This Local’s Take is written by Justin B., a current graduate student at the University of South Carolina and native of Tennessee. Enjoy!
Everyone knows Nashville as Music City, and while country music is at the heart of Nashville, there’s much more to the capital of Tennessee than just good tunes.
One of the newest and most eclectic areas of the city is the Marathon Motor Works building, now known as Marathon Village. Housing art galleries, candy stores, and the now famous Antique Architecture showroom, Marathon Village is a repurposed vehicle manufacturing building that maintains its industrial charm while it also showcases a much more creative spirit. One could easily pass an entire Saturday browsing antiques or perusing Nashville’s artistic side.
Of course, a trip to Nashville would be wasted without touring historic downtown on the riverfront. Tucked around a corner off Broadway is the heart of country music itself, Ryman Auditorium. On most nights, famous musicians from Ricky Skaggs to The Black Crowes to Dispatch play their sets on the same stage as past musicians such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Directly in front of the Ryman on Broadway sits Legends, a local staple for up and coming musicians.
For those looking to mingle with young professionals, Brewhouse on Broadway is the way to go – just beware of the Bushwhacker slushee. If you’re looking for the best fresh fruits and vegetables from the area, the State Farmers Market is also downtown and supplies the community on Saturdays, and they have a night market at certain times during the year.
A highlight of the downtown area is Centennial Park, across West End Avenue from Vanderbilt University. This park is the site of a replicate Parthenon and serves as the starting point in late April for the Country Music Marathon. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite restaurant in the Vanderbilt area, South Street.
While anyone can read about Music Row, Green Hills, or Historic Downtown Franklin, one of my favorite areas of the city is East Nashville. Just east of the Cumberland River, which divides the city, East Nashville is a hipper, younger neighborhood. This community is host to many bicycle lanes, quaint streets, and fantastic restaurants. Among them is The Pharmacy, which has draft beers of all styles and to-die-for hamburgers. On a pleasant evening, the beer garden is a very inviting host.
East Nashville is also home to one of the Top 100 bars in the South, as named by Imbibe magazine, Holland House Bar & Refuge. HHB&R is housed in an antique grocery store, and pays homage to the classic style by featuring many of the original pieces such as 16 chandeliers and two maple bars. Featuring one of the best cocktail menus curated by the co-owner in conjunction with the chef, HHB&R provides a fantastic setting for a formal evening on the town.
For the more playful (okay, everyone broke like me…), East Nashville hosts Mas Tacos Por Favor. Mas Tacos serves everything from breakfast tacos with chorizo to fish tacos to chilaquiles! A much more local and eclectic feel than anything seen on the other side of the river, Mas Tacos’ profile on twitter and facebook makes you want to be their friend with the whacky photos of workers and customers and delicious pics of avocado tacos!
Finally, when I’m ready to work off a little food, or beer, from the places I’ve mentioned already, I grab my bicycle and look for signs with Music City Bikeway. This path that uses roads with bike lanes, greenway systems and roads with sharrows to get safely from Percy Priest Dam to Percy Warner Park, roughly 26 miles through the heart of the city. I always check musiccitycycling.org before getting out though, because there I can find an event, cause, race, or team-ride for every day of the week.