Nashville is renwoned for many things: honky-tonks, bachelorette parties, and hot chicken to name but a few. It’s an interesting time in Nashville as the city is undergoing a transformation on several fronts, making a trip today vastly different from one a decade ago. The city’s energy that was once centred around the hustle and bustle of Lower Broadway has shifted slowly but steadily to the hip neighbourhoods that used to exist only in the periphery, like East Nashville, 12 South, and The Gulch. An influx of restaurants focused on local, fresh, and innovation has noticeably raised the profile of Nashville’s food scene. And while the proliferation of craft breweries may not be as intense as other areas in the U.S., Nashville is certainly coming into its own as a beer destination. And people are taking notice.

Full disclosure – this itinerary is all about drinking and eating – and a few cool shops – across Nashville’s distinct neighborhoods. It does not touch upon the sights and attractions that might draw one to Nashville in the first place so you’ll have to go somewhere else for that.

Day 1: What's All The Fuss About?

1 p.m. // Get Oriented

Touch down and get settled. Hotels can be pricey here, especially during peak periods, so go for an Airbnb and get a whole lot of space for half the price. Your best bets are East Nashville, Edgehill, or 12 South.

2 p.m. // Grab a Bite at Acme Feed & Seed

At the end of the Lower Broadway strip near the river is Acme Feed & Seed, a three story restaurant and event space that modernizes the traditional honky-tonk. Order some fresh and hearty food on the main floor, such as the Lobro, an ahi tuna sandwich with avocado aioli and Napa slaw or the Redneck Lo Mein, a bed of noodles tossed with smoked chicken, collard greens, and caramelized onions. While waiting for your food to be prepared, peruse the 28 beers on tap, which are a roundup of local and national craft brews spanning a range of styles.

3 p.m. // Get Your Honky Tonk On

Now that your well fed and have a drink in you, you’re ready to start your quintessentially Nashville experience – a honky-tonk crawl down Lower Broadway. Live music starts up daily at 11 a.m. on Lower Broadway so take a stroll down the strip and you’ll see people already rocking out to the talented bands. Entrance into every bar is free so stop in at as many as it takes to find the music that you like. Favorites include Layla’s, which has a few craft (though less local) options like Lagunitas IPA, the classic Robert’s Western World, and Tootsie’s, a three level behemoth bar.

Take a detour down 10th Ave South to Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, a mecca for beer lovers with over 80 brews on tap and a whole lot more in bottles. Constantly rotating beers, exclusive one-offs, and DIY flights make Flying Saucer a must stop in Nashville. Oh, and the giant soft pretzels are the ideal sustenance for a beer crawl.

While there are a number of souvenir shops on Lower Broadway, head a few blocks in to Hatch Show Print located inside the Omni Hotel. This letterpress print maker has been operating since 1879, making eye-catchingly unique prints and posters for events, musical acts, and entertainers. The main shop showcases dozens of prints available for sale and the nearby gallery displays larger, limited edition prints that can also be purchased. A Hatch Show print makes for a one of a kind memento of your time in Nashville.

8 p.m. // Social Feast

Head over to Pinewood Social in Downtown Nashville for dinner. This hip spot is more like a social club than anything else. A café, outdoor pools, a top notch restaurant, and six vintage bowling lanes – Pinewood brings people together all day long. Come early if you want to lounge by the pool sipping their house made shandy or dive right into the restaurant for dinner if you’re famished. The inspired menu touches on classics with an elevated twist, like a peach and burrata salad and sweet tea pork chop. Cocktails are well executed by one of the many bartenders, but if you’re sticking with beer there’s a curated list of options that leans towards the hoppy.

10 p.m. // Nightcap

Walk down Peabody and then down 5th Ave South where you’ll find Bar Sovereign, the perfect spot to close out the evening. This new to the scene cocktail bar is ultra hip, tucked away on a nonchalant area in SoBro, and is quickly becoming a local haunt. Expertly crafted cocktails are the main draw here but there are a few beers on offer as well. If you’re hell-bent on exploring more of the beer scene, which is truly admirable if you’ve followed the course so far, head back to Acme instead. The main level features epic live music in the evenings or chill out on the rooftop patio, which offers splendid views of strip if the weather permits.

Day 2: A Feast in the East

Spend today in the city’s eclectic east end, across the Cumberland River from the core of Nashville. What was once a largely overlooked section of the city has burgeoned into one of the hippest regions of Nashville.

10 a.m. // Breakfast at Marche

Rise and shine. Grab an Uber to East Nashville hotspot Marche, offering the city’s best breakfast Tuesday to Friday and brunch on weekends. Saturdays and Sundays are jammed, so arrive early as you don’t want to miss this. Everything on the menu is delicious, but fan favourites include Croissant French Toast and Fruit Tartine.

11:30 a.m. // Get Lost in East Nashville

Get lost in the many neighbourhoods of East Nashville like Five Points, Lockeland Springs, Greenwood, and Eastwood. The main drag of Main/Gallatin has a lot around it, including the IDEA Hatchery, an incubator for small businesses and local stores and Fatherland shops, a condensed area of start up shops that make for a unique retail experience. Other cool independent shops along Gallatin include Moto Moda, Local Honey, Porter Road Butcher, and Hey Rooster General Store.

The tree-lined residential streets, with beautiful brick homes complete with white shutters and lush gardens set the tone for a nice stroll.

2 p.m. // Mexican at its Best

Get in line at Mas Tacos Por Favor for some of the best tacos anywhere. This converted building looks completely unassuming from the outside but look for the pointing finger drawn on the side of the building that leads you in. Or the long line might also tip you off. You order from the counter, give your name, and they announce when your order is ready. Take your pick from a selection of delicious tacos, including fried tilapia and spicy carne molida, each at $3. Don’t discount the sides as the elote – grilled corn with cotija cheese – and the chicken tortilla soup are the bomb. Be sure to hydrate with some agua fresca or horchata. Cash only.

3 p.m. // A Trip to the Pharmacy

Directly across the street from Mas Tacos is Pharmacy Burger Parlour & Beer Garden, an oasis in Nashville on a hot and sunny day. Order a beer from the bar inside and take it out into the beer garden out back decked out with picnic tables, leafy trees, and umbrellas for some much needed shade. With about a dozen beers on tap and many more in cans, running the spectrum from mainstream to obscure, there’s something for everyone. If you get peckish, the food menu is worth a perusal, but I highly recommend the Biergarten Platter – a selection of sausages and sides that’s ideal for sharing – and the tater tots. The burgers are also excellent but don’t go filling yourself up as there’s a lot more eating to do today. If you want something other than beer, The Pharmacy has an array of homemade sodas that are quite popular and come in the most perfectly branded cups.

4:30 p.m. // Dive In

After getting your fix at The Pharmacy, head on a twenty-minute stroll down to where Gallatin and Main meet. There are two dive bars here that are worthy of a stop, especially during Happy Hour.

First you’ll come across Red Door Saloon, a bar you’ll probably hear before you see if people are on the patio. The inside is your typical sports bar, complete with wooden stools, several televisions, and a ton of Cubs paraphernalia, but the main draw here is the massive patio out front, which is the place to be when the sun is out. The best time to hit up Red Door Saloon is during late afternoon/early evening when it’s more of an after work vibe instead of the bro-ish crowd in the evenings. About two dozen beers on tap are on offer, made even more economical during the 2 for 1 Happy Hours.

3 Crow Bar, a block or so down on the corner, is a quintessentially dive-y with a dark interior, neon lights, typical pub food, and a good selection of draught beers. It’s not going to be the most amazing place you’ve ever been but it’s a solid bar that’s filled with friendly and interesting folk. If you’re feeling adventurous, order up a Bushwhacker, the unofficial alcoholic beverage of Nashville, which is essentially a boozy milkshake. Happy Hour runs Monday to Friday from 11am to 7pm and there are 2 for 1 drinks Wednesday evenings and all day Sunday.

5:30 p.m. // Shop Local

After you’ve finished your weenie, take a gander at some of the nearby shops set inside beautiful neighbourhood homes.

Fanny’s House of Music is a gem for anyone who appreciates music. The low-key store features a ton of new and used instruments, accessories, and gear as well as a super friendly and unpretentious staff. Even if you’re not interested in picking up a new piece, Fanny’s small vintage clothing section is worth a glance in itself.

Defunct Books is more than a used bookstore. It specializes in rare, collectable, and out of print books and is a must stop for any avid reader.

And if you can stomach it, grab a cup or cone of your favourite ice cream flavour at beloved Pied Piper Creamery. If you can’t choose, opt for a scoop of Trailer Trash – a mixture of mixins that’s never a regretted decision.

Stop in at Woodland Wine Merchant back up near 3 Crow Bar, a shop that has a well-crafted selection of wines, spirits, and beers. Woodland’s is the perfect spot to pick up some souvenir bottles to enjoy later on your trip or bring home with you. The genuinely helpful staff can help you pick out some tasty and unique bevvies.

6:30 p.m. // Don’t be a Weenie

After a few beers, it’s high time for a snack. Just around the corner from 3 Crow Bar is I Dream Of Weenie, a vintage VW bus converted into a hot dog stand. But this ain’t your ordinary hotdog stand. Creatively named dogs are topped high with unique toppings, including favourites Rebel Yelp (relish, jalapenos, and red onion) or the Pimento Cheese Weenie (smothered in rich and spicy pimento cheese sauce). You really can’t go wrong with any of them.

7:00 p.m. // Hide Out in a Treehouse

Across the street from Woodland Wine Merchant is a uniquely amazing restaurant, The Treehouse. From the front it appears to just be a house converted into restaurant, but once you step into the backyard, you’re transported into an outdoor oasis complete with lights, large leafy trees, and, you guessed it, a treehouse perched up high that will make the little kid in you giddy with unadulterated joy. Head to the patio out back for some boozy cocktails or a beer from their small but mighty draught list.

8:30 p.m. // Dinner at Little Octopus

Head up North 11th St and then take Gallatin to Little Octopus, a relative newbie of the Nashville dining scene. While it may give off a bit of a strip mall vibe from out front, don’t be deterred – inside is a refreshingly clean and minimalist space that is in perfect balance with the simple yet elevated dishes. The menu features smaller plates that incorporate global flavours and local ingredients.

10:30 p.m. // Top it Off

There are several worthy spots nearby to cap off the evening. For cocktails in a speakeasy setting head to No. 308, if you’re after live music and dive bar vibes then check out The 5 Spot, for wine on tap hit up Bar Luca. Go to one, go to all. No judgement.

Day 3: Brewery Tour

Start your day in The Gulch, a former industrial area rife with building conversions, including many recently constructed condos. Several breweries have set up shop here as well, attracted to the large spaces and central location. It’s best to visit The Gulch on a Saturday as everything is guaranteed to be open and the breweries start up earlier than on weekdays. If you are experiencing the Gulch on a weekday, aim for Wednesday to Friday.

10 a.m. // Biscuit Fix

Head out of bed early and get yourself to The Gulch to try one of Nashville’s most popular brunch at Biscuit Love. Biscuits are a matter of national pride in Nashville and Biscuit Love is renowned for baking fresh some of the best in town. The line may be daunting, but trust me – it’s worth the wait. Don’t miss the delectable Southern Benny (benedict on a biscuit), the Princess (hot chicken on a biscuit), and the bit sized Bonuts (biscuit and donut crossbreed with lemon mascarpone and blueberries).

11:30 a.m. // Caffeine Fix

Head around the block over to Magazine Street where you’ll find Barista Parlor, an epic coffee shop hidden on dead end street. One of three Barista Parlor locations, the Magazine outpost is a large, open space that brews superb caffeinated beverages and offers a delicious cold brew. Take a seat on the chill patio and contemplate your trip so far. If you weren’t able to stand the lines at Biscuit Love, Barista Parlor also serves up a yummy brunch.

12:00 p.m. // Antique Hunting

You might pass right by Downtown Antique Mall if you didn’t know it was there – it’s right by the train tracks, by the way. Even if antiques aren’t your thing, Downtown Antique Mall is worth a stop – it features dozens of vendor ‘booths’, making the selection quite diverse and always evolving. The large shop is brimming with interesting pieces and collectibles.

12:30 p.m. // Home Cookin’

Get your barbeque fix at Peg Leg Porker. One of Nashville’s top spots for BBQ (and often noted as one of the best in the U.S.), Peg Leg Porker serves up authentic Tennessean ribs and sides. A great selection of local craft beers awaits you as well.

If it’s a weekday, don’t pass up the opportunity to eat at a Nashville institution. Arnold’s Country Kitchen, just across the street from Downtown Antique Mall, serves up classic Southern dishes in a cafeteria-style setting. Think chicken-fried steak, collard greens, creamed corn, catfish, and a slice of pecan pie to top it all off. The lines are long but move quickly.

3:00 p.m. // Brewery Blitz

Head to Yazoo Brewing Company – opened in 2003, it was one of the first craft breweries on the scene in Nashville. The taproom features Yazoo’s flagship brews as well as seasonal and limited edition offerings. The sampler gives you a generous pour of six of Yazoo’s staples. Tours of the brewery run on Saturdays and weeknights – best to reserve online in case they sell out. [Closed Sunday to Tuesday; Saturdays open at 11am so could move this up in the itinerary]

Next up is Jackalope Brewing Company, a short jaunt away from Yazoo. Known for inventive brews and excellent branding, Jackalope serves up delicious beers in a cool space. Get your hands on ‘Thunder Ann APA’ or the seasonal ‘Lovebird’, a refreshing Strawberry/Raspberry hefeweizen when the thermostat tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s a small merch section inside, which often has some interesting souvenirs. Tours available Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. [opens weekdays at 4pm, weekends at 12pm]

The final Gulch brewery is Tennessee Brew Works, the newest of the bunch. This brewery features two patios – one out front and one up top – making it a perfect spot to laze away a sunny day. The beers all pay homage to the musical element of Nashville, like the Belgian White Ale ‘Southern Wit’ and the ‘Basil Ryeman’, a farmhouse saison. TBW also has a substantial food menu if you’re feeling peckish. Tours offered on Saturdays. [Open Mondays to Fridays at 5pm, Saturdays at 12pm, Sundays at 11am]

8:00 p.m. // Creative Cuisine

The Catbird Seat is still one of Nashville’s most buzzed about restaurants even though it opened it’s doors over five years ago. With limited seating, a full view of the kitchen, and a tasting menu that changes daily, The Catbird Seat is a truly unique and highly enjoyable dining experience. The $115 per person price may seem steep, but you won’t have any regrets by the time it’s all said and done. Reservations required.

10:00 p.m. // Below Deck

You won’t have to travel far for an after dinner libation as The Patterson House inhabits the space directly below The Catbird Seat. Modeled after a Prohibition era speakeasy, The Patterson House serves a mean cocktail in a dark and brooding setting. The menu boasts an impressive selection of classic and invented concoctions as well as a few local beers.

Day 4

10 a.m. // Pancake Party

Head over to Hillsboro Village first thing to get your pancake fix at Pancake Pantry. It’s a hoppin’ spot any day of the week so aim to arrive early. Twenty one different types of pancakes await you, although the sweet potato pancakes are the unexpected fan favourite. Some may claim that Pancake Pantry is overly hyped, but they can’t deny the pancakes are super delicious

For a less strenuous breakfast experience, check out coffee shop Fido. It may be known for it’s coffee, but Fido has an extensive breakfast menu.

11:30 a.m. // Hit the Strip

Hillsboro Village is a cozy neighbourhood with a residential feel, nestled between Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities. Walk up and down 21st Ave and stop in at some of the many shops, including one of the top bookstores in the city, BookmanBookwoman, which sells both new and used books piled high to the ceilings. Also, don’t pass up the opportunity to pick up some macaroons and pastries at Parisian style bakery Provence.

12:30 p.m. // 12th Ave South

Either jump in an Uber or walk the scenic 1.3 miles down Belmont Boulevard to 12th Ave South. Although fully gentrified, the district of 12 South does manage to maintain its traditional charm along the residential streets intersecting 12th Ave. The trendy strip between Linden and Gale is chockablock with posh shops and hip restaurants.

There are a bunch of cool shops in 12 South but don’t miss Imogen + Willie, a shop that creates high quality custom denim and White’s Mercantile, which plays like a general store in today’s age. Stop by Corner Music, an institution in Nashville, to browse the many instruments on display and perhaps test a few our if you fancy yourself a musician.

1:00 p.m. // Lunch Options

For a filling and satisfying midday meal, you have a few good options in 12 South. There’s Edley’s for good southern barbeque (the bbq nachos are always a hit), the newly opened Bartaco for tacos and other Mexican inspired dishes and drinks, or Burger Up, which features locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.

For an after lunch treat grab a refreshing paleta, a Mexican style popsicle made naturally with fresh fruit and juices from Las Paletas.

2:00 p.m. // Patio Time

Next, head to 12 South Taproom for one of the best patios and best beer selections in Nashville. When the weather is good, the patio is always bustling. With about thirty beers on tap and many more in bottles, there’s a wide range of styles and origins to choose from, so might as well hunker down and try a few. The vibe is chill and the staff is super friendly.

4:00 p.m. // Beer To Go

You might miss The Filling Station on your walk down 12th Ave, but keep an eye out for this little spot just off of the main drag on Halcyon. This bar/beer store/take out hybrid is truly a gem for any beer lover. You can enjoy one of their many beers on tap inside the shop or on the small patio out front and once you’ve found one you jive with, you can have a growler filled up to take with you. They also have a huge stock of beers in bottles and cans packed on shelves throughout the store to peruse as well.

5:30 p.m. // A Side Trip to Belgium

Take a short Uber to South Nashville to visit the acclaimed Black Abbey Brewing Company, a Belgian style craft brewery that’s been on the scene since 2008. The taproom’s high ceilings, communal seating and abundance of wood all contribute to the monastery ambiance. The beers are well rounded and delicious – you can taste test a sample of eight to see what floats your boat. Black Abbey is a special spot that’s the perfect way to spend your final evening in Nashville.

8:00 p.m. // Cross Over to Germantown

End your time in Nashville with a trip to Germantown, a sleepy residential neighbourhood just north of downtown. Named for the influx of German immigrants in the 19th century, Germantown is full of well preserved Victorian buildings, making it an appealing place to spend some time.

For a great dinner, make a reservation at Rolf and Daughters, tucked onto the main floor of a historic loft conversion. The industrial ambiance is cool but the food is the real winner here – a southern take on Italian and Mediterranean flavours. The menu isn’t huge but it does feature about two dozen small dishes that are perfect for sharing, including the pastas that are all to die for. To round it all out, there’s a great wine and cocktail list as well as a few local craft beers and foreign bottles featuring mostly old world styles.

10:00 p.m. // Back to the Action

On your last night in Nashville go back to where it all started – Lower Broadway. It may be busy and it may be crazy but it sure is fun to duck in and out of the bars featuring such a variety of live music. Cap off the night on Acme’s rooftop patio, toasting your time in Nashville

Photos by JP Bervoets

Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth co-founded Departful in 2012 is the Managing Director of Departful Media. Since then she has worked between North America and Europe and has published content in partnership with a variety of tourism boards and businesses based around the world. Lauren is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

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