If you’ve spent the last eight months primarily at home, a little fall staycation might be in order. It’s the ideal way to enjoy a change of scenery, recharge with some home-away-from-home pampering, rediscover Nashville’s local flair, and have a little getaway without the travel woes. As Greg Bradley, General Manager of The Graduate Nashville, puts it, “It’s fun to live in your city like you’re a tourist — to let your guard down, go back to what brought you to Nashville in the first place, and rediscover those little gems that are sprinkled throughout our city.” We couldn’t agree more. Here are three carefully curated Music City staycation itineraries, each with a different theme. Enjoy!
The Trendy Experience in Midtown
Midtown might offer Nashville’s most vibrant hotel. From eye-catching lobby decor to its hip rooftop bar, The Graduate Nashville is front and center of the local scene. Here’s what we suggest for an overnight itinerary to get the most out of your stay.
Friday night is for going big or going home. Not literally, of course. The Graduate’s kitschy in-house karaoke hotspot, Cross-Eyed Critters Watering Hole, has yet to reopen since the pandemic shut everything down, but fear not! There are plenty of other ways to keep busy.
Immediately after you check in to The Graduate, head up to White Limozeen, the rooftop bar and lounge where you can watch the spectacular view as the sun sets on Music City. Grab yourself a prime spot by the pool, sit under a pink umbrella and order festive champagne Jell-O shots for a celebratory toast. White Limozeen boasts an eclectic menu, from caviar to chicken liver pie, so stick around for dinner, sip exciting cocktails, gaze at the cityscape, and count how many construction cranes you can spot on the horizon. If you’re still looking for some nightlife, it’s not far to Division Street, where the dive bars and taverns offer everything from live music to an old-school arcade.
Start your morning at the lobby’s Poindexter Coffee for the biggest latte you can muster. Recline on a nearby couch and peruse a book, or take advantage of the Instagram-worthy photo ops, and keep an eye out for special guest merchants and artisans, too. Amelia’s Flower Truck recently camped out in front of the hotel, and frequent pop-ups take place with local vendors such as RangerStitch.
Once you’ve overdosed on caffeine and consumed a pastry, it’s time for a brisk walk to the suffrage exhibit at The Parthenon. After all, what’s more timely than celebrating our right to vote? It’s less than 30 minutes to get there on foot (just over a mile) unless you pause to appreciate the fall weather and take in the sights along West End Avenue, which we highly recommend. Make your way to the West Gallery for We Have a Vision: Nashville Women from the Centennial to Suffrage. The exhibit takes place through January 13 and explores the lives of four prominent Nashville women who impacted the suffrage movement. Get a dose of Nashville history, then stroll around the park for a while.
Lunch is only a few blocks away at Hattie B’s 19th Avenue location. A Nashville-born staple that’s now on menus across the country, hot chicken is as popular as it gets these days. With heat levels that range from mild to “it should come with a free fire extinguisher,” Hattie B’s is a culinary experience everyone should experience. Dining rooms are currently closed, but walk-up orders are welcome. After you’ve lit your mouth on fire and washed everything down with a pitcher of sweet tea, head to nearby 12South for some shopping. From artisanal jewelry at Judith Bright to MODA Boutique‘s designer clothing and Imogene + Willie’s denim-inspired fashion, the boutiques can keep you busy for hours. End your afternoon with a cozy fall drink at Embers Ski Lodge, then head back for a super late checkout, courtesy of The Graduate’s current staycation package, which allows you to choose a checkout time up to 3 p.m. for no additional fee. Other staycation package perks include complimentary valet parking and a local beer upon arrival. Not to mention, the hotel is not only pet-friendly but pet adoring. They have a partnership with Barkbox, so bring your pup along for a welcome surprise that’ll make your fur baby feel welcome, too.
The Charming Experience in Franklin
In the heart of Downtown Franklin sits The Harpeth Hotel, an unobtrusive, 119-room boutique hotel within steps of the local shops and restaurants on Main Street. In keeping with the quaint, historic town, it’s unmarked by the typical neon signs or flashy flags. Instead, the hotel offers a quiet retreat that’s nestled perfectly within the Franklin landscape. “It’s almost like its own little destination within downtown,” says general manager Justin Foster. We propose the following staycation itinerary:
With a number of local eateries to choose from, deciding where to dine might be the only part of your staycation that isn’t effortless. If you don’t want to leave the hotel, try their in-house restaurant, 1799 Kitchen and Cocktails — just be sure to make a reservation in advance for a Friday or Saturday night, as the locals love it, too. Dine on fall dishes like Cornish hen with wild rice, as well as a list of seasonal cocktails.
If you want to take a stroll, other nearby dinner options include Red Pony, Cork & Cow, 55 South and Gray’s on Main, and leave enough of an appetite to hit up Kilwins Franklin for dessert. It’s also worth mentioning the Downtown Franklin Association just launched a month-long autumn celebration called “Paint the Town Orange,” with themed weeks that spotlight local galleries, feature Octoberfest pub crawls, highlight seasonal shopping and treats, and offer local deals (including some from The Harpeth Hotel), so be sure to take advantage of the festive opportunity to support local businesses. Once you’ve had your fill of dining, head back to the hotel courtyard for a cocktail and some live music (if you brought your canine BFF along, he can join you) before you retreat to your room to rest up for a full Saturday of outdoor fun.
Saturday morning means breakfast at the hotel’s McGavock’s Coffee Bar and Provisions. If you’re lucky enough to have one of the 40 rooms with a courtyard view, order room service from McGavock’s instead, and sip your locally roasted coffee on the balcony.
Autumn is leaf-peeping season, and Williamson County has some of the best. For memorable views, take a Pedego bike tour to Leiper’s Fork and back. The three-hour electric bike ride takes you through the picturesque countryside, offering plenty of time to feel the wind in your hair and admire the changing leaves. Even dreamier, the hotel packs you lunch from McGavock’s for some fall picnicking perfection. If you’re less drawn to bike riding and more inclined to having someone else drive while you sip cocktails, you’re in luck — Gray Line offers a black car service Dinner and Distilleries tour. In no time, you’ll be cruising down country roads, sampling spirits, and learning about Tennessee whiskey distillery traditions.
Other notable activities to consider include Franklin on Foot’s Haunted Franklin Ghost Tour and Farm Stand weekends at nearby Southall Farms, on Friday and Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., where you can purchase property-grown produce and goods like their award-winning wildflower honey, pressed juice and hand-churned ice cream. If you’re having too much fun for a mere one-night stay, the Harpeth’s current staycation package is “buy two nights and get a third night free.” Home? What’s that?
The Modern Experience in the Gulch
The Thompson Hotel is the epitome of modern sensibility and chic design. Located in the busy Gulch, it’s a haven of tranquility in the midst of the hustle-bustle — the perfect place to stay up late and sleep in. Here’s a suggested itinerary.
We recommend getting to the hotel as close to the 4 p.m. check-in time as possible — there’s a big night ahead. Don your temporary tourist shoes and set out on foot for a three-minute walk to the “WhatLiftsYou Wings” mural photo op by Kelsey Montague (don’t be surprised if there’s a line). The Gulch boutiques are your next stop, where there are plenty of great places to find new sweater-weather staples, including e.Allen, Blush, Parish, Lucchese and SVM Boutique. If all of the shopping has you parched and ready for a pre-dinner cocktail, The Pub transports you to London for a beer. If you’re craving a more lively scene, head to Pins Mechanical Company, where you can find everything from foosball to bowling, and a huge list of cocktails to boot.
There are so many great dinner spots, settling on one might be a struggle. Will it be margaritas and tacos at Superica or Saint Añejo Cantina? Sushi and sake at Sunda or Virago? How about curry and cocktails at Chauhan Ale & Masala House, BBQ at Peg Leg Porker, or a memorable Wagyu ribeye at Kayne Prime? You can’t go wrong with any of them. If you’re looking to keep it even closer to the hotel, try the seafood-forward Marsh House, which has an entrance in the lobby. If a late-night libation is in order, take the elevator to the top floor for a nightcap at L.A. Jackson, the hotel’s rooftop bar.
Saturday staycations are made for sleeping in. Once you’re ready to start your day, grab a cup of Joe at Killebrew Coffee — located in the hotel’s lobby — and enjoy it while you wait in line at Biscuit Love. After you’ve had your fill of biscuits and jam, it’s off to The Frist. The museum currently has an immersive outdoor installation called Blood at the Root, which examines racial undertones within the family dynamic and our upbringings. The exhibit is free to the public and runs through November 1. It’s also not far from the Country Music Hall of Fame, where you can explore even more Nashville culture — the complete history of country music.
If you’re disappointed your staycation is coming to a close, and you’re already stressing about the upcoming work week, we would be remiss not to mention the Thompson currently has a “Work from Hotel” package that’s perfect for a mid-week getaway. For $100, you can book a City View King room from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., where you can set up your remote office, enjoy some quiet, and utilize Thompson Hotel amenities such as high-speed internet and printing services. There’s even an in-room coffee bar for refueling throughout the day, and you can stay overnight for an additional $25. Pets are welcome, too!
Enjoy your staycation!
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