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3 days in Nashville itinerary and travel guide (updated July 2018)
I was always curious about Nashville, Tennessee. When I found a cheap flight deal from Toronto, I jumped at the chance to book my Nashville weekend getaway. Arriving on a Saturday morning and departing on a Tuesday, I took full advantage of my 72 hours in Nashville.
While I was most excited to visit with friends that lived in and near the city, I realized that you really can’t see everything in Nashville with only three days. But, I certainly made the most of my time there.
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Here’s how I spent my 3 days in Nashville. I travelled there in December, so I had the opportunity to check out a couple of Christmas activities and events. After discovering how to spend Christmas in Nashville, I felt right in the spirit of the season!
Not travelling around Christmastime? Don’t fret! You can still check out some of the places any time of the year. Feel free to substitute another activity in its place. I’ll compile a list at the end of the article of places I didn’t get to see, but hope to visit the next time I’m in Nashville.
Here’s my 3 days in Nashville itinerary and travel guide.
WHERE TO STAY: SOBRO GUEST HOUSE
It really doesn’t get any better than this.
The SoBro Guest House is truly a home away from home. Feeling more like a boutique apartment than a hotel, SoBro Guest House combines the best of both worlds.
Much like an apartment, you have the comforts of home. Enjoy a full kitchen with everything you could imagine to prepare delicious meals, including local coffee beans and a French press for that morning boost. There’s a separate bedroom, a spacious bathroom, and a cozy living space. Staying true to Nashville’s name of Music City, your room even comes with a record player and a few records.
And like a hotel, there’s housekeeping, complimentary Wi-Fi, complimentary parking (first come, first serve), and a safe.
The check-in process couldn’t be any easier. Unlike a traditional hotel with a front desk, you’ll check in to the hotel online or using your phone. When your room is ready, you’ll receive an email with your room number and door access codes. Easy peasy!
The location of SoBro Guest House can’t be beat. Right in the middle of downtown, I was able to walk all over town to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. It’s only three blocks away from the Lower Broad Entertainment District and several local hot spots.
SoBro Guest House
DAY 1 IN NASHVILLE
After arriving in Nashville, arrange to take a taxi or an Uber into town. Thankfully, I was spending the day with my friend, Andrew, who I met in Huntsville, Alabama at TBEX. He was so nice to offer to pick me up from the airport! From there, we decided to go straight to a restaurant for brunch as I was pretty starving.
Graze is a plant-based bistro and bar in East Nashville. On weekends, they serve brunch from 9:00am – 3:00pm. On the brunch menu, you’ll find breakfast favourites like tofu rancheros, a breakfast burrito, and smoothie bowls. Graze specializes in southern cuisine gone vegan, so there are several biscuits prepared in intriguing ways.
I’m not even sure if I’d had a biscuit before the one at Graze. Crazy, eh? Although I had no past comparisons, the biscuit was both yummy and deceivingly filling. It satisfied my rumbling tummy and it was really tasty.
I ordered the hot tempeh biscuit (tempeh with hot chicken spices, served on a biscuit with ranch, coleslaw and red onion), and Andrew ordered the cauliflower sausage biscuit (biscuit and veggie sausage, tempeh bacon, arugula, avocado, red onion and hollandaise).
Andrew hadn’t been to a vegan restaurant before and he remarked that his meal was quite delicious. The plant-based restaurants in Nashville are totally suitable for herbivores and omnivores alike!
Looking for a guide to more vegan food in Nashville? Check out my vegan Nashville guide!
12 South is one of those neighbourhoods where you’ll want to wander around and explore. There are quirky storefronts, hip coffee shops, and colourful murals along 12th Avenue South. It’s home to the iconic, “I Believe In Nashville” mural (pictured above).
It’s not a massive neighbourhood by any means, so you’ll be able to discover it on foot in a short amount of time.
First, you’ll want to be fully caffeinated for wandering, so stop by Frothy Monkey (2509 12th Ave S) for a cup of coffee or espresso beverage.
Interested in more awesome coffee shops? Check out my list of the best coffee in Nashville.
Next, set out on your own two feet and discover the shops and street art on 12th Avenue South. I popped into White’s Mercantile, a modern day general store with intriguing gifts and unique wares, owned by the granddaughter of Hank Williams. Another shop I browsed was Draper James, the clothing store owned by Reese Witherspoon (the clothes were beautiful, though a little out of my price range).
Speaking of murals, there are so many splashed across buildings and walls in 12 South. Peer around every corner, and you’ll stumble upon some beautiful works of public art.
Hungry for a snack?
12 South is home to a Sprinkles cupcake ATM (2606 12th Ave S) that has a vegan red velvet cupcake. Place your order at the ATM and within moments, a little box with a cupcake inside will appear like magic. I don’t think I’ve ever been so giddy to buy a cupcake before.
Unfortunately, the Cupcake ATM is closed in Nashville. Thank you to Jacqueline for the tip!
I tried another coffee shop in 12 South because you can’t have too much coffee, right? Portland Brew (is a few doors down from Frothy Monkey, so you really have no shortage of options for an excellent cup of coffee.
CHRISTMAS DISPLAY AT GAYLORD OPRYLAND
The Christmas lights and displays at the resort hotel, Gaylord Opryland, will put you right into the holiday spirit. The atmosphere is lively and cheerful, and the lights displays are both unique and impressive.
There are over three million twinkling lights, both outdoors and indoors. I highly recommend arriving in the early evening. Even though it might be a busier time, the outdoor lights look brilliant at night. There’s a nativity scene, a gigantic Christmas tree constructed with lights, and it seems as though everything is lit up.
Indoors, there are Christmas lights all around the atrium and the indoor gardens. I loved that there’s a “Music City” vibe with lights in the shapes of guitars and musical notation.
While the Christmas lights displays are free to view, the self-parking fee is $29.
Gaylord Opryland Resort
THE WILD COW
For dinner, hop back to East Nashville for a meal at the vegetarian restaurant, The Wild Cow. They serve up vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free meals, as well as delectable desserts by local bakery, Vegan Vee.
Although we had to wait a little while to get a table (I highly recommend getting reservations on a Saturday evening!), it was well worth it. I ordered the Buffalo Beans & Greens bowl (garlic kale, pinto beans, organic brown rice, shredded carrots, grilled tempeh, all tossed in buffalo sauce and vegan ranch), and Andrew got the Veggie Quinoa Bowl (roasted seasonal vegetables over organic quinoa, topped with pumpkin seeds and garlic aioli).
We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals as they were a good combination of healthy and tasty. Of course, we balanced the healthiness of the meal with chocolate donuts and cookies for dessert.
The Wild Cow
Oh, and we saw this pretty epic sign across the street from The Wild Cow, and couldn’t resist snapping a picture.
From the moment Andrew mentioned going to Pinewood Social in the evening, I knew it was right up my alley. While we were a little too full to eat any more food, we opted for drinks at the wrap-around bar in the middle of the room. They certainly have some innovative (and yummy) cocktails.
Pinewood Social is also a chill coffee shop and place to hang out with friends. In the summer, there’s a pool, outdoor activities, and an Airstream with its own patio. Unfortunately, this space was closed for the season; however, at the back of Pinewood Social, there’s a retro six-lane bowling alley.
Andrew and I may both be horrendous bowlers, but we had an awesome time. I know I’ll be back to Pinewood Social on my next trip to Nashville. If I lived locally, I feel like this would be my local hangout spot, day or night.
DAY 2 IN NASHVILLE
For the second of my 3 days in Nashville, Andrew picked me up from the SoBro Guest House and we met Ashley (a travel blogger who you may remember from our trip around Ireland together). Ashley is a Nashville local, and we met at one of her favourite breakfast spots, The Southern V.
THE SOUTHERN V
The Southern V might look rather unassuming. The kitchen is inside a blue trailer. You order at the counter, and you either take your food away or dine at one of the picnic tables. However, The Southern V is one of the tastiest vegan breakfasts I’ve ever had. It seems as though there’s always a line up, but the line moves pretty quickly.
Specializing in southern cuisine gone vegan, the menu rotates and it’s written on a white board on the trailer. Breakfast generally stays the same (lunch is served later that day). For breakfast, choose from chick’n biscuits, chick’n and waffles, biscuit and gravy, or add on a potato casserole or veggie scramble.
I tried the hot chick’n and waffles for the first time, and it did not disappoint.
The Southern V is so popular that it’s moving out of the trailer and into its own restaurant in the spring. I’d love to return to dine at the new digs!
The Southern V
(The new location, when it opens!)
From there, the three of us drove from Nashville to the nearby historic town of Franklin, Tennessee. When we arrived, we met our travel blogger friends, Chris and Heather of A Brit and A Southerner.
That afternoon, Franklin was hosting the Dickens of a Christmas event on their historic main street. Decorated Christmas trees, live music, and Charles Dickens era characters painted such a festive scene.
Even if it weren’t Christmas, Franklin is a great place to explore for the afternoon. The Victorian-era architecture, quaint downtown vibes, and boutique shops makes Franklin an enjoyable diversion from the big city.
Dickens of a Christmas
Main Street, Franklin, TN
Back to Nashville, take a stroll around the 19-acre Bicentennial Park, also known as the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. This urban park near downtown Nashville commemorates the 200th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood.
There are several memorials within the park. The World War II monument features an 18,000-ton granite globe, surrounded by pillars with images regarding the war and Tennessee’s involvement.
The 95-bell carillon is an interesting feature of the park. Inside 50 tall columns, you’ll find all 95 bells. Every 15 minutes, the bells chime a portion of the Tennessee Waltz, and you can hear the full song at the top of the hour. A single, 96th bell in the state house also rings to connect the government to the people.
NASHVILLE FARMERS MARKET
When you visit Bicentennial Park, why not stop by the Nashville Farmers Market? It’s right next door. You’ll find many merchants selling local produce, groceries from around the world, baked goods, crafts, and unique gifts. There are a few restaurants at the Nashville Farmers Market with vegan options: Jamaicaway Restaurant, Swagruha Indian Restaurant, and Bella Nashville.
Nashville Farmers Market
DAY 3 IN NASHVILLE
On my final day of my 3 days in Nashville, I set out to explore the neighbourhoods, parks, and gems that aren’t to be missed. As my hotel, the SoBro Guesthouse, was centrally located, I was able to immediately walk all over downtown first thing in the morning.
JOHN SEIGENTHALER PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE
For an iconic view of the Nashville skyline, head across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to Cumberland Park for the best scenery. It doesn’t take too long to cross the Cumberland River from one side to the other, and back again.
Take in the views from the bridge itself. You’ll take the best skyline photography from Cumberland Park where you can admire the AT&T building, best known as the “Batman Building.”
WALK AROUND DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE
Explore the sights of downtown Nashville at your own pace. Don’t miss uncovering street art, murals, and the iconic sights along Broadway. From Printer’s Alley to the Smashville mural on the side of the Bridgestone Arena, there are so many emblematic displays all around town. Wander around and soak up your surroundings.
While I know that the downtown core of Nashville completely transforms on the weekend evenings, there’s something almost serene about the area on a weekday morning. As the city wakes up, I watched delivery trucks stop at restaurants and bars. Local shop owners cleared their front walkways before opening up for business. As most residents headed off to work, there really weren’t any other people around, for the most part. Even in this busy city, I seemingly had much of it to myself.
I stopped at a coffee shop called The Well Coffeehouse. A large mug of coffee guaranteed free refills, and it was really delicious. If I had more time in Nashville to get some work done on my computer, I would have easily set up shop at The Well and spent hours drinking coffee and working on the blog.
The Well Coffeehouse
HATCH SHOW PRINT
Since 1879, Hatch Show Print has designed and printed posters with traditional letterpress methods and machinery. It’s a Nashville institution and has a strong place in Nashville’s music history, creating posters for bands and artists for over 100 years.
It’s quite astounding to see this artistic process preserved and utilized still to this date. Own a piece of this history by purchasing a handcrafted item in the gift shop, or marvel at the creations in the art gallery.
As a massive nerd of paper art and letterpress design, I quickly fell in love with Hatch Show Print. Next time I’m in Nashville, I’ll come back for a full tour of the premises.
Hatch Show Print
GRINS VEGETARIAN CAFE
For lunch, I took an Uber to the Vanderbilt University campus to dine at Grins Vegetarian Cafe. Open to the public, the restaurant was populated mostly by university students in search of a hearty vegetarian or vegan meal.
I opted to try the vegan mac n cheese, which took a little bit of time to prepare, but it was worth the wait. The pasta was every bit as ooey-gooey delicious as its dairy-filled counterpart.
With a full tummy, I ventured back out on the town to see more of Nashville.
Grins Vegetarian Cafe
From the university, I walked from the campus to the Hillsboro Neighbourhood to check out a few public art murals, shops, and cafes. There are numerous coffee shops and boutique stores to catch your attention. Enjoy a little retail therapy here or refuel with a caffeinated beverage.
CENTENNIAL PARK & THE PARTHENON
Not to be confused with Bicentennial Park, Centennial Park is home to Nashville’s Parthenon building. It’s the only full scale replica of the Greek Parthenon.
It was designed and built as part of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Today, it functions as an art museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed when I arrived on Monday, so I’d love to come back and check out the inside of the Nashville Parthenon.
The Parthenon (Centennial Park)
THE GULCH NEIGHBOURHOOD
Primarily, I visited The Gulch to get my photo taken with the What Lifts You mural by Kelsey Montague. I was there on my own, but thankfully there was a small group there and one of the girls offered to take my picture for me.
I also stumbled upon a couple of other bright and colourful murals in the vicinity, too.
For my last meal after 3 days in Nashville, I wandered over to AVO. It’s a vegan restaurant using seasonal and local plant ingredients to create healthy, satisfying, and nourishing dishes.
You can’t miss the building – there are avocados all over it!
I ordered the braised yu choy as my appetizer, which I adored. Soy and sesame braised greens, dusted in nori and glazed in miso butter…yum!
For the main course, I couldn’t resist trying their veggie burger. The patty was made of lentils and walnuts, and the burger was topped with vegan cheese, tomato, onion, beet ketchup, and chickpea mayo. It was divine. I could see why this was one of their most popular menu selections.
Just one last cup of coffee, I thought. I had to try CREMA, an artisanal coffee house nearly around the corner from my accommodation. I’m glad I walked over there in the early evening, as it was quite possibly the best cup of coffee I enjoyed in Nashville. Although it was the most expensive coffee I enjoyed, the smooth and rich flavours were well worth the higher price tag.
This is precisely how I spent 3 days in Nashville. You might notice that I didn’t set foot into many museums or quintessential attractions. I’ve discovered that when I travel to a new place, I like to wander around as much as possible. It’s best, of course, when I can discover a new place with friends or even meet local residents. They always know the best spots.
There are many places that I didn’t get the chance to visit. With only 3 days in Nashville, there’s only so many hours in the day.
I’d love to attend a concert or see band play at a local venue. Although I’m not really a fan of country music, I understand that Nashville is home to all genres of music.
Like I mentioned previously, I’d like to walk around the interior of the Parthenon building. It would also be interesting to tour the Ryman Auditorium, check out the gardens at the Cheekwood Estate, or visit the Belle Meade Plantation.
Nashville is such a lively city with so much to offer visitors that keep them coming back time and time again. I hope to be one of the returning guests to Music City, hopefully much sooner than later!
Would you like to see more photos of Nashville? Check out my entire Nashville travel photo album. You can also purchase prints, housewares, and all kinds of things made directly from my pictures at my photography website.
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