Escaping music altogether isn’t really an option in Music City (and why would you want to?), but this is the closest you’ll get. Damien Gabet shares five very good alternative reasons to visit Nashville.
An afternoon food tour of Nashville’s lesser-known Midtown is as tasty as it is informative. Ex-journalist and Walk Eat Nashville owner Karen-Lee Ryan ushers groups round locations such as 50s-style Elliston Place Soda Shop for a milkshake, while waxing on the area’s rich (often musical) history. A buzzing steakhouse and noteworthy cupcake shop are two other locations on this six-stop adventure.
If you only go to one restaurant for dinner make it Woolworth’s on 5th. Superlative American comfort food is served in a recently restored deco-style space with an important history. In 1960, a group of African American college students conducted a landmark ‘sit-in’ here, aiming to de-segregate Nashville lunch counters.
If you’d rather stay in town, check out the Buffalo Exchange on ‘rock-block’ Elliston Place. The selection is vast, with a particular focus on western shirts. And it’s cheap! Other stand-out options include Anaconda Vintage (a mile north of Black Shag) and The Bowery Vault next door, both of which double as music venues.
The best place to learn about it is in the Civil Rights Room of the beautiful Nashville Public Library. Never seen before photographs, videos (check out ‘Anatomy of a Demonstration’) and plenty of reading material bring the reality of the struggle to life.
For a better understanding of the exhibition, contact the library ahead of time and ask for senior librarian Elliot Robinson. He’ll talk you through the various artefacts in detail.
Bailey Spaulding’s studies have clearly paid off as it’s taken less than a decade for her brand Jackalope to brew some of Nashville’s most popular suds. Her brewpub in Pie Town now offers 45-minute brewery tours (starting at $7). Yazoo Brewing Company up the road is a fun (and more spacious) alternative if Jackalope is fully booked.
Fine art lovers will enjoy the Frist Art Museum in The Gulch area, not least because of its fantastic art deco architecture. Revolving exhibitions covers subjects from 1900s Paris to architectural photography.
A grass-roots art scene is picking up pace in Nashville, evident in the like of the small and unassuming Elephant Gallery in North Nashville. If owner Alex Lockwood is in, he’ll show you his workshop round the back. Another gallery worth your time is the more established Zeitgeist in the studenty area of Wedgewood-Houston, where there’s a focus on new artists.