Nashville continues to be a buzzy, music-filled destination and the perfect weekend visit should feature a nice mix of dining, shopping, touring and relaxing. If the 10 cranes hovering over the downtown skyline are any indication, there is much happening and more is on the way; keeping up with the latest in where to go, where to eat and where to stay changes often, but some things remain the same. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss in 2023.
The JW Marriott Nashville isn’t new, but they do have a swanky newly-opened 3rd floor rooftop pool—bringing a sunny Music-City-meets-Mediterranean vibe to your stay. The new deck, now officially the largest pool lounge area in the city, is trimmed in lush greenery and accented with two new custom wall murals by Nashville’s own Tarabella Aversa. The timeless island-feel comes from willowy drapes around the cabanas, a remodeled bar finished with aquamarine tile, and a menu of tropically-inspired craft cocktails (Paloma or frozen strawberry-rosemary daiquiri anyone?) The adjacent rooftop herb garden will provide freshly-picked inspiration for several cocktails, as well as other menu items. Do it right, and book a private cabana where you’ll get plush comfy seating, stocked mini-fridge and a television. Base-level cabanas hold up to six guests and include a dedicated cabana server, water bottles, and a seasonal fruit plate. Canopy-covered two-seater daybeds are also available to reserve.
Just down the street from the hotel is etch, an inspired dining experience from Chef Deb Paquette, one of Nashville’s female chef icons. The menu dances around a range of world flavors with interesting offerings such as a bulgogi pulled pork or the bold gancho-spiced flavor in her fish tostadas with a silky smoked corn sauce. It’s a refined experience but the energy is relaxed – who isn’t going to leave happy with an ice cream sundae drizzled in tahini caramel for dessert?
Bourbon Steak Nashville, from Chef Michael Mina, continues to be a destination meal in the city. With its enviable rooftop perch (34 floors above the city) and glass-walled dining room with 360-degree views, it draws a crowd (and often a celebrity or two). Theatrical tableside offerings such as the lobster pot pie – which is unveiled at the table, to the craft cocktail cart, offer more than enough instagrammable moments during the meal. They work in superlatives here, with a massive wine list of over 700 selections, Wagyu and Kobe steak offerings, and a bourbon list of coveted bottlings. Alas, it would be a crime to overlook the seafood here; the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass is a with its crunchy edges is a silky umami-laden bite of fish. And, the best views at sunset are in the restrooms – so be sure to time that visit properly.
After you’ve dined and enjoyed your poolside rest time, it will be time to explore the surroundings. Fortunately, most of downtown Nashville is fairly walkable and accessible. The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum is a must-see. It’s a three-story journey through the history of country music with fascinating exhibits (everything from Taylor Swift’s cool koi fish guitar to Elvis Presley’s gold Cadillac). You should add on a stop at Hatch Showprint, an iconic music-poster print shop with great souvenirs and a glass-walled “factory” where you can watch the printing in action.
Wandering Broadway is an activity in and of itself, but be sure to pop into Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and if you want to learn some line dancing, try the Wild Horse Saloon. If you want a more upscale vibe with great music, walk a few blocks north to the Twelve Thirty Club. They have three different venues, from intimate lounge to upscale honky tonk, across three floors, as well as a buzzy rooftop with great skyline views of Broadway.