Nashville recently changed its brand from “Music City” to “Music City USA” because it’s not just a country music haven, but a global incubator and marketer of music. People still flock to Nashville for its traditional music venues, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, but they also come to hear new voices in a range of musical genres.
And to visit the thriving, hip neighborhoods.
“The neighborhoods are fun to explore,” said Heather Middleton, senior vice president of Visit Music City marketing. “We always encourage people to get out and explore the city.”
Here’s a taste of what all Nashville offers.
Located near Vanderbilt and Belmont universities, Hillsboro Village is a collection of shops, boutiques and restaurants. Visit the Belmont Mansion, a historic home located on Belmont University with family ties to Louisiana, or take in a film at the nonprofit Belcourt Theater, known for its indie and classic films. The Village features lots of great eateries but don’t miss breakfast or lunch at Biscuit Love, which, as you might guess, serves up a variety of dishes centered around scratch-made biscuits.
Visit this neighborhood with shopping in mind. Emerson Grace offers unique apparel while across the street Judith Bright creates magical jewelry onsite. Pause at Butter Milk Ranch for coffee and a fabulous homemade pastry, but if you’re hungry, an elevated brunch menu by Chef Daniel Gorman is available.
We started the night with a cocktail class at Audrey, a restaurant named after the maternal grandmother of James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock. Each cocktail was created with only three ingredients and with no stirring and no shaking. One drink consisted of a Meyer lemon, Don Nuño oloroso sherry and lemon verbena and it turned out delicious.
“The point is the production,” said Jon Howard, bar director. “You want to keep it clean and succinct.”
We followed our imbibing with a variety of tasty tacos at the Tex-Mex restaurant Redheaded Stranger, named for Chef Bryan Lee Waver’s favorite Willie Nelson album.
Love heals is the motto of Thistle Farms, an organization designed to empower female “survivors” of addiction and abuse by giving them housing and teaching them skills. Visitors may enjoy lunch in their bistro or items from the gift shop. Able boutique owns a similar mission, born from the owners’ experience seeing the commercial sex industry up close overseas. Women here make lovely scarves and other clothing items, plus leather goods.
Check into the new Bobby Hotel, a boutique property that’s as much an eclectic art gallery as hotel. Enjoy innovative dishes by Chef Ryan Poli at Union Tavern off the lobby, then move to the rooftop lounge for after-dinner drinks with great views of downtown Nashville — even from a city bus that’s been relocated to the roof!
Downtown remains the place for honkytonks along Lower Broadway and numerous music attractions. There’s the new National Museum of African American Music, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the historic Ryman Auditorium and the architectural beauty of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony.
In Time for The Holidays
Looking to not only view lights but be part of the experience? “Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle” comes to Nashville Nov. 19 and runs through Dec. 31, while the Nashville Zoo will display 1,000 custom-made silk Chinese lanterns on three miles of zoo pathways as part of Zoolumination Nov. 18 through Feb. 14, 2023.
Ring in 2023 with Jack Daniel’s New Year’s Eve: Nashville’s Big Bash, a free event on Dec. 31 at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. The five-hour televised special on CBS and Paramount+ will headline Brooks & Dunn, Kelsea Ballerini and Zac Brown Band.