Nashville is a city on the move, often called the “It City,” and welcoming what many say is nearly 100 new residents each day. If you’re curious what all the intrigue is about, then select a weekend and make the trek to Music City, which is just two-and-a-half hours south of Louisville via Interstate 65. Being a fast-growing metropolis, though, there is quite a bit to see and do, so we’ve pared it down to some of our top picks — for sight-seeing, dining out, where to stay and what to do — all within a 48-hour timeframe.
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Nashville, Tenn.
1 p.m. — Lunch at Dozen
Plan to arrive in Nashville around lunchtime. Make your way to Dozen, a bakery specializing in sweets made with organic and local ingredients and homemade breads. The Dozen lunch menu features seasonal salads, tartines and baguette sandwiches. You’d be silly not to round your meal off with something sweet, such as a slice of seasonal pie, cookie or pecan square.
2 p.m. — Stop by David Lusk Gallery
You won’t have to travel very far for your next stop, as David Lusk Gallery is right next door to Dozen. Located in the growing Wedgewood/Houston area of Nashville, this gallery specializes in contemporary art. Jared Small’s second solo exhibition with the gallery runs from Nov. 15 through Dec. 23. Swing by to see the gallery space and check out Small’s photorealistic paintings that depict the evolution of time through still lifes. Visiting David Lusk Gallery will give you a quick glimpse into Nashville’s flourishing art scene and inspire you to come back for an art-filled weekend!
3:30 p.m. — Check in to Thompson Hotel
One of Nashville’s newest hotels to open is the Thompson Hotel. Located in the Gulch neighborhood, this luxury boutique hotel offers rooms, suites and a penthouse. With views of the Gulch and Nashville’s downtown skyline, the hotel is quickly becoming a hot spot for visitors to the city. Additionally, Nashville has a handful of boutique hotels and unique overnight options that are quaint and cozy, and there is no shortage of Nashville vacation rentals either.
Although it might not be 5 o’clock in Nashville, it is somewhere in the world, which means it’s time for a drink to ease into the weekend. Head upstairs to the hotel’s rooftop bar for a seasonal cocktail, and say cheers to enjoying a weekend in Music City.
5:30 p.m. — Enjoy a taste of local beer at Yazoo Brewing Company
Tonight, you will be on your feet, so be sure to wear your walking shoes. First stop is Yazoo Brewing Company. Only a five-minute walk from the Thompson, Yazoo is a great place to see Nashville’s growing beer scene first-hand. Yazoo began brewing in 2003 and quickly became a local (then a regional, now country-wide) favorite. In 2010, they moved to the Gulch and have a taproom that is open four days a week. Be sure to try their well-loved pale ale, Dos Perros and Hefeweizen, and explore their selection of seasonal beers.
7 p.m. — Fill up on barbecue at Peg Leg Porker
Now that you have enjoyed a handful of drinks and walked another five minutes, you are going to be more than ready to eat — and there is nothing more filling than a heaping plate of barbecue. Carey Bringle (the peg leg porker himself) is a pitmaster known for serving up authentic flavors of the South in the form of barbecue.
Peg Leg Porker’s understated décor is all part of the charm. You’ll soon learn that fuss and frills aren’t needed when diving into a plate of smoked meats. Start off with an order of the pimento cheese (which is served with saltines, of course), but save room for a plate of ribs, a barbecue sandwich or a pork platter. It wouldn’t be real barbecue without the Southern sides, so don’t forget to try the smoked green beans and mac and cheese.
SB Tip: The Gulch and surrounding areas offer more upscale dining as well, including The 404 Kitchen, Adele’s in the Gulch, Etch, Merchants and The Southern Steak & Oyster in downtown and Union Common and Le Sel in Midtown. So while we recommend a casual Friday night dinner, feel free to deviate from the plan.
8:30 p.m. — Head downtown
Hopefully you didn’t get too full on beer and barbecue, because the night is just getting started. It’s time to head to the heart of Music City and experience Broadway. Stroll the streets and duck into whichever bar calls your name. No matter where you land, you’ll find fantastic live music. But don’t limit yourself to one stop, because there’s something unique at each one, and experiencing lots of honky tonks is part of the Nashville charm.
Robert’s Western World is famous for their cold beer, live music and fried bologna sandwiches. Paradise Park Trailer Resort is a honky tonk serving up $6 pitchers of beer, and their kitschy décor will make you chuckle. Acme Feed & Seed offers some of the best views of the river and has three stories of bars and fun. For another fun option, if it’s karaoke you’re after, head to Miss Kelli’s Karaoke Bar for Jell-O shots and your shot at singing on stage.
Midnight: Time to head home!
Chances are, you have seen one too many bachelorette parties and pedal taverns, broken a sweat dancing to country music, proven to the world that you are not the next rising country star and might have even indulged in a street-side hot dog. Now it’s time to rest up because you still have 39 hours ahead of you.
9 a.m. — Wake up bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready for some Biscuit Love
Biscuit Love got their start as a food truck in 2012, and due to popular demand, opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2015. If you are an early riser, we suggest heading to Biscuit Love as early at 7 a.m. (when they open their doors) and if the weather is nice, grab a seat outdoors. But since you had quite the time last night, we’ll let you catch a few extra hours of shuteye.
The line will likely be long when you arrive, but trust us when we say it’s worth the wait. If the line is too long, head down the street to grab a coffee and a Five Daughters donut from Barista Parlor Golden Sound.
10:30 a.m. — Head to Percy Warner Park
Tourists often aren’t aware of Nashville’s many options for enjoying the great outdoors. With hiking and biking trails, canoeing, kayaking and more, you could spend a whole weekend exploring Nashville’s outdoor options. But for this visit, we’re offering just a taste. Percy Warner Park has nine trails ranging from 150 yards to 4.5 miles, which all link together and offer everything from a short walk to a full day of hiking. Enter through Belle Meade Boulevard and enjoy the White Trail (a 2.5-mile loop).
12 p.m. — Check out Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is a 55-acre estate only moments away from Percy Warner Park, and strolling the property makes for a lovely start to an afternoon. Tour the gardens followed by The Museum of Art, where you’ll see beautiful collections of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts. During the holiday season, the gardens are illuminated at nighttime with 1 million twinkling lights, so if you love seasonal light displays, perhaps plan to come at sundown. (For more information on the Holiday Lights, click here.)
1:30 p.m. — Lunch at Epice
There is never a time when the 12South neighborhood is desolate, but hopefully by eating a later lunch, you can escape some of the traffic. There are a handful of delicious restaurants serving up lunch in the area, and Epice is one not to miss. The fresh Lebanese cuisine makes for the perfect mid-day treat. A personal favorite is the Epice salad with lamb.
2:30 p.m. — Explore 12South
12South is one of the most popular Nashville neighborhoods for locals and visitors to spend a Saturday. Shoppers will find Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James, Ceri Hoover’s flagship store and Holly Williams’ White’s Mercantile as well as local favorites such as MODA Boutique and Hero. Diners and drinkers can be spotted on the patios of Mafiaoza’s, 12South Taproom, Taqueria del Sol and Edley’s. And health and beauty lovers can be seen leaving Green Pea Salon, Element Salon, Marathon Fitness and Marathon Pilates. Make your way up and down the street to see all the neighborhood has to offer (and all of the people it attracts) and do a loop around Sevier Park to experience one of Nashville’s favorite community parks.
4 p.m. — Head back to the hotel
Kick your feet up for a minute, but only for a minute. The clock is ticking and with only 21 hours left, you don’t have any time to waste. After you massage your barking dogs and change into something more fitting for an evening on the town, it is time to call a ride and head to Germantown.
5:30 p.m. — Happy hour and dinner at Silo
Germantown is situated west of Downtown and is dubbed Nashville’s oldest neighborhood, boasting some of the most charming, tree-lined streets in the city. Allow yourself a bit of time before dinner to get lost looking at the stunning architecture found throughout the neighborhood. Germantown is home to some of the finest dining spots in Nashville. City House, Rolf & Daughters and 5th & Taylor are all highly revered upscale restaurants. Little Donkey, Butchertown Hall and 312 Pizza offer more casual vibes, and Monell’s and The Mad Platter are two of the neighborhood’s oldest restaurants.
If you hit Silo by about 5:30 p.m. you will catch 30 minutes of their happy hour — and their happy hour is amazing. Hand-crafted cocktails are just $6, wine is $5 and beer is $4! Plus, their bar eats are pretty fabulous. We recommend snagging a seat outside if the weather is nice as their patio makes for great people watching as you are on the corner of some bustling, pedestrian-friendly streets. Embrace the restaurant’s rustic décor and Southern staples (deviled eggs, pork belly, pork chop, spoon bread, grits and Kentucky butter cake) — you are in Nashville after all! And, when in Nashville, eat as the Nashvillians do. Silo serves up dozens of offerings that will satisfy even the most discerning of foodies (and we appreciate how hard they work to accommodate food allergies).
7:30 p.m. — Catch a show
There is never a dull weekend in Nashville, and the many music venues are always hosting top acts. Check the schedule at spaces like TPAC, Ryman Auditorium, Marathon Music Works, 3rd and Lindsley and City Winery and hopefully something will catch your eye!
10 p.m. — Enjoy a night cap at The Patterson House
Assuming you caught a great show and things have wrapped up by 10 p.m., make your way to Midtown and visit The Patterson House. Step inside and you’ll be transported to a modern speakeasy with an intimate interior offering an air of sophistication. You will find the carefully crafted cocktails as elegant as your surroundings. And if hunger strikes, choose from the selection of bar snacks (think fried brie and mini burgers, not peanuts and potato chips).
11 a.m. — Brunch at Marché Artisan Foods
Head across the river to East Nashville to one of the city’s most popular brunch spots. Marché Artisan Foods is a European-style eatery, and an ideal time to visit is for brunch. On the brunch menu, you will find decadent European pastries, classic French breakfast dishes (omelettes, quiche and crepes) and so much more. After brunch, explore the streets of East Nashville, where you’ll find charming homes and local businesses around every corner.
1 p.m. — Visit The Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Before bidding Nashville farewell, visit one of the city’s most prestigious art institutions: The Frist. Housed in an historic Art Deco-style building, the museum welcomes exclusive exhibitions and internationally recognized artists. Since The Frist does not have a permanent collection, there is always something new and different drawing visitors back. Spend as much time as you have exploring the many galleries before you hit the road.
Wave goodbye to Nashville and start planning your return trip!
UPDATE: We’ve just found out that there are a few deals left to Thompson Hotel (20% off two nights + $50 credit for food). For details, click here. Use this itinerary with this deal, and you’ll have a top-notch Nashville getaway!