Photo: Dave Newman, Flickr
Nashville has exploded as a popular travel destination, particularly for bachelorette parties. But even though it’s very “touristy,” I still highly recommend this city for a girls’ trip. It’s seriously a blast, and both times I spent a weekend in Nashville with my friends are still two of my most memorable trips.
My first visit to Nashville was to attend the CMA (Country Music Association) Festival with a group of friends. At the time, I wasn’t at all a fan of country music, but I was a fan of the show “Nashville,” so I was excited nonetheless. The culture of country music in Boston always seemed pretty odd to me. A bunch of kids from the city wear “USA” t-shirts and bandanas and girls dress up like country barbie to get wasted in the parking lot at a concert. I was pretty sure most of them had never even been to the country!
But Nashville changed my perception. There, country music has an authentic community and heritage. Pop into a bar at any time of day and you’re bound to hear an amazing performer on stage. Or visit countless country music history sites from the Grand Ole Opry to the Ryman to get a sense of what the genre means in this city.
Even though I’m not a sommelier, I can still enjoy pretending I know about wine in Napa for a weekend. What I’m getting at is, even if you’re not a big country music fan, you can still have fun immersing yourself in the scene during a weekend in Nashville. And just like me, you might leave town with a newly-downloaded country playlist on your Spotify!
And of course country music isn’t the only thing to do in Nashville. It’s a vibrant city with easy access to beautiful outdoor spaces and plenty of amazing bars and restaurants.
Convinced? If you’re planning a girls’ trip, here is my itinerary suggestion for a three-day weekend in Nashville!
Suggested Itinerary: Three-Day Weekend in Nashville
Day 1 (Friday)
Learn About Country Music History
Kick your weekend in Nashville off with a crash course on country music history, and visit one or more of the city’s museums and historic venues. The Grand Ole Opry was my favorite, although it’s about a 20-minute drive from downtown. I thought it was pretty cool to see what goes on behind-the-scenes of the show that launched so many careers, and even get a peek into the celebs’ dressing rooms.
If you’d prefer to stay in the center of the city, the Ryman Auditorium (where the Opry actually started) and Country Music Hall of Fame are a 5-minute walk from each other. Even if you’re country-clueless, one of the best parts is looking at the old clothing that stars have worn on stage in the exhibits.
Spend a Night Out on the Town
After a day of museum hopping, it’s time to sit back and relax over craft cocktails at hipster-chic Pinewood Social. This trendy spot is part coffee shop, part restaurant and part bowling alley – and it’s perfect for a girls’ night out! Seriously, the food and drinks are delicious and it has a great vibe.
After dinner, head over to Acme Feed & Seed for multiple floors of entertainment. The second floor is more of a lounge/bar with a photo booth and multiple TVs, while the rooftop has a DJ and dancing when the party really gets started later at night.
If your group is more into the dive bar scene, grab a Lyft and head to Santa’s Pub. One of the quirkier venues in Nashville, it’s a double-wide trailer decorated like Christmas all year round and patronized by a mix of old-timers and curious tourists. They serve $2 beers (cash only) and have karaoke every single night until 2:30 am.
Day 2 (Saturday)
Soak Up Last Night’s Booze with Biscuits at the Loveless Cafe
It’s time to nurse your hangover from Santa’s Pub with a southern brunch that hits the spot. So jump in the car and head to The Loveless Cafe, where they serve breakfast all day and travelers and locals wait in line for hours to enjoy the world-famous biscuits.
Sure, it’s touristy, but the food is delicious and satisfying. Just don’t wait in that aforementioned line. My secret tip? Order ahead, then sit outside on one of the picnic tables to enjoy the food while it’s hot. May I recommend the country breakfast bowl, which has home fries, scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, bacon, gravy and a biscuit on top? You’re welcome.
Hop Aboard the Party Wagon
Once you’ve recovered, it’s time to get the party started again – this time, aboard the Nashville Party Wagon. You’ll see a lot of people peddling around and drinking aboard peddle taverns in Nashville. But this company’s slogan is, “we don’t pedal, we party.” And on a hot day, you’ll appreciate the fact that you’re not pedaling.
Plus, the party wagon is so fun! I booked a private tour for a friend’s bachelorette party last year and we had the best time cruising around the city in a wagon pulled by a John Deere tractor for a couple hours. If you don’t have a big group, you can also purchase individual tickets, and maybe make some new friends.
Honky Tonk Hop
Now that you’ve partied on a tractor, you might as well keep the cheesiness in full swing and hit the bars on Broadway, aka “Honky Tonk Row,” for live music and dancing.
Be warned: this is the Times Square of Nashville. Except, it’s way more fun than Times Square because you’re dancing and singing! Ignore the haters who call Broadway a tourist trap – in my opinion, a weekend in Nashville wouldn’t be complete without checking it out and I actually found the bars less crowded than many in Boston or New York (probably because they are more spacious). My favorite spots were Tootsie’s (a classic) and Honky Tonk Central, which has three floors, each with a different band.
Day 3 (Sunday)
Explore Centennial Park and Its Full-Scale Replica of The Parthenon
We danced, we sang and we stuffed ourselves with food. You could probably use a nice walk in the park! So head over to Centennial Park, to enjoy some greenery and relax. There’s a walking trail, a lake, a garden and volleyball courts here.
There’s also a full-scale model of the Parthenon worth a photo opp – apparently, Nashville is considered the Athens of the US, so the Parthenon replica was constructed to celebrate the city’s anniversary. Go figure!
Eat Some Delicious BBQ
Just like a visit to Honky Tonk Row is a must, a weekend in Nashville wouldn’t be complete without some BBQ. Everyone argues about which BBQ in Nashville is the “best,” and since I only visited a couple times I won’t toss my opinion into the ring. But what I can tell you is that the place we went to (called Edley’s on 12th Avenue South) was great. Just don’t go too late, as they can run out of popular items!
Do It for the ‘Gram
If you still have extra time before your flight, top off your meal with some Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (it’s an Ohio-based chain, but so good that if you’re near one, you should go!) and check out some of the fun boutiques on the same road. Edley’s is also right next to the famous “I Believe in Nashville” mural, if you are looking for entertainment in the form of tourists waiting in line to take the same picture of themselves jumping in front of it (confession: I’ve done it).
Visit the Iconic Bluebird Cafe
And if you’re staying a third night, consider purchasing tickets to a show at The Bluebird Cafe, the venue famous for hosting up and coming songwriters, or “heroes behind the hits.” The Bluebird played a significant role in the careers of many of today’s stars. Capitol Records “discovered” and signed Garth Brooks at The Bluebird. And it’s also where Big Machine Records found Taylor Swift when she performed at age 14!
If you watched the show Nashville you’ll remember that the characters were constantly hanging out there. But unlike on the show, you can’t just wander in casually. If you missed the chance to buy tickets, they only offer 10-12 first come, first serve seats. But you’ll need to arrive early to snag those. I didn’t get a chance to visit so if you did, tell me how it was!
So that’s my guide to a three-day weekend in Nashville. I’d love to hear what your favorite spots and recommendations are in the city, since I’ll definitely be back!