As a fan of country music, Nashville is a city that has always been high on my list of places to visit. So when I had the opportunity to take a last minute trip to Music City last fall, I didn’t even hesitate before booking my hotel room through HotelTonight. I wanted to find a hotel that was centrally located so that I could explore the most of Nashville during my limited stay, and HotelTonight made it easy to find a great hotel room in just a few minutes. With my hotel room booked, I jumped in the car and headed to this beloved Tennessee town so that I could experience the charm and excitement of Nashville like a true local.
My hotel was located in downtown Nashville, the heart of the vibrant Music City. Downtown is home to the state capital, the Convention Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium. I walked past many of these historic buildings and iconic monuments on my way to Centennial Park, a serene, picturesque outdoor space located in the middle of the city. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of this sprawling urban park, where locals enjoy afternoon walks and get in their daily exercise. After a leisurely stroll through the park, I wandered over to the massive indoor farmer’s market located across from the Bicentennial Mall. Boasting hundreds of flea market and farm stalls, this was one of the most impressive farmer’s markets I’ve ever visited – and the best part is that it’s open daily.
This small area of downtown Nashville is widely considered the epicenter of the city’s music and nightlife scene. Encompassing 20 blocks of downtown Nashville, The District features dozens of honky tonks, bars, and restaurants, which is why it’s one of the city’s most popular spots for nightlife. However, I quickly discovered that The District is just as popular in the afternoon, as each honky tonk was filled with music lovers listening to great live bands, and the sun hadn’t even set. At first glance, The District may seem like a major tourist spot, but I found that locals love to enjoy the excitement and energy of the District just as much as tourists do. After all, the eclectic crowd is one of the reasons why The District is such an exciting neighborhood.
Once home to the city’s German residents (hence the name), Germantown is now a trendy, creative neighborhood where you can find charming coffee shops located in beautifully restored 19th century buildings. The area offers a great selection of shops and restaurants, and I sat down at a hip eatery to enjoy a delicious farm-to-table meal before walking back to my hotel. I didn’t quite make it back to my hotel right away, though, as I passed a number of honky tonks along the way and finally couldn’t resist the music any longer. I ended up ducking into a honky tonk and spent hours singing and dancing along to great live music.
The next morning, I headed to 8th Avenue South, where the streets are lined with quirky boutiques and antique shops. While you can find some great bargains on 8th Avenue, you can also enjoy a more upscale shopping experience at a handful of shops in the area, such as A la Maison. The area also offers plenty of great food options, as well as the Zanies Comedy Night Club. For travelers that want to pick up unique, vintage souvenirs to remind them of their time in Nashville, taking a stroll down 8th Avenue is a must.
The Gulch used to be the city’s industrial center, where more than 100 trains arrived and departed every day. In recent decades, however, The Gulch has transformed into a hip neighborhood for young Nashville residents looking for a trendy urban neighborhood. What were once old, dilapidated warehouses are now cool lofts, office spaces, and restaurants, and it’s easy to see why The Gulch is currently considered one of Nashville’s hottest neighborhoods. I ended my quick trip to Nashville with happy hour at a rooftop bar in The Gulch, where I enjoyed sweeping views of Nashville’s skyline. I certainly didn’t get to cross everything off my Nashville to-do list in a day and a half, but I did finally get to experience the energy and beauty of Music City.
Nashville may be best known for its music scene, but this Southern city should also be known for its delicious food, its hip urban areas, and its abundance of beauty, both architectural and natural. Now that I finally got to experience the heart of Nashville, I know I’ll have to return in the future. This energy of this city is magnetic, and I won’t be able to resist its pull for long. So when I find myself with another free weekend in the near future, I’ll be sure to use HotelTonight to book my last-minute hotel in Nashville so that I can explore more of Music City.