Music, BBQ and Southern charm in Music City.
by Roadtrippers - March 14th 2016
Welcome to Nashville, y'all! Known for being the capital of all things country music, this city is loaded with Southern charm and country quirk. From its antebellum plantations, to the incredible live music scene to the endless list of delicious restaurants serving up Southern specialties, 48 hours in Nashville promises an epically good time.
Kick things off on a spicy note by grabbing one of Nashville's signature dishes: hot chicken! As the story goes, one man's girlfriend cooked him a dangerously hot helping of fried chicken laced with loads of cayenne after he stayed out too late one night...and instead of being mad, he liked it so much that he and his brothers opened up the BBQ joint that eventually became Price's Hot Chicken Shack. Everyone will tell you to err on the side of caution and not get anything above "hot" and they're not kidding: extra hot and extra extra hot are mouth-numbingly intense.
Since Nashville is Music City, you should hop over to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to get some background on how the city became the most popular place for aspiring country music stars. Whether you prefer old-school country musicians or you're more into the latest stuff on the radio, they have exhibits for every fan of country music. They even touch on the rock roots of country, with exhibits on Elvis, Bob Dylan, and more.
Hatch Show Print is a renowned letterpress company that has been around since the 1870’s, and their iconic style has defined printing, especially those classic concert posters for acts like Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and tons more. Today, even though it’s changed ownership and location several times, Hatch has not only survived the digital age, but they’ve managed to thrive. Now supported by the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum, they’re able to keep printing. Stop by to check out their gallery and buy an authentic print; if you’re lucky, the letterpress machine will be running while you’re there.
Broadway is the place to go for after-dark fun in Nashville. The live music scene in the city is incredible, naturally, and Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge is a fantastic place to grab a drink and listen to some good tunes. It's a classic honky tonk with three floors, each with a stage and live performances.
As you can tell by the name of this joint, the bands here at Layla's Bluegrass Inn tend to lean more towards bluegrass/rock. A great selection of cold beers, energetic and friendly performers and a laid-back atmosphere with loads of character make this one to add to your list of places to hit up on Broadway.
Located in a refurbished, 1900's train station, Union Station Hotel is the perfect place to spend the night while in Nashville. The lobby is absolutely stunning, with a 65-foot-tall stained glass ceiling. The rooms complement the Gilded Age vibes, as well, so it's just as comfy as it is historic and beautiful.
Located a little ways outside Nashville, the Loveless Cafe is a little Southern diner that has become something of an institution. You can grab some lemonade and explore the gift shops (located in little cottages across the property) while you wait (and you will have to wait, sadly, because this is a very popular eatery). The fried chicken and golden biscuits (with a huge selection of jams and preserves) make it all worth it, though.
Nashville's Parthenon is the world's only full-scale replica of the original Greek temple, and it houses the tallest sculpture in the Western half of the globe! It's also Nashville's art museum, so inside, you'll find loads of paintings as well. It's worth it just to stroll around the park, and it's close to Music Row, where the recording studios are located, so you can drive around there and look for celebs too!
A trip to Music City isn't complete without buying some music, and Jack White's impossibly cool record store Third Man Records is the place to go to pick up some hand-pressed vinyl. They also have t-shirts and other memorabilia, as well as a drum set from The White Stripes on display. In a little corner of the store there are retro games and novelties, like a photo booth, a mold-a-rama, and a recording studio where you can make and take home your own record.
Nashville's Johnny Cash Museum is supported by Johnny Cash's estate, so they have a pretty great collection of stuff related to his life, including the walls from his old house! Costumes, handwritten notes, and more, combined with videos, pictures, and, of course, music, make this a well-curated tribute to the Man in Black.
There are tons of great places to eat in the trendy neighborhood of East Nashville, but The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden is absolutely worth a visit. It's located in what was once an actual pharmacy, so it's got a fun menu offering German fare and bier as well as burgers, phosphates, malts, and more. The food is awesome, but the real reason to come is to sit out back in the garden.
Making the pilgrimage to the famed Grand Ole Opry is pretty much required. It doesn't matter what show you see, or if you take the backstage tour or not, it just matters that you go and bask in the history of this legendary concert hall. The long-running show, which has featured some of country music's greatest stars, is pretty much the reason Nashville is what it is today.
You can either tour Yazoo Brewing Company's impressive operation, or just stop by for a happy hour drink. Either way, you'll get a pretty good idea of what makes them so popular-- they make a great selection of beers, with solid staples and some really interesting and creative brews that keep people coming back to see what's new.
Nashville doesn't just specialize in chicken shacks and BBQ joints, they have an incredible foodie scene that can also be super refined. Josephine is one of those refined spots. The simple, classically-composed dishes and drinks, like their Nashville hot scrapple, their Brussels sprouts, and more, all have a farmhouse flair.
Save the best for last! If you can, make a reservation for a show at the Bluebird Cafe, because ever since it's gotten shout-outs from the TV show Nashville, this hidden gem is a lot less hidden now. The coolest thing about Bluebird that makes it worth the hype is that everyone there is performing their own songs. Garth Brooks played here before he was signed to a label and got huge, and on any given night, there are sure to be industry professionals looking for the next big thing here.
The best time of year for a 48-hour getaway to Nashville: Nashville's weather is mild most of the spring and fall, and even though it gets hot during the summer, the risk of cold and snow in the winter make the warmer seasons the better times to visit. And, if you're into star-spotting, time your visit to coincide with the Country Music Awards, the CMT Awards, or a big concert or festival.