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Five 1/2 Fun-filled Days in Nashville

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

As a Greek-American I have been to Greece many, many times and from there have traveled to other European countries. I have not, or had not, seen the heartland of the United States until November 2018. At that time, my husband and I decided to fly to and visit Nashville, Tennessee for a week. We are New Jersey natives and as such accustomed to long, cold winters. We thought it would be a relief to fly south to extend the summer. Of course, two days after our arrival it became clear that we were clueless about Tennessee weather. During much of our walking, my husband was muttering about endangered brass monkeys but I never quite understood the context. Needless to say, late in the fall, you are advised to pack warm clothes.

Having had mixed experiences with AirBNB, we booked a lovely apartment in the Hillsboro section of Nashville through Mint House. The location could not have been better, parking was easy and we could walk to many of our destinations.

Our sightseeing began with a drive to Bicentennial Park where we saw a very large tomato and trees changing color.

Then off to the Capital Building and surrounding neighborhood.

My daughter had visited Nashville a few months before us. Armed with her list of "musts", we headed to “Steadfast Coffee” in Germantown for a delicious lunch and of course, amazing coffee. My husband, who has a small home brewery, decided on a different approach and had a craft beer instead. That was also really good.

After lunch, we checked into our apartment and walked around Hillsboro where we passed some interesting Street Art and glimpsed Pedro Silva's impressive serpent sculpture at Fannie Mae Dees Park.

Inspired by Pedro Silva’s dragon sculpture, Adam Randolph and David Glick designed the colossal and colorful Dragon of Hillsboro Village mural.

Day 2

Overnight the temperature plummeted 30F from the comfortable 50F (10 C) of the previous day to 20F or about -6 C… and I did not bring a hat or a scarf. The good thing is that I was able to buy a cute hat in Nashville that kept my head nice and toasty.

In order to check off another of my daughter’s musts, we drove to the Gulch for breakfast at Biscuit Love. We walked as quickly as we could from the parking lot as the frigid air was freezing our eyeballs. While the biscuits hit the spot and the hot coffee warmed us up, we later found out that there was another Biscuit Love in Hillsboro Village across the street from our accommodations. After breakfast, we took the obligatory photo of the Wing as well as the colorful street art in the parking lot. There is no one in the photo as I have this thing about picturing someone alive as an angel, in case you were wondering.

Ian Ross’ colorful “The Green Leaves of the Gulch” Street Art can be seen from one of the public parking lots.

We saw an a beautiful example of gothic architecture with Turrets and Towers - Union Station

We headed to Centennial Park to do some birding and saw a Dark-eyed Junco.

We loved the park and decided to see another so we went to Shelby Bottoms. We walked on some wet and muddy hiking trails for about 90 minutes, getting steps and exercise in, and decided it was time to return to Fannie Mae Park. We just loved the Sea Serpent by Sculptor Pedro Silva.

Back to Hillsboro Village to relax before going out to dinner. We opted for the Butcher and Bee, an upscale, locally sourced, New American restaurant, and were glad we did. As a vegetarian who eats limited dairy, I was able to find an amazing meal at this place. It was a wonderful dining experience. The wait staff contributed to a delightful evening. My husband was also happy as they serve very good “regular food” too.

Here I am happily sitting at the Butcher & Bee
Here I am happily sitting at the Butcher & Bee - Photograph by Stephan Skettini

Day 3

On our third day we decided to take a walking tour and left the car at “home”. As we left Hillsboro Village we saw this mural.

We walked from the Enclave at Hillsboro village, up South 21st street, toward the Midtown - Vanderbilt neighborhood, making a short stop at Vanderbilt University. We walked around the campus enjoying the changing leaves of fall, beautiful architecture, and the statue of Martha Ingram, the first female chairman of Vanderbilt University's board of trustees.

We continued our walking tour on South 21st Street until we came to Division Street, the beginning of Music Row, where we saw several oversized guitars by the Historic Site of Decca Records & the Quonset Hut.

RCA | Victor Recording Studios, a mural with a guitar player on a lobster

On Division Street we saw the “Musica" Statue. This bronze honors Nashville's musical legacy with the sculpture “Owen Bradley on the Piano” in Music Square. Returning to “Broadway”, a few steps away, we saw Gigi’s Cupcakes, some frogs playing musical instruments, and a mural with movie characters such as “The Dude”, animals and pizza by artist Emily Elizabeth Miller.

As you walk through Nashville, look carefully, you might find some surprises in interesting places.

We walked past Hattie B’s at 1:30 in the afternoon, pre-Covid, and there was a line to get in. We decided to try our luck later in the day.

As we continued our walking tour and as we approached “The Gulch”, and caught another view of the magnificent Gothic Union Square Train Station.

And gradually walked back to Hillsboro… lots of steps … if I remember correctly, about 26,000 steps, or over 10 miles. The next day we took the car.

Day 4

We started with a delicious, probably the best, breakfast we had in Nashville, (ironically in the same building as we were staying), at the Pancake Pantry, on 21Avenue South.

We drove and parked the car downtown and began another walking tour, this time in SOBRO. Our first stop was the Country Music Hall of Fame, then Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and Music City Center. It was on this day that we discovered steps going into the SoBro (South of Broadway) area and found that they were coming from the Nissan Stadium.

We returned to the car and headed to Radnor Lake State Park where we spent a couple of hours enjoying a nature hike. Hiking boots for this destination would have probably been a good idea. We saw deer, A Cooper's Hawk, American Robins, Tufted Titmice, Ring-billed Ducks, Great Blue Heron, Downy Woodpeckers, a Carolina wren and a Pileated Woodpecker.

I LOVE Street Art, not necessarily graffiti, although some conveys more meaning than just a tag, but beautiful murals that are painted on walls. Wherever I am, I look for it. In Nashville I did not have to go very far. So after our walk in the woods we went to the 12 South Street Neighborhood to see Public Art or Art for the people.

One of the several “I Believe in Nashville” was the first mural that caught our eye.

This mural, a juxtaposition of nature and urbanity, is part of a campaign focused on bringing environmental awareness, and the need to protect nature, to the community.

Day 5

An appetite for Street Art, whet by the samples we saw the previous day, led us to Nashville’s West End Neighborhood to see more. Here are just a few of the paintings from the “Off the Wall” Charlotte Avenue Mural Project.

Painting of Damali and Omari as children by Omari Booker is one of the beautiful murals that line Charlotte Avenue.

From the Off the Wall mural project, we headed to Jefferson Street in Hadley Park where we saw another musically themed mural.

Continuing on our self-guided tour we headed to Watkins Park

Street Art, Murals, Signage, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference

Back in the car for a short drive to the Grand Ole Opry. What’s a trip to Nashville without a trip to the Grand Ole Opry?

Oversized Guitar a somewhat common sight in these parts.

Back to The Gulch where on the corner of 12th and Porter we saw a mural by Kim Kennedy featuring Dave Baker.

And then to Arnold's for a late lunch, early dinner. Another one from my daughter’s list.

We went for a late lunch/early dinner - Linner. The restaurant is cafeteria style and so my husband went up while I stayed in my seat. He brought vegetables, beans, and desert for me and meat for himself as I am a vegetarian, I looked at the beans when I saw something pinkish, I asked what it was and was told “ bacon”, I asked what the greens were cooked with and was told “ham hocks”, I asked if there was anything without meat and was told that perhaps the deserts did not have meat in them. My carnivorous husband loved his meal; I ended up Hangry.

One of the things we found out about Nashville, is that unless you go to an upscale trendy restaurant, the food was very different from what we were accustomed to in the NYC area. There was lots of fried food, lots of food cooked with lard, pork products were commonly used in almost everything, sugar was abundant and so if you have dietary restrictions, it's best to ask before you order. Otherwise, as my traveling companion said, “Isn’t this a great break from the usual fare?”

Later on, we went to the Nissan Stadium, parked in the free lot, walked across the pedestrian bridge, enjoyed a view of the Waterfront from above and headed downtown. While I have never been a fan of country music and have even said that I hated it, I found that the sounds resonating from the bars on Broadway to be quite pleasant. Turns out that country wasn’t all that bad after all. I feel as if I’ve grown a little bit more.

Back to Hillsboro for an evening stroll around the neighborhood

Last Day in Nashville - Day 5 1/2

We packed our bags, made sure the apartment was as we found it and got ready to spend our last few hours in Nashville before flying home.

Before breakfast we decided to take a short ride to the the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood where we saw:

Our flight was late enough in the day that it afforded us the time to have breakfast and to do a little bit of sightseeing. We decided to try Bare Naked Bagel in the Hillsboro Neighborhood and being from the New York City - Metro area, were pleasantly surprised.

Having previously learned where to park all day for free in Nashville, we walked across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and into Sobro where we visited the Johnny Cash Museum. I gained an appreciation for his talent and his music. It is a must.

To find images of Nashville that have been referred to but are not in this blog please visit:


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