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A Sense of Place

5 Things You Must Do in Nashville NOT Related to Music

USA | Friday, 12 August 2011 | Views [26953] | Comments [4]

When you say Nashville, most people think of country music and songwriting. And maybe cowboy boots.  We do have plenty to offer related to all three, but I'll let you in on what we have if, like me, you could care less about country and don't own anything honky-tonk appropriate.  If you wander away from the neon lights of Broadway, there is so much to see and do away from the buskers, Dolly Parton drag queens (yes, there are several drag queen Dolly impersonators), and cowboy hats.

Starting near the country craziness and working out from the city, here are 5 things you must do in Nashville that are not related to music.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts

My mom mimicking the portrait of Martha Graham in the exhibit.

Just wander south down Broadway towards the highway, and the giant Art Deco building at the top of the small hill is the Frist.  Nashville is unique in that our main art museum does not have a permanent collection.  This former post office was converted into a museum ten years ago, and it now brings traveling exhibits to art lovers in Middle Tennessee.  Currently, they have a Warhol exhibit themed around his love for performing arts.  They have a regularly scheduled architecture tour to explain the importance of Art Deco style, and they participate in the monthly Art Crawl on the first Saturday of each month, too.

Nashville Farmers Market

Purple bell peppers, whodathunk?

I love checking out farmers markets in other cities, and Nashville has a great set up with their primary market.  Anything from Amish baked goods to locally produced goat cheese to organic meats to spuds from the next county over are available in two outdoor (but covered!) areas. The next building over has AC and TONS of food options like Greek, Indian, and Jamaican. There's a third building that often houses a small flea market, and there's a garden center for green thumbs.  It's a great place to people watch, photograph bright colors and weird shapes, grab some local food, and really see the "real" Nashville.  I can spend hours there, and I haven't even been to the Night Market with special tastings and  a bar.

Yazoo and Jackalope Breweries

Dos Perros is dark, but not dark like a stout. Yum!

We have some weird liquor laws in Tennessee. Like how you can't sample the booze at the Jack Daniel's Distillery because it's in a dry county, or you can't buy beer from a liquor store unless it's high gravity, or you can't buy wine at the grocery store. There are a few strange laws associated with breweries that I still haven't figured out (related to hours and such), but Nashville is home to several small breweries. Yazoo and Jackalope are about a block apart, and both have great beers on tap.  

The cheese plate at Jackalope Brewery designed to pair with their beers.  I like the Chocolate Lab cheese, the one on the right in the foreground,
Yazoo has several varieties and can be found in grocery stores and restaurants around town. Jackalope opened its doors in May and is run by two women, the only women brewers in Tennessee I believe.  Jackalope is only open on Fridays from 4-8 pm (insert random liquor law for the reason here), and they have 4 beers on tap. One is usually a regional guest beer, and they make the other 3. I like the Bearwalker beer and their cheese plate (featuring regional cheeses) is designed to pair with their beers.  A block away, Yazoo is open on more days than Yazoo, and it often has a taco food truck parked outside for a snack.  You can get growlers filled here as well.  I prefer the stouts and the Dos Perros.

East Nashville

The Base Burner at Holland House: Four Roses bourbon and ginger ice cubes.

Across the Cumberland River and LP Field is the neighborhood of East Nashville. I can't recommend just one spot here, so I decided to recommend the whole neighborhood. It is in the process of regentrifying, but the roughness and amount of artsy folks living here make a great trip to eat, drink, shop, or go to a festival.  It's the home of the super popular Tomato Fest every August as well as dozens of other small festivals during the year.  It also has tons of galleries and independently owned shops if you want to pick up local art or unique items.  East Nashville is the home to many popular bars like Holland House and Bar 308 and restaurants like Marche, Rosepepper's Cantina, The Silly Goose, and Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (the only outpost outside of Ohio).  Definitely make a trip across the river for an awesome cocktail or dinner.

The Parthenon

I'm 5'4 to give you some scale with the columns.
Yep, Nashville has a life-size replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park on West End Ave.  Why? Well, during the Tennessee Centennial Fair in 1897, Nashville had the nickname of "the Athens of the South" because of the number of colleges in the city.  So what better way to celebrate that history than to make future monument to kitsch with a to-scale replica of the Parthenon?  With sculptures made from casts of the real ones in London museums and everything.  Alan LeQuire, a contemporary Nashville-based sculptor, created the ginormous Athena statue on the top floor which evokes how the Parthenon may have looked in 400 BC.  Today, it is the municipal art museum with a permanent collection of American art donated by James Cowan

For Extra Credit: Franklin

If you still have some time, take a 30 or so minute drive down I-65 S to Franklin.  This is such a cute little town that makes you forget that Nashville is so close by.  The town is completely walkable with shops and restaurants scattered around to make it a nice day trip.  It has the feel of Small Town, USA without being in the middle of nowhere, and it always has lots of people out on the sidewalks and in the local businesses.  If you're into the Civil War, there's a historic site and museum nearby where the Battle of Franklin was fought.

So that is my 5 non-music things to do in Nashville list.  There is so much more to Nashville than the tourist trap of Broadway, the Grand Old Opry, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Let me know if you're in town for a visit!

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Tags: #blogyourbackyard, at home, bars, farmers markets, museums, nashville, tennessee, tourism, travel



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  travel-competitions Sep 14, 2011 9:45 AM


I LOVE Nashville. One of my favorite things to do there is eat. I'm a big fan of meat and three.

  santafetraveler Sep 19, 2011 2:21 PM


Really? I've heard Bishop's is good for meat and three. I usually never go to meat and three places because I find them too heavy. But I do agree that eating your way through Nashville is a guaranteed good time :)

  ehalvey Sep 20, 2011 12:30 AM


Franklin is a great town as well. Highly underrated and well worth the half hour drive. Great point.

  HND Homes Mar 20, 2015 1:56 AM

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