Nashville, or Nash Vegas as it’s sometimes called, is a city full of life, a city I recently visited for a medical conference and a place I’ll definitely return to! Just like the Big Apple, Nashville never sleeps. Colorful lights from sidewalk to skyline, surround-sound country music, never ending bachelorettes screaming like they’re on a rollercoaster and cowboy boots, oh the cowboy boots.
From the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, to the Tennessee Titans. From the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, to the Vanderbilt Commodores. From the colorful city murals, delightful and delectable food, and lest we forget, the round-the-clock live music everywhere, young and old, Nashville has something for everyone! Runners are sure to find it a fun place to run and explore. I’m seriously considering returning next year for a destination race.
Be it work or pleasure, whatever reason brings you to Nashville, you’ll want to read my suggestions on where to stay, eat and run. May you find them both helpful and useful.
This is where we stayed and where our conference was held, and I highly recommend it. There are four restaurants located within the hotel, along with shops in the lobby. There is a gorgeous rooftop saltwater pool, a spa and fitness center. The Omni Nashville is located in the heart of the city, and just blocks away from Broadway, where all the action takes place. It’s also attached to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Starbucks fan? There’s one located a block away from the hotel. Kitchen Notes, the Omni’s restaurant, was incredible. “Elevated spins on traditional Southern fare …”, I was impressed the food tasted so good.
The Westin Nashville
If we didn’t stay at the Omni, I would have looked into staying at The Westin Nashville. At first glance, I noticed their fancy rooftop pool facing the street, and was really intrigued by it. Take a look below! Westin resorts have always been a favorite of mine. Westin caters to runners. Each resort maps out running routes around their hotels, and offers New Balance running shoes or clothes if you forget yours. They really have reached out to the running world, and I am thoroughly impressed. This Westin location is also in the center of town.
If you’re looking for a hotel that’s near the action, but not directly in the center of town, check out the Thompson Hotel in the Gulch.
“The Gulch is an upscale neighborhood known for its chic hotels, high-end fashion boutiques and trendsetting restaurants. In a striking art deco building, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts hosts diverse, adventurous exhibitions, as well as film screenings and lectures. Renowned bluegrass musicians take the stage at The Station Inn, a tiny club open since the 1970s, while Mercy Lounge has indie, soul and folk gigs.”
I wandered into the Thompson to get coffee at the Killebrew coffee shop, walked through the hotel lobby and was immediately sold. It’s a luxury hotel with a popular coffee shop attached to it, what more could you want? Oh, and there has been some celebrity guests from time to time.
My husband and I went here for Rare Bird (located within the Noelle boutique hotel), their trendy rooftop bar/lounge that has the best view of the Cumberland River. Their one-of-a-kind frozen beverages come highly recommended. We relaxed, had a couple beverages and appetizers, then explored the hotel lobby and coffee shop afterwards. I was very impressed with its location and overall personality. It is a luxury hotel with unique, custom designed rooms. I would stay here in a heartbeat the next time I visit Nashville. It, too, is located near Broadway, and is in a prime location for being near all the action.
Besides running and donuts, coffee is my favorite. I enjoy finding hidden gem coffee shops within a city. It’s interesting to see how each city creates its own distinct coffee shop that exemplifies the character of its city. While I do love Starbucks, I do enjoy discovering offbeat coffee joints, and will always try and list my favorite coffee shops and my sweet finds!
Drug Store Coffee Shop
Located within the Noelle, this delightful spot is where I would gladly post up for hours, getting quality work done on my computer. They’re also a part of the Barista Parlor Golden Sound. More on that in a moment. Their motto is: “Coffee, good for what ails you.” I can’t argue with that. The coffee is some of the best I’ve ever tasted and is good for the soul. If coffee is what fuels you, definitely check out this spot.
Barista Parlor Golden Sound (Near the Gulch)
Located near the Gulch, this is a rather popular spot for locals and tourists alike, to caffeinate and get some work in. Additionally, I was told they were voted best biscuits in Nashville, even over the very popular Biscuit Love. The coffee served here is the same as Drug Store and it’s delicious! Don’t miss the vibrant murals in the surrounding areas. Check out Barista Parlor here.
Frothy Monkey has it all and is highly recommended by locals and tourists. From a morning latte to a late-night snack. Located in the area of 12 South, this “hip space” is one you should check out if you’re having dinner on 12 South, or checking out Reese Witherspoon’s store Draper James.
If I’m gone for a long period of time and plan on running, I’ll bring my travel size foam roller or Stick. Unfortunately, I forgot my stuff and planned on running every day. After a few days of running, I felt super tight and wanted to foam roll so into Nashville Running Company I went, primarily because they sell my favorite brand, Oiselle, and I was hoping they’d let me foam roll in the store … and they did! Another cool spot to check out is Rhythm Running. I noticed both stores had nightly group runs, so if you want to run with a group while visiting, be sure to visit their websites for information.
The possibilities for delicious food in Nashville are endless. It would be impossible for me to even attempt to list all the amazing places, or even the highly recommended ones. The places I’m listing are the ones we fell in love with and why my husband wants to go back to Nashville just for the food.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s not much to look at but the food will leave you satiated and will warm your heart. Arnold’s Country Kitchen is the definition of southern comfort food and appears to be a hidden gem. Not many locals knew about, and our Uber driver had no clue it existed but when I looked it up online, it came highly recommended and highly rated. It’s a cafeteria style restaurant with the best southern comfort food I have ever tasted. Check out their spot on Diners, Drive-in’s, and Dives here.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
I thought this was best BBQ in Nashville. In fact, we went here twice! Martin’s is within walking distance from the Omni. The vibe there is super cool. Downstairs is an eatery, while upstairs has an open-air bar and peculiar seating areas. There were old minivan and truck seats plopped everywhere, making for great people watching while you sit and eat. They have dart boards, ping pong tables and shuffle board. And, if you’re interested in looking behind the scenes at how they smoke their meats just ask!
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Nashville chicken, or hot chicken in particular, is a must when you’re in the Music City. Hattie B’s is a popular spot, has a long wait, but definitely worth it. I wasn’t able to go to Prince’s, another popular Nashville spot (located outside city center), but my husband was. He said it was better than Hattie B’s, and locals would agree. Hattie B’s still comes highly recommend and you should check it out if you can. I ordered chicken and waffles and can now die happy. It was delicious! (Below are some of the pictures I took of the food we ate ta Hattie B’s, Grilled Cheeserie and Biscuit Love)
Well the popular spot for biscuits in Nashville is Biscuit Love. Biscuit Love in the Gulch is super popular, and there is ALWAYS a long line. We ate at the Biscuit Love in Franklin. This location was super cute and had no line. But you’d have to be visiting Franklin to get there. Locals say Barista Parlor has amazing biscuits. I’m not the best judge of this so you’ll want to check this out for yourself.
Located in the 12 South area, outside the city center, Bartaco, along with all the other adorable restaurants and shops, did not disappoint. Bartaco serves uniquely crafted mini tacos, made to order along with the best sweet tea. I loved this spot and definitely would go back.
Husk came as a recommendation by a number of people, along with a good friend, who is a sommelier, so he knows food and wine! Unfortunately, we tried to eat here twice, but it was closed each time we drove by. I surveyed the menu and everything looks amazing.
“Regional ingredients cooked on an ember-fired grill create inventive meals in a historic mansion.”
“Husk transforms the essence of Southern food. Executive Chef Katie Coss reinterprets the bounty of Tennessee and the surrounding area, exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine that begins in the rediscovery of heirloom products and redefines what it means to cook and eat in the South”.
The Grilled Cheeserie
Recommended by a running friend who lives in Nashville, the Grilled Cheeserie originally started out as a food truck and now they have multiple locations. If you love grilled cheese like I do, you must check this place out. You can create whatever kind of grilled cheese sandwich you’d like. It’s a great place to go for a low-key, relaxing lunch or dinner.
Five Daughters Bakery
As mentioned earlier, donuts are one of my favorite things. I fell in love with their 100 layer donuts. They’re simply like no other donut I’ve ever tasted before and I loved them! Check out their website!
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
I had never heard of Jeni’s until Nashville, but apparently, we have one in Washington, D.C. so I’ll have to check it out. Each flavor combination is distinct and does not disappoint.
From our hotel, I ran to the Gulch, took a few pictures of famous murals, and ran to the Gulch Greenway and back. It was approximately a 3-mile loop. Along the route you’ll find the famous “What Lifts You” wings mural, and the Nashville Walls Project. Pictured below. Running through the Gulch is safe and fun. You’ll find a couple coffee shops along the way, including Starbucks and Killebrew. Want a few more miles? Keep following the train tracks.
Cumberland River Greenway Trail
From the Omni, I ran around the Cumberland River Greenway, across the John Seigenthaler pedestrian trail, to the Cumberland Park and around Nissan Stadium where the Tennessee Titans play. All-in-all, this was approximately a 4-mile route and if you want more miles, just keep running. If you need to stop, there are porta johns and fountains along the route.
Parthenon at Centennial Park
A friend and I ran from the Omni over to the Parthenon at Centennial Park. The Parthenon is a very interesting structure that has become a must-see sight in Nashville. It’s rather random, but quite spectacular. It looks like it was plucked from ancient Greece and planted in the middle of a park and is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was designed by Confederate veteran William Crawford Smith, built in 1897, as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. While there, run around Centennial Park and add on some miles if needed. run
A 19-acre park in the heart of Nashville, it serves as a monument to the bicentennial celebration of the State of Tennessee. You’ll get some great views of the city from this spot. You can find more information here.
Here are some great articles providing you with more routes. Though I stuck to where I could run from my hotel, I recommend checking out these highly rated trails:
I also love city murals, and Nashville has plenty! Here are a few pictures from my mural running tours:
While in Nashville I did the Franklin Classic 10k. This race was approximately 30 minutes outside the city, was a fun race and I am glad I did it!
Popular races to consider:
Nashville Half Marathon, Nov. 10, 2018
St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon and Half Marathon, April 28, 2019
There’s no way to possibly cover the wealth of entertainment in Nashville. There’s simply so much to do, see, hear and experience and though my posts are mainly about running, relaxing and drinking coffee, I do want to give a shout-out to the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar. We wondered in to see what all the excitement was and found Tyrone Smith, “Super T,” was performing and he was sensational. We later learned he played at Jenna Bush’s wedding. He was fantastic.
Well, there you have it! If your travels -- business, pleasure or runcations -- take you to Nashville, I hope you find this post helpful. Please comment if you have any suggestions to add.