for sure get a great Instagram post featuring the most extreme milkshake you’ve ever laid eyes on.
There you have it! These were my favorite spots to take photos and share my travels in Nashville with the online world. Have you had the chance to snap a pic at any of these Nashville locations?