Nashville might be known as the “Music City”, but the state capital is also home to some amazing food and outdoor activities. Luckily, 48 hours is just enough to get a taste of the city and surrounding area—and it has a lot to offer. From legendary country music venues such as the Grand Ole Opry, to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium, there is something for everyone including honky-tonks, museums, parks and great food.
Every great morning begins with coffee and a solid breakfast. A Nashville staple since 2004, the Frothy Monkey is a cornerstone business in the transformed 12 South neighborhood. They are proud to maintain a strong relationship with local farmers—caring about ingredients and where they come from. They serve breakfast plates (think omelets, bagel sandwiches, and whole grain pancakes) until 5 pm, but also have pastries for something quick or to-go.
After fueling up it’s time to see what Nashville is all about, and what better than a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame? There are exhibits on everyone from Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift, with lots of interactive musical displays. The goal of this museum is to collect, protect and preserve the evolving history and traditions of country music. Recently doubling in size, the museum is now referred to the “Smithsonian of Country Music,” with updated and expanded galleries, archival storage, educational classrooms and so much more. It’s an experience not to be missed.
Up next is a stop at Ryman Auditorium. If the walls could talk, these would have some serious stories to tell. From the 1880’s to present day this auditorium served as a premier stage, and when shows got too big for other venues, they came here. The state of Tennessee even recognizes the Ryman as the “Birthplace of Bluegrass”.
By now, you’re probably ready to check out some live music yourself. But first, you’ll need to grab something to eat. There are a ton of restaurants at Opry Mill, the mall across from the Grand Ole Opry, or head up the road to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center to get a steak at Old Hickory Steakhouse. There are a few other restaurants here, or keep going up the road to Sukho Thai or John A’s (try the “best catfish in Nashville”).
After your meal, head on over to the Grand Ole Opry, the “home of American music”, and country music’s most famous stage. What began as a radio broadcast in 1925, is now a live entertainment phenomenon, honoring the rich history of country music history past and present.
After catching a show at the Grand Ole Opry, head out to Honky Tonk Row for some late night fun. This is just another part of where Nashville gets its name for music history. These bars are a breeding ground for hopeful performers, musicians, and songwriters trying to make it big. You never know who you might bump shoulders with or see perform live.
No trip to the south is complete without some southern home cooking. The Loveless Café have been serving up biscuits and gravy since 1951, when Lon and Annie Loveless began serving food right out of their front door to travelers on Highway 100. Today, the Loveless Café brings back memories of a slower, sweeter, and simpler life the kitchen. Described as a place for people who like real food, Loveless will not disappoint.
After taking in some music history yesterday, today is all about the great outdoors, and there are a few options.
Cumberland Park is a 6.5-acre park along the Nashville waterfront. The “Hollow” is a playground that is perfect for the kids to burn off some energy, or they can climb the kid-friendly “Gorge”, a climbing wall. The Explorer Trail is an easy walk through the meadows of the park, designed to attract butterflies of all kinds.
If you’re looking for something with a little more to do, the 132-acre Centennial Park has just about anything you could ask: a one-mile walking trail, Lake Watauga, an art center, a sunken garden, sand volleyball courts, a dog park, and an exercise trail. There’s also a replica of the famous Greek Parthenon.
The Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Natural Area is another wonderful option, different than the other two. Located in East Nashville, the area is one of five Natural Area Parks. Three miles of the area is along the Cumberland River, five miles are paved, and another five miles are primitive trails for walking and running. Explore the hardwood forests, open fields, wetlands, and streams, while looking for birds, amphibians, deer, and other animals.
After a long day outside, your appetite will be ready for Rippy’s BBQ. Dine on delicious southern BBQ, enjoy some of Nashville’s finest musicians, and people watch from the open-air roof top patio. After dinner at Rippy’s, head on over to the Wild Horse Saloon, for a late night of music and dancing at another classic establishment. The saying is “if you can’t do it here, you can’t do it in Nashville.” With three floors of action packed fun, this restaurant, bar, concert site, and dance venue will leave you exhausted and satisfied after such a great trip.
Written by Megan Davin for RootsRated in partnership with BCBS of Tennessee.
Featured image provided by Elliott Billings