My second time in Nashville was for my little sister’s 21st birthday and our trip was planned so perfectly that I want to share our itinerary and things to do in Nashville. We squeezed a lot into our Thursday evening to Sunday night trip to Nashville.
A few of these are a bit of a drive away. We rented a car for $20/day (I wish we could have rented a JL, though) at the airport so that we wouldn’t miss out on some of Nashville’s surrounding attractions, like the Jack Daniel’s Distillery.
Thanks to a few Nashville bloggers I follow, we were able to plan a trip with a lot of good “local” Nashville things to do, as well as the touristy sights we wanted to see. You can learn a lot more about Nashville with bloggers Jen Saviano and Hannah Dtrick.
Things to Do
The Arrington Vineyard is a bit outside of Nashville, but totally worth the trip. I would highly suggest trying to make it to Arrington on a weekday–Thursday or Friday being fine. It gets extremely busy on the weekend, and wait times for a wine tasting can be up to two hours. However, you can always purchase a bottle and drink it in the vineyard while you wait for a tasting. On Fridays, they have a selection of food trucks on the premises, and so you can have dinner there too, but the vineyard itself only carries a small selection of cheeses and meats for purchase. The vineyard is a very cute spot for picture-taking. My sisters and I all wore our cutest outfits to the vineyard in hopes of snapping some Instagram-worthy shots.
Mammoth Caves National Park
Mammoth Caves National Park is in Kentucky, and about an hour and a half north of Nashville. Since we were already so close to this National Park (and we LOVE exploring new parks), we made the drive across state lines for the once in a lifetime experience of the Mammoth Cave. Arriving at Mammoth Cave, there is no park entry fee, but they charge $17/person for tours. There is a huge selection of tour types, each exploring a different section of the large underground cave system that exists under Kentucky. Each tour also focuses on the different characteristics of that part of the cave, like some have a lot of stalagmites and stalactites, some are more humid than others, some are small and windy while others are large and spacious. We opted for the Historic Tour, which covers the Mammoth Cave itself, and the main story on the tour is about a slave named Steven Douglas who was the key explorer of the cave. Douglas gave tours of the caves back in the 1800s, and the names you currently see written on cave walls are a result of tours led by Douglas to the visitors of the Mammoth Cave. You could tell that our tour guide was extremely passionate about the cave, and very knowledgeable on its history and stories that have been passed down from the times of slavery. Inside the cave, it is COLD. Being from Florida, the cool 54 degrees of the cave is the same as our “winter”. I’d recommend bringing a light jacket on any cave tour, since you might get chilly inside.
Centennial Park and Parthenon
Since I’ve been to Centennial Park before this trip, we went to the park at night. Being at the park and walking the Parthenon at night was a bit eerie but it felt much more grand than it does during the day. During the day, you can enter the Parthenon for a fee and there is an art museum inside.
Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is a radio show featuring country music in Nashville, Tennessee. It originated as a one-hour radio “barn dance” and is now the longest running radio broadcast in US history. Obviously, the coolest thing you can do here is go and see a show at the Grand Ole Opry. However, all we did here was take some pictures with the huge guitar sculptures in the front. In this area, there is also the Gaylord Palms Resort, but the Tennessee version and the largest one in the United States. There is also a big mall, so you can spend a lot of time here if you have some to kill.
So, full disclosure, we never actually made it to the Hermitage (I guess you can chalk that up to the missed flight on our way to Nashville). However, I think that it is worth going to since I have been to historical sites before in places like Savannah which would be similar. The Hermitage is Andrew Jackson’s home, and he later became the first governor of Florida.
Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour
The Jack Daniel’s Distillery tour was my favorite activity on this trip. Reservations are required and the distillery is in Lynchburg, TN which is about an hour from Nashville. We paired this drive with the hike to Machine Falls since they were in the same general area. We did the “Flight of Jack Daniel’s” tour, which includes a bus ride to farthest end of the distillery, and about a half mile walk through the distillery and a few flights of stairs inside the buildings. It is an excellent tour, and Jon T was a phenomenal guide. The stories he told were the perfect mix of historically accurate and word of mouth, and we learned the difference between Tennessee whiskey and your average whiskey.
The Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg is an active, working distillery. The tour allowed us to go into buildings were the whiskey is actively being made and matured. As you progress through the tour, you can smell the alcohol vapor at it’s different stages, all the way to a maturing warehouse where you can smell the distinct Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey. The tour ended with a tasting of five different Jack Daniel’s whiskeys, two of which Jon T had us mix half and half together for a special taste.
We did a short hike to a waterfall that we actually found with a location tag on Instagram. Although the drive there was about an hour, it was on the way to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery so we brought a change of clothes. The hike to the waterfall was only about a quarter of a mile, but you can opt to do a longer loop. It was a hot, and buggy day and we were decimated by mosquito bites, but the cold water of the falls felt relieving. Since we had made a checklist sign for Vicky’s 21st birthday, she HAD to jump into Machine Falls. This hike was the perfect outdoorsy addition to our otherwise touristy trip.
Belle Meade Plantation
The Belle Meade Plantation has been transformed into an educational facility and is home to a winery. We did a self-guided tour around the plantation as well as a small wine tasting. It’s also a popular wedding venue, so there’s a lot of great picture spots here!
Music City Walk of Fame
Music City Walk of Fame is a small park in downtown Nashville where select music stars of country and rock have their own plaque on the walk. Although it doesn’t compare to the Hollywood Stars, it is a big piece of Nashville pop culture.
Pinewood Social is a concept I have honestly never seen before. When you walk in, it’s a coffee shop, but keep walking and you’ll find a full bar and restaurant. On top of that, there’s ten lanes of bowling in the back, which are high in demand so make reservations early if you plan to bowl. It is a very Instagrammable spot, that’s for sure.
The Gulch is an area of Nashville that is super up and coming with restaurants, bars, hotels, and more. This area is home to some popular Nashville murals too.
LA Jackson Rooftop Bar
This bar is at the rooftop of the Thompson Nashville hotel. There was a short wait time to get in, but the view was worth it. This bar sports many cocktails, and our timing with daylight allowed us to get some beautiful photos.
The Westin Rooftop
The Westin’s rooftop bar was recommended to us by a local we chatted with at LA Jackson. It was a very classy rooftop bar, with loungey patio seating, low music, and several pools overlooking the sights of Nashville.
Yazoo Brewing Company
I had a $5 IPA at this brewery, and I am still craving another. Yazoo is a local brewery in the Gulch, and beer prices are always cheaper right at the source.
If it is a coffee kind of morning, check out Barista Parlour in the Gulch for some crafty coffees, great parking, and an overall very Instagram worthy coffee shop.
These are the Broadway spots which we enjoyed the most.
Jason Aldean Kitchen and Rooftop Bar
The Jason Aldean bar was poppin’ with an entrance line out the door, and so we knew we had to check it out. We were also starving at this point so we got a table and had some food (none of which we really liked so I’d recommend having dinner elsewhere). Jason Aldean’s had two floors and a rooftop we never made it to. The band here was very lively and everyone was dancing.
Wannabes Karaoke Bar
Wannabes can be overshadowed by Jason Aldean’s next door, but it is the place to go if you are wanting to sing along to Old Town Road in your best Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. So. Many. People. Sang. This. Song. Being in Nashville, you have to take advantage of this karaoke bar while you can. Maybe you’ll get discovered!
Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk
Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk is one of the newer spots on Broadway. With five stories of live bands, Kid Rock’s was somewhere you could spend the ENTIRE night. I love to dance and there was a lot of swing and two step music being played here, so this easily made #1 on my list of Honky Tonks.
Although it’s not what you typically get on Nashville’s Broadway, Tin Roof was one of my favorite bars. It was my kind of music–pop punk and grungy rock. Turns out Tin Roof is a chain and they can be found in many major cities. The band at this bar (which I am kicking myself for not catching their IG or website) put on a phenomenal show. They got had the entire crowd at the bar super engaged and singing along at the top of their lungs. I wish we had stumbled upon this bar earlier in the night, so that we could have spent more time there.
Tootsies is where we ended the night, walking in as last calls were being ordered. Tootsies had a great vide on the top floor patio, where everyone was chilling and able to hear their conversations without yelling over the music.
A huge part of traveling is trying local restaurants and Hattie B’s is casual Nashville hot chicken. Don’t even question this one, just go. This is the best fried chicken I have ever had in my life, and the sandwich here has been voted as a top 100 sandwich in the US. There’s typically a line if you go during the busier times of the day, and parking requires a bit of waiting. There are several locations in Nashville, and I wish there was one in Miami.
Milk and Honey (The Gulch)
Milk and Honey was our Sunday morning brunch spot. With a wait of almost two hours, we could tell this was the place to go for brunch, and we were not disappointed. While waiting for a table, we were still able to do more exploring in The Gulch and take pictures at the murals, so time wasn’t wasted. Brunch was delicious and both types of sangria they offered were amazing.
Bartaco is a local Mexican-inspired restaurant and bar, with spicy margaritas that they are known for. The ordering process here was so fast and accurate. Everyone had one paper menu to write on, marked off the number of each type of taco, and voila they were at our table. The tacos were delicious and the margaritas were spicy.
Martin’s BBQ had a line down the entire BLOCK of people waiting for their delicious BBQ. Turns out, Martin’s sells out of a lot of kinds of meats by around 8pm. I was disappointed to find out that they didn’t have ALL their bbq sauces available to have with your food, and they only have them for sale. However, the sauce they did have available was a Nashville classic, and the food itself was superb. Upstairs, they also have a very nice beer garden and patio which is worth spending some time at if you like beer.