Adventure

Nashville Travel Guide

NASHVILLE TRAVEL GUIDE
nashville skyline

Being a Nashville native, this is one of the most daunting posts I've ever written. As a traveler, having a handful of positive experiences about a destination is enough to equip you with confidence about the recommendations you provide. But as a native to one of the most popular destinations in the country right now? I feel immense pressure to carefully curate the most ideal list given my knowledge about the area.  So let me start by caveating that this doesn't include everything to do in this wonderful city (it's a blog post not a book, people) but I did my best to provide crowd pleasers in every neighborhood as a starting point. So over the last few weeks, I played tourist in my own town, arranged a few staycations, and pulled together this guide of some of my favorite places for you to visit in Music City. 

DOWNTOWN

STAY:

506 LOFTS

506 lofts Nashville
506 lofts nashville tennessee
506 lofts nashville tennessee
506 lofts nashville tn

506 Lofts is a five-unit boutique hotel in downtown Nashville. The 130 year old building has been a department store, a mensware store, and an Asian restaurant. During construction, maintaining as much original work as possible was a top priority in an effort to restore the building while preserving its history. I went for a staycation with my friend Sarah, and we loved everything about our unit. But my favorite part of 506 Lofts is what they stand for. They belive strongly in Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." To that end; the owner created a program called Rooms for Rooms which ensures no stay at 506 Lofts happens without helping someone in need. For every stay, they donate 5% to the surrounding Nashville homeless shelters (Room in the Inn and Nashville Rescue Mission). Therefore, those without a home are able to find a places to stay due to your stay at 506 lofts. The pictures speak for themselves, but it truly is a beautiful property and in a killer location if you want to be in the heart of downtown. 

PINEWOOD SOCIAL NASHVILLE DOWNTOWN
PINEWOOD SOCIAL THINGS ON TOAST

Pinewood is a great place no matter what you're looking for at any time of the day. I often come for coffee and breakfast to work during the day or to grab cocktails at night. It goes far beyond your average restaurant, offering bowling, bocce ball, a swimming pool and private karaoke room. 

 

DO: 

ACME FEED & SEED

ACME FEED AND SEED
acme feed and seed

Being a local from Nashville, I'm guilty of having turned my nose up to Broadway because it's crawling with tourists (and if you are a tourist, you definitely should experience it- it's iconic). But Acme Feed & Seed is a bar on Broadway that anyone can genuinely enjoy.  This 3 story bar offers a different option at every level, and each one is tons of fun. For killer views of the city, head all the way to top and have a drink on the roof. 

 

EAST NASHVILLE

STAY:

AIRBNB

east nashville airbnb
east nashville tn airbnb rental

East Nashville is an up and coming area with tons happening, but hotel options are extremely limited. There are tons of Airbnb listings to choose from, but I recently stayed at a friend's guest house that they list and I highly recommend it. The decor is insane and it's conveniently located to tons of great places on the East Side. 

 

EAT: 

 

MARCHÉ

marche artisan foods nashville brunch spots

Easily my favorite spot to grab brunch in town. The elegantly rustic setting creates a perfect ambiance for any occasion. Not only do they serve amazing food, but with a unique selection of goods from artisan producers. The menu utilizes local and seasonal products and changes seasonally, but everything I've ever ordered has been out of this world. 

 

ROSEPEPPER

rosepepper mexican restaurant east nashville

Rosepepper has one of the best patios in town and their margarita has been voted best in town for 11 years in a row now (you've also likely seen someone Instagram of their tounge-in-cheek marquee quotes). Go for lunch, dinner, or simply guacamole and margs on a pretty day and you'll be a happy camper. 

 

 

MIDTOWN

STAY:

LOEWS VANDERBILT HOTEL

loews vanderbilt hotel nashville tn
LOEWS VANDERBILT HOTEL NASHVILLE
loews vanderbilt hotel

If you're looking for a more classic hotel experience, check out Loews Vanderbilt on West End. Every detail has been carefully thought through, so that when you check in your mind can check out. The time I spent there during one of my staycations was some of the most relaxing I've had in a long time. 

 

EAT:

LE SEL

nashville restaurant le sel french midtown

The atmosphere at Le Sel will make you swoon (took me back to when I fell in love with sketch in London). I love their brunch, dinner and cocktail selection. No matter what time of day you go, the vibe is always on point and you'll totes get a good Insta pic (insert sassy emoji). 

 

DO:

CENTENNIAL PARK

CENTENNIAL PARK PICNIC NASHVILLE
CENTENNIAL PARK PICNIC NASHVILLE TN
CENTENNIAL PARK NASHVILLE TN

A Nashville staple for a walk in the park (and epic views of our Parthenon). If you're lucky enough to be in town on a Saturday in the moderate seasons, be sure to check out Musicians Corner for a showcase of Nashville's finest independent singer songwriters. 

 

GERMANTOWN

 

STAY: 

AIRBNB

Also a fantastic place to stay, but limited on hotels so check out Airbnb to find a spot that's right for your group. 

 

EAT:

BUTCHERTOWN HALL

butchertown hall nashville germantown

This place is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. I like to avoid gender stereotypes, but it's been my personal experience that ladies love the beautiful esthetic of this restored church-now-restaurant, and guys love the wide variety of (delicious) meat options. They also have one of my personal favorite margaritas in town.

 

5TH & TAYLOR

5th and taylor nashville germantown

Probably my favorite restaurant in town right now. The atmosphere is sure knock your socks off, the food is delicious, and the cocktails are always on point (try the cucumber gimlet and you'll see what I mean). 

SILO

NASHVILLE RESTAURANT GERMANTOWN SILO

I have lots of wonderful things I could say about Silo, but I will save my breath and simply say this. Do not leave without getting the mac and cheese. I repeat: do NOT leave, without trying the mac and cheese. It will change your life. 

 

DO:

 

TEMPERED EUROPEAN INDULGENCE

TEMPERED NASHVILLE EUROPEAN INDULGENCE GERMANTOWN

Tempered Cafe & Chocolate, is a sweet and savory destination specializing in small batch artisan chocolates, light cafe fare, and fine wine & cheese pairings. Go on Thursday (8p-1a), Friday & Saturday (8p-3a) for Green Hour, when they serve signature cocktails and traditional absinthe drips (only when the green light in the window is lit.)

 

 

12 SOUTH

 

STAY: 

AIRBNB

Another fantastic place to stay, but limited on hotels so check out Airbnb to find a spot that's right for your group. 

 

EAT:

BURGER UP

burger up 12 south nashville tn

There are lots of great burgers in town (which I'm just now discovering because I recently quit being a vegetarian- best decision ever). Burger Up has been one of my favorites so far.  The entire menu is moderately priced, farm to table, has great portion sizes, and is sure to please no matter what you order (I love both the burger and the kale salad). 

 

BARTACO

bartaco nashville

Channeling my inner cali-girl, I love the vibe at bartaco. I went during a staycation with my friend Brenna a couple weeks ago, and echo her sentiments exactly (read her entire blog about our squad getaway here)  

I love a spot where I can get something healthy or splurge and this place offers all of those options. The chopped salad, guacamole, and cauliflower, ribeye, and duck tacos are my favorite menu items and the sanguina cocktail might literally be my favorite cocktail of all time.

 

DO:

 

WHITE'S MERCANTILE

NASHVILLE FIELD GUIDE WHITES MERCANTILE
WHITES MERCANTILE 12 SOUTH
nashville tn whites mercantile 12 south

White's is one of my favorite boutiques in town. If I buy you a birthday card or gift, there is a 99% chance I got it here, because I'm a sucker for every item available for sale. They pride's themselves in being a general store for the modern-day tastemaker, and offer a wide variety of products. My friend Mille (aka Amelia Styles) and I recently teamed up to share some of our Nashville favorites each month on Instagram, and our outfits in the photos above and below all came from their store.

 

SEVIER PARK

SEVIER PARK NASHVILLE WHITES MERANTILE 12 S
SEVIER PARK NASHVILLE 12 SOUTH
SEVIER PARK NASHVILLE 12 SOUTH

Sevier is my favorite park in Nashville (I'm slightly biased because I live just up the road). It's filled with the local community doing life together every single day. You'll find families gathered around the swingsets while the kids play, couples laying on blankets together, runners with their dogs, and groups of friends playing games or hanging out (like my friends do every Sunday after church if the weather is right). When Nashville had our snow-pocalypse, everyone in the neighborhood seemed to flock to Sevier for massive sledding and snowball fights. It's truly one of those idyllic atmospheres that seems to come straight out of a movie and tug at your heartstrings. 

 

 

The list above is hardly putting a dent in all Nashville has to offer, and I can assure this won't be the last time I post about the great city that I call home. But no matter what you do during your stay, I'm confident you'll fall in love with Nashville and will find yourself back again soon. I'll have more recommendations to share with you when you do. 

NASHVILLE TRAVEL GUIDE

say yes to adventures (especially in Barcelona.)

I knew my trip to Europe would be an adventure. It always feels that way when you go somewhere new and drink up a different culture. And starting off in Barcelona, I had plenty to work with: tapas, architecture, vino, beautiful mediterranean beaches… the list goes on. But one of my best adventures there wasn’t one that I expected. 


After dinner on our last night, my family and I went to the roof of hotel 1828 off La Rambla for some cocktails before turning in. It was Saturday night and the city was slowly coming more and more alive. I wanted to join the people around me and experience Barcelona's nightlife, but as I looked around our cabana, it was evident that my family was fading quickly. If I went out, I’d be on my own. 

About that time I made eye contact with a guy at the cabana diagonally across from me. He smiled, and we exchange glances a few more times over the next couple of minutes. He was with two other guys who looked shamelessly European and around my age. About the 6th or 7th round of eye contact, he waved me over.

I hesitated. If I’m being honest, I don’t usually bite when it comes to situations like these. I’m oddly prideful and  tell myself that I’m above being the desperate, googly-eyed girl that engages so easily (which in all reality probably just makes me seem rude and unapproachable to most men. I’m working on it). But for whatever reason— let’s call it the vino or Barcelona’s energy, this time I walked over. 

 

It turns out the guy I had been exchanging looks with didn’t speak a lick of English, but his friends spoke a fair amount (enough to easily understand me but still adorably failing  to make grammatically correct sentences). They were from Bordeaux, France on holiday for a few days. We drank champagne and talked for a while before they told me they were about to go out and invited me to come with them. 

 

Again, I hesitated. I’ve seen Taken. It was 3 tall, (and strong from the looks of it) French men- and then me. I was in a foreign country I was just getting the hang of. It was dark. And my phone was dying.There were plenty of practical, play by the rules voices going through my head. But my gut wasn’t threatened. It told me to go. So I did. 

 

I walked over to tell my family, and much to my surprise, my dad didn’t try to fight me. I know he respects that I’m a completely independent and self-sufficient adult. He knows that it’s not his job to tell me what to do anymore. But I still expected him to throw a fit for trying to leave with 3 strangers. But instead, he paused for a minute (still with a concerned dad face) then finally replied: “They seem like nice guys. But if for some reason I’m wrong- I want you to bite and kick and scream and yell, and then run like hell.” Needless to say, that advice from dad took my nervous voices from about a 3 to at least a solid 7. Nonetheless, I still went. We walked down the street to a hostel to meet up with the rest of their friends. Pretty soon I found myself in a room with about 12 French men. I had my guard way up. I subtly stood in the doorway and kept one foot kicked back behind me in case someone tried to close it abruptly. I had my head on a freaking swivel- ready to react to anything. 

They all talked to me like I was some exotic animal they had never seen before. “You AMERICAN girl?” (followed by sentences spoken to one another in French that I didn’t understand. Nervousness continuing to rise). 

My uptight, analyze the situation to be sure i’m safe attitude played out for a while, but slowly I realized I could relax a little. That they were really nice guys. My voices went from “BE CAREFUL! They might try to abduct you!” to sounding more like “If you say yes to adventure, you actually have to be okay with the adventure part.” 

 

Maybe they were just hoping to get lucky. Maybe they were actually interested in me. Or perhaps I’m naive to how affectionate Europeans are and they were simply being friendly  Regardless, I don’t really care because it was an incredibly fun night. We walked down La Rambla and along Port Vell, buzzed on Spanish wine. Julien chased me through the halls of the hostel with a bottle of cologne (and successfully sprayed me about 5 times. I had to get the dress dry-cleaned to get the scent out and my suitcase still smells like it). Maxim twirled me in the streets like a ballerina. We sat in the hostel and drank with other travelers from Australia and Russia. We met some Canadians at the bar who had been traveling through Spain since January (and we discovered we’d be in Paris at the same time next month). We took selfies and group pictures and I stayed out way past my bedtime. 

 


Yes, I realize there were potential dangers of me choosing to go out with these guys. My message here isn't to be reckless and ignore any voice of caution (so don’t go to Europe and be a complete moron and then try to sue me when things go wrong). My point is simply that at the end of it all, had I only listened to the paranoid voices,  I would have missed out on such a fun night. I made new friends from across the globe. I got to experience nightlife in Barcelona like I had hoped to. And on top of it all, my family ended up being locked out of our flat and didn't get back inside until after 3am, so I would have missed the fun AND been been miserable.   

 

So be smart. Use your head, and trust your gut. And when it tells you to be open to a new adventure, I hope that you'll say yes. 


Solitude

I'm an extrovert. I’m energized by groups. I love events, concerts, and the buzz of a large crowd (within reason). I love the hum of a full restaurant on a Friday night and the energy pouring out of people like the wine into their glasses. I love nights of squeezing too many people on the sofa with drinks and snacks and good conversation. I love people coming together: to celebrate, to dance, to be joyful.

But as much as I love all these aforementioned things, I’ve grown to really love solitude more and more over the years. 

I’m in Colorado for the week.  I contemplated calling some of my friends to grab lunch or go shopping in Denver when I landed today. There’s never a shortage of things to do while I’m out here, and my schedule usually fills up before my trip even begins.

But instead I opted to hop in the Subaru and drive north for an hour or two up to Estes Park. 

My grandparents took my dad and his sisters camping here when they were growing up. We came for a huge family vacation with everyone from both sides when I was little. It’s where my little brother took his first steps. It’s my first memory I can remember of being in the mountains. But I haven’t been back in over 20 years (which makes me feel really old to say), so I took some time to rediscover the beauty this place has to offer. 

I did some shopping downtown, visiting the taffy store where my grandfather would always load up on cinnamon salt water taffy. I scored some beautiful woven blankets from a local Native American shop. I sat outside scoping the Rockies while I ate fresh trout that had been caught that morning. And then I decided it was time to head up into the mountains and hike. 

I asked a frail older woman working at the register of one of the shops if she could recommend someplace that wasn’t too far away that would be a scenic hike. She pointed me to Gem Lake but warned me that it was a really easy trail so if I wanted a challenge it would disappoint. "But the scenery is beautiful, so that much will be nice.” There were some thick rainclouds starting to form and I thought a shorter, easy hike may be better anyway. 

I don’t know what kind of steroids Granny is on, but that trail is NOT easy. I'd like to think I'm in pretty good shape, but half a mile into my trek I was already gasping for air and breaking for water. About this time it started to sprinkle and I still had over a mile and a half left before I reached the top (not to mention the trip back down.)

I almost turned around. I was alone and I hadn’t seen any other solo hikers. Everyone that I sporadically passed was with their family or friends or significant other.  “Get out of your own head, Whitney” I told myself. "Tons of people hike alone". Moments later I heard two families chatting about a bear sighting earlier that day. I instantly thought of my dad repeating a thousand times to NEVER hike without bear spray when we were in Jackson Hole last summer. Pretty soon I was  creating news stories in my head about my abduction, or how I'd gone missing because I’d gotten lost, or how I’d tragically been slaughtered by a bear. 

I managed to quiet the annoying scaredy-cat voices in my head and press on. As I reached one of the first scenic overlooks, I was instantly grateful I hadn’t turned back. It was breathtaking. I saw an older couple approaching and asked if they’d mind taking a picture for me. The woman kindly obliged. As she handed the camera back to me she said “I’m sorry that you’re out here all by yourself.” The tone of her voice was kind but also sympathetic. You could tell she genuinely felt bad for me. I couldn't decide if I should be offended by her comment. I opened my mouth to say thanks but instead, blurted out “I’m not.” She smiled, now seeming more impressed than she was sorry (and frankly, so was I). But I realized that I meant it. 

 

Why would I be sorry that I’m by myself? This was my choice. This was what I wanted to be doing. I have the day off and am in one of the most scenic places on earth, dammit. I’m lucky to be in my shoes. 

Yes, I was alone. But I liked it in this context. You could say that’s a theme of the season of life that I’m currently in. It's a season of solitude- and that my friends, is very different than loneliness. 

 

Loneliness is accompanied by a feeling of emptiness (and typically, it stems from a place of feeling inadequate). Loneliness doesn't just have to be felt when you're alone. It can be when you’re in a huge crowd, a close circle of friends, or even being intimate with someone. You can have a smile on your face and appear to be perfectly happy and still feel incredibly lonely.

But solitude does not equal loneliness. Solitude is a good thing- and it’s often a choice. It’s opting to be alone with yourself: to dream, to re-evaluate, to pray, to explore, and forgive me for sounding cliche- but to find yourself. Solitude restores us. 

So today I marveled in solitude’s radiant glory, and I didn’t feel lonely for a second. Because how could I? I got to see some of God’s best work and most beautiful views. I got to take inventory of myself: How I’m feeling about my dreams. How I’m feeling about my friendships. How I’m feeling about the kind of person that I’m becoming. 

It was restoring for my soul. Because while I’ve grown to genuinely enjoy and appreciate solitude, this season has been one that’s honestly become laughable at this point. There’s been moments that are more excruciating than I ever thought possible. Moments that feel like right when I catch my breath, I get the wind knocked out of me again. It's not all warm, fuzzy stories of overcoming and growing and rainbows. 

Forgive me, but I’m about to make a cliché metaphor about this hike I was on, and how it parallels to my current journey in life. I have to do it- so deal with it. Because every time I saw a scenic spot, part of me considered saying "Good enough" and calling it quits. But I continued to climb. This decision prolonged the time that I spent alone. It made me more tired and more worn out. But every time that I did, I was always greeted with another view that outdid the last one. And I'm learning that's the case with life too. We can stay stuck in our current circumstances and deal with where we are, thinking it'll be good enough. Or we can keep going. Even when we're tired. Even when we're alone. Even when it would be way easier to stop. And when we do continue, there is always a payoff. There's always glory that's revealed to us. 

As I finally sat victoriously on the highest peak of the climb, I randomly flipped my bible open and couldn’t help but smile at the first verse I coincidentally saw. 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are nothing compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  - Romans 8:18

I’m starting to see the glimpses of glory in my life. Yeah, I keep getting thrown curve balls of more suffering that come out of nowhere and knock me right in the face. But the glory is there. It’s the glory that gives me strength to crave adventure and thrive when I’m by myself. To conquer loneliness because I know that I lack nothing. The glory that makes it impossible to miss God’s presence and power that’s working in my life. It’s the glory that causes me to be thankful for my solitude.

The coming weeks are already jam packed with moments of togetherness. I have dinner plans every night I’m here in Colorado. I have 4th of July parties to come home to before I leave a few days later for almost 2 weeks in Europe with my family. And as fun as all of those things are going to be, I’m so thankful for the time that I had alone with myself, and alone with God today. To be reminded that “alone” doesn't have to be a bad thing. That a season of solitude is a beautiful place to be. That it can make you more strong, more grateful, more adventurous and more hopeful than you ever thought possible. 

So if you find yourself “alone”, I hope you can find solitude. That you can look at this season as one that’s a blessing, not a curse. That you won’t rush through it, or lament about how much you want to be somewhere else, but that you’ll use it to become the best version of yourself. Because in doing so, there’s going to be more glory revealed than you even know how to handle.