1. The Pharmacy Cures What Ails You
When people gush about the Pharmacy, they’re not talking about the corner drugstore. This wildly popular hotspot features craft burgers, an extensive (and impressive) beer list, and some creative bratwurst choices. We’re talking about the Farm Burger, with Tripp country ham, Emerald Glen Farm bacon, a Willow Farm egg, and their own maple mustard. Whoa. Plus, they serve sodas with 100 percent pure cane sugar, ice cream from a local creamery, and beer from Nashville’s favorite breweries.
2. The Bar Where Everybody Knows Your Name
The brainchild of Jesse and Tracy Hamilton, the Village Pub and Beer Garden has been a part of Nashville for only a few short, but wildly successful, years. The bar prides itself on its pretzel sandwiches (and oh, wow, the Gerst cheese dip), and craft beers. Nashville’s temperate climate makes the beer garden a year-round possibility, and the heaters definitely help in winter.
3. The Best Music in Life Is Free
In a city famous for one of the biggest music festivals of the year, it’s hard to imagine getting access to those same artists for free. Nashville Dancin’, Live on the Green, and Musician’s Corner happen every summer and fall, and feature some of the biggest acts in music. Sound too good to be true? Check out some past guests: Alabama Shakes, Band of Horses, Five for Fighting, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes, and Matt Nathanson.
4. Boozy Movies at the Belcourt
Every city needs an art house theater, and Nashville doesn’t disappoint. But the Belcourt doesn’t just show indie and foreign films all the time. Of course the famed art deco theater is also a live music venue, showcasing some of the finest songwriters in the world on occasion. No matter what you plan to see—music or movie—you can enjoy a cold beer from the concession stand.
5. Try the Trailer Trash
How could anyone pass up an ice cream flavor like Trailer Trash? The Pied Piper Creamery features this and several other clever flavors. They cram their ice cream full of Oreos, Butterfingers, M&Ms, peanut butter, cookies, cereal, coffee, and a million other ingredients for the most decadent and sinful ice cream experience ever. Plus, Pied Piper is a local institution with Berry Hill and East Nashville addresses, not a chain.
6. You’ll Never Go to IHOP Again
What’s more fun than a hibachi grill? The Pfunky Griddle knows. At this Berry Hill restaurant, every table features a griddle where diners can create their own pancakes. Choose from dozens of toppings, including candy, fruit, and Nutella, and then build your stack for your own tastes. Genius.
7. The Start of Nashville’s Craft Beer Revolution
Nashville loves beer, especially the local craft stuff. Yazoo is mostly to thank for this beer revolution. The brewery has grown so much in recent years that it had to leave its spot in Marathon Village to open a shiny new brewery in The Gulch. The move didn’t hurt the business, and in fact, more tours are now possible. As fun as the tours are, nothing beats a good pint or two in the tasting room after work.
8. “Oh, It Really Is a Greenhouse!”
Tucked away in Green Hills is a little secret not many know about. If you want to avoid the over-commercialized chains in the area, stop by the Greenhouse Bar. This little hideaway is housed in a true conservatory, and it’s open later than the other bars in the area. In an area dominated by The Cheesecake Factory and other commercial traps, Greenhouse Bar will restore your faith in Nashville.
9. Mixology Shrouded in Mystery
The Patterson House is a Nashville institution with some pretty tricky marketing plans. With no sign out front and a minimal website, the place relies on word-of-mouth marketing for its immense guest list every night. And the drinks? They’re amazing enough to carry off the crazy marketing scheme.
10. Nashville with a New York Twist
Noshville is a local favorite with two locations. This is where you’ll find your New York diner dishes, from pastrami on rye to towering cheesecakes and a chocolate mousse pie that’ll make you weep. It’s a great place to be when you’re in a New York state of mind.
11. We’re the Athens of the South
Centennial Park is a great place to hang out on the weekends with your friends. With expansive gardens and winding paths, you’ll enjoy every second of your walk. The crowning glory, however, is the replica of the Parthenon with a four-story statue of Athena inside. It’s a must-see, no matter how long you plan to be in Nashville.
12. What’s Brunch Without Mimosas?
Hands down, the best brunch in Nashville can be found at Germantown Cafe. Of course you’ll get your Bloody Marys and Mimosas, but the food is the star. Frittatas, omelets, waffles… All the stuff you love! Our recommendation is the Crab Cakes Benedict, but be prepared; nothing else will ever satisfy your brunch craving after you’ve tasted them.
13. Live in a Bag Factory–the Hottest Home in Nashville
The rebirth of Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood can be traced back to the revitalization of the Werthan Bag Factory. Converted into true lofts, the Werthan Lofts shine with original flooring, exposed brick, and soaring ceilings. Everyone wants to live here, but if you can’t, stop by and visit during one of the many art shows or wine tastings.
14. They’ll Make You a Pizza You Can’t Refuse
Arguably the best pizza in town, Mafiaoza’s pies range from classic favorites to a little on the weird side. You’ll find the joint on 12th Avenue South, surrounded by other great bars and coffee shops. Most love to gather here after work, so you’ll have trouble finding a seat on the open patio during happy hours, but it’s worth the wait to get in.
15. Nashville’s Top Vinyl Shop
Vinyl is hot, and we’re not talking about your pants. Only the best vinyl will do in Music City, and that’s why The Groove is dedicated to bringing the best new and used records for the masses. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, stop in next week. There’s always something new to see. They also host in-store performances from bands visiting the area, so keep an eye on the calendar.
16. This Ain’t Your Mama’s Basement
The Basement brings new life to the term “garage band.” With a feel just like your basement at home, this live music venue plays host to some of the hottest acts in the world. You may not see these bands on the stage at the Ryman…yet. But they’re getting there, and you’ll see them first in this hole in the wall located below Grimey’s New and Used Records.
17. Minor League Is Major Fun
We all know about the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators. Pro sports in Nashville get plenty of press. Believe it or not, many longtime residents don’t know we also have a minor league team, too. The Nashville Sounds are the farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers, but more than that, they’re good for a fun night out with the family or all your friends.
18. Chicken So Hot You’ll Need an Extinguisher
Only in Nashville could you find a waffle with fried apples and hot chicken. Actually, only at Pepperfire could you find this amazing dish. Hot chicken is an art form here—we’ve even got a festival for it—and only the best get it right every time.
19. The College That Isn’t Vandy
Vanderbilt might be the university most think of when they hear Nashville, but don’t count Belmont University out. Consistently named one of the top music schools in the country, this smaller college has launched some incredible careers. Music might be what Belmont is known for, but it’s not the only degree available.
20. What Really Puts the Music in Music City
Maybe we have a rich history in country music, but that’s not all you’ll find here. With favorites like the Black Keys, Ben Folds, Kings of Leon, Paramore, and Jack White in town, Nashville’s getting a musical facelift, and thank the rock gods for that.
21. Karaoke with the (Undiscovered) Stars
Broadway and Second Avenue have a few karaoke hotspots, but Twin Kegs and Santa’s Pub are where the locals go. Not only will you hear some pretty amazing singers, you’ll also get the chance to take the stage yourself. May not get that opportunity at the downtown spots.
22. Play Ireland’s Biggest Sport (and Hit the Irish Bars After)
Sure, we’ve got football, baseball, and hockey. What many don’t realize is we’ve got Irish sports, too. If you haven’t heard of hurling or Gaelic football, look them up and then stop by for a intro session to the sports with the Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club on Thursday evenings at Centennial Park. The social hour(s) after at some of Nashville’s best bars is reason enough to show up.
23. You’ll Laugh ‘Til You Hurt
On 8th Avenue South, you’ll find Zanies Comedy Club, where some of the biggest names in comedy have played. Mike Birbiglia, Christopher Titus, and Keenan Ivory Wayans have all graced the stage. If you want something besides live music for your first night out in Nashville, this is the place. Just be ready to laugh until you cry.
24. Forget Starbucks (and Every Other Silly Little Coffee House)
Where else could you get a bourbon barrel vanilla latte? The Barista Parlor in East Nashville is serious about their coffee, and you get to reap the reward. Just be sure you get good directions, because like all great hidden gems, you could drive right past this one and never know it. Or try Crema, ‘A Coffee Brewtique’ worthy of he nomenclature.
25. Shave and a Haircut…
For hairstyles with an alternative edge, no other salon beats Parlor and Juke. This trendy hotspot provides full salon services, including straight-razor shaves for men. Whether you’re ready for a big change (with lots of color) or just want your usual trim, this is where the locals go.
26. Nashville’s Most Famous Meat & Three
The meat & three is an art form in our fair city, and none get it right like Arnold’s. A long-standing institution, Arnold’s serves up delicious Southern dishes, sometimes with a twist, cafeteria style. You won’t find better roast beef, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, or mac and cheese anywhere, and the old-fashioned pecan pie is to die for.
27. Kix Brooks’s Other Big Hit
Arrington Vineyards, located south of the city near Franklin, is owned by half of the legendary country duo Brooks and Dunn. Kix Brooks has really created something special on top of this hill, with sweeping views to enjoy while sipping several different red and white varietals. Perfect for parties or just an afternoon with friends.
28. What’s Tennessee without Whiskey?
With dozens of craft breweries around, spirits sometimes get left out in the cold. Corsair is changing that. After taking Yazoo’s spot at Marathon Village, Corsair has worked hard to bring some local flavor to whiskey and vodka. Even if you don’t like spirits, you’ll like these. Aside from the drink, the tasting room is a pretty amazing sight.
29. So Much Better than the Opry
To see the next big thing in music, you want to visit the Hi Watt. As part of the Cannery Row entertainment complex that also houses the Cannery Ballroom and the Mercy Lounge, the Hi Watt draws some pretty important indie acts. You can see and maybe even meet the bands before they hit it big.
30. OMG, These Clothes Are Amazing
Vintage finds don’t have to come from Goodwill. Old Made Good brings Nashville the very best fashions from yesteryear for a very doable price. The owners don’t mind if you step inside their world and try on a few looks before you buy, either. Find jewelry, hats, clothes, shoes, and a million other little things you never considered, and build yourself a new look.