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A good ‘ole time in Music City
Flashing neon lights. Blaring country music. Hot (hot!) chicken. The epicenter of Tennessee whiskey… That’s Nashville in a nutshell. Easily the top spot to take in live country music in the U.S.—hence its “Music City” moniker—the budding metropolis has no shortage of live venues, honky tonks and country music bars. But even if you’re not a fan of country, just try not to be moved by the music wafting from each eclectic spot as you mosey down Music Row—aka Broadway (or the people-watching, spirits flowing and general revelry that’ll call to mind another famous Broadway… just Southern style).
Of course, there’s more to Music City than Music Row (though, that’s where you’d find us…). Think creative energy, culture (museums galore!), award-winning restos and swanky bars. NTM the city is situated on a river—making it a dreamy destination alongside the likes of DC and Chicago, to name a few.
Really, the Everly Brothers said it best: “Gotta get back to Nashville… ’cause that’s where the good times are.” Here we tune into our Music Row picks—plus dine, drink and do selects—for a well-rounded and high-energy getaway. Now all we need are some cowboy boots.
EATS & DRINKS
When it comes to Nashville barbecue, it’s all about the smoked meats (brisket, ribs, sausage—oh, my!). And there’s a melting pot of barbecue styles for you to go hog wild. For a classic whole-hog pulled-pork sando that all Carolinians can get down with, you’re gonna wanna go to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint; for beef brisket, look no further than Shotgun Willie’s BBQ; and if you’re curious what the dry ribs are all about, head to Peg Leg Porker. Aye, there’s the rub! martinsbbqjoint.com; sgwbbq.com;
You can’t—we repeat, can’t—go to Nashville without hitting up this uberpopular hot chicken joint that blows all chicken sandos out of the water (we said it). If you’re feeling frisky, go for the Shut the Cluck Up chicken sandwich, Hattie B’s hottest heat level offering; or play it safe with the Southern (no heat). … But as Southerners, it’s about time we show Nashville we can take the heat. hattieb.com
Yee-Haw Brewing Co.
Can we get a yeehaw?! Yee-Haw Brewing calls for an all-day affair, thanks to its shared campus with Ole Smoky Moonshine and White Duck Taco Shop, two large screen TVs, two stages, a beer garden, and a brewery and distillery on-site (!)—NTM live music, watch parties and other fun-filled events. Clear your sched and stick around for awhile… yeehawbrewing.com
Five Points Pizza
Dave Portnoy of Barstool Pizza Review said Five Points Pizza was “really good”—and that’s an opinion you can crust. You’re gonna wanna grab a slice (or a whole pie) of the New York-style pizzas made from scratch and handtossed with aged-in-house dough. Popular creations include the Vodka Sauce Pie, the T-Rex (topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, sliced meatballs and spicy capicola), and Dave’s Pie (prosciutto di parma, fresh basil, extra pecorino romano). fivepointspizza.com
Butcher & Bee
When the bright lights and even louder sounds of NashVegas start to wear you down, buzz on over to this quaint hidden gem located just on the outskirts of downtown serving up seasonal dishes for brunch and dinner. (Pro tip: Get there early to score a seat on the patio.) butcherandbee.com
Son of a biscuit! This lil “Love” will surely steal your heart—and stomach. The beloved breakfast and lunch spot believes in bringing the community together over a shared love of biscuits, whether you’re more of an S.E.C. (sausage, scrambled egg, cheddar) kinda person or an East Nasty (fried chicken, cheddar, sausage gravy) one—and that, well, just butters our biscuits. biscuitlove.com
Don’t ask for a menu at this 2022 James Beard finalist for Outstanding Bar Program—’cause you ain’t gonna get one. The famed East Nashville drinking den is a speakeasy-style iteration of the original NYC location credited with the entire modern craft-cocktail movement. So, yeah, no menu needed because you know whatever one of the bartenders puts in front of you is gonna be good. attaboy.us
OUT & ABOUT
Grand Ole Opry
“The true home of country music” has a myriad of artists hitting its stage in May, including The Gatlin Brothers, Filmore and Maggie Rose. P.S. Olivia Rodrigo is stopping at the Grand Ole Opry’s Opry House venue during her SOUR tour on May 10 (!). Um, good for… us! opry.com
Nashville Predators Game
Watch the Preds put the smash in Smashville at Bridgestone Arena, which is primely located in the center of downtown. (So catching a game is about as easy as ordering a drink from one of the many surrounding bars.) bridgestonearena.com
“I’m on a boat!”—er pontoon! Mingle, dance and booze your way down the Cumberland River through Nashville’s only “honky tonk on the water.” Both public and private cruises are offered, and each includes a licensed captain and deckhand, sound system, and coolers for beverages. Yeah, buoy!
Ms. Kelli’s Karaoke Bar
Sing it (or just dance!) like you mean it within this tucked away family-owned and -operated karaoke bar in Printers Alley. The jello shooters and specialty cocktails are sure to provide all the liquid courage you need to get up onstage.
Johnny Cash Museum
They don’t call it Cashville for nothin’. “Walk the line” to discover the largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia the world over—from the legend’s guitars and music equipment to his signature looks and more. johnnycashmuseum.com
The Bluebird Cafe
Over the past 40 years, this iconic live music venue (dubbed “an accidental landmark that changed music history”) has served as a magnet for Nashville visitors from all walks of life—over 70,000 people visit the venue annually, and countless country stars have graced its stage (think Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and Faith Hill). Make sure you grab your tickets in advance as they tend to sell out! bluebirdcafe.com
Honky Tonk Central
It’s a party on all three stories—complete with live music, bar grub and great times. honkytonkcentral.com
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
A can’t-miss (literally—it’s bright pink) world-famous institution and Nashville honky tonk, nee 1960. tootsies.net
Country Legend Bars
Layla’s Honky Tonk
Vintage license plates from around the country cover the ceiling of this funky live music bar that’s always a darn tootin’ good time. laylasnashville.com
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