When I visit Nashville, I usually road trip or rent a car from the airport because it’s most important for me to easily get to all the neighborhoods I like to explore and revisit. So much to do, see and eat outside of the infamous lower Broadway area–it’s just not how I do Nashville.
I love to spend my time visiting my favorite neighborhoods including 12 South, Germantown and East Nashville while exploring areas like Sylvan Park, skipping the lower broadway bar scene altogether.
I’ve covered Nashville a handful of times touching on my favorite neighborhoods, my top 10 coffee shops and another great guide if you’re looking for even more tips and suggestions. Read on for my top picks on Nashville eats and shopping:
Brunch is a major deal in Nashville so plan accordingly–and make reservations! While there are dozens of amazing options, a few of my favorites include Lou, Henrietta Red, Stay Golden and Butchertown Hall.
Lou is a small, intimate restaurant located in former craftsman style home, adorned with vintage decor, wall paper and a white washed fireplace in the center of the space. The bar only seats four people and we were lucky to get there right when they opened since they only had those seats available for walk-ins! Matt ordered the baked egg cazuela with chorizo, fermented chili yogurt, leeks and potatoes. He basically licked the bowl clean! I ordered a bowl of crispy, perfectly seasoned potatoes topped with an egg.
Henrietta Red is a great place for a meal anytime of the day, especially if you love oysters. They’re not my thing, but I love the aesthetic, the drink menu and the basics–the best bacon I’ve ever had and I’m salivating at the thought of the thick sourdough bread I ordered. To guarantee a table, make a reservation, but luckily there is a much larger bar and open seating in case you spontaneously stop by or forget to make a reservation.
Stay Golden is one of my favorite cafes from specialty coffee drinks to pastries to breakfast dishes. If you’re looking for a quick meal and pour over, pop into one of their two locations–both are equally beautiful spaces!
Butchertown Hall is the perfect Texas-style restaurant for a meal any time of the day, but I love their brunch. Order a mimosa and grab the breakfast tacos.
Cafe Roze is another spot I always frequent because of the good coffee and flavorful menu that Matt is simply obsessed with. It’s a great spot if you’re more of a foodie, but if you’re a picky eater like me, their basic breakfast, avocado toasts and smoothies are all good picks too.
For something quick, cheap, delicious and low key–Five Points Pizza is my top recommendation. The original location in East Nashville is tiny, but has so much charm. The slices of pizza are giant and the garlic knots are out of this world. They recently opened up another much larger location in Sylvan Park that has much easier parking, but less of that dive bar vibe.
If you have an intense sweet tooth like me, then this section is for you! Jeni’s Ice Cream is the literally the cream of the crop when it comes to creamy, flavorful ice cream. Flavors like brown butter almond brittle, savannah buttermint and coffee with cream and sugar are mouthwatering and delicious (and my faves! So many more, plus dairy free options.)
If you’re a cookie lover, try one of Christie’s Cookies freshly baked cookies–always an assortment! Their sugar cookie is my favorite, but you can’t go wrong with chocolate chip, snickerdoodle or macadamia nut. You can hit up a location in either 12 South or Germantown.
Five Daughters Bakery
Koko’s ice cream is a plant-based ice cream shop, Instagram worthy for your feed! I haven’t yet been here, but my friends who live in town are obsessed.
Of course, Five Daughters Bakery is a favorite for their cronut-style donuts and they have something for everyone with their vegan and paleo options. The glazed yeast donut is my absolute favorite, but there are so many flavors and custard filling options. They have several locations throughout Nashville now, but the 12 South location is my favorite–it’s in a converted house and it’s adorable with a large outdoor space to sit back and sample the donuts!
Where to Stay
I’ve stayed all over in Nashville, from steps away from 12 South main strip to lodging outside of town. From my years of visiting, I know that I prefer a quiet place with free parking and don’t mind a 10 minute drive and so I partnered with Best Western to check out their Glo Hotel.
It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to travel around the city and outside the city to explore, not just hit up Broadway for a three day bender. And it’s also right by the airport, making it convenient if you’re flying in and out of the city.
Matt and I got a king size bed on the top floor, quiet and relaxing just like I prefer! The rooms are spacious and light-filled and the bathroom is quite large too. There’s also free breakfast, which I didn’t take advantage of since I wanted to eat as many meals at different restaurants, but a lovely amenity!
They also had a great fitness room–it’s smaller, but stocked with two treadmills, a bike and an assortment of free weights, bosu and weighted balls all of which appeared brand new and super clean. Matt and I worked out in the space, and it’s just another nice amenity that I don’t get when I’ve chosen to rent a house or apartment in the past. If you have questions on the stay, feel free to email or comment here!
Where to Shop
I explored more local shops on this trip than ever before and there are just so many beautiful boutiques sprouting up all over the city.
If you’re in East Nashville, visit the Shops at Porter East like Hunter & June and Apple and Oak. If you’re a dog lover, pop into Hunter & June for all the cute dog items. I scooped up a metallic gold collar for Roxy. Apple and Oak is chock full of beautiful vintage rugs and other home goods and accessories.
Alexis and Bolt and Abednego are my women’s clothing favorites in Germantown. Alexis and Bolt is located in an old home with trendy clothing, apothecary products and candles like P.F. Candle Co. and even a men’s section. Abednego is a women’s clothing shop with a bohemian flare where I always seem to scoop up a sweater, cardigan or pair of jeans and ogle the textured throw pillows, jewelry and leather shoes.
Barefoot Cottage in L&LAmelia’s Flower Shop inside L&L
L & L Market just opened up in Sylvan Park and is home to Amelia’s Flowers, Living with Landyn, Barefoot Cottage and more–a cool industrial-like building with a 5 Daughters Bakery, popcorn shop and it keeps growing. It’s outside of the areas I normally visit, but was worth exploring the market with all the shops its boasts and the easy, free parking.
Lemon Laine is must-visit each year with its curated selection of natural skincare and apothecary products. I find the staff to be pretty hands off, but I honestly prefer that.
Hero is a beautifully designed upscale women’s clothing shop in 12 South. I’m in love with all the textures and colors of the shop itself along with the beautiful seasonal items I perused like the coats and sweaters.
Imogene + Willie
Imogene + Willie‘s physical shop always catches my eye, located inside of an old service station and the shop contains high quality denim handmade in-shop and other high quality clothing basics like tees, henleys and sweatshirts.
Nashville is worth exploring more than just lower Broadway. If you like an adventure, make sure you rent a car, find a great hotel with free parking like Glo Hotel and check out all the great food and shopping the town has to offer in my favorite neighborhoods in East Nashville, Germantown and 12 South.
To note, Nashville has the best hospitality. From chatting with April at check in at Glo (who found out I’m from Michigan like her) to every boutique, coffee shop and restaurants where hostesses, servers and business owners greeted us warmly and took care of us–this city is so incredibly warm and friendly. Can’t wait for my next visit!
Thank you to Glo Hotel for the complementary three day stay!
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