From honky-tonks to hot chicken, this Nashville weekend itinerary is a great introduction to sounds and sights of Music City.
In the words of country singer George Straight, if you’re looking for a good time—even it’s not for a long time—you’ll find that in Nashville, the songwriting capital of the world. Here, music is a religion, barbecue is an institution, and queuing in line for the best music and best food is a given. Every second in Nashville promises a harmonious blend of music, culture, and Southern charm.
This is a city where live country music spills into the streets no matter the time of day and tastebuds are tantalized by low-and-slow pork and scratchmade biscuits. This weekend itinerary promises an authentic Nashville experience, courtesy of our local friends-turned-tour guides The Gormans. Now onto planning your perfect weekend itinerary for Nashville, Tennessee.
NO. OF DAYS
Biscuit breakfast, murals in The Gulch, Hot Chicken at Hattie B's and Lower Broadway honky-tonks
Stacks of pancakes, the Parthenon at Centennial Park, best barbecue at Edley's, Dolly Parton-themed rooftop bar, and secret taqueria
BREAKFAST AT BISCUIT LOVE
Your Nashville weekend begin at Biscuit Love, a locally-owned purveyor of award-winning breakfast sandwiches. “The East Nasty,” featuring a slab of gravy smothered fried chicken between biscuits, won Bon Appetit’s Best Sandwich of the Year in 2015. If you’re more of a morning nibbler, opt for the 5-pc “Bonuts,” fried biscuit balls tossed in sugar and served with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. Sharing is optional.
STREET ART AROUND THE GULCH
From there, it’s time to explore the trendy Gulch neighborhood to scout some of Nashville’s finest murals, many of which are located in The Gulch. Here are some favorites:
📍 What Lifts You Wings by Kelsey Montague: 302 11th Avenue South (There’s also a set of baby wings!)
📍 What Lifts You Rainbows by Kelsey Montague: 1010 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
📍 Kittenish Store: 302 11th Avenue South (Inside the store, you’ll find rose-covered wall and the neon sign “You’re Like, Really Pretty”)
📍 The Nashville Walls Project by Jason Woodside: 302 11th Avenue South
📍 Candy Hearts by Bryson Leach: 601 8th Avenue South
📍 Spread Love by Anthony Billups: 1015 Nelson Merry Street
COFFEE AND COWBOY HATS
If you’re looking to dress the part of a country crooner, then head to Rustler Hat, Nashville’s premiere custom hat experience. Hats range from $175 – $475 depending on quality and customizations. From brandings to burnings, its a concierge service for personalized cowboy hats. They take walk-ins but due to the high foot traffic, it’s best to schedule a fitting. They also sell fun leather jackets.
If you’re looking for a unique coffee experience, head to Barista Parlor. In addition to coffee and tea, they also serve specialty espressos like Whisky Caramel and CBD-infused drinks.
LETTERPRESS POSTERS IN THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME
As a graphic designer, Hatch Show Print was on the top of my must-visit list. Housed in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the longstanding letterpress print shop has produced posters for many famous musicians and events using movable type and hand-carved imagery. Their timeless prints are fairly priced and you can pick up a $3 cardboard tube to transport your print safely home. If funds allow, don’t bypass the museum, which is home to the largest collection of country music history and memorabilia.
No time for the store? You can grab select prints at the Country Music Hall of Fame airport store.
LUNCH AT HATTIE B’S CHICKEN
If you can handle the heat, head to Hattie B’s for their spin on a local specialty with an equally spicy origin story. Story goes that Thorton Prince III, an alleged womanizer, was served a chicken sandwich “so spicy it’d burn your tongue off” as revenge by his fed-up girlfriend. But the plan backfired and Thorton became addicted to the cayenne madness. Soon he was selling the recipe to the masses and thus, hot chicken was born!
Prince’s Hot Chicken is the OG but our friends love Hattie B’s and for good reason. There is a constant line but it goes quickly. Spice level begins at ‘Southern’ (no spice) to ‘What the Cluck’ (this is an actual health concern for the level!) Afterward, grab some chocolates to go at the Goo Goo Clusters Shop, Nashville’s official candy.
Other food choices: If you want to sample more of Nashville’s famous eateries, check out the nearby Assembly Food Hall (see on map) for other popular spots like The Pharmacy Burger Parlor.
SUNSET ON THE RIVERFRONT
Amble across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, offering a nice view of the city skyline and Nissan Stadium. The truss bridge connects downtown Nashville to the residential suburbs of East Nashville. After your little stroll, pop into Crema Coffee, a zero-waste coffee house and roastery, for an afternoon pick-me-up. You can’t go wrong with one of their seasonal lattes or pour overs but if you’re feeling adventurous, try the coffee soda.
NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN ON LOWER BROADWAY
The moment you step foot on Lower Broadway, you’ll understand why Nashville is called “Music City.” Parties in every form (the majority being bachelorette parties) flock to Lower Broadway mainly for the various “honky- tonks” that dominate the street in flashy splendor. Honky-tonks are known for three things: country music, dancing, and drinking.
Line up early if you wanna get into the iconic honky-tonks, like Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western World, or Honky Tonk Central. You can also try your luck at a celebrity-owned venues: Miranda Lambert has Casa Rosa, Justin Timberlake owns Twelve Thirty Club, and Blake Shelton has Ole Red. Another fun spot on that isn’t a music venue is Boot Country, infamous for their “Buy 1 pair of cowboy boots, get 2 cowboy free” deal.
Getting There: Lower Broadway is car-free Thursday to Sunday so you’ll have to walk a little bit to get to to the destination.
Pro-tip: Most honky-tonks allow children before 6 pm, when they becomes strictly adults-only venues. ⠀
WEST TENNESSEE BARBECUE AT MARTIN’S BAR-B-QUE JOINT
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint had a line out the door but their second-floor features open-air seating, live music, and zero wait time! Martin’s is known for their West Tennessee-style whole hog that is cooked for roughly 24 hours. So once they run out, they run out. By 9 pm on a Saturday night when we visited, the brisket was no more, but we were lucky to get some spare ribs and pulled pork.
Day Two in Nashville
STACKS OF PANCAKES AT PANCAKE PANTRY
Pancake Pantry is a breakfast haunt, incredibly popular with the local crowd and hungry collegiates. They pride themselves in made-from-scratch pancakes that come in 23 different flavors and dole out generous portions. I urge you to try the sweet potato pancakes with a cinnamon syrup, its unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. The kids meals are made with extra TLC.
Pro-tip: The Hillsboro restaurant is the original location and gets slammed on the weekends but they opened a new location Downtown that is less busy.
SEE THE PARTHENON AT CENTENNIAL PARK
Head to Centennial Park, the premiere urban park in the city, to check out a full-scale replica of the famous Parthenon landmark found in Athens, Greece. For $10 entrance fee, you can check out a few paintings and marvel at a 42-foot golden statue of the Greek goddess golden. Centennial Park also has a mile-long walking trail for leisurely strolls and a sunken garden.
LUNCH AT EDLEY’S BBQ
As a first-timer to Nashville, it’s contentious for me to say Edley’s BBQ is Nashville’s best barbecue but their brisket makes a strong case. At Edley’s, you’ll be introduced to the Southern concept of Meat N’ Three. Choose your meat and fixins (the side dishes). An older couple let us know that the brisket and turkey were the musts. If you can spare the extra calories, get the fatty brisket for that that melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
More murals:The famous “I Believe in Nashville” mural is right around the corner from Edley’s on 2702 12th Avenue.
LUNCHTIME DONUTS AT FIVE DAUGHTERS
Post-lunch, pass by Five Daughters, a bakery known for its signature “100 Layer Donut,” Akin to a cronut, it takes three days to make and comes in staple and monthly flavors. This shop is really considerate of dietary needs with paleo, gluten-free, and mini-versions of their hundred layer donut. The founders are also Asian and have five daughters! The 12 South location of Five Daughters has a small outdoor play area for kids.
ROOFTOP DRINKS AT A DOLLY PARTON THEMED-BAR
If the weather is on your side, then head to the Graduate Hotel in Midtown. Hiding on the roof is an over-the-top, Dolly Parton-themed bar, The White Limozeen. The instragrammable bar is decked out in glorious amounts of pink and features a larger-than-life bust of the queen of country. Sip on craft cocktails with a Dolly flair while you soak up panoramic views of the Nashville skyline. The patio is walk-in only and 21+ after 7 pm.
EARLY DINNER AT MAS TACOS
Never in a million years did I think I would find one of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten in Nashville of all places but Mas Tacos Por Favor delivered. This Mexican-style cantina boasts tacos, sopas, elotes, and margaritas and their flavors instantly transported me back to Mexico. My only regret is not ordering every taco. They are only open Tuesday to Saturday so plan ahead. And if you’re lucky to be there on a Wednesday, order the Wednesday-only tamale. Special thanks to my friend Silly Little Kiwi for sharing this secret spot with me.
SEE A SHOW AT A LEGENDARY VENUE
Nashville’s vibrant nightlife extends beyond Lower Broadway. Here are spots to where you can remain seated while enjoying some live performances:
📍 The Ryman Auditorium and Opry House are two historic music venues where the echoes of legendary performances linger. The Ryman, located right in Lower Broadway, was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry broadcast, but the weekly shows now have been relocated to the Opry House, which is en route to the airport. I recommend you purchase tickets for shows in advance.
📍Station Inn in The Gulch: This intimate venue is the inner sanctum of live bluegrass, where seats are snatched up quickly by locals for the nightly 9 pm show.
📍 Printer’s Alley in Downtown: Another lively area for nightlife revelry where you can find blues at Bourbon Street Blues Bar and jazz at Skull’s Rainbow Room.