Updated: May 5, 2020
Our trip to Nashville was a much-needed mini-vacation. My husband and I were already visiting family who live in the midwest. Whenever possible we like to get away for quick overnight trips. We chose Nashville for its famous food, entertainment, and shopping.
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Where to stay
We opted to stay at an Airbnb in midtown across from Vanderbilt University. It required a 10-minute Lyft ride or 40-minute walk to get to Broadway or the Honkey Tonk highway. If you want to save on parking and do not mind taking a rideshare to go downtown, then you may like staying further out. If you are willing to spend more money upfront and prefer to be near walkable restaurants and bars then you could go for a higher-priced Airbnb or hotel located on or near Broadway.
Where to park
Our Airbnb host recommended that we download the parking app, Spot Hero. The Spot Hero app is amazing because it allows you to compare parking prices and parking proximity to your destination. We opted for a cheaper garage and didn't mind a 15-minute trek to our Airbnb room. We parked our car at the Library garage and only paid $14 for overnight parking. Some garages can run up to $35, so the app is worth the download.
Where to eat
One travel blog recommended catching a bite to eat at The Henley, a restaurant located inside the 4.5 stars Kimpton Hotel. The Hotel is a bit more central to downtown and is absolutely stunning. If eating at the Henley be sure to check the hours. The bar opens at 4pm and dinner isn't served until 5pm. We went to the Henley right at 4pm. We sat at the bar where I then enjoyed my first real taste of bourbon. I ordered a mix drink called the labor of fruit and it was pretty good! We ordered a snack plate of various meats, pickles and mustard called a charcuterie board. Overall our snack at the Kimpton was delicious but on the pricier end. We ended up eating dinner at a nearby taco spot called, San Antonio Taco Company. We must have stumbled upon a local favorite. The food was delicious! I ate a pulled pork taco, a chili taco and a steak taco paired with chips and guac. One of the employees gave us free queso and topped off our chips. I recommend skipping the pricey Henley and going straight for this cheaper local hotspot.
On our walk back to our car after checkout, we popped into a small cafe called D'Andrews Bakery and Cafe. I ordered a cappuccino and my husband got a green tea latte. We also shared a vanilla creme donut. The donut was light, airy and sweet. It was the perfect pre-lunch snack! My cappuccino was made to perfection. The staff were very nice and overall we loved the aesthetic of the cafe.
A quick search of restaurants located in the Gulch neighborhood led us to Arnolds! This gem favored by locals had lines bursting out the door. We arrived around 11:30 AM and were able to beat most of the lunch rush. Arnolds boasts southern cooking with dishes like bbq ribs, collard greens, and fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomatoes were my favorite! After lunch, we walked around the gulch neighborhood. We parked in a garage where the 1st hour was free! The gulch neighborhood is a trendy area filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. You should also stop to take your picture in front of the famous angel wings! There may be a line for your photo op but trust me the line moves fast and it is worth the wait!
After perusing the gulch neighborhood we headed towards the Riverwalk park. Here we sat to enjoy the scenic Cumberland river views and I sketched the iconic midwest style bridges I have grown to love so much.
Finally, we made our way to the Opry Mills mall which is about a 20-minute drive away from downtown. You can also stop at the Grand Ole Opry as it is right next door to the mall. At the mall we were excited to eat at the Aquarium restaurant. This restaurant boasts an aquarium that surrounds you allowing you to be mesmerized by various fish and water species as you eat. The blue atmosphere is calming and peaceful and was the perfect end to our Nashville trip. After dinner we walked off our food and enjoyed the holiday ambiance of the mall.
What souvenirs to bring home
Please don't forget to buy goo goo clusters! We couldn't make all the places on our itinerary and unfortunately, a trip to the goo goo shop was missed. I did get to keep a keepsake glass that came with my drink purchase from the Aquarium restaurant. I also bought a couple of postcards in a souvenir shop.
Overall my husband and I really enjoyed our first trip to Nashville. The city is diverse, filled with life and is not as densely populated as other cities which I have visited. It offers something for everyone. If you are into bar hopping then the honky tonk highway will definitely be your scene. If you are more into food then there are several excellent restaurants and coffee shops to choose from. There is definitely plenty to do in a quick overnight trip and we are definitely planning to return!
Thank you for reading! I hope my insight helps as you plan your next visit to Nashville, TN!