Music City Musts
I’m no stranger to Nashville; I’ve been nearly a dozen times. With its easy nonstop flights from Austin, this is one of the most stress-free places to get to from Texas. As I used to say, “If I didn’t live in Austin, I’d want to live in Nashville.” Those who like the “Live Music Capital” will surely enjoy similar experiences in “Music City”: from Southern hospitality to great food to urban living touting special green spaces. My new favorite aspect of Nashville (sometimes called “NashVegas”) is bar after bar on Lower Broadway, no cover charges and live music (from rock to bluegrass to country, of course) that starts by 10:30 a.m. and lasts all day and night long.
A Special Space to Stay
The Hermitage Hotel is the only 5-diamond hotel in the entire state of Tennessee and the only historic hotel in Nashville. The hotel, which was built in 1910, was the home to the Suffrage Act, and pays homage to the women who changed history within its walls.
Even though it’s over 100 years old, the recent top-to-bottom renovation has taken great care to create a comfortable home for its visitors: with its very large rooms, incredibly comfortable bedding, and other soft touches that make the room one of the most inviting I have experienced. They even have TVs embedded in the bathroom mirrors, and went to great lengths to increase the shower pressure so that their guests have amazingly hot and refreshing showers.
Walking into the ornate lobby gives guests the feel of a relative’s posh living room where you just want to sink into the couch and sit a spell. Whether it’s taking a beat to just enjoy the eye candy, grabbing a happy hour drink from the lobby bar or even sitting with a coffee checking email, this is a 5-diamond spot!
With its 122 rooms (77 kings, 21 queens and the rest suites), The Hermitage Hotel just went through its largest renovation ever to celebrate its centennial! There was a $2 million renovation on a singular suite!
The Hermitage Hotel’s over-the-top public bathrooms on the bottom floor have been widely documented, the black and green men’s room with its signature scent (minty!) even matches the colors, and the women’s bathroom is pretty in pink.
The hotel’s main restaurant led by Jean-Georges Vongerchten, Drusie & Darr sits in a very soft and secluded area on the bottom floor. Open for both lunch and dinner, it caters to both fine dining and casual fare. At lunch, enjoy the smoked turkey sandwich with housemade chipotle mayonnaise, a black truffle pizza, or the kale and broccoli salad topped with grated Parmesan. At dinner, enjoy heartier choices, such as gnocchi, or parmesan crusted chicken with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Start with their crowd pleasing shrimp salad and pair with a fine wine for a memorable evening.
Start your day at The Pink Hermit coffee shop on the street level. Guests receive complimentary drip coffee until 10 a.m. but you can also enjoy cappuccinos, lattes, and other specialty coffees alongside egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches on flaky, croissants, or snickerdoodle muffins baked fresh daily.
Southern comfort food
Pucketts, with its sign out front touting to “Eat Local,” has been around the Nashville area for quite some time and there’s a location just a few blocks away from The Hermitage Hotel. Start with appetizers such as fried pimento cheese bites or fried green beans — we are in the south after all. Move on to comfort dishes like shrimp and grits or fried catfish. And, of course, you want to pair that with a perfectly blended iced tea.
Black Rabbit, a small café and bar, is only a six-minute walk from The Hermitage Hotel. The refined atmosphere with a hipster vibe, features small plates, great for sharing. Try their rabbit rolls, which are pork and rabbit on Hawaiian rolls with Swiss Dijon, poppyseed and onion. The shrimp and grit fritter is a rectangle of fried deliciousness, and the gnocchi is covered with a kale pesto, oyster mushroom, prosciutto and charred corn. The J Lohr syrah is a great complement.
Right on the super busy corner of Broadway & 5th is the brand new Assembly Food Hall, which features some of the best of Nashville cuisine all in one very modern food hall. Choose from pizza, tacos, hot chicken, and other cuisines, with bars around every corner. Make sure you grab dessert at the No Baked cookie dough shop (don’t mind if I dough!).
More than music
Purchased by Mr. Leslie Cheek and Ms. Maple Wood in 1928, the married couple moved into the estate’s 30,000 square-foot mansion in 1932. In 1960, it was handed over to the nonprofit that oversees it today. The property features outdoor gardens, a sculpture walk, and a Japanese garden where they hold wellness classes. In the spring, the property features 100,000 tulips, 100,000 daffodils and other colorful spring flowers that make the place pop! May through October, they feature their “Thursday Night Out” concert series on the lawn with food trucks, and in the summer, they also feature a music program called “Under the Stars.”
Purchase your tickets and jump on at 201 Broadway for this one hour, 40 minute narrated tour that will take you through all of the highlights of Nashville. This company started in Key West and now offers tours in Savannah, San Diego and other popular tourist cities. The last tour picks up at 4 p.m., but if you start early in the day, you can hop on and hop off throughout the day. You’ll start on Lower Broadway, known as “Honky Tonk Highway” which runs perpendicular to the Cumberland River.
Learn some fantastic Nashville trivia and see two of the city’s guitar-shaped attractions, the scoreboard at the baseball stadium and the new convention center. You’ll ride through Centennial Park, and hear about the new program where you can scan a QR code from the trees in the park to see music videos, a program known as “If Trees Could Sing.”
With its slogan of “One Nation Under a Groove,” this unique heritage museum is a new kid on the Broadway block. Prepare yourself for an impressive treat as you walk through the history of music. Extremely interactive, the museum features videos, walls of music history, specialty features such as a dancing game and karaoke. The museum takes you through African-American music and history, highlighting genres, including gospel, blues, jazz, rhythm and blues and hip-hop.
Did you know?
Nashville is known as the Athens of the South due to the many colleges and universities in the metropolitan area. When you’re in Centennial Park, have a look at the full-scale replica of The Parthenon (original is located in Athens, Greece.)
The VIP tour at Cheekwood is available to guests at The Hermitage as an add-on guest experience. This is a new experience for the hotel and can now be booked here: https://www.thehermitagehotel.com/experiences/
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002 with Austin Woman Magazine and now writes their “Texas Traveler” section. She can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, offering travel tips and spent five years as the voice of the “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard.