A Weekend in Nashville: Girls’ Guide
If you want to extend your life expectancy, cut down your risk of heart disease and improve your tolerance for pain, science says to grab your best friends, book a hotel, get somebody to watch the kids, and head on out a girls’ trip. So do it. It’s for SCIENCE. (Source: https://www.who.com.au/girls-trips-are-good-for-your-health). I’m going to help you do all of those things by telling you the best way to see Nashville, TN.
Before I go into specific suggestions, my first tip is to be prepared for an onslaught of bachelorette parties. I was impressed by the younger generation’s ability to color coordinate twenty matching shirts saying “Buy Me a Shot, I’m Tying the Knot”, as well as their drinking stamina—many started by 10 a.m., just as the bars were opening. As your girls’ weekend goes on, you’ll probably find that time has little meaning in Nashville anyway. Our pub crawl started at 1 p.m., for instance, so get ready to immerse yourself in music, hot chicken, clothes and booze. Here are the must-dos, must-eats, and must-sees.
If there is a rooftop bar, I’m going. I’m not sure what draws me to them, but there’s something so satisfying about being on top of the world sipping a cocktail and enjoying panoramic views. Here are a few not to miss.
JASON ALDEEN’s KITCHEN + ROOFTOP BAR
As the night cools off, the entertainment heats up, and at this tourist hotspot, you have three levels of fun to choose from. When we were there, a wait for the table was over two hours, which seems to be the norm, so get there early or make your way up to the top to the rooftop bar. You can get counter service for food here, as well as amazing views of Broadway. Jason Aldean’s’ is a consistent winner of various “Nashville’s Best” awards, and this is definitely a place to see and be seen. With three levels, you’ll have your pick of live music, food, and drink and there is guaranteed live music on two floors each night. Jason Aldean’s is located at 311 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, from 11 am to 3 am Monday through Friday, and from 10 am to 3 am Saturday to Sunday. https://jasonaldeansnashville.com/
When I travel, I like to make sure that I visit the road less traveled by tourists, and try to go where the locals go. If you want to get away from tourist drenched Broadway, head to the Gulch neighborhood for a specialty cocktail at L.A. Jackson. Located on the top floor of the Thompson Nashville, L.A. Jackson is an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar and restaurant. Upscale and classy, there was definitely a different vibe here compared to the Broadway bars. The interior of the bar, as well as the rooftop, has incredible views of downtown Nashville’s skyline. http://www.lajacksonbar.com/ 401 11th Street South, Nashville, TN
Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge
Oh, look! Another rooftop bar! I guess I must go in. Kitschy and loud, this is an absolute must-do in Nashville when you’re on Broadway. Tootsie’s is well known for having the best local musicians, and the best people-watching is here. Drinks were a bit lackluster, but the atmosphere totally made up for it. Lines can stretch pretty long, so my secret tip is to enter around the back in the alley, where there is a separate entrance. 422 Broadway, Nashville, TN http://www.tootsies.net/
PEG LEG PORKER, BBQ
Featured on over ten cooking shows, and glowing reviews from locals and tourists alike, I had immediately added this place to my list. When we arrived there was a line, and it was raining. Quite a long line, actually and we almost left to find something else. Then, we discovered that we could order a drink at the bar while we waited and we were sold. The menu boasts pulled pork, ribs, fried pies & buckets of beer. I am a BBQ snob and this was some of the best I’ve had. It was everything BBQ should be. Inexpensive, messy, filling, and delicious. 903 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN https://www.peglegporker.com/
This is on every single must-eat list in Nashville, so I dutifully added it to mine. You will wait in a long line here, but the employees will give you a cute little umbrella to shield yourself from the hot southern sun while you wait. An insider tip is to place your order online, and then you can bypass the wait. Biscuit Love prides itself on getting ingredients from other locals, and the food love translates into biscuit love. A must-try. 316 11TH Ave., South Nashville, TN https://biscuitlove.com/gulch
HATTIE B’S HOT CHICKEN
I didn’t make it here, but I was able to try some hot chicken, and in my opinion, this is a must. If going directly to the source isn’t convenient for your plans, you still must order some hot chicken off of a menu somewhere. I don’t generally like spicy foods, but I could not stop eating my hot chicken bites at a random restaurant that I can’t remember. I still think about that hot chicken, and I am pretty sure if I could get some authentic hot chicken in the Chicago suburbs, I’d be a regular. If you can make it to Hattie’s…go. If not, get yourself some off of any menu. There are various locations around Nashville. To find the closest one, head here: https://hattieb.com/
My favorite thing to do on trips is to just wander around and see where the universe takes me. I always make sure to carve out one “we’ll see!” day, and more often than not, these are my favorite days. I’d highly recommend getting an Uber to Broadway. My number questions for any Uber driver when I’m traveling out of town is, “What is your absolute favorite thing about this city?” and “Where’s your ‘go-to’ place to hang with friends?” Pick a neighborhood, ask your Uber driver and see where you end up.
I can’t think of any other city where you can start at one end of a street, go to the end, and are able to hop into various bars and see amazing live music at any time of day or night. Walking around Broadway and venturing into various venues for drinks and live music was the absolute highlight of my trip.
NASHVILLE TOURS/HOP ON HOP OFF
I recommend taking some sort of tour to get you acclimated to the city. We did not do any of these things, because we were too busy eating and drinking, but consider adding one of these activities to your list. These two came highly recommended. https://www.trolleytours.com/nashville/hop-on-hop-off. https://www.viator.com/tours/Nashville/Discover-Nashville/d799-3131DN
In my experience, pub crawls can be hit or miss, depending on the tour guide, the people who join the crawl along with you, and the quality of the drinks. I have mixed feelings about the pub crawl we experienced. It started too early, didn’t include any drinks, and we had to play getting to know you games which I find increasingly awkward. A positive of the pub crawl we went on was that we were exposed to different bars that we might not have gone into on our own. I would recommend checking out the pub crawls available, read the reviews, and choose the one that works best for your group. Do this instead of doing what we did, which was to wake up and book the first one we saw.
There are so many adorable boutiques dotted around the city—The Gulch, 19th Avenue North and the Vanderbilt area were the best places for me to find that next something wonderful to wear out. Much like bar hopping, Nashville is a perfect place for the boutique hop. Start at one end of the street in the aforementioned neighborhoods, and see what you find. If you’re looking for specifics, California’s favorite VICI just opened a location in Nashville at 1030 MLK JR Blvd. You also can’t go wrong with popping into Blush Boutique in the Gulch at 606 12th Ave S.
At the end of the trip, I definitely had my fill of drinks, food, and clothes, yet I left wishing I still had an extra day—and more hot chicken. If you’ve been waffling about whether to visit Nashville or not, waffle no longer. Go.