A Guide To America's Best Kept Secret: Nashville

I'm about to share with you an American hidden gem, a city that is low-key probably more exciting to visit than NYC itself...Nashville, Tennessee. After studying abroad in North Carolina, I definitely fell in love with American Southern culture from their crazy fried food to loud country music. Nashville has it all, I like to describe it as a nicer and less sleazy Vegas...and we all know how much fun Vegas is! So here are my top tips for when you're in town:

A holiday standard in the USA. After many late nights on Broadway, we missed breakfast most days and went directly to brunch. Nashville has some of the best eats! Being a self-proclaimed foodie, I had to try their fried chicken and although Hattie B's is the supposedly the best there is...the queue was always far too long to fathom. We discovered an alternative called Biscuit Love in this sweet little neighbourhood called The Gulch that's definitely worth exploring. Try their East Nasty or Princess. Another local favourite is Saint Anejo, Mexican inspired and absolutely delicious - their Mahi Mahi Tacos, Guac and Breakfast Burrito are a must! Henrietta Red is in Germantown and is proper brunch, their vibe is modern and elegant with food that will melt in your mouth. I had their Mushroom Polenta and could've gone back everyday of the trip.

Germantown is a trendy (perhaps a little hipster) neighbourhood with a sweet vibe. Alexis & Bolt was one of my favourites there, it feels like you're shopping in your really cool friend's home - pieces vary from quite pricey to affordable. Abednego Boutique is another local gem, run by the sweetest southern belle who has amazing taste and a great price tag! If antiques are up you're alley, we discovered Bits & Pieces directly opposite Henrietta Red and fell in love with their quirky style that's both new and old. I'm not much of a souvenir tee girl, however with Nashville stealing my heart I just had to...I stayed far away from the shops on Broadway and discovered the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum gift store had the coolest Nashville tees, hats and takeaway gifts. If you ask me which cap I treasure most in my wardrobe, it's my NASH cap from The Nash Collection. A local brand that's casual and sleek - be sure to check them out! There's also nothing like a bit of southern charm and Reese Witherspoon's store Draper James delivers just that, browse sweet and cutesy pieces while you sip on some good ol' fashioned sweet tea.

I was lucky enough to be able to stay at The Fairlane Hotel just as it was opening so got a great price on a room. I love it, their attention to detail is immaculate and their location is just perfect. Only a few streets away from the noise of Broadway but close enough to walk, I fell in love with this brand new hotel. I'd probably describe it as a luxe, retro feel but with completely modern elements. The staff is so attentive to their guests, I did not feel like just another reservation to them - it's boutique enough to know who's walking through their door. A few touches that made my stay were the embroidered robes, wooden bluetooth speakers, individual make up wipes, hooks by the door for your jackets/umbrellas, fresh water bottles whenever you needed them and a cup of coffee each morning included with your stay.

This is the one thing I'm sure everyone who's ever heard of or been to Nashville will tell you to do. It's the equivalent of the Vegas strip, there's live music in every bar or restaurant at any time of day. Grab a bite to eat or just be serenaded by the smooth voices of some of Nashville's most talented singer/songwriters. It's amazing how one city can host so much undiscovered or even discovered talent! I'd recommend visiting Honky Tonk Central, The Stage, Roberts Western World (one of the originals on Broadway), Tin Roof and Crazytown.

This is the home of country music. Everyone who's anyone has played here and made a name for themselves from Johnny Cash to Dolly Parton. It's the show that made country music famous. There's so much history here that it feels like you're a part of it! The Ryman is the original home of the Opry downtown before it moved to it's current location today. I'd recommend doing both but most of all make sure you grab a ticket to a show at The Grand Ol Opry itself, for aspiring country music artists its an honour and milestone in their career to be first step on that iconic stage.

If you're sick of the bright lights and crowds that usually comes with Broadway bars, here's a little guide to some others that I frequent! I was skeptical of this place, but my travel buddy is the best researcher in the world. Pinewood Social has everything - it's equal parts hipster cafe, swanky cocktail bar, bowling alley, outdoor pool and bocci ball space...it really doesn't get much better than that. If you're after an elegant, cosy and classy cocktail bar with amazing quality drinks head to Rare Bird on the rooftop of The Noelle Hotel. It's a well-kept secret and relatively new, it has that feel of being the go-to for where the who's who of Nashville can relax and be themselves. Still in keeping with Nashville's country music heritage, Winners and Losers bars are low-key and casual with great live music in an area called Midtown. I call it the local Broadway, it's a strip of bars where the locals like to get away from the hustle and bustle. I feel like The Diner needs to have a mention in my guide even though it's not a bar, it's a 6-story 24-hour eating establishment that is just a part of the Nashville culture now. The food is pretty good as well, saying that we generally tried it at 3am in the morning when everything tastes good!


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