With so many obvious must-do’s from the Country Music Hall of Fame, to Robert’s Western World, The Grand Ole Opry, The War Memorial (above) and a visit to Vandy, we did our best to uncover some of the city’s shiniest, and tastiest, lesser known gems. So if ya’ll are fixin’ to visit Music City here’s our list!
1. First up, located less than 30 minutes from the heart of DT Nash, is Radnor Park.
With 6 miles of pristine trails preserved for hiking, photography and wildlife observation only, this 1,332-acre oasis offers the perfect urban escape before a day of square dancin’ and hot chick’n.
2. If you find yourself Downtown (which you will) looking for a quick pick-me-up or perhaps a refreshingly, non-fried dish amongst the spread of good ole Southern cookin’ that you’ll undoubtedly be surrounded by, Frothy Monkey is where it’s at!
Not only do they serve a great cup of coffee, appropriately called a Frothy Monkey, they also have a delicious variety of salads, sandwiches, AND breakfast served ALL DAY! There’s a ton of gf and vegan options as well (menu here).
We were especially pumped to try their local kombucha on tap! Note: The Downtown location (only) serves beer, wine and cocktails! So when 5 o’ clock comes around and you’re looking for a clean, comfortable, AWESOME place to gather with friends – this is THE PLACE to be.
I ordered their most popular salad, The Gail, along with a side of their house made gf bread, and Drew ordered The PMP (prosciutto, mozzarella, provolone) with a side of raspberry custard pie. With exceptional food, service and ambiance it doesn’t get much better than this.
3. Located within a short walking distance from the Frothy Monkey is “one of the 12 most original office buildings in the world,” the Batman Building.
This 33-story AT&T office has been sweeping the Nashville skyline as the tallest building in the state of Tennessee since 1994. You can’t miss the chance to take a few photos with this unique character:
4. To keep up with the trend of great places with fun names, next up is one of the hottest places in town, The Wild Cow.
One of my favorite meals of the trip, this East Nashville gem is brimming with locally sourced vegetarian, vegan and gf options galore, satisfying even the most ravenous of carnivores, aka Drew (menu here). We started with their fajita-style nachos, smothered in their homemade vegan queso and cashew cheese and marinated setian, along with a light and refreshing Caesar salad to share:
For dinner I went with The Philly and a side of chick pea salad (so good!), while Drew went with their most popular dish, The Buffalo Beans and Greens. They also have a variety of vegan desserts that are made by local bakeries and delivered fresh daily:
5. If you’re looking for the best “Ranch Dressing” in town, Katy K’s is a one-of-a-kind store that cannot be missed. Katy started her business in Manhattan in the 1980’s and many of her designs appeared in early MTV videos on Whitney Houston, Cyndi Lauper, New Kids on the Block, Dolly Parton and many others. Stop in and take a look at the vintage-western threads and pin-up clothes:
The thin CORNMEAL CRUST is the foundation of everything at Two Boots. Crisp, crunchy and a little bit nutty, it provides the perfect support for the rich and exotic toppings… and also scores it a spot on the 18 pizza joints you MUST TRY before you die.
Named for the geographical shapes of Italy and Louisiana, Two Boots was started in 1987 by Doris and Phil, 2 indie filmmakers who loved Cajun food and culture (more history here). The Bayou Beast, Drew’s favorite pizza, is truly the best of both worlds. Spiced shrimp, crawfish, andouille, jalapenos and mozzarella combine, transforming ingredients from Italy and Louisiana into one tongue-tingling “masterpie”:
Drew also loved The Newman, named after the infamous Seinfeld character, and The Kitty, a Nashville-only pie honoring country legend Kitty Wells, featuring Hattie B’s famous hot chicken, blue cheese dressing, jalapenos and a side of pickles:
Not only was their pizza great, but we loved the art and glitter all over the walls and counter tops too! Two Boots works hard to support young, creative locals by hiring them to paint and perform live music throughout the week. Fun Fact: The servers, cooks and dish washers all split tips at the end of the night!
One of the only pizza shops in Nashville offering a gluten-free crust, I went for the V for Vegan, an incredible combination of all my favorites: shiitake mushrooms, artichokes, red onions, Daiya cheese and a revolutionary crisscross of basil pesto and red pepper pesto. Even Drew couldn’t keep his hands off this pie!
7. After all that talk about food, it’s about time we squeeze in another beautiful hike. Beaman Park is a diverse, 1,700-acre park featuring a nature center, that looks more like our dream home, & 6.6 miles of intertwining hiking trails at all levels of difficulty. Go without a plan, the trails run along various streams and are truly a joy to explore. For more epic hiking spots in Tennessee, check out this link (thanks Sarah!).
8. In the mood for one of the best cups of coffee in America? Hands down, it’s all about the Crema.
9. Fueled up on some incredible caffeine and looking to take a short day trip from Nashville? Mammoth Cave National Park is located 1.5 hours North of Nash and is the longest cave system in the world!
Be sure to book your tours in advance. We originally wanted to do the 6-hour Wild Cave Tour but it was sold out for the next 3 months! So, we opted for the less intense, but still intriguing, Historic Tour. This 2-hour, Ranger-lead journey took us through the same historic entrance where the earliest explorers and visitors once entered!
Our journey was filled with smooth paths, along with steep stairs and tight passageways, the most memorable being “Fat Man’s Misery.” While some people questioned their ability to make it through, no man was left behind 🙂
After having an awesome time learning about the history behind this incredible cave, we emerged and continued exploring on some of the 7.2 miles of scenic trails that venture from ridge top to river, from sinkholes to springs, and from historic overlooks all the way back to the Historic Entrance.
10. Last on our list, but certainly not least, is the long-time Nashville favorite, Arnold’s Country Kitchen!
Open from 10:30-2:45pm, Monday-Friday only, Arnold’s cafeteria-style “Meat & 3″has received numerous accolades, including the 2009 American Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation!
With the friendliest, kindest, smiliest staff and a new list of menu options daily, it’s no wonder so many Nashvillians make Arnold’s part of their everyday routine!
Arnold’s Country Kitchen was opened in 1982 by Jack and Rose Arnold and has been a happily run family biz ever since! We had the pleasure of meeting their awesome sons during our visit, including Kahlil pictured below!
Be sure to look for our Mr and Mrs Adventure sticker that Khalil himself placed on the front door!