This past weekend I took a girl’s trip to the arguably the biggest bachelorette capital of the US–Nashville, Tennessee. Ironically, I wasn’t going for any wedding related activities and instead of donning matching “bride squad” t-shirts, I was accompanied by my mom for a spontaneous weekend trip to visit her sister. With a bit of downtime in between our busy family packed schedule of going to church, watching home videos, and making homemade pasta, piroky, and pizza using my grandmother’s handwritten recipes, we headed downtown Nashville a few times armed with their local Tennessee know-how and a few Pinterest tourist recommendations for some sight-seeing and exploring.
Despite its notorious reputation as a country music party city, we wandered, shopped and relaxed without a feather boa, party bus or phallic shaped straw. Here’s my Nashville itinerary that’s culture-filled, void of bachelorettes and 100% mom-approved.
Our first afternoon in town, I wanted to hit up some Nashville landmarks and in true travel blogger fashion nab some iconic city pics. We first did a little informal tour of Vanderbilt University. My aunt worked at the University Hospital for 20+ years and we wanted to see where she worked. The campus was a blooming at springtime and the redbuds and dogwoods were gorgeous and flowering all over the place.
Afterwards we made our way to 12th Avenue South to visit the infamous “I Believe in Nashville“ mural. We spent the afternoon wandering into the surrounding boutiques and shops like Draper James, Summer Classics Nashville and imogene +willie. To my blogging delight, there’s a whole host of painted walls scattered up and down the street including-bright flowers, simple stripes, records and more! Click here for their addresses.
As passionate Chopped fans, Sloco Sandwiches caught our eye as there was a sign outside boasting it as a home to an accomplished “Chopped Champion” chef. Not only was the restaurant dedicated to in-season, locally sourced food with a solid vegetarian offerings, we actually met the head chef in person who WON Chopped episode and were able to talk to him for a bit!! So, no country music star celeb sightings in Nashville, BUT a Chopped Champion is pretty darn cool! Also the Sloco vegan meatball sub and mac and cheese made a pretty darn delightful lunch as well.
Next, we headed downtown to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Formerly the post office of Nashville, the 1930s Art Deco building housed three rotating art exhibits that we explored for an hour, including the photography of Vogue contributor Irving Penn, The Secrets of Buddhist Art from Tibet, Japan and Korea, and the thought provoking nature meets humanity art of Claire Morgan.
In the surrounding neighborhoods of downtown Nashville are a collection of historic block of buildings. As history and art fanatics, we read all the plaques and admired the architecture dating back to the early 1800s of Union Station Hotel, Ryman Auditorium (former Grand Ole Opry), Customs House and the Hermitage Hotel.
Also in true Hansen family fashion, we couldn’t not stop at the Tennessee State Capitol. (Over the course of my lifetime I’ve been to probably 40 out of the 50 state capitol buildings. No joke.) Open to the public during business hours, the Capitol offers self-guided walking tours that allow you to peak into the senate rooms, the Capitol library, and even the governor’s office! We managed to get a VIP tour and made our way all the way to the top of the tower and overlooked the Nashville skyline!
Touring the Capitol reminded me of all the US history I crammed and promptly forgot in middle school–like stories about presidents, civil war battles and legislation. Visiting landmarks and learning about history as an adult is much more exciting and relevant!
After teaming up with my cousin, we managed to convince my aunt and mom to join us for a wild mild night out on the town. We walked straight from the Capitol down Church Street and saw Printers Alley. My cousin recommends Luigi’s Karaoke. A few blocks up we wandered down the bar packed street of 2nd Ave (recommended spot: Coyote Ugly) and then up the tourist and bachelorette packed Broadway strip.
The nightlife scene (and really Nashville in general) reminded me a lot of Austin. Plenty of cowboy boots and country music filled the small, hilly downtown. At the edge of Broadway we gazed upon the Cumberland river and the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge bridge that takes party-goers to and from the sports stadium. Next, we made our way to the famous Tootsies and enjoyed a drink on the third floor balcony. Taking my mom to the busy bar scene of Nashville on a Saturday night was quite entertaining. She wasn’t one to drink much, but she was quite pleased to get ID’d walking into bars. Pro Tip: skip the major Tootsies line and head to the back alley entrance to get in faster.
After we finished our drinks, we caught a cab to escape the tourist packed downtown madness to head to a more local part of town. Known as the Gulch, the neighborhood was just across the railroad tracks and a bit more tame. We went to Up Rooftop Lounge on top of the Fairfield Inn and ended the night with some FABULOUS breathtaking views of the Nashville skyline on the balcony patio.
Pins for later…