Nashville is having a moment; if you’re one of the city’s many visitors (there were 14.5 million recorded in 2017), you’ll notice an abundance of new shops, restaurants and boutique hotels—with countless more under construction. And while there’s no shortage of new sights to see, you also won’t want to miss the legendary landmarks that originally landed Nashville on the national radar. Here, we’ve broken down a bit of the new and the old that you won’t want to miss on your next trip to Music City.
When it comes to accomodations, the luxurious Hermitage Hotel offers a chic glimpse into the city’s storied past. Nashville’s only Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond hotel, its Beaux Arts architecture has served as a striking backdrop for guests (many a celebrity among them) since the hotel opened in 1910.
Downtown’s newer boutique options include Noelle, housed in the circa-1929 Noel Place, and travel-inspired hotel Bobby. For an intimate experience, don’t miss the historic Germantown Inn. Housed in an 1865, Federal-style home in Nashville’s hip Germantown neighborhood, the hotel recently completed the addition of a 2,000-square-foot Carriage House, encompassing two stories of four additional suites. For the resort experience, the sprawling Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, though just outside Nashville proper, is just steps from the Grand Ole Opry and offers lush atrium gardens with live music and entertainment.
Nashville is known as Music City for a reason; don’t miss legendary sites such as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium, where everyone from Patsy Cline and James Brown to Taylor Swift and Coldplay have performed. Though the Ryman is one of Nashville’s most famous music venues, it was historic Fisk University’s Fisk Jubilee Singers who earned Nashville its iconic nickname when they performed for the Queen of England in 1873 (the a cappella group was also one of the first concerts at the Ryman).
Explore musicians throughout history at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, or browse more than 8,000 square feet of vintage instruments at Carter Vintage Guitars (where you just might run into a well-known musician or two). And of course, the wait is always worth it at the iconic Bluebird Cafe, where some of the most legendary songwriters performed their original material.
Among Nashville’s most beloved restaurants is Rolf and Daughters, which gained national recognition for its New American shared plates and rustic pastas. Its sister concept, the pizza-forward Folk, opened in spring 2018. Charleston-based Butcher & Bee expanded to East Nashville in 2015, offering up a menu of farm-fresh, simple dishes designed to share (we recommend the hummus). For a taste of classic Tennessee barbecue, visit the ever-popular Peg Leg Porker (the line is worth it—we promise).
If shopping is on the itinerary, the city’s trendy 12 South neighborhood is a must. Here, you’ll find local favorites such as premium denim purveyor Imogene + Willie and Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James boutique. You’ll also find the iconic “I Believe in Nashville” mural here, and keep an eye out for Amelia’s Flower Truck. Nearby is Nashville-based interior designer Sarah Bartholomew’s charming Green Hills studio, SB. Sarah Bartholomew, which opened in August 2018, an ode to the designer’s fresh-yet-classic aesthetic.
Meanwhile, in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, you’ll find chic boutiques housed in industrial buildings and warehouses. Stop by the airy showroom/studio Emil Erwin to browse a curated selection of classic, handmade leather handbags, belts, home goods and more. Nearby is the showroom for Nisolo—known for its ethically made leather shoes—and the second retail shop of Nashville jeweler Consider the Wldflwrs. Housed in a former industrial boiler room, Peter Nappi’s studio showroom is home to high-end Italian leather boots, shoes and accessories, along with European vintage home goods. Before leaving Germantown, pay a visit to the 16-acre, indoor-outdoor Nashville Farmers’ Market, where, in addition to fresh produce, you’ll find local artisanal food, restaurants, shops and chef demos.