Are you thinking of taking a trip to the Music Capital of the United States? There is certainly more to Nashville than its country music roots and its boozy ‘NashVegas’ reputation.
In fact, Forbes Travel named Nashville one of the top 16 destinations for 2016! If you need another reason to visit this blooming city, it is the epitome of raw, organic musical talent and boasts the perfect concoction of urban landscape meets natural green space.
Although there are TONS of diverse experiences in Nashville, my recommendations are all outdoor activities, simply because this Canadian was delighted to spend time outside in a warmer climate and soak up some Vitamin D — So, if you’re still with me, take a peek below for some summer time recommendations in Nashville, Tennessee!
If you haven’t been to downtown Nashville before, you can expect to encounter a vast array of characters from authentic cowboys decked out in tall hats and belt buckles, to tourists clad in plaid with their camera in hand, or bachelorette parties disrupting the peace in matching tank tops — and of course locals who seamlessly blend in or steer clear of the madness all together.
Go for a Stroll:
With the Cumberland River running alongside the downtown core, it was so easy to get lost in nature and forget about the hustle and bustle happening just a stones throw away on Broadway. On a sunny day, get in some miles by walking along the river and up onto the Cumberland footbridge, also known as Nashville’s ‘pedestrian-only’ bridge. Here you will have scenic views looking out across the river and back onto the downtown area. Prefer a stroll at night? The bridge lights up, proving to be just as beautiful after dusk.
Check out a Rooftop Patio:
Enjoy the warm weather and sunshine with some lunch on a roof top patio! Maybe it’s those Canadian winters I endure every year, but there is something so uplifting about enjoying a nice meal while basking in the sun. During our stay in Nashville, we visited “ACME Feed & Seed” twice for food and drinks.
They have a large rooftop patio, perched up on the corner of Broadway and 1st Ave S, where you have the option of gazing out across the river or down on the main strip. If you need to seek some shade, ACME also boasts 2 lower floors of indoor seating.
* Above photo from www.ACMEnashville.com *
Get the Local Experience:
Escape the hoards of tourists and head on over across the river to East Nashville for the local experience. If you are seeking a quiet meal or an alternative ambiance from the boozy, live music venues downtown, look no further – East Nashville houses tons of great restaurants. We went to the ‘The Wild Cow’ for a vegetarian/vegan lunch and it was honestly some of the best vegan grub I have had dining out …ever. Even my partner (who isn’t vegan) loved it here. If this doesn’t convince you, rest assured that Trip Advisor has ranked it #20 out of 1652 restaurants.
If this doesn’t suit you, how do lime margaritas out on a funky patio, surrounded by colourful art and Japanese lanterns sound? – Pretty nice right? Check out RosePepper for Mexican food, Mexican beers and margaritas on their large patio (or indoors). As per the Nashville Scene, their margaritas have been voted BEST in the city for the last ten years. Note that Trip Advisor has ranked RosePepper at #209 of 1652 restaurants.
If you prefer to get your hands a little dirty, Nashville is home to some of the best, authentic BBQ joints around (or so we heard from our various Uber Drivers). Since I’m not a meat eater we did not give these places a try, but they swore by Midtown’s Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and Arnold’s Country Kitchen in the Gulch.
Head on Over to a Honkey Tonk:
I was feeling a little thirsty after our long road trip from Ontario down to Nashville, so we took a stroll down ‘Honkey Tonk Highway’ and popped into the infamous Tootsie’s Orchard Lounge. Everyone seems to know about Tootsies or rave about going to Tootsies – so much so that Trip Advisor ranks it #4 out of 104 in nightlife. But to be honest – the place is so busy its slightly claustrophobic. With that said, the vibe was cool and it has a great rooftop patio, so I think it’s definitely worth checking out – just go early to get a spot so you won’t have to worry about standing room or wiggling through the crowd.
Buckle up for Some Fun on a Bicycle Bar:
If you are strolling around the downtown area, you are sure to notice the many bicycle bars pedaling their way up and down the main streets, pouring beers and playing lively music. If beers, bikes and music for a few hours in the sunshine sound like it might be your thing, definitely check out “The Sproket Rocket”. Much like a jacked up version of the soapbox racer you made as a child, the Rocket has a BYOB style model, where the bartender puts your beverages on ice and serves you during the ride. ”But isn’t it hard work?”…Don’t worry, you barely need to pedal – there is a motor that kicks in. For 30 USD I had a lot of fun on this thing, and it appears others agree since Trip Advisor has ranked it #2 out of 42 outdoor activities.
Extra: Tips for Getting Around
We travelled to Nashville by car, so getting around was relatively easy for us. However if you plan to stay downtown, it can be tiresome to consistently drive and park due to traffic and the incredible masses of pedestrians flooding the streets. If you do need to park downtown, metered parking can be found up along the riverbank on Gay Street for 1.50$ per hour– note that this is free from 6pm to 7am Monday – Saturday and Free Sundays. There is also a municipal parking lot across the street from these meters on Gay Street, which is free on weekends as well.
Otherwise Uber was a great option for us to get around for a relatively inexpensive price when we didn’t want to drive or wanted to have a few bevies. (Side note: If you register with Uber and download the app, your first ride is FREE. If you refer a friend to Uber, you AND your friend will get a free fare). Our Uber drivers were locals and tended to be super knowledgable about the city, imparting tidbits of history and local culture into the conversation while they gave us a lift. If Uber isn’t your cup of tea, you will also see golf carts zipping around the downtown area – they work on a tip only basis which makes a quick ride a few blocks down way less expensive than a regular taxi. There are also big, green electric buses that frequent the downtown area that are a free ‘hop-on, hop-off’ style ride.
There was so much more we could have seen or done, but for a weekend away to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, the above outdoor activities made for an excellent get-a-way for a couple of Canucks.
Lose Yourself without Getting Lost!
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