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Go Ahead, Live Your Best Country-Music Life in Nashville

Katie Buckleitner
Photo credit: Getty | Katie Buckleitner

From Cosmopolitan

Over the past five years, Nashville has blossomed into Bachelorette City, USA. On any given corner, you’ll find groups of women wearing matching T-shirts—White Claw in hand—bringing the party wherever they go.

But aside from bachelorette bashes, Nashville is known for an exploding food and cocktail scene and, of course, live music. And with tourism on the rise, the city has become a destination for creatives. From cute new restaurants to traditional Southern cultural institutions, you’ll find an Instagrammable moment on every corner.


I stayed at the Thompson for three nights, a boutique hotel in the trendy Gulch district that happens to have the best Southern brunch in town. I loved returning to my comfy, cute room after a night of line dancing and scream-singing, but if you don’t want to venture out every evening, the Thompson’s rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson, is always popping. You can also grab a bite at the Marsh House on the first floor. And when you do want to explore more of Nashville, the country-music bars are a 20-minute walk away, and you’ll find the best cocktails in town in a nearby neighborhood. Here’s everything you need to check out while you’re there.

BOOK NOW Thompson Nashville



A traditional Southern breakfast will fuel you up for your Nashville trip. For my first meal in town, I went to Biscuit Love, a food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant with three locations, and ordered grits, eggs, sausage, and—of course—three kinds of biscuits, including fried ones for dessert. (Hi, can Biscuit Tourism be a thing?) If you hit up the Gulch location, snap a pic by the light-up Nashville sign. Another pro tip: Get there by 9 a.m.—by the time we rolled out at 10:15, the line to get in was two blocks long.

Escape the bustle and heat and spend an hour or two at the Frist Art Museum, which is located in a former post office and flaunts Gatsby-level art deco details inside.

The space borrows works from the biggest museums in the world, meaning a steady rotation of impressive shows with master artists but all easily digestible in an hour or two. I toured the Mexican Modernism exhibit featuring Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and was in awe of the colorful, renowned collection.

Of course, being in Music City, the Frist also holds weekly concerts featuring local musicians. If you’re in the mood to mix art mediums, check out the schedule here.

Next on your cultural tour of Nashville is the 55-acre Cheekwood Estate. Once owned by the Cheek family (of Maxwell House coffee fame), it’s now a botanical garden and museum. Take a relaxing stroll through nature and the sculpture garden toward the mansion, and stop for plenty of pics along the way with art installations and lush greenery—I got my best shot under a sunlit archway. Before you head in to see the opulent interior and gallery, stop for a glam photo at the arboretum above the pool.


As much as I enjoy beige food (luv you, biscuits), I needed to mix it up at dinner. Nashville is a foodie city for good reason—these two spots have been named some of the best in town:

Chaatable

For a casual vibe, head to Chaatable, an Indian street-food restaurant with a colorful interior, flavorful cocktails, and dishes with cheeky names like Puff Puff Pass (semolina puffs stuffed with potatoes and daal) and Hand It Over! (samosas).

Henrietta Red

Seafood in Nashville might seem unexpected, but at Henrietta Red, it’s the most delicious concept ever. The menu is mostly pescatarian and costars several veggies. I had the heirloom tomato salad (Tennessee tomatoes are the best) and mushroom steak after a round of fresh oysters—aka my perfect meal.


Did you even go to Nashville if you didn’t see some live music? Spend at least two hours wandering down Broadway, popping in and out of the cover-free bars. I suggest starting at Robert’s Western World—I love its old-school country vibe—and branching out from there. (P.S. The neon signs make for excellent photo backdrops. Experiment with your flash to capture some fun lighting.)


Did I mention that Nashville has terrific food? Yes, okay, but keep listening. Cafe Roze is an all-day café with fresh and simple yet tasty brunch options. If you’re still feeling the effects of those drinks from last night, the restaurant’s egg bowl and Aperol spritz will heal you, while the bright pink-marble interior will perk you up. If you’re not ready to show your face on camera, snap your mandatory vacation brunch pic from above and include the delightfully designed menu.

East Nashville is a hub of joyful little shops that have something for everyone. Start at Lemon Laine—an airy natural wellness spot that offers facial oil consultations based on your skin needs. Continue on to the chic antique store Wonders on Woodland to peep midcentury modern furniture and glitzy jewelry. (I love my crystal coasters I bought from the husband-and-wife owners.) Last, sift through the country vintage at the Hip Zipper—a literal gold mine for cool, old-school jackets and denim.

Since it’s Nashville, you’ve probably already stumbled upon several music sets. But if you still haven’t gotten your fill, hit up Acme Feed and Seed, a happening, contemporary spot along Broadway (its soul brunch is a great time, btw). The place also has bar games upstairs and a rooftop space.

Bluebird Cafe is known for its famous drop-ins, including one Taylor Swift. If you don’t recognize the musicians, take note—up-and-comers often get their start at this iconic venue. Just make a reservation since the place is a bit on the smaller side.




If you are like me and must have an activity to go along with your day drinking, hit up Pinewood Social. This Instagram-ready all-day lounge and restaurant has a bowling alley and a pool ideal for snapping group pics. (BTW: If you’re actually looking to bowl, make a reservation about a week in advance on the venue’s website.)

The craft cocktail movement hit Nashville a few years ago, and one of its pioneers is Patterson House. For my first round, I ordered a spicy tequila-based drink from the menu. For my second (and, LOL, third), I went off-book and asked the bartender to make custom concoctions based on flavor cues. You can get some classy pics here, but be subtle about it and don’t use flash—employees have been known to politely ask guests to put away their phones.

And for a night out, Bastion is a must. After the bartender fixed me a vibrant purple drink and put a Pat Benatar album on an actual record player, I was playing bar games and chatting with local Nashvillians. For a squad pic, gather on the risers in the back and don’t forget to pose like it’s your album cover.



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