Why Nashville’s Country Charm Should Put It At The Top Of Your Bucket List

Embrace your inner cowgirl.
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Lainey Wilson’s 2024 hit song tells us ‘Country’s Cool Again’ and she couldn’t be much clearer. International pop singers Beyoncé and Lana Del Rey are hopping on the country music bandwagon, while country singers like Luke Combs are holding Billboard #1 slots with no sign of slowing down. So, when planning your next trip, why not head to the epicentre of country music, Nashville, Tennessee?

While Bristol, Tennessee, is technically considered the official birthplace of country, Nashville’s legacy in the genre cannot be denied. The birthplace of bluegrass music and the popularity of the Grand Ole Opry have driven country artists to Nashville in droves, from Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Keith Urban, to Taylor Swift, Kelsea Ballerini and Kacey Musgraves.

Known for its bustling Downtown region and iconic ‘Honky Tonks’ (casual venues that play country music day in and day out), Nashville is inviting, filled with history and Southern charm. Its energetic nightlife, delicious dining options and brilliant shopping make it an essential item on any good bucket list.

So – if you decide to head south and embrace the country spirit, where should you stay and what should you do? Consider this our guide to Nashville if you have anywhere from a few days to a week to spend there.

Where To Stay:

The Hermitage Hotel Nashville

The iconic hotel is a National Historic Landmark. Image: The Hermitage Hotel

Located just three blocks from Nashville’s bustling Downtown scene, The Hermitage Hotel is a well-placed, relaxing oasis in this vibrant city.

This heritage building has stood tall since 1910, as one of the first luxury accommodations in the city. It was originally conceived to be a world-class landmark to strengthen Nashville’s standing as a destination. Architects designed it in the Beaux-arts style, which mixes French and Italian Renaissance features, creating a romantic and grand hotel.

The Grand Lobby is elegant and inviting. Image: The Hermitage Hotel

Steeped in history, the hotel played a key role in the Women’s Suffrage movement. During this time pro and anti-Suffragette campaigners gathered in the hotel, with the pro wearing yellow roses and the anti wearing red, leading this juncture to be nicknamed, the ‘War of the Roses’.

In the end, a young state senator who had always worn a red rose received a letter from his mother and changed his vote, the deciding vote, in the chamber. Afterwards, he went to The Hermitage and proclaimed that women should receive the vote. The 19th Amendment was later ratified on August 18, 1920.

Spacious sitting areas are available inside the rooms. Image: The Hermitage Hotel

In honour of the role The Hermitage Hotel played in securing the 19th Amendment, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2020, joining the likes of Mount Vernon, Pearl Harbour and Alcatraz.

While staying in this piece of American history is a dream for all history buffs, luxury-lovers will also be stirred by the elegant interiors and tempting Grand Lobby (with fireplace), which beckon you to open a book and sip some tea.

The Veranda is a perfect place for high tea. Image: The Hermitage Hotel

The rooms are well-appointed and spacious, with sitting areas, extremely comfortable European beds, a marble bathroom and custom Molton Brown bathroom amenities. After staying at the Hermitage, we can confirm that the service here is impeccable, the location second-to-none, and the attention to detail astounding. The hotel’s dedication to preserving its unique history and heritage features sets the standard for other historic hotels.

Our best tip? Grab afternoon tea in the Grand Lobby or Veranda, and dine downstairs at Drusie & Darr for an elegant Southern experience that you’ll remember for the ages.

Where To Eat:

Breakfast: Biscuit Love (Located in The Gulch neighborhood)

Image: Biscuit Love

There’s a line at Biscuit Love and there’s a reason for it. On the way there my Uber driver tells me I’ve chosen well and that it’s one of the best spots in the city for breakfast.

The South is known for its biscuits, which are similar to scones but often served with savoury toppings like gravy or eggs (although you can get sweet versions too).

Lunch: Hattie B’s (located in Downtown & Midtown neighbourhoods)

Image: Hattie B’s

If there’s two things Nashville is known for – it’s barbeque and hot chicken sandwiches. Hattie’s specializes in the latter.

These sandwiches come in a range of spice options. We ordered ‘hot’ because we felt like we owed it to Nashville to try a ‘hot’ chicken sandwich, and it was delicious. However, my travelling companion is not a fan of spice and found the mild quite spicy, so if you’re not into spice feel free to order a lower or no spice option too.

Hattie’s caters to gluten-free guests with grilled instead of fried chicken and has a range of Southern-style sides such as bacon grits and potato salad. The food is iconic to Nashville, delicious and the experience was one we’d happily do again.

Lunch: Peg Leg Porker (Located in The Gulch neighborhood)

Image: Peg Leg Porker

If you’re looking to experience a barbeque in Nashville, it’s hard to go past Peg Leg Porker, which serves “real Tennessee BBQ” that is filling and delicious.

With over 30 local drafts on tap and a cosy down-to-earth atmosphere, this BBQ location is one to try. We’d suggest the pulled pork platter with two sides if you’re coming past here, or a ½ rack of dry rubbed ribs.

Dinner: Drusie & Darr (A Jean-Georges Restaurant, located in Downtown neighbourhood)

Image: Drusie & Darr

Drusie & Darr is located inside the Hermitage Hotel and is a high-end restaurant serving delectable meals and a refined menu.

The flagship of Chef Jean-Georges’s culinary program, Drusie & Darr has a seasonal menu and enveloping ambiance that will have you wanting to sit there all evening enjoying the food and curated drinks list.

The service here is impeccable and the dishes delightful, it’s a must-do in Nashville (and a nice opportunity to get a little more dressed up).

Drinks: White Limozeen (Located in Midtown neighbourhood)

Image: White Limozeen

This all-pink bar (with pool) is full of personality and is a girly rooftop oasis. With playful cocktails and panoramic views of Downtown Nashville, it’s somewhat of a shrine to Tennessee singer Dolly Parton.

With a larger-than-life sculpture of Dolly Parton to take photos next to and a homestyle-meets-French menu to pick from, this is a brilliant spot for sundowners.

Where To Play:

There is so much to do in Nashville, but here are a few of the highlights from our stay.

Activity: The Grand Ole Opry

Image: The Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is a regular live country-music radio broadcast that was founded way back in 1925. The Opry has been home to some of the most famous country singers of all time and was originally held at the Ryman Auditorium before it was moved to the Grand Old Opry House in 1974.

It is worth going to a show at the new Opry house, and also doing a tour, where you get backstage access to the Opry. You get to see all the dressing rooms where famous acts from Taylor Swift to Dolly Parton have prepared for their shows. You also get the opportunity to step into the Opry circle – a piece of the wooden stage moved from the original Opry House at Ryman that has been stood on by everyone from Johnny Cash to Elvis Presley.

Activity: Ryman Auditorium

Image: The Ryman Auditorium

If you have the opportunity to tour both the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry House, we’d definitely recommend it. The Ryman is steeped in history as the long-running location of the Opry before it was moved in 1974.

The building fell into disrepair after that and was nearly torn down, but was saved by country musicians who felt this piece is history was worth preserving. It is now home to evening shows as well, which have been termed Opry at the Ryman.

Activity: Centennial Park

Image: Cassandra Green

Nashville’s major park is Centennial Park, which is a 132 acre park that is home to an artificial lake (Lake Watauga), and The Parthenon, a replica of the original building in Greece, which was built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition.

You may have heard of Centennial Park in Taylor Swift’s song ‘Invisible String’, where she sings, “Green was the colour of the grass where I used to read in Centennial Park. I used to think I would meet somebody there.”

In honour of Swift, the city of Nashville has erected a seat in the park for her to read on.

Honky Tonk: Robert’s Western World

Image: Robert’s Western World

Voted Nashville’s favourite Honky Tonk for eight years in a row, this was actually recommended to us by a Nashville local and it did not disappoint. With walls lined in western boots and tongue-in-cheek signs, this down-to-earth venue plays live music seven days a week.

Located on lower Broadway, it is an ideal location to grab a Pabst Blue Ribbon and tap your boots.

Honky Tonk: The Valentine

Image: The Valentine

We wandered up and down Broadway and absolutely loved the live music downstairs at The Valentine. With a mix of traditional and new country music, the bands were amazing. We saw country singer Paxon Peay and danced the night away.

Shopping: Fifth & Broadway

Image: Fifth & Broadway

This outdoor shopping mall is located in the downtown area and is home to a range of local brands including Nash & Molly Green. Snoop the latest at Carhartt and peruse Free People before heading back out into the hustle and bustle of Broadway.

Shopping: Ariat

Image: Ariat

When in Nashville, shop western boots. Ariat offers authentic boots that are designed to take you from the Honky Tonks to the great outdoors and will last you years.

The helpful staff here can help find the right fit for you – and it’s a piece you’ll have in your wardrobe for years to come.

Shopping: The Mall At Green Hills

Image: The Mall At Green Hills

If you’re looking to access all the classic American brands (Free Bird, Abercrombie & Aritizia) to high end designers like Burberry and Chanel, The Mall at Green Hills has it all.

It’s located a little outside of Nashville so allow some time, but it’s a great shopping destination for a rainy day.

Songs To Brush Up On Your Country Music

And finally, our biggest tip before heading to Nashville is setting up a country music playlist and learning some of the words instead of trying to learn them on the go.

Feel free to head through the country charts but some classics that we heard (not an exhaustive list) on our trip include:

  • Down To The Honkytonk, Jake Owen
  • Chicken Fried, Zac Brown Band
  • Wagon Wheel, Darius Rucker
  • Before He Cheats, Carrie Underwood
  • Fishin’ in the Dark, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • One Margarita, Luke Bryan
  • Save A Horse, Big & Rich
  • Tennessee Whiskey, Chris Stapleton
  • Last Night, Morgan Wallen
  • Jolene, Dolly Parton
  • Cowboy Casanova, Carrie Underwood
  • Country Girl, Luke Bryan
  • Beer Never Broke My Heart, Luke Combs
  • Take Me Home, Country Roads, John Denver
  • She’s Country, Jason Aldean
  • Oklahoma Smokeshow, Zach Bryan
  • Tennessee Orange, Megan Moroney
  • Heart Like A Truck, Lainey Wilson
  • Cowboy Take Me Away, The Chicks
  • The Bones, Maren Morris
  • Fancy Like, Walker Hayes
  • Mamaw’s House, Thomas Rhett & Morgan Wallen
  • Texas Hold ‘Em, Beyoncé
  • Picture To Burn, Taylor Swift

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