Hi, hi, hi!
What a relief to be back in (semi) cooler weather! I just got back a few days ago from my road trip to Nashville with my sister and it was so fun! We first made our way to Louisville, KY to catch the Reputation Stadium Tour on my 20th birthday, then we headed to Nashville to stay over the 4th. Neither of us had ever been to Nashville before so we didn't really know what to expect. My sister heavily researched restaurants to go to and places we could tour/visit. So most of what you'll see below was either discovered or planned out by her (lol).
Nashville was a blast. The city is full of tons of different atmospheres, from intimate live performances for 70 tops at The Bluebird Cafe, to the live bands playing in Broadway Bars like Jason Aldean's, to the symphony playing in the Ascend Amphitheater while the fireworks lit off on the Fourth of July. Everywhere you go in Nashville, not one place is like the other. No matter where you are, you experience the same kind of culture yet in a totally different way and to me, that's what made Nashville so unique.
The heat and humidity was no joke though! When we left the fireworks at 10pm on the 4th, it was still 95 degrees out. Though it was hot, it still made for a fun time because much of what we did consisted of being inside, besides for the walking and a few other fun things that you can find below! I've been waiting to have some time to sit down to write and edit this post, and I am finally able to and I'm so excited to share all of these fun things with you!
We dined at tons of different restaurants and did a lot of fun tourist-y (and non tourist-y) things that I wanted to share with you all on a sort of Things To Do in Nashville type list! I could split this into a ton of different posts, but I'd rather keep it all on one so I'm going to split the list up with Places to Dine and Places to See. There's so many things on this list and I recommend trying/doing every single thing on the list if you ever find yourself in the heart of Music City.
Places to Dine
1. Milk and Honey
Milk & Honey was this cute and trendy restaurant located right in the Gulch area in Nashville. A coffee shop that also serves lunch and dinner, they have a variety of things on their menu so there's no worry when it comes to choosing. They also made wood-fired pizza (which we got but it is sadly not pictured), made with homemade dough cooked fresh daily.
I really liked this restaurant for many different reasons. It was a light and fun atmosphere and the food was delicious. The hummus platter (pictured above) came with three different spreads, veggies and pita bread. The pizza came wood-fired, cut into eight slices. Aside from the restaurant, they also have a place where you can buy fresh gelato and coffee, along with souvenirs like mugs, honey, and more.
2. The Mockingbird Cafe
Another restaurant located in the Gulch area, The Mockingbird Cafe is this chic new restaurant that incorporates ingredients from all over the world into their menu to take a global wide spin on their dishes. We actually made reservations to the Cafe for 11am, but we didn't know it opened right at 11 so reservations for around that time weren't really needed, but it was still nice to have them.
The decor at the Cafe was one of my favorite parts about the joint. It was modern and sophisticated, yet had a fun spin with golden hexagons tiling the floor, decorated floral print walls, a chic bar, an outdoor patio and more. Though there were only few others dining at the same time as us, it was a light, easy-going and unique atmosphere, and if it were busy it'd carry the same.
For lunch we split the Brussels Sprouts and "Meatless Monday" lunch special (great for vegetarians!) that came with the chef's choice of half a sandwich, salad, a cup of soup, fries and a cookie. The food was awesome and the global wide spin they discuss of their dishes was evident in each portion.
3. The Bluebird Cafe
One of Nashville's most iconic, The Bluebird Cafe held an astonishing level of intimacy and is one of my most recommended of places to go while visiting. The Bluebird Cafe was where Taylor Swift was got discovered by Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records, so I of course wanted to go and see it. We found a show on a Monday night that was first come, first serve with a $15 coverage at the door. Many of the shows at the Bluebird have tickets available online for purchase but I read they sell out fast, and every show we had checked out online aside from the one we went to had already been sold out.
We arrived about an hour early and waited in line with about 60 others for the doors to open. The show lasted an hour and a half and we were able to order food and drinks during it. For how small of a club it is, it doesn't seem as crowded or enclosed as you would think once everyone is in there and the music starts playing. The food was average but the intimate and fun atmosphere makes the experience worthwhile.
4. Biscuit Love
My sister found this place while hunting down places to dine in Nashville and boy am I glad she did. We went to Biscuit Love for brunch around 11am on a Tuesday and had to wait in a line that was out the door for a little over a half hour! Thankfully they had umbrellas and water out for our convenience in the hot Nashville heat, but the food was well worth the wait. Biscuit Love is also in the Gulch area, as are Milk & Honey and The Mockingbird Cafe listed above.
It's a very fast-paced environment; you order at the front, get your number, pick a spot to sit and the food is delivered out only about 10 minutes after sitting down. I went with the biscuits & gravy with chicken and it was the best chicken I have ever eaten. The biscuits were homemade, cooked fresh everyday and were so fluffy, buttery and made to perfection.
I would highly recommend anything with a biscuit on this menu because if the chicken and biscuits were that good, I can only imagine what everything else tastes like. And for those of you who are vegetarian, they have many options for you, too!
Places to See
1. Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
It wasn’t until we were in Nashville that we discovered the Cheekwood Botanical Garden's and had to go. The land resides about 10 miles out of downtown Nashville on a gorgeous 55-acre lot, emphasizing natures beauty everywhere you look.
We purchased tickets online for regular admission and were able to visit all 12 of the gardens and the grounds of the Mansion with our admission. It was a scorcher that day though, so our time there only lasted a mere hour and a half compared to the hours it could’ve been had if not been so dang hot! It was so quiet and peaceful, though. Each of the gardens on the land had their own personal aspects that shined their beauty and differentiated one from another.
My favorite of the gardens was definitely the Bradford Robertson Color Garden, full of flamboyant tones dressing a variety of petals; roses, sunflowers, tropical plants and more. These Botanical Garden’s are for sure one of Nashville’s hidden gems, and I would highly recommend taking a trip to this tranquil and beautiful land of you ever get a chance.
2. Country Music Hall of Fame
If you love country music or the history of country music, the Country Music Hall of Fame is the place for you. Full of props from different artists, handwritten lyrics of some of country’s biggest hits, and even the cars of Elvis Presley and Webb Pierce, this place has it all. We purchased regular admission, but there are options to purchase extras on top of the general admission, such as studio tours, an audio recorded tour, or a Hatch experience.
The museum is three levels, starting on the third and making your way down. I’m not too big of a country fan, but I do love music so it was unique to see how the genre has evolved over the years, including the craft of their work, style, and sound.
The Hall of Fame is also home to the Taylor Swift Education Center and tons of Taylor’s props used over the years, including the infamous sparkly guitar and the Love Story music video dress. The museum is also currently featuring a Little Big Town exhibit, which showcaes the struggles and triumphs of the bands career, and also message exchanges between Taylor Swift and the band regarding the Grammy-Award Winning song, "Better Man."
Admission was only about $28 and it’s well worth the experience, country fan or not. The Hall of Fame is located right in downtown Nashville, within walking distance to tons of restaurants, Bridgestone Arena, and the Music City Center.
3. Amelia's Flower Truck
We spotted this cute little flower truck heading down 12South. Amelia's Flower Truck was one of the more aesthetically pleasing things to see above all else, and its vintage twist with the old Volkswagen Bus made it all the more better.
There are actually three different trucks that make their way through Nashville, switching locations each and every day. It's almost like we gravitated to the truck without knowing it. It wasn't our plan to find it, but I'm glad we did. The truck has a variety of different flowers, and brings back old-school vibes, re-assuring that some things are still made to be simple and beautiful.
4. Nashville Murals
One of my favorite things to do in a city is a wall crawl--finding all the different and unique murals that call the city walls their home. There are tons of different murals all over the city of Nashville. And more times than not, there are many in each area so if you're looking to just do a small wall crawl and not spend the majority of your time driving, areas like The Gulch and 12South have multiple murals within walking distance of each other.
My favorite mural that we saw was definitely the infamous Instagram #WhatLiftsYou wings wall, which is located right in the Gulch area. Being able to see a variety of different artists work within the same city prides Nashville to it's own unique and rich personality.
These murals definitely speak to what Nashville is really all about-- original, talented artists not afraid to take a risk. A piece of advice I will give though when hunting these murals down, some of them did have lines! Not too long, no more than about a 5 minute wait to get a picture, but it's always nice to keep in mind in case you're traveling there around a busier time.
BONUS: A Two-in-One: Place to see and Place to Dine
Five Daughters Bakery
With three different locations, I'm adding Five Daughters Bakery to this list of things to do in Nashville as a bonus two-in-one, place to dine and place to see.
Five Daughters was the perfect place to catch a treat to fulfill that sweet tooth and they also have an adorable mural that you can take pictures at. The Bakery had a variety of different donuts and a very welcoming atmosphere. We visited the 12South location, but there are locations in East Nashville and off of Franklin Road.
**DISCLAIMER: all photos used in this post were taken by me (Abby Graf) and if planing to use/share, give credit to The Bleached Curl or @abbygraf on Instagram**
I hope you all enjoyed this post and hopefully it sparks some inspiration on things that you can do if your next trip is to Nashville! My inbox is always open, so if you have any questions regarding any of these places, or want to chat about some of your favorite places to visit, see here or follow my Instagram.