The CMA Fest is an annual event that brings thousands of locals and tourists alike to Nashville’s downtown district. Studded with some of the biggest names in country music, the CMA Fest stretches this year from June 11-14 with concerts scheduled back-to-back each evening, leaving plenty of free time during the day. Whether you’re attending the festival or hosting friends who are, you’ll want to take a look at our list of things to do around town. From great art venues to our favorite places for weekend brunch, here’s the breakdown of hot spots to dine, drink and shop while spending time in Music City!
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Nashville has is enjoying a blossoming art scene. If you have a chance, stroll Fifth Avenue of The Arts, which is home to fantastic contemporary galleries including The Arts Company, Rymer Gallery and Tinney Contemporary. You’ll definitely want to make time for The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, a stunning Art Deco building and museum currently showcasing Italian Fashions from 1945 and beyond. Also of interest is The Country Music Hall of Fame, which houses Hatch Show Print, Nashville’s oldest letterpress print shop that has beautiful framed posters and other unique souvenirs. A quick jaunt to the Southern side of town puts you at the doors of Zeitgeist and David Lusk Gallery, two exceptional contemporary art galleries that showcase local, regional and national talents.
FOOD & DRINK
Rocking out to country music will surely leave you with a hearty appetite. For a totally knock-out downtown meal, visit Etch. Chef Deb Paquette has made a name for herself creating some of the most inventive dishes in town. If you’re looking for delicious Southern fare and fresh seafood, head to The Southern Steak & Oyster, owned by local culinary guru Tom Morales. He also owns one of the hottest multi-level bars on broadway, Acme Feed & Seed. Both venues have fantastic brunch menus as well as great dinner, lunch and drink specials. Tavern Midtown is another choice spot for brunch, featuring everything from tacos to burgers. This modern sports bar in Midtown has a great covered patio, as well as ample seating around its bar and leather booths. Merchants has a lovely brunch and some of the best tater tots, cooked in duck fat and sprinkled with sea salt, that we’ve ever had! A new contender to the area is Biscuit Love. The line may be long, but once you order, a table will be ready and the food comes quickly out of the kitchen.
If you want to continue the party into the evening, go down the street to The Patterson House for some of the finest handcrafted cocktails you’ve ever had. For dining options that are bound to please any crowd, visit one of the M Street Restaurants: Virago, Saint Anejo, Whiskey Kitchen or Kayne Prime. Each offers totally unique, chef-driven menus with great bites and drinks at a range of prices. They also provide exceptional service and are incredibly accommodating to large crowds.
Venture into East Nashville, when your sweet tooth strikes, and visit Olive & Sinclair, the artisanal chocolate factory and shop that has become locally and regionally renowned for its decadent chocolate confections. But, don’t overlook favorite eateries Two Ten Jack, Margot, Mache, Lockland Table, Eastland Cafe, Pomodoro East, Rumours East, The Pharmacy, Silly Goose and Mas Tacos.
Marathon Village is a unique shopping destination seated in a renovated warehouse off of Charlotte Avenue. The large space houses incredible artisans and makers including Garage Coffee Company, Ceri Hoover Bags, Bang Candy Company, D. Luxe Home and Antique Archaeology. Hillsboro Village is also a great shopping destination (and has a historic movie theatre, The Belcourt). The hip retail, restaurant and bar hub is a favorite amongst Belmont and Vanderbilt students. If you work up an appetite after shopping here, be sure to stop by Lucky Belly for fantastic grass-fed burgers and fresh sushi!
The Hill Center Green Hills is another of Nashville’s best retail centers. It is home to some of our favorite women’s boutiques, Hemline and H. Audrey. You’ll also find great clothing at our local J. McLaughlin perfect for Nashville’s hot days—that will still keep you fashionable. And don’t miss all of the deluxe beauty finds from The Cosmetic Market and killer eyewear from Barton Perreira. Down the street from The Hill Center is The Mall at Green Hills. Gus Mayer, one of the finest retailers of modern luxury apparel, sits on the exterior side of the mall. Here, you’ll find gorgeous couture lines as well as modern labels!
The Courtyard on Bandywood is another great Green Hills shopping strip. Shoppers will find Little Gourmand, an adorable European market specializing in gourmet pantry items. After you sample some French delicacies, make your way to Habit, a fantastic women’s boutique that also houses a small upscale lingerie and sleepwear selection. Then venture across the street to AshBlue, one of our favorite spots for jewelry, gifts and home decor. Don’t miss Woo Skincare + Cosmetics if you need a last minute brow-wax!
Plan to visit 12South, one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods, where there are countless dining options. Truly, you can’t go wrong with any of these restaurants. From gourmet pizza to Tex-Mex tacos to authentic Lebanese food at Epice, there is something for every palate. This neighborhood is also home to great boutiques including fashion boutiques MODA, Hero, Judith Bright and Imogene + Willie and home goods at Cadeau and White’s Mercantile.
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