When I moved to Nashville almost five years ago, I was a bright-eyed, celebrity obsessed music lover that was anxious to explore all that Music City had to offer. After the first year of settling into my new home, I broke from my music-related blogging (on my music blog Tragic Kingdom) to provide readers with some of my favorite Nashville hot spots and places to add to their itinerary if bumping into country music royalty was on their list of things to do. In fact, it may have been that very post that led to the creation of Listen! It’s Vetrano and the more Lifestyle, Nashville-focused blog you’re reading (and loving, no doubt) today.
Since that post in June of 2011, Nashville has been through major changes and the city is almost an unrecognizable blueprint of what it once was. Construction debris fills the streets while towers of condominiums are erected, street corners are housing some of the country’s best dining and ABC brought a truck-load of movie and television stars to the city to film the soap-style drama Nashville. Don’t get me wrong, my first installment of “Hollywood With A Touch of Twang” still has plenty relevance and I still suggest it as a beginners guide to visiting Music City. For the moderate to more-seasoned traveler though, this second-helping might provide some of the hidden gems and places to get you a little closer to the locals… including some of the famous ones.
Like my first post suggested, I would start your day at a local coffee shop. The city is filled to the brim with great options like Downtown’s Crema or Ugly Mugs in East Nashville. Barista Parlor‘s Golden Sound location in The Gulch neighborhood is also home to Dan Auerbach‘s (of The Black Keys) Nashville studio, so imagine who you might see grabbing a Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Latte. Lana Del Rey, perhaps?
After caffeinating and rubbing elbows with Nashville’s local coffee shop kids — undoubtedly lumberjack dressed hipsters — you’re probably starving. For brunch, take a drive through the 12 South neighborhood where you’ll be given the option of the best burgers in town at Burger Up, a pork sandwich that’s worth the wait at Edley’s BBQ or a version of “Jack’s Best Chicken” at The Flipside. If looking for something on the lighter side, Taqueria Del Sol offers delicious al-a-carte tacos that are easy on the stomach and wallet. If celebrity sightings feed your appetite, split the Eggs Benedict with The Voice winner Cassadee Pope at Josephine, one of her favorite brunch spots.
After your stomach’s are full, Nashville shopping is plentiful. Local boutiques like Posh, Emerson Grace and Local Honey have something for everyone. Celebrity stylist Trish Townsend, whose client list includes Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton, recently opened her premiere mens boutique Townsend Style in the Brentwood area, where you can even make an appointment to shop like a star. Speaking of stars, Jamie Lynn Spears shops at songwriter Liz Rose’s Castilleja for some retail therapy when she’s in town working on her upcoming full length album.
Once you’re decked out in Nashville’s trendiest threads, you’ll want to stop by one of Juice Nashville‘s many locations to rehydrate with a delicious cold pressed delight. My favorite juices are Hot Stuff, a blend of apple juice with cayenne pepper, or Happy, which consists of carrot, orange, pineapple and ginger. If you play your cards right, you may be there while Kelly Clarkson is picking up her latest order. Even luckier, if the Juice Nashville founder Stephanie Waring is there you may get lost in a gab session with Music City’s friendliest business owner.
Once hydrated, stop by Pinewood Social for a couple frames on their hip, casual bowling lanes and, if the weather’s warm, hang pool side at one of their two wading pools. Martina McBride may be kicking ass playing at the lane the next to you, while Sam Palladino of Nashville listens to music in one of their many comfy chairs. The fried broccoli is a great snack if bowling works up your appetite, but save room for dinner because Music City is filled with great dinner options.
Rolf & Daughters in the historic Germantown neighborhood has been nationally recognized as having one of the U.S.’s top dishes, but I suggest making a reservation because Connie Britton may be dining in the corner booth with some the city’s leading ladies. The growing Germantown neighborhood is filling with some of the best dining in the city, so if Rolf’s tables are filled, check out City House, Butchertown Hall or Silo, which are just blocks away.
Once your stomach’s are once again filled, you’ll want to catch music’s up and coming stars at Whiskey Jam, located at Winner’s in the Midtown area, where celebrities and bands like The Fray have tendency to show up on occasion for a surprise show (watch that here). If you’re looking for something a little grungier and low-key, head to the “east side’s” Five Points for some jams at The 5 Spot or beers with Hayden Panettiere at 3 Crow. And no East Nashville night would be complete without a late night slice to soak up your binge at Five Points Pizza. While you wait at their street side window for your slice, call your Uber so you can make it back to your Airbnb before the pizza gets cold — that is, if you don’t scarf it on the drive.
And there you have it. A list of my updated recommendations and even a little insight into where you can catch your fave celebrity’s dining, shopping and playing. I hope you’re able to use some of my picks for your upcoming Nashville trip, but whatever you end up doing don’t forget to share your experiences with V for Vetrano in the comments below.