Music is what draws most visitors to Nashville, and with good reason. The city is teeming with talented performers, and you’ll hear them playing everywhere you go. That’s more than apparent in the new TV hit, Nashville—while the show might be a bit soapy, it gives a pretty accurate portrayal of the city.
But in between your visits to all the obligatory stops (Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and so many more), you should explore some emerging neighborhoods to see where real Nashvillians live and play. You’re still in the South, remember, but this is the hip South, forward-thinking while venerating the past—for example, many stores have a retro, villagey look, with exposed brick, high ceilings and weathered concrete floors.
Feeling adventurous? Cross the Cumberland River and venture into East Nashville, a once-gritty area where trendy shops and restaurants have popped up along streets lined by humble bungalows. In the Five Points neighborhood, Wonders on Woodland has two floors full of antique furnishings, toys and tchotchkes. Next door is the Five Points Collaborative, a pedestrian lane lined with boutiques selling gifts and men’s and women’s clothes. While you roam the area, you might hear I Dream of Weenie calling your name. It’s an old VW van converted into a hot dog wagon, dishing up such delicacies as a mac-and-cheese weenie and the “Frank and to the Point.”
Not far from here is another good lunch spot: Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden, serving Tennessee beef burgers, salmon burgers, sausages and ice cream sodas. And, for your caffeine fix, make your way to Nashville’s ultimate coffee bar: the cutting-edge Barista Parlor, which targets coffee connoisseurs with state-of-the-art brewing technology. With its hip interior, dominated by a stunning ship mural by local artist Bryce McCloud, this former car-repair shop could be the coolest place to hang out in Nashville. Like we said, Music City offers much more than music these days.
Wonders on Woodland: 1110 Woodland St.; 615.226.5300
Five Points Collaborative: 1108 Woodland St.
I Dream of Weenie: 113 S 11th St.; 615.226.2622
Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden: 731 Mcferrin Ave; 615.712.9517; thepharmacynashville.com
Barista Parlor: 519 Gallatin Ave; 615.712.9766; baristaparlor.com