Did you know Nashville is home to a full-scale replica of Athen's Parthenon? See photo above. :)
Nashville is bursting with Southern hospitality, delicious food, eclectic bars and vibrant nightlife, live music, interesting history, plenty of sights, and a relaxed fun-loving atmosphere! Of course if you’re already planning a trip there, you probably already know. What you may not know is the little nuances that help make Nashville…well Nashville. Before you go take a few minutes to learn a little about Tennessee’s capital and most populated city with a few tips that may or may not surprise you.
All photography by @studioist
1. Everyone Is Not Walking Around In Boots And Stetsons
Yup, it’s true. The only people walking around like this are tourists—most often bachelorette parties—who are visiting for the weekend. Come CMA Fest in June though more people will be donning their Western wear.
On a typical day you’ll find everything. Nashville doesn’t have a dress code. On a random evening on Broadway you’ll have people in cocktail outfits, sports jerseys, t-shirts, and business attire hitting The Honky Tonk Highway after their respective events. Some restaurants and upscale bars do have dress codes so confirm on their websites before dressing for a night out.
2. It Really Is Music City
If you’re not a singer, you’re a songwriter. If you’re not a songwriter, you’re a musician. If you’re not a musician, you’re tied to the industry somehow whether in production, publicity, publishing, managing, or promoting.
There’s also talent on every corner. You’ll hear a street busker downtown and wonder why they don’t have a record deal. And the music’s not just country. Country is definitely the most prominent on Broadway, but Nashville’s got some of everything.
3. Bring Your Appetite
Nashville is becoming a food town. Nashville has gained a lot of press for its bursting food scene in recent years, so you’ve probably already heard about this. However, new restaurants are opening so fast that even locals can’t keep up. Do some research on the best coffee shops, barbecue, casual dining and fine dining and plan an itinerary that will allow you to taste the best Nashville has to offer.
4. Ride-Share Is Your Friend
Parts of Nashville are walkable, but the neighborhoods are too spread out to really walk between them enjoyably. Everyone drives here to get around. There are plenty of parking options—though the price can really add up, especially the closer you park to downtown—if you decide to rent a car during your visit. Nashville’s public transit is confusing and frankly crap (thanks everyone who voted against the new public transit, ahem!). The most convenient way to get around town is ride-shares like Uber and Lyft.
5. The Summers Are HOT!
Like seriously unbearably hot…and humid! Days in June, July and August average 90 degrees Fahrenheit with 90% humidity. If you’re not familiar with that kind of humidity, it’s honestly like walking through hot soup, making it almost hard to breath comfortable outside. Naturally we always plan to head north in the summers and avoid the Tennessee terribleness.
That being said if you are in town during the summer season make sure to put on plenty of sunscreen (AND reapply it consistently) and wear a hat. Sun protection is key!
6. You May Bump Into Some Stars
Being that it’s Music City and the Country Music Capital of the World, many celebrities like call Nashville home. Nashville doesn’t have the paparazzi that cities like NYC or LA have and therefore Nashville is an appealing place for stars to escape. Hey, celebrities are just like us, right?
Locals would never bother celebrities while they’re out and about. No asking for autographs and photos, pointing, or gawking. And as visitors to Nashville, we expect you to abide by the same rules.
Keep your eyes open though and you just may see Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Vanessa Carlton, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, and Kristen Cavallari among others shopping at the grocery store or mall, grabbing a coffee, or enjoying weekend brunch with pals.
7. Music Row Isn’t What You’d Expect
Music Row, the heart of Nashville’s country music industry, is lined with record label offices, radio stations, recording studios, publishing houses, and management divisions. Now you’re probably picturing towering office buildings, but in fact the music business on Music Row are mainly housed in modest renovated houses along 16th and 17th Avenue South (called Music Square East and Music Square West respectively).
8. Please And Thank You Are The Magic Words
Southern hospitality is alive and well in Nashville so using your manners goes a long way. Many expect to hear “sir” and “ma’am” at the end of responses and to hold the door for those behind you.
9. The City Shuts Down For Snow…And Even Rain
In general Nashville drivers are just terrible, and how can they not be? Our Tennessee drivers’ test consisted of 3 right hand turns around the DMV. Don’t believe me? Just watch someone try and parallel park. Haha.
Plus if you’re around when there is a threat of snow, good luck! The grocery store shelves are completely emptied like it’s the apocalypse.
10. No Need To Drink PBR
Cheers to a great time! Recently Nashville has been experiencing a brewery boom. Microbreweries and small-batch distilleries are popping up all over town so there’s no excuse to be drinking Bud Light at the bar. Take a tour or and enjoy the taprooms of local favorites Yazoo Brewing Company, Jackalope Brewery, and Fat Bottom Brewing for beers, or Corsair Artisan and Nelson Green Brier Distillery for spirits, among many others.
On a hot sunny day nothing will quench your thirst like a bushwhacker, a boozy milkshake reminiscent of a Frosty from Wendy’s. :) Head to Broadway Brewhouse in Midtown.
For non-alcoholic drink options, order the Southern choice Sweet Tea, not iced tea. Order an iced tea and you’ll get funny looks.