Get the most out of your Nashville visit with this guide to the best places to eat, drink, check out music and more.
Food and Drink Essentials: Best Places to...
Nashvillians are having a love affair with Publix, which began locating stores here around mid-decade. There are several Nashville locations, including 4320 Harding Road. Green Hills and Cool Springs residents are loving their Whole Foods outlets, and the Green Hills Trader Joe’s, at 3909 Hillsboro Road, is full from morning to night. For Hillsboro village residents, Harris Teeter, at 2201 21st Ave. South, is the place to shop. Visitors staying in downtown hotels and residents snapping up the growing crop of downtown condos don’t have to go far to meet their grocery and deli needs at the H.G. Hill Urban Market, a company native to Nashville, located in the Viridian building at 415 Church Street.
EAT ETHNIC FOOD
Vietnamese – Head for Charlotte Avenue where the Vietnamese places like Miss Saigon, 5849 Charlotte, cluster.
Indian – It’s all on the West End Avenue corridor, including Bombay Palace, 2912 West End Ave.
Thai – Two of Nashville’s go-to Thai restaurants are The Smiling Elephant (seriously, what a great name!), 2213 8th Ave. South, and Siam Cafe, 316 Mccall St., just off Nolensville Road.
Mexican – Most Nashvillians agree that La Hacienda, 2615 Nolensville Road, is the best of a big bunch.
Ethiopian – Gojo Ethiopian, 415 W. Thompson Lane, is Nashville’s highest-profile African restaurant, where the lunch buffet is second to none.
Mediterranean – Several good Mediterranean restaurants are speckled around Nashville, but one of the best is Istanbul Restaurant, 2631 Nolensville Road. Good value for a great meal, and they’ll treat you like family.
GRAB A LATE-NIGHT BITE
Athens Family Restaurant
2526 Franklin Pike
It'll remind you of New York’s coffeeshops, serving sandwiches, chops, omelets and authentic Greek food to cab drivers, clubbers, med students, strippers and third-shift workers at the nearby bakery.
210 Louise Ave., off Elliston Place
Open 24 hours a day, Cafe Coco attracts the full gamut of Music City’s colorful residents to its coffeehouse/restaurant/music venue. From their famous Turkey Rockefeller to create-your-own pizzas to pancakes paired with coffee or on-tap beer, Cafe Coco knows how to do late-night food.
SIP A LATTE
Not so many years ago, Nashville’s coffeehouse scene consisted mostly of Starbucks and the locally-owned Bongo Java/Fido trifecta. But in recent years, independent coffeehouses have been multiplying almost like rabbits. Many feature tasty cuisine to accompany their gorgeous lattes and creative interiors. Some of the best of the best:
Bongo Java/Fido – Three locations, all are Nashville institutions: 1812 21st Ave. South (Hillsboro Village); 2007 Belmont Blvd. (Belmont University area); and 107 South 11th (East Nashville’s Five Points). “Bongo” Bob Bernstein was a barista before barista was cool. For nearly 20 years, he’s been roasting his own beans for Fido in Hillsboro Village and Bongo Java on Belmont Boulevard, and now for Bongo Java East across the river in East Nashville. Food’s good, too.
Frothy Monkey – 2509 12th Ave. South, part of the ever-so-cool 12South trendiness and with newer locations in Franklin and on 8th Ave. South.
Eighth and Roast – 2108A 8th Ave. South, recently relocated to a higher traffic area but still specializing in single cup brew methods to rave reviews.
Crema – 15 Hermitage Ave., on the south edge of downtown proper, with beans roasted in-house and often sourced straight from the farmer.
Edgehill Cafe – 1201 Villa Place, conveniently located just off Music Row with plenty of space to study or get creative.
Ugly Mugs – 1886 Eastland Avenue in East Nashville, featuring artwork from local artists and music from local musicians.
Barista Parlor – 519B Gallatin Ave., over on the East side from whence it’s garnering buzz on Facebook newsfeeds and beyond.
GRAB A BEER
Yazoo Tap Room
910 Division St.
After outgrowing their original brewery that was located in a century-old car factory, Yazoo relocated to the Gulch where they added a 40 barrel brewhouse. Nashvillians are proud of their local elixir! The tap room is open for a few hours Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday so you can drink the ambrosia at its source.
1918 West End Ave.
Great beer joins good food and convivial atmosphere.
ENJOY AN AFTER-SHOW NIGHTCAP
231 Sixth Ave. North
A tiny jewel of a bar in the underbelly of the majestic and historic five-star Hermitage Hotel, located a block away from the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and close to Nashville’s famous honky tonks.
Entertainment Essentials: Best Places to...
HAVE FUN FOR FREE
Free Fridays at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts
One Friday a month in the summer. Great for couples or singles and a good start to the evening for groups of friends.
Outdoor Concerts in Centennial Park
2500 West End
In summer months, the Parks department arranges dance lessons and big band concerts on Saturday nights in Centennial Park. Families and couples come to dance, or bring blankets and chairs and just enjoy the show.
ENTERTAIN THE KIDS
See a Puppet Show
615 Church St.
Tuesday and Wednesday morning puppet shows at the downtown public library, featuring the renowned Tom Tichenor marionettes.
Adventure Science Center
800 Fort Negley Blvd.
Lets little kids run around like crazy, bigger kids learn something while they get some exercise, and biggest kids dig the new, awesome Sudekum planetarium housed there.
3777 Nolensville Pike
From usual daily activities and animal visits to regular special events, the Nashville Zoo is a family favorite.
MEET NEW PEOPLE
Cooking Classes at Salud
4021 Hillsboro Pike
Channel your inner chef at the Salud Cooking School in the Whole Foods Market in Green Hills.
Trivia Night at 3 Crow Bar
1020 - 1024 Woodland St.
Test your trivia knowledge with other young singles on Thursday nights.
Mobilizes people who just want to pitch in on a charitable project here and there.
LISTEN TO COUNTRY MUSIC
116 5th Ave. North
It only happens a couple of times a year, so locals watch closely for the evenings that the Grand Ole Opry returns to perform at this historic venue.
SHOP AT A FUNKY LOCAL BUSINESS
How to choose in a city crammed with sole proprietorships flying their freak flags? Try these:
2009 Belmont Blvd.
Vintage treasure trove plus local tailors and designers sell their handmade clothes.
1100 Forrest Ave.
Gathers all things reduced, reused, recycled and sustainable under one roof.
4606 Charlotte Ave.
A funky house crammed with the oddest and most endearing product mix imaginable.
SHOP FOR LESS
433 Opry Mills Drive, off Briley Parkway in Donelson
Outlets for Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Nike, Hartstrings, Bath and Body Works, Gymboree and Claire’s – if you want it, it’s probably here. It’s worth a drive across town to shop at Off Broadway shoes and take in an IMAX film at the 20-screen cinema.
BE A TOURIST
Get on the pink bus for the NashTrash Tour or choose a more conventional Gray Line tour. It’s a tourist's-eye view of the city most locals don’t know.
DO SOMETHING MOST LOCALS HAVEN'T DONE
Cemetery hike of the Warner Parks
7311 Highway 100
This lush 2,000-acre park has nine cemeteries and a fascinating history.
SHOP AT A SECOND-HAND STORE
With more than 10 locations in the greater Nashville area, Goodwill is a cornerstone for any good Nashville thrift shopper.
HAVE FUN ON A TUESDAY NIGHT
See the Doyle and Debbie Show at Zanies Comedy Club
2025 8th Ave. South
Satire joins musicianship in this popular country drama/music showcase.
Fuse at Opryland – Geared for a younger crowd
Wildhorse Saloon, 120 2nd Ave. North – This is the place to get your line dancing on.
SEEN, 114 2nd Ave. South – Big city dance club vibe with great DJs.
Outdoor Essentials: Best Places to...
ENJOY GREEN SPACE
Upon completion, the Metro Nashville’s parks department’s Greenways Master Plan will place a greenway trail within 2 miles of every Nashvillian. With more than 50 miles of greenway trails and over 150 miles of primitive trails already, the plan is nearly two-thirds complete. Frequented by walkers and strollers, used by skaters and as cut-through by cyclists, the greenways are frequently cited as the best new thing in Nashville.
HAVE FUN ON THE WATER
Nashville has two major lakes, Percy Priest and Old Hickory, and three rivers, the Stones, Harpeth and Cumberland for plenty of fishing, swimming, boating and waterskiing opportunities.
City Dog Parks
Chasing ducks in Centennial Park? Or barking it up with other dogs at Nashville Humane Association Dog Days? Maybe, but it’s hard to beat the metro area’s three dog parks, where a dog can be a dog with other dogs, doing dog things.
- Warner Dog Park, 50 Vaughn Road
- Shelby Dog Park, 2001 Boscobel St.
- Centennial Dog Park, 2500 West End Ave.
ENJOY GREAT CITY VIEWS
Shelby Street Bridge
Stroll across the pedestrian-only Shelby Street Bridge for a panoramic view of Nashville’s downtown any time of the day or night.
Lea’s Summit in Percy Warner Park
At the end of Belle Meade Boulevard, great for a distant view of town. Spend a lazy hour picking out landmarks across a wide swath of northern and eastern Nashville.