I have been in Nashville for over 9 years, and I can definitely tell you that there is so much more to Nashville than honkey tonks and country music! Not that either of those two things are bad. (I am not a country music lover…at all.) They have definitely put Nashville on the map and are still a huge draw to this town today. But this little place has quite a bit more to offer than just Broadway and shows.
I went through and chose 10 of my favorite things that Nashville has to offer, and I recommend that you try these things either before or after you visit the Grand Ole Opry! These are in no particular order because they are all equally unique and amazing!
1. Husk :: We waited, and waited, and anticipated the opening of this amazing restaurant. Luckily, all of our waiting wasn’t in vain and this place lived up to everything it claimed to be. Making Food & Wine’s “Best Of” list before it ever even opened, we made sure to hit this place up for some good Southern fare. It was amazing. Stunning food made in both old-school and new-school ways. Even if you aren’t a foodie, this is a must-go to place. But make sure to make a reservation! http://www.husknashville.com
2. Nashville Predators hockey game :: I may have grown up in Minnesota surrounded by hockey, but I don’t tell a lie when I say that these games are seriously so much fun! The Preds are great to watch and I think if you are in Nashville looking for something to do between September and May, this is a great option! Bridgestone Arena is located right downtown on Broadway, so you are barely a two-step away from the classics of Nashville. So grab your fang fingers, wear your blue and yellow, and catch an amazing game! http://predators.nhl.com
3. The Ryman :: This is classic Nashville. I know I said that I was going to list non-music things to do in Nashville, and many think that’s all the Ryman has to offer. Wrong. I have caught both music and comedy here, and it’s my favorite venue in town. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, and you can feel the breath of decades of amazing shows in the air. Make sure to check out the schedule online at http://ryman.com and experience history.
4. City House :: Nestled in the historic area of Germantown, this little Italian eatery is any foodie’s dream. It’s a hustle and bustle kitchen serving up a constantly changing menu. I have eaten here a dozen times, and it’s never gotten old. The pizza is amazing (it changes regularly, but if they have it, get the octopus pizza), the gnocchi is rich, and on Sundays they serve killer wings. This place gets packed quickly, so make sure to get a reservation. http://cityhousenashville.com
5. Patterson House :: Ever been to a speakeasy? This is the place to see and be seen in town. Located near Music Row, what was formerly the governors’ house is now a 20’s style bar serving up the best in cocktails and small bites. It is 21 and over at all times, so no little ones allowed. My husband and I frequently bring out-of-town guests here because of its quiet and secluded space. And the house-made s’mores are seriously good. http://www.thepattersonnashville.com
6. Any M-Street eatery :: You will see signs for M-Street when you come into downtown, and let me be the first to tell you that any of these restaurants are amazing and will not disappoint! From Tavern (burgers, brews, and voted Best Brunch in Nashville), to Virago (Best sushi in Nashville), or Kayne Prime (voted Best Steaks in Nashville), you can’t go wrong. There is a culinary experience for everyone in every price range. My husband and I have spent our fair share at Virago and Kayne, and love to take friends and family to dine here. If you go in the warmer months, the rooftop city views on some of their real estate is stunning! And free valet at all their places makes parking a non-issue. Reservations are always a good idea at any of these places. http://mstreetnashville.com
7. Full-Moon Picking Party :: Again, I know that I told you I would choose non-music things to experience, but this is so much more than just a music thing. We went this past summer for the first time for our friend Annie’s birthday. Bring a blanket, your instrument, and some bug spray, and you are set for a night of fun! Held at Percy Warren Park from May to October, these events are family-friendly and filled with the best freestyle bluegrass the South has to offer. The price of admission includes water, soft drinks, and 4 beers, and there are a handful of food trucks that bring you great eats! (You can also bring your own food if you wish). So be sure to check it out and relax with friends at a great summer get-together! http://www.friendsofwarnerparks.com/pickingparty.html
8. TPAC :: I am a huge fan of theater, whether it’s in the form of a play or an award-winning Broadway musical. We have seen many shows at TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center), and have yet to be disappointed. Check the schedule to see what is playing and when, then head out for a great evening at the theater! http://www.tpac.org
9. Thai Phooket :: Easily my favorite place to eat in all of Nashville. Some people have differing opinions on where the best Thai is in town, and this one takes the curry for me. It is off the beaten path (it’s in a trailer in a parking lot across from LP Field), but the warm curries and authentic atmosphere is what keeps their cult following coming back. I have been to Thailand on multiple occasions, and this is the closest to the street food that we ate there. My favorite dishes are the red and green curries and their Pad Kee Mao. They both pack some serious punch! I can’t say enough amazing things about this place, so just go. You won’t regret it!
10. Monells :: Located in the heart of Historic Germantown, it doesn’t get any more country than this! Sitting family-style around giant tables with a bunch of people you don’t know, this is truly an experience. Be sure to taste the amazing fried chicken (served at every meal), get in on their homemade banana pudding, and stop in on the weekend for an insanely good, and huge, breakfast. This is one spot always on my out of town family’s list, and we have yet to leave not feeling stuffed! http://monellstn.com
We love to try out new places, and know that there are easily more than 10 places worth trying in this town. These are just my favorites! So if you’ve been to Nashville (or from here), and have a few of your own go-to places that aren’t music affiliated, let us know!