Photo Credit: Juliana Taylor
Photo Credit: Juliana Taylor

I was fortunate to grow up in one of the best and fastest growing cities, Nashville. People are always fascinated by my roots and more often than not I get asked what are some cool places to visit and what to do when visiting. The great thing about Nashville is that the city changes every day so you never have to go to the same place twice, unless you really love it.

Our first order of business: “Where to Eat?”

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Pinewood Social is a jack-of-all-trades; it’s a coffee shop, a restaurant and a bar with an outdoor bocce ball area, oh, and a vintage bowling alley.

For a quick and filling breakfast, Proper Bagel, is a great spot. The assortment of bagels, handcrafted smears and spreads make this little restaurant unique and tasty.

Before you even think about settling for Mexican for dinner, think Hattie B’s. Nashville invented hot chicken (hot translates into spicy, really spicy) so you have to try it. Your mouth will be on fire and you won’t even care; the experience of sweating and panting in your seat while eating this will make you feel like the most powerful person on earth.

The Mexican restaurant you can settle for is Rosepepper’s Cantina because it’s not even settling. It has the best queso, the best enchiladas and a sign with the best advice.

I was hesitant to try The Pharmacy for a long time because I thought it was like every other burger joint. I was wrong. It’s farm to table style food which means everything tastes amazing. I go for the veggie burgers and I’m not a vegetarian. It’s expensive and the lines are long, but it comes with the territory.

My favorite way to end a long day is at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Just as Texans love Blue Bell, Nashvillians love Jeni’s. You’ll miss it when you leave, so maybe go every single night while you’re in town. You can ask to try every flavor and find your own personal favorites. Butter Pecan and Brambleberry Crisp are mine!

Now let’s deal with, “What to see?”

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Nashville is a beautiful city. The skyline isn’t quite NYC, but the city would lose its charm if it was. For a good view of downtown, the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge is the place to go. It’s also convenient if you’re planning on going to Broadway because you can just park under the bridge for free and walk over for a night on the town.

Love Circle is another great place for a picturesque view. Climb to the top of the hill and have a picnic. It’s the perfect place for a panoramic view of Nashville and life talks with your friends.   

Nashville experiences all four seasons, meaning you’re going to want to spend time outside. Centennial Park is a must for a leisurely walk, a game of ultimate, or visiting the Parthenon.

Radnor Lake is iconic for its serenity. It’s a great place to be alone. You’ll find people canoeing, hiking, and picnicking on any given day.  

In 2010, Nashville was hit by a hundred-year flood and everything along the Cumberland River was destroyed. Many families faced years of financial difficulty and some lost everything. I Believe in Nashville is a slogan and motto that unites our city. As a memorial of the flood and a snapshot of our community, a mural was painted on the side of a building on 12th South.

Whenever I drive down Main Street and I get stuck in traffic, I think,” Why did I leave the house?” But when I’m lucky, I get to stop in front of the Nashville Color Bars. I love this wall mural because it’s unappreciated compared to other wall murals.

Here we are at “What to do?”

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What says Nashville more than jeans? Absolutely nothing. imogene+willie have been selling the best pair of jeans in the city for a few years now. It’s the house of denim and really cool hipster types. Walk in, don’t be shy and ask the owners for their story.  

Get a nice cup of coffee and go search for a new read at BookmanBookwoman. It’s a quaint little shop with old books, new books, pricey books and bargain books.

I know not everyone is a book person, but if you visit Nashville you’re probably fascinated with records too. Here’s the lowdown: McKay’s is a two-story warehouse full of books, movies, CD’s, and records. If you spend too much time there, you’ll spend too much money there.

For a super hipster feel, go find records at Grimey’s and The Groove.

In Nashville, coffee shops are like churches; there’s one on every street corner. They all offer the same things. Just different locations and different baristas.

Barista Parlor is very cool but very crowded. I’ve always gone at peak hours and I feel like it’s impossible to do anything but talk and drink coffee.

Frothy Monkey is a multi-location coffee shop. Some are more popular than others, but it’s usually a great place to go get work done.

Our parting words, “Why visit?”

I’m not an expert on all things Nashville, but I grew up as the city grew up. I know enough to know it’s a city worth a visit. We live a slower pace of life. We live in an innovative town. We love the creativity of our community. We are far more than just a music city. I’m proud of where I came from and I love the people that live there. So support our local businesses and see what life can be like as a true native.