Music City is hot right now, and it’s not just because of the beauties in ABC’s hit show Nashville. And while everyone can find fun here, Nashville is becoming an increasingly popular choice for girls’ getaway weekends.
Maybe it’s the crooning country-strong cowboys, or perhaps the wealth of affordable dining and lodging options—or it could be that Broadway, the city’s main drag, has shed its seedy past and now feels a bit like an Old West town on a permanent vacation. Whatever the reason, Broadway is no stranger to visiting bachelorette groups—there’s even a new company dedicated to planning these parties in Music City: Bachelorette Nashville. Hit the bars on a Saturday night and you’re bound to run into at least one veiled tiara–wearing group of girls. But wedding or not, downtown Nashville’s an excellent place to let loose with the ladies.
What to Do
If your ideal day or night consists of bar-hopping to hear a variety of country bands, this is the town for you. Honky tonks and bars line Broadway and the surrounding streets, each adding its own spin on the live music scene.
Huge and often packed, The Stage is anchored at one end by just that: a large stage, where bands play everything from pop country and rock covers to their own music. Nearby on Broadway, Whiskey Bent is a little more intimate; you can dance to the live music without bumping into the crowds. It’s one of the few bars in Nashville that doesn’t allow smoking inside. Tucked a few blocks away in Printers Alley, Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar is a favorite musician hangout; Rascal Flatts got its start here. It’s a chill spot to start or end your night.
But while country is king in Nashville, you don’t have to spend all day with the beer-swilling, Fireball whisky shot–taking, bar crowd to enjoy it. Joining Nashville’s line-up of must-see sights like the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame are the Johnny Cash Museum and the refurbished Musicians Hall of Fame, both expected to open in 2013.
Where to Shop
While you won’t see every Nashvillian sporting a pair of cowboy boots (some claim wearing the accessory will call you out as a tourist), if you want to feel a little more country this is a great place to pick up a pair. Try Boot Country, where you can buy three pairs of boots for the price of one. For Western wear that’s not only designed for your feet, check out Nashville Cowboy, which stocks an assortment of clothing, hats, and boots. Nearby, Honey Girl has an adorable selection of handmade accessories, from fascinators to guitar pick earrings—the perfect souvenir from Music City.
Where to Eat
Food is a big deal in Nashville. Drawing on Tennessee flavors, chefs offer fun and increasingly farm-fresh takes on southern dishes, while restaurants run the gamut, with options for starving musicians, top record producers, and everyone in between.
Start the day with a hearty regional tradition: fried chicken and waffles. You can get a classic take on this at The Southern, an upscale new restaurant that’s been praised for its hospitality as well as its cooking. Farther afield, Loveless Cafe is a southern food institution. It’s a bit of a drive from downtown, and the wait times can be hefty. When you’ve tired of southern-style breakfasts try Noshville on Broadway, a popular take on a New York–style deli.
Later in the day or evening, head to Etch, the newest endeavor by prominent local chef Deb Paquette. The menu offers a creative take on modern American dishes and pairs it with a stellar wine and cocktail list. A little farther west, best reached by cab, Tavern is a lively spot that’s great for groups. The kitchen serves a range of cuisines, from tacos to falafel, plus there’s a "skinny" menu that offers a selection of healthier options.
Not every meal here has to be a sit-down affair. Nashville has joined the food truck craze, serving up everything from BBQ to Filipino dishes. Many bars also have food windows, so you can grab a hotdog or a Frito pie while jamming to the live performances.
Where to Stay
With new hotels like the Omni Nashville Hotel and the Downtown Hyatt Place (set to open in 2013), historic gems like Union Station Hotel in an old train station, and all-suites options like the Hilton Nashville Downtown, there are plenty of lodging options. Another choice is The Printers Alley Lofts, a collection of fully equipped industrial-chic lofts. With full kitchens and plenty of lounge space to hang out with a glass of wine before hitting the town, these lofts are a great alternative to hotel rooms.
Photo Credits: Broadway Carriage, Nashville boots, and Fiddle and Steel courtesy of Jess Moss; Printers Alley Penthouse courtesy of Printers Alley Lofts