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Not a fan of country music? Don't worry - there's plenty for you to do with your girlfriends on a Nashville getaway weekend. And who knows? You just might be converted by the end of the trip.
I recently spent seven days in Nashville - half business and half girls' getaway fun - and now consider myself a Nashville expert. To be honest, seven days in Nashville is a bit much. It becomes a bit of sensory overload. Arriving on a Thursday afternoon and leaving Sunday evening is the perfect amount of time for this kind of getaway.
First, a bit of advice:
You're going to eat (a lot) and drink (a lot) when you're in Nashville, so when you're at home planning your trip, I suggest also booking a spot in a morning class at Boothcamp. Sure, you intend to go to the hotel gym, but will you actually go? Scheduling (and paying for) a class in advance will force you butt out of bed and get it to the gym and trust me, you will love it. The gym is super clean, the locker room is stocked with everything from towels and spray-on deodorant to bobby pins and ponytail holders (nice touch!). I took a 7:30 class with Jordan and it was awesome.
Where to stay:
You'll definitely want to stay downtown. No need to rent a car. Downtown Nashville is just 15 minutes from the airport and overnight hotel parking will cost you twice the amount of a cab/Lyft/Uber ride. If you're looking for a unique hotel experience, I suggest the 21c Museum Hotel. This boutique chain houses museums dedicated to 21st century art. (Yes, there is an art museum right inside the hotel.) The rooms were gorgeous, the staff is lovely, and the hamburger at the hotel restaurant, Gray and Dudley, is not to be missed. If you're more of a "I like to use my points" type of gal, Hyatt has the Holston House for boutique hotel lovers and the Hyatt Place for those who like a free breakfast. There is also a brand new JW Marriott, Courtyard, and Fairfield Inn, a Hilton, and a gorgeous Omni Hotel.
Where to eat:
Frothy Monkey is the perfect place to start your day. The original location in the 12 South neighborhood is housed in an adorable bungalow, but save that for an afternoon latte when you can wandering down 12 South to ooh and ahh over the cuteness of Reece Witherspoon's Draper James clothing store.
If you're staying downtown you can walk to the location on 5th Avenue from you hotel. And if you partied a little too hard the night before (easy to do in Nashville), the Farm Breakfast with its extra salty bacon is the perfect hangover cure. (A Bloody Mary to go with your coffee doesn't hurt either.)
Germantown is known for its excellent restaurants and the Germantown Cafe is a great choice for lunch. Order the vegetarian bowl with butternut squash gratin, sauteed spinach, asparagus, portobello skewers, and a cranberry gastrique or the salmon salad. Both are delicious and you'll feel a little less guilty about the gluttony of the weekend.
If you like margaritas and hipsters, Bartaco located in 12 South is the place for you. The restaurant has a beachy feel and a casual vibe, all of the employees are young and beautiful, and the food and drinks are fresh and delicious. I recommend the Red Sonja - a margarita with freshly squeezed lime juice, ginger, and jalapeño. Traveling can wear you down, and this drink will pick you right up.
Nashville is known more for its hot chicken than its barbecue and Hattie B's Hot Chicken is the place to get it. Stand in a line that goes down the block at the popular Midtown location or do what the locals do and take a ten minute Lyft ride to the location on Charlotte Ave.
Of course, I don't mean to imply that the barbecue in Nashville isn't good. It is. And if barbecue is what you're craving, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint on 4th Avenue is not to be missed. All of their meat is delicious (yes, I tried all of it, for research purposes, of course), but my recommendation would be the whole hog sandwich with Alabama White Bar-B-Que sauce. And do yourself a favor and order the potato salad as a side. Best. Potato. Salad. Ever.
Of all the wonderful meals I had in Nashville (and it should be obvious I had quite a few), by far the best was dinner at Skull's Rainbow Room. Unless you want to hover at the bar and hope for a couple of seats to open up, a reservation is mandatory. I had the pork chop, which was to die for and my friend told me her filet was the best she ever had. Go early for the jazz or late for the burlesque, but definitely go.
What to do:
Whether you love taking tours or usually shy away from them, if you love to laugh, the NashTrash Tour is an absolute must. This is a comedy tour of Nashville on a pink school bus, hosted by the "Juggs Sisters." Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay tell a lot of dirty jokes (if you're easily offended, this isn't the tour for you), spread a little bit of gossip, and sing funny songs while showing you the must-see highlights of Music City. They even feed you a snack (cheese from a can on a cracker) and stop for a margarita break. You MUST book this tour in advance because it sells out almost every day.
A trip to Nashville isn't complete without seeing the Country Music Hall of Fame. Visit on a Saturday so you can attend a Songwriter Session and listen to a songwriter share the stories behind their music. You may not have heard of the songwriter, but you have likely heard their songs. I had never heard of Jimmy Yeary, the songwriter for our session, but I was very familiar with many of his songs - "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" cut by Kenny Chesney and David Lee Murphy, "Anywhere with You" cut by Jake Owen, and "I Drive Your Truck" cut by Lee Brice to name a few. Without a doubt, the Songwriter Session was the highlight of my trip to Nashville.
Of course everyone goes to Nashville to experience the Honky Tonks on Broadway. Musicians perform country covers while weaving an original song or two into their set. The music starts in the morning and goes into the wee hours of the night. Visit Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Robert's Western World for a classic dive bar feel or Luke Bryan's 32 Bridge or Jason Aldean's Kitchen & Rooftop Bar for a more upscale modern take. Cover charges are non-existent, so if one bar isn't your scene you can easily work your way down the block and go to the next (and the next and the next). And be sure to bring a valid ID with you, because no matter what your age, you will be carded. (Thank you, Nashville.)
Sure singing along to cover bands on Broadway is fun, but if you want to also see some original music (yes, please!) take a trip to the Bluebird Cafe. You must buy tickets in advance and they sell out fast (as in - within minutes). Instructions on how and when to buy tickets are on their website. If you can't get tickets to the Bluebird (or even if you can) and you're in town on a Monday or a Thursday night, head on over to Winner's Bar in Midtown for Whiskey Jam - a show featuring six - ten artists performing three original songs. Old Dominion, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton and Maren Morris all played there before they were famous, so who knows, you might be lucky enough to experience the next big name in country music.
If you want to unwind a bit with a unique and enjoyable experience (and as a bonus take home a beautiful keepsake to remind you of your trip that is not the standard magnet or coffee mug), consider booking a candle making session at the Candle Bar. You choose your vessel and your scent and get a lesson in candle making. The Candle Bar will ship your candle home for only $8.00 so you don't have to worry about giving up precious space in your suitcase that is already being hogged by your cowboy boots.
A tour of the Ryman Auditorium is another Nashville must-see. Find out how a building originally built for worship grew into one of the world's most iconic music halls. I found the history of the Ryman fascinating. And since you're on a girls' trip, let's talk about Girl Power - the Ryman wouldn't be what it is today without being managed by a woman named Lula C. Naff from 1920 - 1955. In fact, some people credit her with single-handedly turning Nashville into Music City.
If you drank all the drinks and ate all the food and sang all the songs and danced to all the music and are exhausted and ready to go home, good for you - you've done Nashville right. Just be sure to stay alert at the airport, because you never know who you might see. My girlfriend and I spotted Brad Tursi, the lead guitar player from Old Dominion when we were at BNA. And since Old Dominion is one of our favorite bands, we found it the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
Editor's Note: None of the links on this post are affiliated, sponsored or paid for in any way. The author enjoyed herself enough to want to share her finds.