This weekend, my sister Katie came to visit, so we decided to put together a list of favorite places in Nashville. Since I live here and she doesn’t, I asked her input about what she likes to do here as a visitor, so I’ve included some local spots as well as more touristy things you may like.
Nashville has a ton of different areas that are all really unique. If you’re looking to do some walking around, 12 South may be for you. Or if you’re trying to see old Nashville and Honky Tonks, there are some great downtown attractions that don’t feel too touristy. Read my guide below. I’ve divided it into different areas to help you decide.
This hip area is probably my favorite, and it’s hands down the best place to see music in town. Downtown can be a bit kitsch, so if you’re looking for to live as the locals do, try staying at Urban Cowboy B&B or an AirBnB in this area. It’s spread out, so not totally walkable everywhere you go, but there’s a cool pocket everywhere you turn.
Lockeland Table—my favorite restaurant in East Nashville. Located in the Lockeland Springs neighborhood, it’s a beautiful, cozy neighborhood restaurant serving local and seasonal fare. You’ll probably need a reservation, so think ahead. Afterwards, walk across the street to Urban Cowboy B&B where you can have a delicious cocktail on the patio.
Five Points Pizza— Second only to Desano Bakery, the pizza here is amazing. Get the Brooklyn and try some beers from the rotating tap. They also have a walk up late night pizza window where you can grab a slice. Afterwards, walk to The 5 Spot, which is my favorite bar and the best place to see live music in town. If you go on a Sunday, definitely go to Sunday night Soul at the 5 Spot.
The Basement East— Located just blocks from five points, this venue has music every night.
Village Pub—this gem located in Riverside village is the perfect spot to relax and have a beer on their covered patio.
Mitchell Deli— Located next to Village Pub in Riverside Village, this deli has the most amazing sandwich rolls! Get the Italian or Bahn Mi
Dose Coffee and Tea— I love this coffeeshop! Located in Riverside Village, it’s one of my favorite spots. It also has an excellent menu and wine selection! Try the Rosemary Biscuit with remoulade.
Ugly Mugs— My favorite coffee shop in town, hands down. The ambience is relaxed and cozy, and there’s a huge patio outside for sunny days. Afterward, walk over to Welcome Home, the shop next door, which sells everything from candles to air plants. It’s a great spot to pick up a gift!
Jeni’s Ice Cream— located next to Ugly Mugs in East Nashville, this ice cream shop has a variety of crazy flavors to choose from. From Watermelon Buttermilk to Churro ice cream, this place will not disappoint. They have 6 Nashville locations, so if you miss this one, you’re probably close to a Jeni’s somewhere else.
OMG— Old Made Good. It’s a tucked away vintage shop on Gallatin Pike. Stop in and take a look at their handmade and vintage treasures.
Katie says: Five Points Pizza is great! I would recommend their slice with proscuitto and basil. Also love Jeni’s Ice Cream. Jeni’s has a lot of unique flavors that you won’t find anywhere else. I love the feel of East Nashville. If you’re looking for something laid back with a local vibe, this is where you want to be.
I used to live in Sylvan Park, a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood with cottage-style craftsmen homes. Though it’s not totally walkable, you can walk down Charlotte Pike to a lot of cool shops. If you’re looking to eat authentic Asian cuisine, this is where you want to be. Try VN Pho & Deli. They only take cash, but it’s the best Vietnamese restaurant.
Headquarters— the tiniest, cutest coffeeshop ever! They also have the most incredible muffins. Also try their High Garden tea selection
Rhino Booksellers— this is my happy place. Rhino Booksellers has books stacked to the ceilings and some incredible records. My favorite section is the little paperback room in the front corner of the store. It’s a great place to get classics for a couple bucks.
Grand Cru— if you like wine, stop in at Grand Cru to pick up a special bottle. The owner makes excellent recommendations. Afterwards, stop in at Dose Coffee and Tea for a pour over coffee.
Bobbie’s Dairy Dip— this is a Nashville staple that’s been around since the fifties. It’s the cutest little walk up ice cream place in the world. They have the best milkshakes, and I always get their black bean burger with guacamole.
Right outside of the downtown area is Germantown, a beautiful historic neighborhood full of great restaurants and home to the Nashville Farmers Market!
Husk— a great place for brunch! The service here is incredible, and the menu does not disappoint. I haven’t tried their dinner yet, but I’ve heard great things.
City House— one of my favorite restaurants. Their wood fired pizzas are amazing. Everything is always amazing here.
Rolf & Daughters— a great place for dinner. Try the Garganelli pasta or the chicken, which is swimming in delicious lemony butter. Their cocktails are always great, too.
Nashville Farmers Market— a great place to have lunch with so many choices! Definitely stop by Gardens of Babylon to purchase a beautiful plant. It’s a great place to buy specialty plants. Take an uber, because things get crowded fast and parking is limited.
Katie says: Even though the parking lot is not easy to navigate (AKA, we got stuck in there for awhile) I loved Gardens of Babylon. The Farmers Market has such a variety of plants and food, you can’t go wrong here.
Sam refuses to come here with me because it’s so crowded, but if you’re willing to brave the crowds, it’s a great place to walk around and shop. Weekdays are better to visit here.
Frothy Monkey— The line goes out the door for this place, but it’s only because they have the most amazing coffee and sandwiches. Try the Julie sandwich on a bagel.
12 South Taproom— I have fond memories here, as this is where Sam and I went on our second date! It’s a great place to have a beer and sit outside. The food is pretty good too!
The Flipside— The ambiance of this restaurant is incredible. It looks like a fifties diner. Try the poutine! It’s a great place to have a casual meal.
Katie says: I would give 12 South a 4 out of 5 stars. They have great stores and restaurants, but it’s a little touristy and crowded. Think bachelorette parties. It’s walkable and is worth going to. Just be prepared for a lot of people.
Le Sel–Definitely a fun brunch restaurant. For women only. This seems obvious considering the entire restaurant is decked out in pink. It’s a french style brasserie, and a must in Nashville.
Sitar— Best Indian restaurant in town and the world. The service is great, and you will find me here at least once a week. They’ve memorized my order. That’s how serious I am about this place. Get the Tikka Masala or Vindaloo curry.
Desano Pizza— this is the best pizza in town. Definitely get a pizza with peppadew peppers. The ambiance can be funny, and they always have very serious opera music playing, but I don’t even care because they have a BYOB policy and you can drink wine and eat the best pizza made in ovens imported from Italy. GO HERE!
Hattie B’s— if you have never had hot chicken, this is your place. The line goes around the block, but it’s worth it!
Union Common— best happy hour in town. They have half price drinks and discounted appetizers at 5:00, so get there early and grab a bar stool. Though I haven’t been for dinner, it’s a great menu, and the service is always excellent. Great wine selection as well.
Katie says: Midtown seems like a great place to eat, but maybe not spend a whole day. It’s crowded and parking is difficult. Definitely try Le Sel. You definitely notice the proximity of the colleges to this area.
The Ryman— this historic theater in an old church has seen many of the greats on its stage. See what’s playing and get tickets far in advance before you go. Or take a tour! It’s a great place to see a show.
Acme Feed & Seed— an old feed factory, this renovated three story building has great live music, food, and a fun rooftop bar! The first floor usually has Soul Brunch, so take a look at their calendar and definitely try the food. Afterward, walk across the walking bridge to get a great view of the city.
Crema— a great coffeeshop with a pretty patio looking over the city
Pinewood Social— the place boasts a bowling alley, a restaurant, a coffeeshop, a bar, and a pool. The food is incredible. Definitely go for brunch. It’s big, so it’s one of the few brunch spots that won’t have a wait on weekends.
The Frist Center for the Arts— see what’s on at the Frist and admire the beautiful art deco building that used to be a post office. Though they don’t have a permanent collection, they always have an interesting exhibit.
Layla’s— if you insist on going to a honky tonk, Layla’s has quality music and is a bit less crowded than Robert’s Western World. But you can pop in each of them and have a drink and relax.
Katie says: If you like Country Music and want to see old Nashville, you’d like downtown. The walking bridge is a good spot to get a little space from the crowds and have a nice view. If you’re looking for a less traditional downtown spot, try Pinewood Social or Crema Coffee.
Located near the Vanderbilt Campus, 21st Avenue is full of walkable shops and is home to one of the six Jeni’s Ice Creams. I recommend coming here on a rainy day and seeing a movie at the Belcourt.
Bookman Bookwoman— a cool used book store with every book you could imagine! It’s a great place to just browse
Pangaea— a shop with all kinds of unique items and clothing. A great place to buy gifts
The Belcourt Theater— they’re always playing something amazing! Whether it’s an offbeat movie or a classic, this place is great to go on a rainy day. They serve beer too! During the summer they have a movie night in the back parking lot.
8th Avenue and Wedgewood/South Nashville
Smiling Elephant–this is a great Thai restaurant that has totally unique flavors, and it’s in a cute little plant filled house. Everything is very fresh, and the flavors are anything but ordinary. It’s a small restaurant, so be prepared to wait.
Grimey’s— This is my favorite record store! There are shows in the record store occasionally, and there’s a venue downstairs called the Basement.
8th Avenue Antiques— this a great antique shop full of interesting finds.
8th and Roast— love this coffeeshop and the atmosphere here. It’s a good place to rest after a bit of antiquing.
Pre to Post Modern— the coolest vintage shop! This place has it all from sixties clothing and the best midcentury furniture.
Bangkokville— we have tried them all, and this is by far the best Thai Restaurant in town. The food is the freshest! Try the Pad Woonsen or the Green Curry. It’s pretty far South, but it’s worth the drive. The owner treats guests like family and even compliments you for eating all your food.
Vui’s Kitchen— this is a great place to get Pho. It’s tiny, but they do have a patio.
Gas Lamp Antiques–– this huge antique store has it all. There are two buildings full of antiques. Definitely try this and then stop over at Vui’s Kitchen.
This ritzy neighborhood can be a bit trafficky on weekends due to the Green Hills Mall location. But there’s a Trader Joes and an Anthropologie out here, so I’m willing to risk it.
Hill Center— this outdoor shopping mall has an Anthropologie, a Whole Foods, and West Elm. What more could you want!
Greenhouse— this bar located in a greenhouse, is a great spot to have a late night burger and a drink. I love their black bean burger.
Katie says: If you like nice big box stores, you’ll like Green Hills. It’s pretty much just a shopping mecca.
DONELSON AND BEYOND
Last but not least is my neighborhood! Located just East of Downtown, Donelson is a quaint area that makes you feel like you’re in the real Tennessee. It’s not a place to really spend a lot of time just yet, but this area is rapidly growing and is a 10 minute drive from downtown.
The Hermitage— the historic home of Andrew Jackson is beautiful! Here you can take a tour of the home, walk through a museum, and walk the grounds and gardens.
Phat Bites— this coffee shop/restaurant is a definite hole in the wall. But they have great wraps and sandwiches and even a full bar. Don’t let the mismatched furniture fool you.
Homegrown Taproom— this hidden bar in a strip mall is shockingly modern when you walk in. They have great beer and nitro coffee that you must try.
Donelson Bowl–– one of the few bowling alleys left in the city, this one is like walking straight into the 1950s. The ball selection isn’t great, but it’s a gem!