During my first visit to Nashville nearly 12 years ago, I could sense it in my bones that this city was on the cusp of becoming the “it” city.
I can’t say what exactly spoke to me. It was just a feeling that I couldn’t shake.
When I returned home from my visit, I decided some how, some way, I was going to move to Nashville.
Even if it meant sacrificing my proximity to the ocean and becoming landlocked.
Fast forward six months and I was loading up a Ryder truck and hauling my stuff to Music City USA.
Fast forward again to 2013 and Nashville was dubbed “The IT City” by The New York Times.
“There’s a bit of charm and a richness a city the size of Nashville allows for.” recording artist Jennifer Nettles
Like most people who visit Nashville, I became enchanted with everything my senses could absorb.
The grittiness of those determined to pursue their musical dreams.
The friendly folks always willing to help out a stranger.
The energy of creativity afloat in the fields of technology, entertainment, and art.
And the always delicious southern cuisine.
At the time right before my move, I was working as a college career adviser in North Carolina. I leveraged my network in the field of higher education to secure a job in the career center at the prestigious Vanderbilt University.
I also snatched up some real estate before everyone else figured out just how great this city is. And boy, am I glad I did considering the city’s current housing costs and shortages.
Everyone’s moving here, and I can’t blame them for wanting to!
Since moving to Nashville, I’ve had experiences I never dreamed I’d have.
I left higher education to start my own business and named it after my new town — paNASH (a play on the French word “panache” and the name “Nashville,” just in case you didn’t get that).
I’ve had the opportunity to get to know celebrities as the real people they are outside of the smoke and mirrors of fame.
I began the best relationship of my life, with Jesus.
I became a two-time published author and #1 Amazon bestselling author.
I got to serve with a local church on a mission trip to the remote jungles of the Amazon.
I discovered my passion for standup paddle boarding.
I made some beautiful friendships, gained a new lease on life, and discovered my 40s are way better than my 20s and 30s ever were!
There are so many people I meet on a regular basis who also felt the lure of the Nashville vibe and couldn’t stay away from here.
So for the 70+ new people moving here EVERY DAY and the millions who visit here each year, welcome!
Here are a few of my favorite Nashville things I want to share with you!
My favorite perk of living in Nashville:
Town and country
Aside from not having to pay state income tax, the biggest perk of living in Nashville is getting to have the best of both worlds in terms of city life and country living.
Only 10–15 miles outside of town are beautiful rolling hills and picturesque lakes with wooded hiking trails, sprawling horse farms, and beautifully manicured golf courses.
In the heart of downtown Nashville you’ll find a Grammy award-winning symphony, restaurants headed by world-renowned chefs, fine art museums, headquarters for various multi-national companies, and professional hockey, football, and soon-to-be major league soccer teams.
My favorite music venue:
The Ryman Auditorium
While I have too many favorite music venues here in Nashville to name, if I have to pick just one it’s the historic Ryman Auditorium, AKA the mother church of country music.
It’s where the Grand Ole Opry began and is now host to some of the world’s greatest musicians and recording artists.
I’ve had the opportunity to experience the goose-pimpling acoustics of this national treasure while attending the ASCAP awards and performances by The Civil Wars, Lyle Lovett, and even my favorite comedian Brian Regan.
After the shows it’s an easy 13 steps across the alley to the world famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for more great live music.
My favorite place for business lunches:
Located downtown next to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and housed in an old trolley barn, Pinewood Social is buzzing with heads of tech startups, freelancers, and entrepreneurs meeting over lunch to discuss work.
But it also provides some time for play with a swimming pool, bocce court, bowling alley, and private karaoke lounge.
My favorite place to learn new things:
Nashville Community Education Commission
The Nashville CEC offers a plethora of personal and professional enrichment courses at affordable prices (some are even free!).
Classes include songwriting and other arts, foreign languages, cooking, career and finances, technology, and more.
I’ve both taught and taken classes with the Nashville CEC.
I’ve taken a financial success class and a copyright law class, and am registered to take a Kung Fu/Self-Defense class this spring.
My favorite Nashville hot chicken:
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
While all the Nashville hot chicken joints are good, Hattie B’s on Charlotte Pike is my favorite. You can also find Hattie B’s in midtown near Music Row.
My preferred level of heat right now is “hot” but I think I’m about to graduate to “damn hot” with the goal of reaching the ultimate heat level “shut the cluck up!”
If you go, be prepared to stand in line, and know that it’s worth the wait!
My favorite celebrity who doesn’t act like a celebrity:
Vince Gill is the nicest and most humble man, not just in country music, but in music in general.
While far from being an attention-seeker, he always has a friendly word to everyone at the Belmont basketball and Ensworth High School football games I frequently see him at.
My favorite 4-legged celebrity:
Doug the Pug
This Nashville fur resident has 6 million Facebook followers and 3 million Instagram followers.
Doug the Pug also has his own bestselling book and recently did a book tour in the UK.
His daily posts and regular visits to the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital bring smiles and laughs to so many faces.
Though he may not be the best role model for keeping my new year’s resolutions, I can’t help but love him and his jolly rolls!
My favorite cafe:
37° Degrees Sth
I’m SO excited about this new place located close to me in Belle Meade!
It’s a Melbourne-inspired coffee house owned by an Aussie couple who, like me, fell in love with Nashville and decided to move here.
37° Degrees Sth is my new favorite place for so many reasons:
- It reminds me of my time I spent in Australia about 15 years ago.
- Their Avo Mash avocado toast topped with a poached egg is to die for.
- AND they have delicious hot chocolate made with Nutella (another one of my favorite things!).
I can’t wait to try everything else they have to offer!
My favorite place to pursue my passion for SUP:
Paddle Up Nashville
I first discovered stand up paddling here in Nashville when I went to Paddle Up Nashville for a beginner lesson.
I was hooked from the first moment! It’s the closest thing to walking on water, and it’s so much fun and great exercise.
It wasn’t long before I stopped renting a board from Paddle Up and bought my own race board from them. The owner was very knowledgeable about what kind of equipment would work best for me personally.
Paddle Up has so many fun activities like full moon paddles, mileage builders, and Thirsty Thursdays. They even had a solar eclipse paddle this past August. There was nothing like staring up at the sky and experiencing totality while laying on my board and floating in the middle of the river.
Nashville is the perfect place to do flatwater stand up paddling. Paddle season lasts from about March through October and sometimes even into November because of Nashville’s mild temperatures.
Plus, we don’t have alligators or sharks in our water!
Click here for my interview with Paddle Up owner Neil Newton.
My favorite patio:
Blue Moon Waterfront Grille
After a day of paddling I often like to walk down the ramp from Paddle Up to Blue Moon Waterfront Grille for a drink or some appetizers.
They have one of the largest patios with one of the most beautiful views of the river and the marina. And of course this being Nashville, there’s often live music going on.
Boaters will dock right next to the restaurant while making a stop on their voyage down the Cumberland.
It’s a nice little unexpected place off the beaten path.
My favorite place to hike:
Edwin Warner Park
There are so many hiking trails in and around the Nashville area, but Edwin Warner Park is my favorite. Especially since it’s only a mile from my house and also connects to neighboring Percy Warner Park and the Harpeth Greenway.
There are miles of both wooded and paved hiking trails that transport you to a serene wildlife sanctuary. I never tire of seeing deer, owls, and other beautiful animals.
My favorite place to bike:
The airstrip at Cornelia Fort Airpark
Most people don’t know there’s access from the bike trails at Shelby Bottoms Park to the Cornelia Fort Airpark, named after the first female pilot to die on war duty in American history.
Even fewer people know this small airport was the one where Patsy Cline’s plane was supposed land had it not tragically crashed in 1963.
Here I can actually ride my bike on the airstrip where planes like hers used to land and take off.
My favorite place for comfort food:
Barbara’s Home Cookin’
You won’t find any “gentrified” home cooking recipes here. Just good ole southern comfort food made with love by Barbara herself.
Located just outside of historic downtown Franklin, Barbara’s Home Cookin’ is like going to eat Sunday dinner at my grandma’s house.
But I never know who I’ll run into there.
I’ve seen Clint Black and Lisa Hartman-Black, Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, Mark Slaughter, founder of the heavy metal band Slaughter, and more.
Barbara’s is the area’s best kept secret.
Their food is even better than the famous Loveless Cafe, but without the two-hour wait.
My favorite non-ACC college sports team:
Belmont Bruins Men’s Basketball
Anyone who knows me well knows I’m a big college basketball fan, specifically ACC basketball. Even more specifically Carolina Tarheel basketball.
But since I’m too far away from NC, I get my college basketball fix from the Belmont University Bruins.
I always enjoy visiting Belmont, whether it’s for a program I’m doing for the students, visiting colleagues, or attending one of the games.
The atmosphere of the games is so much fun, and with Coach Rick Byrd at the helm, you can always expect excellence from each player.
My favorite hamburger:
I have yet to find a hamburger as good as the ones back home from The Shake Shop, but a close second are the burgers from The Pharmacy in eclectic East Nashville.
Their shady beer garden patio makes the burgers taste even better!
And the only time I ever drink soft drinks is when I’m at The Pharmacy. They make their own old fashioned sodas that contain no caffeine, no preservatives, and no corn syrup. The orange creamsicle is my the best!
My favorite Nashville souvenir and gift shop:
Anderson Design Group Studio Store
Forget the chintzy souvenir shops in downtown Nashville where everything there is made in China.
For something authentically Nashville-made, visit Anderson Design Group Studio Store. Located right next to Centennial Park and The Parthenon, here I can buy original “Spirit of Nashville” artwork by the studio’s owner Joel Anderson.
I can also find unique local products and gifts with packaging and branding designed by Joel and his team. Merchandise includes Bonga Java coffee beans, Olive & Sinclair chocolate, and more!
My favorite place for happy hour:
I stumbled upon this sophisticated yet quaint restaurant and wine bar in Sylvan Park while trying to find the perfect place to celebrate my birthday with friends.
We all loved Park Cafe so much.
The wine was good, the food was even better, and they have great happy hour specials on their tapas-style dishes and their drinks.
They were so kind to put us in a private room for my birthday celebration when I didn’t even ask for one. Top-drawer service!
My favorite place for some quiet time:
The Natchez Trace Parkway
Whenever I really need some quiet time to think, I like to take a drive down the Natchez Trace Parkway.
This 444-mile scenic parkway starts in Nashville and cuts through the beautiful terrain in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi leading to the Gulf coast.
I often stop along the way for a view of the Natchez Trace Bridge or for a walk along some of the nearby hiking trails.
My bucket list includes working my way all the way down the entire parkway and making stops at all the historical sites and bed-and-breakfasts.
My favorite place to get away from Nashville:
While I enjoy all Nashville has to offer residents like me, there are times I need a change of scenery.
And like for most Nashvillians, the best get-away is to the South Walton beaches in the Destin, Florida area, specifically Scenic Highway 30-A.
Emerald waters, white sand, sunshine, and scrumptious fresh seafood. What more could a girl need to recharge?
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