AOK Guide to Nashville

guide to nashville
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I've felt like such a jet setter lately! I just got back from my fifth weekend getaway so far in 2018. I get a lot of comments about how I travel so much - I shared how I budget for travel in this post! I will be taking the rest of the summer off from any major travel, though, and spending some much needed time at home and with friends/family nearby, but I have some more fun trips lined up starting in September. Yay!

For now, though, let's talk Nashville! To be honest, it was never a must-visit location for me / wasn't at the top of my U.S. Bucket List. But, when C was sent to Nash for a work conference, I gladly accepted the invitation to tag along. While he was conferencing, I planned to do my own thing...... Turns out I'm not cut out to be a solo traveler, ha! Though I enjoyed shopping without having someone wait on me, I missed having someone to talk to and I really hated eating alone. Also, how is one supposed to get a perfect Instagram without a photographer?!! Needless to say, I was happy when the conference was over and I had my favorite travel companion back.

We enjoyed Nashville and had a lot of good food and even better drinks (plus I scored several cute outfits) but it wasn't our favorite place we've ever been. We aren't huge country music people so a lot of Nashville's charm was lost on us. Don't get me wrong, though, we had a good time! It reminded me a lot of Austin and Dallas combined into one with a southern twist. Scroll on down to see what we did and what we'd recommend!

i believe in nashville mural

Travel Tips
• Nashville is HUMID. I was not anticipating it to be more humid than Oklahoma! I overpacked something terrible but I ended up being really glad that I did because I sweat so much I wanted to change clothes! Sorry if that is TMI ;) That being said, I'd recommend visiting in the cooler part of the year, not in the middle of summer. My hair and skin were NOT happy and my facial skin is still recovering - although that could be partly due to the large amount of sugar cookies I've consumed this week....oops!

There are a TON of bachelor and bachelorette parties / frat and sorority folks everywhere you go. Not a bad thing, but just something to be prepared for!

• Boutiques are expensive! I was shocked at how much things cost at the local boutiques I visited. Most of the price tags had three digits and I am more of a $36 top kinda gal.....I save my monies for designer bags and shoes, ya feel me? I did find a few stores that were more affordable, but still. Be prepared to have sticker shock.

• Popular places are crowded! Check out restaurant's websites to see if you can make a reservation or use the No Wait app.

• Uber v. Rental Car is 50/50. We Ubered the first few days and rented a car on the last day. Nashville is very "pocket-y" so it is easy to stick to one neighborhood area for several hours before Ubering elsewhere. It is pretty condensed, so Uber rides were short and affordable. However, it was nice to have the flexibility to explore a little further out (i.e. Franklin) on our last day! I think you could get by either way, depending on what you want to do/see.

date night in nashville
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Favorite Eats
Biscuit Love - my favorite meal of the trip! I got the Princess sandwich for breakfast made with Nashville Hot Chicken and ate every bite. It was a tummy ache on a plate but so worth it! The lines are really long, so get there early and be prepared to wait.

• Hattie B's Hot Chicken - we got this to-go on our first night and ate it in our hotel room. It was very good fried chicken, but I think my expectations were a little too high. I actually liked the hot chicken at Biscuit Love better because it was stickier! I got the "medium heat" and I think maybe I needed to get the "hot." The sides at Hattie B's were great, though! I hear the lines can get pretty bad so I'd recommend calling the order in like we did! It was super simple.

Frothy Monkey - I've seen so many people post pictures from Frothy Monkey and I've always wanted to go! I ate lunch here while C was in his conference and really enjoyed it. If I was a college student in Nash, I would basically live here. The coffee and cookies were both excellent - I highly recommend the Cowboy Cookie!

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream - so good I ate it twice! I had this on my solo-day and kept thinking/talking about it so I made C go back with me on our last day in town to get more. There are a TON of unique flavors but I liked the sorbets the best. I got both the Riesling Pear and the Frosé! Mmmmmm! After looking at their website I found out they have stores in several big cities AND they sell pints at Whole Foods!! I'll be picking one up ASAP.

Husk - This was our "nice" meal of the trip! The restaurant is in an old house and is so charming! Their menu changes regularly but everything is southern inspired and full of flavor.

Butcher & Bee - we stopped here for brunch on our last day and really enjoyed it! It was actually C's favorite meal (he got the Avocado Crispy Rice). I can't stop thinking about the Whipped Honey Feta appetizer, oh my taste buds. Israeli food isn't normally my favorite but the Avocado Toast was out of this world.

Five Daughter's Bakery - you know I have to find donuts whenever I travel! Five Daughters was a must visit for me. I didn't realize that all of their donuts were actually filled CROnuts - it was a pleasant surprise! My favorite was the Pineapple Crush. I more or less made myself sick on it. No shame.

Bartaco - I've seen so many people rave about Bartaco so I was excited to give it a try! We ordered five tacos to split between the two of us for a light lunch and it was perfect. I especially loved the shrimp taco and C loved the chicken pastor. Now I see what that #bartacolife is all about! Crossing my fingers they make their way to OKC soon!

biscuit love gulch
Biscuit Love

jeni's splendid ice cream
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

husk nashville

butcher & bee nashville
Butcher & Bee

five daughter's bakery 12 south
Five Daughter's Bakery

five daughter's bakery donut
Five Daughter's Bakery

bar taco

Favorite Drinks
Attaboy - this was the coolest concept! It is a speakeasy (you legit have to knock on the door to get in) with no menu. Yep, you read that right. The bartender will ask you what type of drinks you like, if there is anything you're allergic to or don't enjoy, if there is anything that sounds extra good at the moment, and then they will whip you up your own unique cocktail especially to your liking. I got a delicious herby gin drink that was right up my alley. Then, after watching the bartender make a fun tiki drink for someone else, I asked for one of my own. It was the most memorable and unique drink I've ever had! I can't recommend this place enough.

Patterson House - after drinks at Attaboy, we wanted to go somewhere closer to our hotel. Patterson House was right around the corner and had a similar craft cocktail / speakeasy vibe, so we headed there. It was very busy and we had to wait a bit but the drinks were very good and it was an enjoyable experience. You could tell it was an "it" place to be!

Pinewood Social - we got happy hour drinks here before dinner on our last night and they were the best cocktails of the trip! Which is saying a lot, because Attaboy was fantastic. I can't recommend the Chapman's Haven enough. It was made with gin, lime, cucumber, strawberry and black pepper and OH MY GOSH it was amazing. All of their cocktails looked incredible, too.... I wish I had the time and tolerance to try every one! Their food menu also looked amazing, just FYI. It was obviously a cool place to be, there were multiple "lounge" areas, dinner tables and a bowling alley all with a big bar in the middle. It was a really neat atmosphere!

attaboy speakeasy nashville

pinewood social cocktails
Pinewood Social

Where to Shop
Lucky me, I got a LOT of shopping in on this trip! Most of the boutiques were very pricy but I found a few gems that were in the $35-$65 price range.

• The Gulch - kind of an Uptown Dallas vibe! 

  1. Blush Boutique - I got the cutest top and skirt set here for a great price point. 

• 12 South - a very popular area for shopping and eating! I spent two afternoons here.

  1. White's Mercantile - a bunch of cool knick-knacks 
  2. Draper James - Reece Witherspoon's store. They serve you sweet tea when you walk in! It is $$$ though, just FYI! 
  3. Vinnie Louise - another affordable store where I found the cutest blouse
  4. Serendipity - a good variety of Nashville shirts, fun clothes, shoes and knick-knacks 

• Hillsboro Village - there are tons of name brand stores, boutiques and local/regional restaurants here, as well! 

  1. Dress Up - a fun boutique with good prices and lots of cute stuff! 
  2. Posh - a little more high-end boutique with designer brand names similar to Nordstrom, Shopbop or Revolve
  3. REVV - a very high-end boutique with unique items 
  4. United Apparel Liquidator's - a cool designer outlet concept with discounted designer items. I found some seriously amazing deals here on Self Portrait dresses! 
  5. The Impeccable Pig - one of my favorite boutique chains that I'm always happy to pop into! 

draper james nashville
Draper James

posh nashville

dress up boutique nashville

Sights & Activities
Broadway - this is the tourist area of town with all the country bars and honky tonks. Like I said earlier, country music isn't our thing but we still had to see it! This is also where all the classic gift shops are if you're looking for a Christmas ornament, T-Shirt or keychain.

Amelia's Flower Truck - the cutest little flower truck and an Insta-Must! I found it in 12-South and The Gulch.

Murals - Nash is FILLED with street art and murals. It was fun to search a few out! 12-South was popping and was easy to get several in a row without going too far. You can google or Pinterests for lists of Nashville murals, there are tons.

John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge - a gorgeous view of the downtown skyline and the Cumberland River

Grand Ole Opry & Country Music Hall of Fame - we didn't do either of these because, as stated, Country music isn't our thing but I figured they were worth a mention!

broadway nashville

amelia's flower truck
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Where to Stay
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt where C's conference was located. It was a nice enough hotel and seemed to be only a short drive from most places! Though it was a great part of town, it was NOISY. I was woken up by sirens, horns, toilets flushing, the name it.

southern summer look
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nashville looks good on your mural

Franklin, TN
BONUS! We spent one day in Franklin and absolutely loved it! It was the cutest little downtown area I've ever seen - seriously so charming. I felt like we were in a real life Hart of Dixie episode! I thought the boutique shopping in Franklin rivaled Nashville (if not beat it). We only grabbed a sandwich for lunch at the Mercantile, but all of the coffee shops and restaurants looked great.

I LOVED the store Philanthropy! It was like an Anthro/Altar'd State kind of place and was soooo cute. I also really enjoyed Jondie and Finnley's. A lot of the boutiques and restaurants in town are second locations for Nashville places - White's Mercantile, Posh, Five Daughter's Bakery, Frothy Monkey and more.

Franklin also had a Civil War exhibit that was cool to see. There was a wall with tons of bullet holes in it! I wish we would have spent more time in Franklin and less time in Nashville, if we're being honest.

white's mercantile franklin
White's Mercantile in Franklin

nashville weekend getaway

Have you ever been to Nashville? What are your thoughts? Where are you headed next? I want to hear!!

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

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