Nashville is known as the “Country Music Capital” and it’s one of the Top 10 places to vacation in the U.S. South Broadway is lined with bars and they all feature live music. It’s crowded and very touristy but I do recommend the Johnny Cash & Patsy Cline Museum.
Just off South Broadway is Historic Printer’s Alley, a collection of bars with a very colorful history that includes speakeasies, gambling, prostitution and strip clubs. David “Skull” Schulman opened his nightclub Skull’s Rainbow Room in 1948, and featured artists such as Etta James, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. In January 1998 Skull Schulman was murdered. He was found in the club with his throat slit and his head was bloody from being hit with a bottle. Skull’s nightclub was shuttered for 17 years before it reopened in 2015. Many people have claimed to see his “ghost” in his club. Skull’s Rainbow Room is alive and well, offering nightly jazz and burlesque on Friday and Saturday nights.
21c Hotel Museum is located near South Broadway and is one of my favorite hotels to walk through. They have a rotating gallery of art that is free and open to the public.
Just a few blocks from Broadway is Husk, a popular southern restaurant that was originally opened in Charleston. It’s located inside of a historic mansion. Reservations are recommended.
The Parthenon is a must see. It is a full size replica of the Parthenon in Athens that was built in 1897. It features a 42 ft statue of Athena as well as an art gallery. In the 1850’s the city had dubbed itself “The Athens of the South” due to it’s focus on higher education.
Fanny Mae Dees Park aka “Dragon Park” has a mosaic sculpture set of sea serpents. They were created by artist Pedro Silva and about 1,000 community volunteers in 1980 to help revitalize the neighborhood.
The sea serpent is actually a parent with a baby sea serpent so there are two if you look closely. Over the years the sea serpents deteriorated and the community has raised money and volunteered their efforts to see that they are restored.
Fanny Mae was a Nashville resident and was opposed to urban renewal because as her house was slated to be torn down. She eventually quit her job as a nurse to become an activist to save her home. She ultimately lost the fight and her home was torn down. She passed before the park was built in 1980, but a council woman thought the park should be named after Fanny Mae.
For those of you who love vintage and nostalgia, check out Elliston Place Soda Shop. It’s just across the road from the “Rock Block“. The section of Elliston St earned its name with live music venues such as Exit/in and The End.
I’ve stayed at the Graduate Nashville a number of times and I love the decor and the rooms are comfortable. The White Limozeen is a fantastic rooftop bar with awesome decor and views but it is often crowded so reservations are recommended. It’s located in Midtown, just a short walk from South Broadway.
East Nashville is full of bars, restaurants and shops. It’s a little grittier and less touristy than the downtown area. It’s relatively walkable, and Uber is also an option. You can start at Grimey’s New & Pre Loved Music for some record shopping and work your way back down toward downtown/ SoBo area or vice versa. Hail Dark Aesthetics is an oddities and all things macabre shop. It’s about a 15 mins walk from Grimey’s. The Pearl Diver is in a mid century converted garage and they offer food & drinks with a tropical vibe. It’s about a 10 min walk from Hail Dark Aesthetics. Chopper is a tropical, tiki inspired bar with a robot sci fi twist. They also have a sick collection of tiki mugs available for purchase. Chopper is about a 10 min walk from Pearl Diver.
The Pharmacy Burger & Beer Garden has some an awesome selection of burgers, bratwurst, milkshakes, cream soda and beer. They also have vegan & vegetarian burger options.
Attaboy is a highly rated modern craft bar, the NYC location is ranked at #34 for Best Bars in the World. It’s in an unassuming building and my travel companions had given me a concerned look when we arrived. I assured them they would be in for a treat. Attaboy has no menu and your bartender will make a custom cocktail to fit your taste and mood.
A bit off the beaten path but not too far from East Nashville is the Dive Motel. I liked the kitschy retro decor and I love the “Swim Club” concept- open to the public with a $5 admission to the pool and hot tub (bring your towel). The hotel has 23 rooms, each styled differently. They opened just before the pandemic, in 2019, and it looks like a fun place to stay.
There is no shortage of delicious (and extremely unhealthy) food options in Nashville. You should probably try the hot chicken at least once. I think Hattie B’s has four locations around town so you’re bound to cross paths with one of them. If you’re vegan, try the Southern V, Vegelicious or Graze.
Third Man Records is a fun, free stop even if you’re not a huge music fan. The Nashville location is set up similar to the original Detroit location with collectible music machines and memorabilia. Third Man also presses a range of musical genres on vinyl and also offers books at affordable prices. They are located in the Gulch neighborhood.
Lane Motor Museum is on the east side of town. They feature “Unique Cars from A-Z” Anyone who likes different, will enjoy the Lane Motor Musuem. It’s a bit off the beaten path but worth checking out!
I have yet to visit the Bell Witch cave, but I recently purchased the book “The Bell Witch Anthology” and am looking forward to making that update to this post. However, I would like to close with a ghost story. It’s said the Union Station Hotel is haunted. It was built in 1900 and it’s been said that unexplained noises and electrical shortages has been experienced in room 711. It’s also been said that a 20 year old woman named Abigail was waiting for her beau to return from the war. She was waiting for his return at the Union Station platform, learned of his death and jumped in front of the train. It’s been reported that an apparition of woman jumping in front of the train appears.
Special thanks to my Nashville friend Jason McDonald at Mooncastle Tattoo for giving me tips on my visits. Cheers to another long day!