One Day in Nashville? Here’s What to Eat, See, and Do
Nashville holds a pretty special place in my heart when it comes to the Ride to Food platform. In 2016, I was traveling cross country and was visiting the music city for the first time. I truly had a lack of knowledge on anything surrounding Nashville. What do I see? Where do I eat that isn’t a chain restaurant? Any “Motorcycle must do’s?” What do I do here?! I ended up heading to a small pub and coming up with the original idea behind Ride to Food, but had to head out in the morning to continue on my travels, leaving no time to actually learn about or experience the city.
Fast forward to June of 2020, and I finally made it back to Nashville, this time with a tiny bit more knowledge on what to see and do around town! If you’re traveling through and only have one full day to enjoy Nashville, here’s a bare bones list of what you need to eat, see and do!
Ride (a small portion of) the Natchez Trace Parkway
This 444 mile road is one of the most popular motorcycle rides near Nashville. While the road features plenty of swooping turns, scenic views and points of interest along the way, it’s actually a historic travel corridor dating back 10,000 years. Waterfalls, tobacco farms, and other sights of historical importance can be found all along “the Trace,” as locals call it.
While you won’t be able to ride the road in its entirety during your visit to Nashville, the historic road’s northern terminus is just a few miles away from the Loveless Cafe. Pro tip: start your day early (I mean, really early. Like 7:30 AM early.), grab breakfast at Loveless before the crowds get there, ride the Trace a few hours south to the Meriwether Lewis Monument, and then head back to Nashville for the rest of your day.
Drink a Bushwacker
Talk about an afternoon delight, y’all. Everyone loves ice cream. So, let’s level up and add some booze to it! The famed Nashville bushwacker can be commonly found swirling away in a metal blending machine tucked in the corner of a busy bar. Picture a spiked Wendy’s Chocolate frosty hitting your mouth on a hot summer day. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or after hours, the bushwacker is always an acceptable drink of choice.
We hit up Edley’s Bar-B-Que for our bushwackers. While they’re considered the best BBQ spot in Nashville, I wouldn’t know. I was too busy slurping up the chocolaty goodness of a boozy bushwacker cocktail, which they are also well known for. In fact, they even dedicate Wednesday’s to “all things ‘wack.” Come hungry, and thirsty!
Enjoy Some Nashville Hot Chicken
Whether you do this before or after enjoying a bushwacker, is up to you. However, you absolutely cannot come to Nashville without getting some Hot Chicken. From festivals to competitions, Nashville takes its Hot Chicken tradition pretty seriously. Full of flavor and spice, hot chicken truly is a taste of southern cuisine. It’s not Cajun Spicy, or Spicy Spicy…it’s just…well, you need to try it to really understand!
I checked out Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and definitely wasn’t disappointed. Plus, it was recommended by locals over some of the more well known eateries in town. That’s usually when you know it’s good. Big Shake’s offers fried chicken, fried fish, and their famous shrimp burgers. All of which can be customized to different heat levels via their own individual hot chicken spice recipes. The Hot Mess Chicken Sandwich, cry baby style, with their craft ghost pepper mayo hit the spot. 11/10 would recommend!
Listen to Live Music on Lower Broadway’s “Honky Tonk Highway”
Is it the Music Row? Lower Broadway? Or the Honky Tonk Highway? Whatever you wish to call this area, Nashville’s downtown is the town’s hotspot for live music, and there’s a good chance you won’t have to pay a cover fee to enjoy most of it, no matter what time of day it is. While country might be Nashville’s staple genre, you’ll find plenty of other eclectic sounds along the Music Row, as well as street performers. Grab a drink and a dance partner, y’all!
Not into the neon lights and touristy vibes? If history and learning is more of your thing, there’s plenty of historic landmarks in the area. To name a few: the Ryman Auditorium, home to the original Grand Ole Opry and the Birthplace of Bluegrass, as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Honorary Mention: Daddy’s Dogs
While Nashville isn’t known for hot dogs, or really any weiner for that matter, Daddy’s Dogs was high on my priority list for this trip. After seeing some of their crazy concoctions online, I knew a trip to Daddy’s Dogs was an absolute must. With a brick and mortar eaterie in the Nations neighborhood of west Nashville, and plenty of food carts roaming around downtown on any given night, there’s a good chance you’re going to find yourself eating one of their dogs if you’re out on the town. I was going to say, “putting their meat in your mouth,” but I don’t know which statement is more awkward. We’ll just go with both.
Have any recommendations on what to see and do around Nashville? Drop a comment down below! 🙂