As Nashville crooner Alan Jackson said, “You can’t wait on success.” Music City obviously has not.
Whether you go to Nashville for New Year’s Eve to see their 15-foot musical note dropped (not a ball like in NYC’s Time Square), to experience the bar on famed Second Street owned by Beaumont’s own George Jones, the Grand Ole Opry (which seats 4,400 guests), or to see the new pedestrian bridge to Shelby Park, you’ll want to add this trio of Music City musts to your list.
1. TownePlace Suites by Marriott Nashville Goodlettsville
If you want to be around all the action during the day but like a more peaceful environment for your sleep, the new TownePlace Suites by Marriott Nashville Goodlettsville hotel is a great option. About a 20-minute Uber ride to downtown, this hotel is located in a serene suburb. The TownePlace Suites brand recently celebrated its 21st birthday, which means you can feel free to drink there, too. (Seriously, you can purchase beer and wine in the lobby market to enjoy in the common area or in your room.)
TownePlace Suites is a purpose-driven hotel, meaning it caters to folks who are in town for an extended stay; the average guest stays two weeks. Because of this market, the rooms are designed with long-term travelers in mind. For instance:
~ The closets are equipped with a special Container Store organizational system as most guests will unpack their bags here. This custom closet arrangement is one you’ll want to have for your own closet at home!
~ For business travelers, there’s a spacious desk. And it’s on wheels, allowing you to set up your room as needed. Plus, the couch (which has a fold-out) also has mini desk platforms for those business guests who prefer to work on their laptops while relaxing.
~ The dedicated kitchen space includes a full size refrigerator, an oven, a microwave and dishes. The desk does double duty as a dining table.
~ Mounted on a swivel, the flat screen TV has Netflix (just log into your own account) and HBO.
~ You can choose from three different types of rooms, depending on how many people are in your party. The standard king studio is 320 square feet and ideal for an individual or couple. The one bedroom has a separate bedroom from the living space. Or, you can choose a double room, which can accommodate up to four guests.
Some amenities outside the room include: a full hot buffet breakfast included with the price of the room, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and a community washer/dryer room. Their “Something Borrowed” program allows for guests to check out items that can add to their stay, such as games or Weber Grilling pre-mixed spices for their outdoor BBQ. (The outdoor community space has upscale Weber grills.) I also appreciated their free Wi-Fi and their “#shhhhhh” policy. (Polite signs are posted by the elevator banks requesting noise be kept to a minimum 10pm-6am.)
2. Nashville Underground
In the heart of downtown, on Music City’s famous Broadway, sits Nashville Underground. This restaurant/bar is owned by musician Gavin Degraw and his brother, Joey.
Opening at 10am for the early birds, Nashville Underground is one of the few places on Broadway to offer breakfast. After a $13 million renovation, their six-story venue includes a rooftop bar with an LED dance floor and a “green roof” bar with cornhole, green turf, TVs and—-of course—-a bar. This is the highest rooftop bar on Broadway and the roof is guitar-shaped.
The first and second floor menu signature item is Nashville Hot Chicken and their BBQ is smoked in-house daily. You absolutely can’t go wrong with anything you order. Start your lunch off with some warm boiled peanuts (a Southern delicacy) or some poutine (a Canadian delicacy). And if you’re not a Hot Chicken or BBQ fan, try their Creole shrimp and grits. Those on a budget will love their $5.99 Meal Steals. (Psssstttt: They have a dessert called Nashville Hot Ice Cream!)
The multi-level rooftop menu includes some Nashville Underground staples as well as gourmet flatbreads. All four bars include an expansive selection of locally crafted wine, beer and spirits, including the coldest draft beer in Nashville. (Cheers!) Nashville Underground also features three stages, a working fireplace, second floor mechanical bull and karaoke. While we were there, I commented to my dining partner that I absolutely enjoyed the multi-genre music (featured seven days a week). One minute we were hearing Bob Seger and the next we were enjoying Maroon 5.
3. The Chef & I on Ninth
The Chef & I in “The Gulch” is a dining extravaganza! Cocktail lovers will be impressed by the mixologists. My culinary adventurer friends, go for the Chef’s Tasting Menu (3, 5 or 7 courses– I recommend five as the ideal number of palate treats). The tasting menu changes nightly but, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to try the taquito-of-the-day (which might be hamburger and mushroom), lumpia (a delectable Filipino egg roll), tomato pie (which is more of a quiche and less of a pie), and stone crabs.
But additional Music City Musts at The Chef & I are their caramelized cauliflower with local whipped goat cheese and their roasted warm spaghetti squash with burrata. I’m getting so hungry just remembering this dinner! Again, you just can’t go wrong with any dish at this unassuming bistro.
Cover: Nashville honky-tonks. Photo courtesy Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
Marika Flatt is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine and also the host of the “Weekend Trip Tip” that airs on the statewide NPR show, “Texas Standard.” She’s a true blue country music fan that says that if she didn’t live in Austin, she’d live in Nashville. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram.