Any well-seasoned traveler knows that it’s more about the journey than the destination, and that drive-through cities on a road trip can be just as impactful as the end goal.
So, what do you do when you find yourself with just 24 hours in Nashville?
7:00pm – Prince’s Hot Chicken
You pull into town, bleary-eyed and exhausted. You’ve had a full day on the road and haven’t eaten since your gas station beef jerky nearly 400 miles ago. You’re starving and in desperate need of a wake-up.
Enter, Prince’s Hot Chicken. Everybody claims to be the original, but we’ve got it on good authority that Prince’s actually was the first. Call ahead for curbside pick-up, and get your first serious taste of Music City before your boots even hit the ground.
It’ll wake you up good, and is the perfect introduction to our town.
Welcome to Nashville.
8:30am – Radnor Lake State Park
Up and at ’em to make the most of your time, start the morning with a little sweat at one of Nashville’s most beautiful parks. Dearly beloved by locals, getting there early helps you beat the crowd (and the sweltering summer heat). Nearly 8 miles of trails wind you through this wildlife sanctuary, home to all sorts of critters and Tennessee flora. Only 15 minutes from Downtown, you’re also not spending precious time in the car to get there.
Dogs on leashes are welcome, so your furry travel companions can tag along.
12:00pm – Nashville Farmers’ Market & Bicentennial Mall Picnic
After a good sweat session, it’s time to grab a bite. Head on over to the Nashville Farmers’ Market nestled beside Bicentennial Mall, just down the hill from the State Capitol. There you’ll catch all the best, fresh flavors of Nashville being sold by local farmers, artisans, and makers. Think loaves of sourdough, heirloom tomatoes, juicy peaches, and goodness galore.
Make sure you check out the Market House, housing tons of food vendors slinging everything from vegan tacos to classic Neapolitan pizza. There are also shops and pop-ups throughout the building, and it’s worth the time to see it all.
Whether you grab lunch from the Market House or sandwich fixins from the farmers, take it to-go (along with a bottle of wine or a craft beer 6-pack). Directly outside the Farmers’ Market, you’ll find plenty of shade beneath the gorgeous trees of Bicentennial Mall perfect for a picnic. A quiet sanctuary amidst the bustle of Music City, you can literally “eat local” while directly supporting the community.
2:00pm – Steadfast Coffee, Germantown
Just north of the Farmers’ Market, you’ll find Germantown: a charming, historic neighborhood with some of the city’s best boutiques and restaurants. It’s also home to Steadfast Coffee – perfect for your afternoon pick-me-up after a morning of adventuring.
Here, you can expect to find a cast of creatives passionate about their craft; a coffeeshop designed with intention and hospitality in mind. Pick your poison: iced tea, the signature “Atlas” drink, or a Matchless coffee soda, and head out to the patio. Sip deliciously, and get fueled up for your last few hours in town.
3:00pm – Boutique Row, Cocktails al Fresco
With several small boutique hotels lining 4th Avenue North, this block of the Downtown Core has been affectionately dubbed “Boutique Row” by locals. Get a crash course on the Nashville cocktail scene just by walking down one street.
Start at Fairlane Hotel, where mid-century modern comes to life in their onsite restaurant, Ellington’s. Drink something sweet and classic while out on the restaurant patio, which overlooks historic 4th Avenue.
Bobby Hotel, just across the street, has two outdoor watering holes. The first, Café at Bobby, is Bobby’s sidewalk sweetheart and has become synonymous with the Aperol spritz. Ten stories up, you’ll find the viral hitmaker, Bobby’s Rooftop Lounge. You can sip stiff drinks in the driver’s seat of a 1956 Scenicruiser, and this stop is certainly not one to miss. All aboard.
At the end of the block is Noelle Hotel, with their Rare Bird bar perched atop the roof. Draft cocktails and tropical vibes make the space feel like a mini-vacation.
5:00pm – World Famous Skull’s Rainbow Room, Printers’ Alley
Directly behind Boutique Row is the infamous Printers’ Alley, a longtime hideout of outlaws and bandits, and one of Nashville’s best kept secrets. Legend has it, there’s even a system of underground tunnels just beneath the surface, rumored to have been used for running liquor off the Cumberland River during the Prohibition era. The self-proclaimed, long-serving “Mayor of Printers’ Alley” was a man named David “Skull” Schulman, and his world famous Rainbow Room has seen performers like Etta James, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and the likes. Every guest on the Johnny Cash show came here with Johnny himself, too, after taping his shows at the Ryman.
While Skull and the legends of the past have long-since graced the checkerboard stage, the spirit still lives on with dinner and a show each night. Featuring a menu that includes dishes from the original (found patching a wall during renovations), Skull’s serves up live jazz and local history in equal measure.
It’s an experience unlike any other in Nashville, and simultaneously, one that can’t be found anywhere else.
7:00pm – Eavesdropping on Broadway & John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
Certainly the biggest pull to Nashville is Broadway: home to honky-tonks, country music, and cowboy boots. It’s a downhill walk from Printers’ Alley straight to the heart of the scene, and while Lower Broadway itself looks a little differently, you can still take a stroll towards the river and hear some of Music City’s finest.
Most spots along the way are open in some capacity that includes live music, and you can hear it pour out of every window you pass if you’re not comfortable stepping inside. You are still able to immerse yourself in the magic while keeping a safe distance.
The twinkling neon lights seem to burn a little brighter right as the sun goes down and gives a postcard-worthy snapshot as you walk in the footsteps of country music legends.
Just a few blocks south, you’ll find the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. Take a stroll and look back against the iconic Nashville skyline as you end your Music City moments with the perfect photo opp.