Everyone knows Nashville as Music City but these days it could just as aptly be referred to as Food City. Or Shopping City. Or Art City.
Here are some must-sees for those days you're just not feeling the music.
The Delta Riverboat INSIDE Gaylord Opryland! — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland
Once you’ve checked into this iconic resort, you may never want to leave. Covering 47 acres, it's a city unto itself, featuring nine acres of lush indoor gardens and cascading waterfalls under one soaring glass roof. Eat at 16 award-winning restaurants, get a massage at the Relâche Spa, enjoy the nightly fountain shows and take a boat ride down the ¼-mile indoor river.
You may even want to book now for the holidays, when the resort is lit up with two million lights outdoors and another 200,000 indoors, and also features snow tubing, ice sculptures, a 48-foot-tall Christmas tree and 15,000 poinsettias.
Hot chicken at Hattie B's — Photo courtesy of Joseph Woodley
Hot chicken is signature Nashville, and it lives up to its name at Hattie B’s, where this spicy fried dish is offered with increasing levels of heat from “hot” to “damn hot” to “shut the cluck up!”
Father and son team, Nick Bishop Senior and Junior, own and operate this renowned eatery which also serves made-from-scratch sides like black-eyed pea salad and pimento mac and cheese. Don't forget to order a drink, since the chicken has been known to make grown men cry.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Lobby of the Frist Center — Photo courtesy of Robt Ames Cook
Located in Nashville’s former main post office, this magnificent arts center is not a museum but an ever-changing mélange of some of the most eclectic and interesting exhibits from around the world. You can see a wide a array of things like rare cars or stunning pieces of pottery.
Clay maquette of Alan LeQuire's "Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument" — Photo courtesy of LeQuire Gallery
Prepare to be blown away by Alan LeQuire’s instantly recognizable sculptures that are literally larger than life and so representative of the city. “Musica” welcomes visitors to Music Row and is the largest bronze figure group in the country, and “Athena Parthenos,” which graces the Parthenon in Nashville, is the largest indoor statue in the western world.
Sweet potato cupcakes from The Cupcake Collection — Photo courtesy of Hannah Messinger
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this neighborhood is quickly becoming a hot spot for indie designers and foodies. Start the day with a flash-chilled coffee at Steadfast, then check out Peter Nappi for luxury Italian footwear, Otis James for handcrafted caps and ties, and Emil Erwin for sumptuous leathers.
Grab a Buckboard Bacon Melt at Cochon Butcher but save room for the pièce de résistance: sweet potato cupcakes at The Cupcake Collection. Owner Mignon Francois may have given up her childhood dream of being a doctor but, as the line snaking around her porch proves, she is still healing people.
The Hermitage Hotel
The lobby of The Hermitage Hotel — Photo courtesy of The Hermitage Hotel
At almost 110 years old, the Hermitage has a rich history and the distinction of being Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel. It’s also the only five-star hotel in the state. Even if you don’t stay overnight, walk through its gorgeous lobby, have a bourbon in the Oak Bar, enjoy dinner at the Capitol Grille – the only Nashville hotel restaurant to own its own farm – and be sure to check out the original 1920’s Art Deco men’s room, consistently voted America’s Best Restroom.
First Tennessee Park
The Band Box at First Tennessee Park — Photo courtesy of Strategic Hospitality
Minor League baseball games are so much fun, and this field easily rivals the Major Leagues, thanks to the Band Box, a 4000-square-foot outdoor bar and restaurant located in right field. Not only do you get to watch the Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, but you can also play ping pong, corn hole and miniature golf.
And, of course, you can eat. Setting a new standard for ballpark food, the hot dogs with peach relish, jalapeno corn fritters and frozen whiskey and Coke Icees hit it out of the park.
Handmade jewelry by Judith Bright — Photo courtesy of Judith Bright
Hello, shoppers! Fuel up with a Coconut Cream Latte at Frothy Monkey, then hit the adorable stores, many of which are housed in, well, restored houses. This hip neighborhood is home to Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James as well as Holly Williams’ (Hank’s granddaughter) White’s Mercantile.
Plan to spend an afternoon at Judith Bright for handcrafted jewelry made from the largest assortment of gemstones in Nashville. Choose your metal and a meaningful stone, and watch her and her team of artisans hammer, forge and wire-wrap a custom piece likely to become a family heirloom.
Belle Meade Plantation
The Mansion at Belle Meade Plantation — Photo courtesy of Belle Meade Plantation
Step back into another century at this 1853 Greek Revival mansion, which was one of the largest and wealthiest private estates of its time. Famous for raising thoroughbred race horses, it was home to English Derby winner Iroquois, and many top equine competitors trace their lineage here.
Carrying on its tradition of Southern hospitality, the plantation offers daily tastings in its on-site Winery – the first one in Nashville – and makes it easy to understand why Belle Meade was called “Queen of the Tennessee Plantations.”
Opie, shop dog at Parnassus Books — Photo courtesy of Parnassus Books
Author Ann Patchett co-owns this beloved bookstore which many consider the literary hub of Nashville. Hosting more than 400 events each year, it’s no wonder has doubled in size and launched a bookmobile. The dog-friendly environment is evident in its six canine employees who do a great job of keeping customers happy.
They also have their own blog on the store’s free online magazine, "Musing," which you can subscribe to if you live far away. And, just in case you're starting to get into the rhythm of the city, yes, Parnassus does have an extensive music section.