Weekend Getaway-Nashville Edition
If my social media feeds are to be believed, it appears a great deal of Tri-Cities folks are taking off for quick weekend trips to Nashville. And who can blame them? Since Covid, Nashville has exploded as the new US hotspot, drawing the thousands of average Joe’s, tech companies, celebrities, and urban developers from around the world. Following right on the heels of this massive growth came dining and entertainment like no other. I can honestly say Nashville has something for everyone- outstanding cuisine, a broad array of sporting events, rooftop views of glittering city skylines, and of course music at every turn.
It’s for this reason I get so disappointed every time I see someone on Instagram or Facebook come all this way and never venture off Broadway. While I’m the first to admit there’s a good time to be had falling in and out of the honky tonks of South Broadway (or SoBro as we call it), there’s so much more to the city. Nashville proper has more than 20 identifiable neighborhoods, each with their own unique flavor and offerings and probably less than a 10 minute Uber ride from wherever you are. This is an almost impossible mission for me, but I’m going to attempt to recommend a perfect weekend in Music City. However, this is entirely subjective and abbreviated to fit space and time, so if you’re planning a trip this way I highly suggest you research and crowdsource tailored to your own interests.
First I would plan the trip around a big event. Maybe it’s a sporting event; my favorite is taking in a Preds game and their season will last well into March. But depending on the time of year you can attend a Titans football game, baseball at First Horizon Park in Germantown, or for the latest fun, catching Tennessee’s Major League Soccer Team at their new stadium. If you’re not the sporting type, definitely see a concert. There are endless music venues, but for the largest acts you can check the lineup at Bridgestone Arena, Nissan Stadium, Ascend Amphitheater (my favorite -you can watch your favorite artist perform outdoors with the beautiful cityscape behind them), The Ryman and even Brooklyn Bowl, a music and entertainment venue that has, you guessed it, bowling lanes. Whatever it is, I would try to make that your Saturday night plan.
If possible, drive down on an early Friday afternoon. Nashville is only around 4.5 hours from Tri-Cities and the bonus is you’ll gain an hour coming down when you cross from Eastern to Central Time. If you can get on the road by 11am you’ll arrive just in time for the standard 3pm hotel check-in and miss the bulk of rush hour traffic, which is an absolute nightmare and only getting worse as more people move to the area.
Now for one of the most important aspects of your trip- where to stay. You can expect to drop on average $125-$375/night for a hotel room on a January weekend. It’s difficult to choose because there are so many incredible options, but if money is of no object I would definitely suggest somewhere with a fabulous rooftop and an excellent restaurant. The Joseph is a perfect example; located in the heart of downtown this is a stunning new showpiece, outfitted with amazing art installations from the time you pull up to the valet. On the ground floor they are home to Yolan, the Italian fine dining venture by Michelin Starred chef Tony Mantuano. Upstairs they have one of the most breathtaking rooftops in Nashville- with their white poolside cabanas and lush walls of succulents and greenery, you’ll swear you’ve stepped onto a patio in Greece rather than a roof in Middle Tennessee.
If you’d prefer accommodations a bit funkier and off the beaten path, check out The Dive Motel in East Nashville. This 70s throwback will also make you think you’ve time traveled, this time to the decade of disco. This former run down, one level mid-century masterpiece was lovingly restored to its hayday, each room decorated with shag carpet, disco balls, and heart shaped tubs. In the summer months, their pool is the wildest weekend party in town, with all the coolest of Nashville enjoying live local artists on the poolside stage. This property is 21+ and definitely not for you if you’re seeking a relaxing and quiet night in.
For a Friday night of food and fun I suggest checking out Germantown. This neighborhood has some of the best restaurants in Nashville and everything is super walkable. For sushi there’s O-Ku, the sexy Asian sister to Oak Steakhouse. For seafood, check out the Optimist, then venture to their amazing cocktail bar Le Loup for post dinner drinks. For the most spectacular wine list in Nashville and pasta check out Rolf & Daughters. Or for classic American dishes there’s Butchertown Hall or 5th and Taylor. If you feel like continuing the party late night, there’s nowhere better than Mother’s Ruin, a 2 story gem with a back patio that’s typically filled with Nashville locals from all walks of life.
Saturday mornings are for brunch, and I recommend heading 20 minutes south to America’s Main Street and exploring downtown Franklin. This charming Nashville suburb is steeped with civil war history and the streets surrounding the downtown square are lined with boutique retail shops and fantastic eateries. One of my favorites is a small Italian bistro called Culacinno. Enjoy the view of an open air kitchen where chefs prepare handmade pastas and brick oven pizzas while sipping on a spritz or mimosa. If you’re in the mood for something more casual, just down the street is 55 South, a New Orleans style fast-casual venture that’s been featured on Guy Fierri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” It’s guaranteed greasy, feel-good food, and every weekend they set up a monster Bloody Mary bar as well.
Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and eating in Franklin, it will probably be time for your event. Instead of hitting the same honky tonks on Broadway before and after, take time to explore the new Fifth & Broad development directly across the street from Bridgestone. This giant complex just keeps growing and is already home to Justin Timberlake’s 12/30 Club, Eddie V’s steakhouse, a plethora of retail shops including an Apple store, and Assembly Food Hall which is a food court featuring all Nashville classics like DeSano’s Pizza and Prince’s Hot Chicken to name a few. The new underground tequila bar Pushing Daisies is the latest late night “it” spot with a speakeasy vibe and is also located in F&B. If you want to continue your party into the wee hours of the morning, stroll one block up to Printer’s Alley where you can dance the night away to the house band at Bourbon Street Boogie Bar or with bottle service at Dirty Little Secret. You can also take in the city views from the AirStream on The Bobby rooftop or cozied up next to a fire at Rare Bird, the rooftop of The Noelle.
If time permits, grab some brunch and last minute retail therapy before heading out on Sunday in 12 South. This trendy neighborhood hosts Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James boutique as well as White’s Mercantile. And the brunch at Urban Grub is not to be missed. They have your standard dishes as well as a raw bar and ample seating.
This itinerary is hardly a drop in the bucket of things-to-do in Nashville. If you’re planning a trip, my only plea is to dig a little deeper than the uber-touristy Broadway area and expand your horizons. There’s so much fun to be had, the hardest part of your trip will be making time for it all.