Historically, Nashville wasn’t a walking city, but gentrification has forced the pedestrian way of life onto locals. Bike racks, greenway paths, and foot-friendly triangles are cropping up all over Music City. Since no one knows the stomping grounds better than the hotel concierges, we asked these neighborhood advocates where to wander in a weekend. Forget the cabs and car keys — here are three Nashville neighborhoods where you can hoof it on foot.
Short for South of Broadway, and located along the Cumberland River is this bearer of the city’s best views. The hip, historic concrete jungle is also home to the SoBro Guest House — an upscale boutique hotel that is a favorite of entertainers. With a mobile check-in system, hodgepodge of vintage records, and murals by local street artists like Nathan Brown, the SoBro Guest House embodies Nashville’s reputation as an entertainment hub. “You never know if someone really cool is staying in the room next door to you,” General Manager Kim Rittenbury revealed.
For great fare, Rittenbury routinely sends guests right next door to Martin’s BBQ or down the path to Pinewood Social, an adult entertainment center, complete with pool and bocce ball court, and the epicenter of the who’s-who crowd. If you want to party, Bar Sovereign, an idiosyncratic cocktail lounge decorated like your grandmother’s basement, hosts the hood’s best DJs. For the morning after, Crema’s rocket fuel alleviates the pain as will checking out the countless hipster cuties hanging around the coffeehouse.
Husk, housed in a historic building and directly across from one of the city’s most romantic views is the place you’ll elbow strangers to get into at dinner. For a more low-key dining option that won’t break your wallet, hit up trendy Mexican restaurant Bakersfield, which serves near-lethal margaritas. After dinner, drop by dive bar Batters Box to sing karaoke on Saturday nights and meet local characters like Sidewalk Wayne. If all that cheap beer gives you the munchies, stumble next door to the Hermitage Cafe where the food is greasy, service appalling, and a music video is often being filmed.
This historic Nashville neighborhood was established in the 1850s. Set against a backdrop of cobblestone roads and colorful cottages, The Germantown Inn, the hood’s only hotel, has been booked solid since opening in late 2016. A renovated single-family home, the six-suite inn is known for its cozy beds (“just like a hug,” gushed innkeeper Veda Garner,) and mash-up of local artisan’s work from textile designer Andra Eggleston’s punchy drapes to graphic wallpaper by New Hat Projects. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all within a stone’s-throw, and Garner sends guests to Monell’s for classic Tennessee meat ‘n’ three meals. “Of course, they come back in a food coma,” she laughed.
On the weekends, the “Green Hour” pop-up absinthe bar at Tempered is the place to go, as is The Back Corner, “which the bachelorette scene hasn’t dominated — yet,” she joked. For the best burger known to man, hit up Jack Brown’s and, across the street grab a drool-worthy ice cream sandwich at Christie’s Cookie Company.
Once a month, local arts collective 100 Taylor Street hosts a noteworthy art crawl. The adjacent brewery, The Bearded Iris, also fills their calendar with weekly events from live music to poetry slams. For reasonably priced food, hit up the food court at the Farmer’s Market and if the weather is nice, dine outdoors at beautiful Bicenntennial Park, which also hosts free yoga classes and street festivals. Across the way is the Sounds Stadium, where guests often buy season tickets just for the whiskey slushies at The Band Box. For shopping, drop a pretty penny at Wilder, Bits & Pieces, and Pieces — three boutiques that embody Nashville’s distinctive local style.
Marked by a rooftop bar, the LA Jackson, where local trendsetters and entertainment execs mingle, the Thompson Nashville is swanky without being pretentious. “It’s the place to have a good time and expect the unexpected,” explainsed concierge Ruben Ramirez. Formerly a gash in the ground with nothing but a railroad and warehouses, the Gulch rose phoenix-style from the ashes in the last decade.
Central to some of the city’s best restaurants, you can have a top-notch meal at the chef-driven 404 Kitchen or Caribbean-inspired Little Octopus. If you’re are feeling more like bluegrass and a beer, then it’s off to local landmark The Station Inn, where Ramirez sends guests nightly. On the weekends, prepare to wait in line for breakfast joints Biscuit Love and Milk & Honey. However, that hour-long wait can be used wisely with a detour to Two Old Hippies, a local boutique filled with designer duds and an over-the-top interior, which gained international recognition after being featured on the television show Nashville. “Above all, the Gulch is a great representation of Nashville’s recent cultural renaissance,” explained Ramirez. “You feel like you’re in another city.”
Now, strap on your gym shoes and hit the streets! And remember to smile and strike up conversations with strangers because, after all, that’s the Nashville way.
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