A Local's 3-Day Itinerary for Off-the-Beaten-Path in Nashville
Arts & Culture
While Nashville has become known for bachelorette parties, rowdy late nights, and hot chicken, there is so much more to explore in Music City. Here’s a vegetarian-friendly, authentic off-the-beaten-path guide to experience Nashville without setting foot near a pedal tavern. On this three-day itinerary, you’ll visit hidden local hot spots and one-of-a-kind shops that showcase the artsy soul of the city and have some fun at more well-known (but worth the stop) music venues.
The Fora Difference
Book with Megan to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.
Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you
Customized travel planning for your style
Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there
Where to stay
21c Museum Hotel Nashville
With more than 10,500 square feet of art exhibitions, this high-design museum-hotel is one of Nashville's most celebrated.
Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
Daily full breakfast for two guests per bedroom
$100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit utilized during stay
A stylish stay in an unbeatable location, complete with a farm-to-table restaurant, sleek cocktail bar and rooftop pool.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade whenever possible.
Unlock perks by contacting Megan to book your trip.
Day 1: City exploration & Listening Room Cafe
It’s the first day, and you’re ready to get going! Grab a coffee, smoothie bowl and locally made treats at E + Rose - there are a few around the city, so regardless of where you end up staying, there is probably one close by.
After you’ve enjoyed your nutrient-packed breakfast, decide if you’d like a leisurely stroll or a trail hike. Either way, you’re headed just south of the city to ritzy Forest Hills. Meander Cheekwood Estate and Gardens if you’re looking for something more mellow. While Cheekwood is always a treat, the best time of year to visit is fall, when the quintessential Pumpkin Village is set up.
If you’re in a more adventurous mood, stop at Radnor Lake and hike the lake trail. This will take you through the trees and offer some beautiful views. If you’d like to add a quick detour to either adventure, stop at the Belle Meade entrance to Percy Warner park, and walk the historic steps that date back to the 1930s. This is a hidden local favorite!
When you’re ready for lunch, head over to Avo, a plant-based gem on the west side of the city. If you’re going for a starter, the OG nachos are not to be missed, but make sure to save room for a burger. I’ve had multiple friends and family members try them, and everyone agrees the Avo burger is the best vegan burger they’ve had. Ever.
Avo is near Centennial Park, where you’ll not only find an expansive park, but also a replica of the Parthenon. You can pay to go into the Parthenon, but you’ll get a feel for it just from wandering the perimeter. There are plenty of quiet areas to recharge if you need a minute to rest and refresh.
Catch a show at the Listening Room Café, which is very similar to the famous Bluebird Café, but the tickets are much easier to get, and the space is not as cramped. The hour-and-a-half show hosts some of the hottest singer-songwriters and is fun for music enthusiasts and for those who are just along for the ride. As far as hearing local music, this is the spot to go. Listening Room has a minimum food and beverage order and vegetarians - we’re a bit out of luck. Grab water, drinks and maybe the fried pickles to meet your tab.
Day 2: Explore East Nashville
Start your day in East Nashville at Dose Coffee. In addition to stellar drinks, Dose serves Guerilla Bizkit’s vegan “buttermilk” biscuits which are an absolute must!
For the rest of the morning, explore East Nashville. If you’re looking for authenticity, you’ll find it here! There are plenty of shops hidden down little corridors, but my favorites are the Shoppes on Fatherland. The Bookshop and Novelette Booksellers are two charming little shops for all bibliophiles (and really, anyone who likes charming little shops).
Now for a little adventure. Drive over to Yellow and Lavender (it’s still in East Nashville, but a bit farther out), and bask in its edgy vibe. This is an entirely plant-based bakery, and home to croissants that are the talk of the town within the local vegan community.
If you’re still hungry, stop by The Wild Cow or Graze for lunch - same owners, slightly different feel - Wild Cow is casual, and Graze is a step more refined. Regardless of what entrée I pick at Wild Cow, I always add a side of Garlicky Kale (I promise, eating greens has never tasted so good).
For your evening activity, check out Pins Mechanical Co. in the trendy Gulch area. Old-school arcade games and pinball machines fill about half of the space while bocce ball, bowling, and lawn games cover the rest. They don’t serve food at Pins, but Emmy Squared Pizza is right down the street and delivers straight to the Pins lobby. While Emmy Squared is not a Nashville exclusive, the pizza is creative, delicious, and caters to omnivores and vegans alike. Helpful notes: Bring cash because the pinball and arcade games require quarters. This is all ages until 8pm when it becomes 21+. While this is in the heart of downtown, street parking never seems to be a problem if you’re willing to walk a block or two.
If you aren’t done yet, head over to the Fairlane Hotel’s penthouse pop-up bar. The theme changes seasonally, but never disappoints, and themed drinks, snacks and treats are available. If a table isn’t open when you arrive, take a minute to check out the wraparound terrace - you’ll get a great view of the city!
Day 3: Visit the Grand Old Opry & catch a show at Ryman Auditorium
While this is an off-the-beaten-path guide, I do recommend checking out the Grand Old Opry - even if you’re not a huge country music fan. The tour is engaging, historical and corny (but in the best way). Make sure you snap your picture on the Opry stage! (If you’d like to see a show, they run most nights with a variety of guests).
To balance out the touristy Grand Ole Opry, stop at Matryoshka Coffee in the up-and-coming Wedgewood Huston neighborhood. This place is a hidden treasure (literally - it is behind industrial buildings and school bus parking lots). Relatively new, but incredibly popular, Matryshoka is a welcoming, vibrant and magical place. Glitter or sprinkles adorn drinks, snacks are served on sparkly pink trays, and local art covers the walls. There is even a “Trinket Wall” customers can contribute to, which adds to the community feel. (If it is nice out, borrow one of the blankets and grab a seat on the lawn!)
If you’d like an afternoon stop, check out the 12 South neighborhood. You’ll find murals, local shops and restaurants galore. Like East Nashville, 12 South is walkable, but where East Nashville is authentically artsy, 12 South is trendy and populated by college students and young professionals. For local coffee, stop by Frothy Monkey which is in the middle of 12 South.
Freshen up for dinner and head to Edgehill where you’ll find Barcelona Wine Bar - make sure you have a reservation ahead of time as the wait for walk-ins is generally over an hour! Barcelona is a small plate restaurant that caters to all types of diets. Waiters are eager to help decode the menu and offer suggestions on the wine. While options change frequently, the grilled broccolini is always a favorite and generally available.
For one last touristy touch, catch a show at the Ryman Auditorium. This Nashville treasure is one of the spots that define the city. I generally steer clear because it is near Broadway. However, if you’re up for navigating through party buses, bikes and scooters, this is a worthwhile stop.
Need to Know
Looking for more Nashville travel tips? Check out this guide by Fora Advisor Claire Herzog: Girls Weekend Guide in Nashville, Tennessee.
Get in touch with Megan
Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.
You can normally expect a response from Megan within a business day or so. You'll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).
This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Nashville.