Updated: Apr 10, 2022
I just spent a little over three months living in Nashville, Tennessee—from October to January—and it was one hell of a ride.
Hands down, the best things I did in Nashville were listen to live music, eat great food, enjoy lots of drinks, and make new friends!
Here’s how I spent my time enjoying all these things while I was there.
Making New Friends
When I moved to Nashville, I only knew one person, and I barely even knew her at that. But by the time I left I had made several amazing friends and created memories that will last a lifetime. How, you ask? I know, making friends as an adult can be intimidating… But there are actually so many adults out there looking for new friends, too! All I had to do was look for them and keep an open mind.
Thankfully, Nashville is a very friendly city, which made it much easier to get to know people. Literally, people would start conversations with me while I was out on a walk in my neighborhood. As a New Englander, I had to fight the urge to run away screaming, “Why is this person talking to me!?”
But whether I was out on a walk, having lunch at a cafe, or stumbling down Broadway, I easily met people who became my friends. I typically just started a conversation about something like the weather or the musician that was playing, and then we would eventually open the conversation can of warms with the question, “Where are you from?”
You see, Nashville is a transplant city. So nearly everyone I met who lived there didn’t actually grow up there. And neither did I! So just like that—bam!—we both had something in common. It was always a fun conversation to hear how they ended up living in Nashville (none of these two stories were ever the same), and then I got to explain what brought me to the city. This always kicked off a whole bunch of questions and new topics that we could explore together, like sharing recommendations for while we’re in the city, and explaining what it’s like back in our hometowns. If we had chemistry, then I would invite them out to a show or to grab a drink on music row. Most of the people living in Nashville are always up for a fun time!
While I was living in Nashville, I stayed at an apartment with Landing. Lucky for me, this was in an apartment complex that had a really fun clubhouse for its residents. Seriously, the clubhouse had TV’s, a pool table, a golf simulator, and it led outside to a pool surrounded by firepits. It was the perfect place to mingle and get to know other residents. I met several friends by just hanging out by the pool table on a Friday night.
We’re also living in the age of technology and social media, so it was also really easy to meet people online. The best Facebook group I joined was New to Nashville. It’s a private group just for people who have recently moved to Nashville and want to make new friends! I just shared a post about myself, what brought me to Nashville, and what my favorite hobbies were, and I had a bunch of people reaching out to hang. It’s also a great spot to invite people out for events. For instance, when I first got to the city it was Halloween weekend. I posted in the group and asked if anyone wanted to dress up and go down Broadway, and of course people did! We got a whole group of newbies together and had such a fun night.
Enjoying the Company of Old Friends
I had a bunch of friends back home in New Hampshire who jumped at the chance to come down and visit me while I was living in Nashville!
When my friends first arrived in the Music City, I made them try the famous Nashville Hot Chicken. There are variations all over the city, but I personally love Hattie B’s. They have a hot chicken sandwich piled high with coleslaw, pickles, and their famous comeback sauce. It’s a bit messy, but worth every bite.
Brunch is a way of life in Nashville, so I made sure to take my friends to Ruby Sunshine on 21st avenue, which has great brunch every day of the week. This restaurant brings the flavors and hospitality of New Orleans to Nashville with beignets, shrimp, grits, and crawfish. We all love eggs benedicts, so we swooned when we ordered their Peacemaker meal that let us mix and match two of their benedicts. No matter what we ordered, it paired perfectly with either their flight of mimosas or their bloody Mary with bacon-infused vodka.
In Nashville, we were only about an hour and a half away from the one and only Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, TN. It seemed like a long drive, but the tour and tasting were absolutely worth it.
The distillery had a variety of tour options, but my friends and I chose the Flight of Jack Tour which took us through Mr. Jack’s distillery and old-time Tennessee whiskey-making process. Personally, I had no idea there was so much history behind the distillery, like how Jack decided to build his distillery in Lynchburg, TN of all places, or how he was killed by a safe. I won’t spoil that for you though!
The tour took about 90 minutes and included tastings of six of Jack Daniel’s most popular whiskeys and liqueurs—Gentleman Jack was my favorite. But once we finished the tour, we all rushed back to Nashville, because believe it or not, Lynchburg is a dry county!
Once we got back to Nashville, there were plenty of breweries to grab a cold pint and listen to live music. I wrote about the Top 5 Best Breweries in Nashville, but just to recap: Southern Grist, Bearded Iris, Yee-Haw, Tailgate, and Tennessee Brew Works were some of the most hopp-ening breweries that I visited.
One day we were feeling a bit adventurous, so we decided to check out Green Hour Cocktail & Absinthe Lounge in Germantown. They serve a variety of absinthes in gorgeous glasses with a traditional serving fountain that made us feel like we were conducting some type of witchcraft. And the best part? Each absinthe was paired perfectly with a chocolate truffle. It was a really fun experience that was completely different from any bar we’ve ever been to. Oh, and don’t worry, the absinthe did not make us hallucinate!
My Average Day in Nashville
As a freelance digital nomad, I don’t have to punch the clock and show up to an office at a certain time each day. This gives me the flexibility to craft my own schedule and work wherever I want.
To start the day, I would either make breakfast at home or treat myself to an amazing breakfast sandwich from Proper Bagel. This little breakfast joint is located across the street from Belmont University, so it’s a hot spot for college students. They had fresh, flavorful bagels that gave New York City a run for their money (seriously). When I wanted to give an extra boost to my breakfast, I would add a hash brown to my sandwich. It was an absolute gamechanger…
I typically spend about half of my workday at home, and the other half working from a coffee shop. Lucky for me it wasn’t a problem finding coffee shops in Nashville. I went to dozens of them in my three months in Nashville, and I barely even scratched the surface. Some of my favorite spots to buckle down and work—fueled by delicious coffee—were 8th & Roast, Three Brothers Coffee, Frothy Monkey, The Well Coffeehouse, and Barista Parlor. Each of these shops were great places to sit and work for hours without judgment or disruption.
When it came time for dinner, I ate a lot of BBQ. I mean, a lot. But it would have been a sin not to enjoy it while I was living in the south, right? There were plenty of BBQ joints all over the city, but if I was craving delicious ribs, then I would go to Peg Leg Porker. They have literally won awards for their homegrown BBQ, and their staff are so kind and thoughtful. I always had a great experience there. A newer restaurant that has quickly become a Nashville staple is Edley’s BBQ. They won Best in Bar-B-Que four years in a row in the Nashville Scene Reader’s Poll. But if I ever needed to convince a friend to give them a try, then I just had to say two words: Brisket. Tacos.
At night, I would look for live music.
Nashville isn’t nicknamed ‘The Music City’ for nothing. It felt like everywhere I turned, there was live music. Whether it was Chris Stapleton selling out the Bridgestone Arena, or someone I had never heard of strumming a guitar on a street corner, I fell in love with the authentic sound of their music.
During the week, I could find plenty of musicians around Nashville, whether they were playing at bars like The Row or Loser’s, or they were performing ticketed events at places like The Basement or EXIT/IN. Personally, I love the smaller venues because you get a much more intimate performance.
Similarly, I found some of the best music during songwriter sessions across the city. These sessions give up-and-coming artists a chance to perform original songs for a crowd. I found these all week long at places like the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Bluebird Café, Tin Roof, or Whiskey Jam at Winners, and plenty more. It was my chance to see the next Luke Bryan or Carrie Underwood before they’re famous!
On the weekends, I would usually wander down Broadway. It was definitely the most touristy thing to do in Nashville, and I honestly loved it! I always had a fun night out when I headed down to the strip, especially when I had friends who were visiting. My favorite spots for live music and enthusiastic crowds were Tootsie’s, the Stage, Whiskey Row, and Kid Rock’s. I also quickly learned that it typically costs $20 to request a song, and bands will only play Dicked Down in Dallas, Free Bird, and Bohemian Rhapsody if the crowd pays them $100.
When I had a few too many drinks on Broadway and needed a late-night snack, I would head to Daddy’s Dogs on Printer’s Alley. They have some of the BEST hot dogs I’ve ever had! Their most popular is ‘Big Daddy’ which is a Daddy Dog topped with cream cheese, bacon, pickle, grilled onion, jalapeno, and Daddy’s secret sauwce. It’s just… legendary.
My Favorite Memories from Nashville
I had an incredible time living in Nashville, but there are five memories that stick out to me as my favorites.
I mentioned that I ate a lot of BBQ while I was in Nashville, but when I was craving a deep, comforting pizza, then I would head to Emmy Sqaured. They’ve got three locations across Nashville, and as much as I love trying new restaurants, I couldn’t help but keep going back to these guys. They’ve got thick, Detroit-style pizza with a crispy bottom, fluffy dough, and a cheesy crust. My absolute favorite pizza of theirs is the Colony. Oh my god… It’s covered in perfectly crispy pepperonis, pickled jalapeños, and drizzled with honey. It’s the dreamy combination of sweet, heat, and crunch that I fantasize about on a regular basis. I will absolutely go back to Nashville just to get this pizza.
When I wanted to have a classy night out, then my friends and I would make a reservation at Barcelona. Or is it Bar-th-elona? We would get dressed up and bring our appetite, because Barcelona had some of the best tapas, charcuterie, and wine we could ask for. Their cuisine is inspired by Mediterranean, Spanish, and South American influences, with tapas like jamon & manchego croquetas, albondigas, and patatas bravas. I went to Barcelona with two girlfriends, and we each ordered three tapas to share with each other. That means that yes, we had nine dishes covering our entire table, and we wouldn’t let our waiter take any plates away until we were completely finished. That included the leftover sauce from the meatballs that we dipped our bread into… No shame.
I had some of the best, most interesting cocktails whenever I went to Attaboy. The original Attaboy in New York City is one of the bars credited with the entire modern craft-cocktail movement, but I assure you this location also held its own. Believe it or not, this speakeasy doesn’t have a cocktail menu. Instead, the creative bartenders would whip up concoctions based on what you like. For instance, I told her I like rum and wanted something a little sweet, so she created a raspberry, ginger punch that was so damn good! Every drink here was always truly unique.
In December, I went to a holiday show by Zooey Deschanel at the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman was built in 1892 and was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. Before the show started, I got to tour the auditorium and see all sorts of instruments and clothing from famous musicians (Fun fact: the Ryman is where Johnny Cash met his wife, June Carter). At the end of the show, Zooey sang without using her microphone, allowing the audience to hear her beautiful voice echo around us from the historic, wooden acoustics.
My top favorite moment that sticks out to me is when I went to the CMA Award Show at the Bridgestone Arena. On the day of the award show, I woke up and went to the Bridgestone Arena at five o’clock in the morning to watch Old Dominion perform live for Good Morning America. As if that wasn’t enough of an amazing experience, I made a new friend in the crowd who told me that tickets to the CMA Award Show were still available and surprisingly affordable.
I called up my girlfriend, and we both decided to get tickets! That night we dressed up to the nines and made our way into the arena along with the nation’s top country artists and celebrities. Our seats were all the way up in the nosebleeds, but we got to see artists like Eric Church, Luke Combes, and Miranda Lambert perform live. We also had a fun time trying to pick out celebrities who were sitting around the stage. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.
My time living in Nashville will go down in history as some of the best months of my life. I cannot wait to go back and visit, because there is still so so much to see and do!