Greetings Internet Stranger! When you say, “How’d you like to spend 24 Hours in Nashville, Tennessee?” to most people, they think of waking up the next morning in a whiskey-glazed stupor minus their wallet and plus a strange pair of cowboy boots. But Nashville is more than just guitars, Cadillacs, and hillbilly music.
With 24 hours in Nashville, we’ll dive deep into country music, for sure. But we’ll also feast on gourmet treats in one of the country’s best food cities. Join me for 24 hours in Nashville and we’ll be sure to find those friends in low places.
24 Hours in Nashville
Where to Stay?
Nashville hotels are much more expensive than I was expecting. But I suppose that’s not so surprising given how popular Nashville is with tourists. It was a little tricky for me to find a hotel that was in a good location and affordable. That’s why I was grateful to the Fairlane Hotel for showing me such a good time.
The location could not have been better, as it was within walking distance of pretty much everything you would want to see in Downtown Nashville. And the rooms were gorgeous, but the price didn’t leave me broker than a hound dog crying in the rain over your cheatin’ heart.
If you want a great deal on this hotel, click here. And if you’d rather explore great deals on almost 1000 other hotels in Nashville, click here. This search engine will help you find the most affordable and convenient hotel during your 24 hours in Nashville.
24 Hours in Nashville
- An excellent small cell charger so you can keep taking pictures all during your 24 hours in Nashville
- My favorite travel guide to Nashville
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
- Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system.
- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by guitars, Cadillacs, and hillbilly music during your 24 hours in Nashville
24 Hours in Nashville
Morning: Secret Food Tour
Nashville is an absolutely perfect city for a food tour. It’s really walkable and has tons of fun neighborhoods that are ideal for exploring. It has delicious local eats like hot chicken that you can’t find elsewhere. Eating and walking your way through Music City is absolutely the way to go.
That’s why I suggest taking the Secret Food Tour when you are enjoying your 24 hours in Nashville. This tour will take you off the beaten track to all the delicious hidden gems you wouldn’t be able to find without a local.
You can book this tour for yourself easily by clicking here! I won’t spoil all the fun secrets of this tour, but I will give you a hint of what to expect with…
Approximately Top 5: 24 Hours in Nashville Food Tour
The first stop on our food tour is Joyland, which is a fun project from legendary southern chef Sean Brock. (You might know him from TV shows like The Mind of a Chef.) Here we had a proper Southern breakfast of sorts with these absolutely melt in your mouth and call me a chicken lovin’ cheater buttermilk biscuits. Yes, they’re made with organic buttermilk from the farmer’s market, but they still taste like what my great-grandmother would have made if she weren’t such a terrible cook that she could ruin cereal.
Our guide, whom I shall call Charlie, said that the biscuits had gotten so popular because of the food tour that Joyland had even started selling their own biscuits. So now you can have hot Southern biscuits at home any time you want! I bet they won’t be as good as these, though.
I hadn’t thought of Nashville as a barbecue city, first and foremost, but it was delightful to discover that the bbq scene here is on a level playing field with places like North Carolina and Charleston. Charlie told us that there are two big BBQ rivals in Nashville: Edley’s and Martin’s. The main difference is that Edley’s keeps the smoker on the outside and Martin’s is inside.
Our food tour brought us to Edley’s where we had brisket nachos on potato chips. This treat was a lot easier to share with a tour group of 12 people than you would imagine. We just all dug in gleefully to that gooey goodness. It was served with a ton of sweet Memphis BBQ sauce and lashings of sour cream. (Oh believe me, we will learn more about Memphis BBQ when we head that-away.
There’s also a drink upgrade option on this food tour, and I suggest getting the bourbon iced tea, which is refreshing on a hot Nashville day and sweet, but not too sweet.
It’s a sin that will send you straight to the Devil hisself if you go to Nashville and miss out on the hot chicken. We got ours at Noble’s which is a popular neighborhood joint in East Nashville. Charlie said the hot chicken was meant to be mild, but we all found it to be as spicy as a comeback from Dolly Parton. But that’s why the cucumber salad is there–to soak up the heat.
Hot chicken was invented by a woman named Mrs. Prince who was mad that her husband was stepping out on her. So she decided revenge was a dish best served sizzling and put a hot bunch of hot sauce on his chicken one night. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for humanity, Mr. Prince loved the hot chicken, and a Nashville legend was born!
Our final two stops are both at Hunters Station, which is a food court in East Nashville. First, we get our last savory bite at another BBQ stand called Hughbaby’s. You might be wondering why on earth we’d get two different barbecue snacks in one food tour. Isn’t that excessive, even for the South?
Not at all! See, those nachos were made with beef brisket, whereas this sandwich is made with pulled pork, the highest form of barbecue. (I have family from Georgia; we’re all pulled pork fiends there.) This was a great sandwich because the meat was so tender and smoky that you needed very little sauce.
It was also served Memphis-style with the cole slaw inside the bun. (We’ll get to you later, Memphis BBQ. Oh yes, we’ll get to you later.)
Our final taste was dessert, and it was just about the last thing I’d expect to find in Nashville. This dense flourless chocolate cake topped with lemon ginger ice cream came from a French bakery called Cocorico. The bakery is actually fun by French people from actual France and you can tell that true French quality in every bite! The fact that you can get authentic French pastries in Nashville just shows what a diverse, cosmopolitan city it is.
I’m not sure when you go to Nashville that you’ll get a Cocorico dessert because when we were there, they were operating out of an incubator kitchen in Hunters Station, which has since closed. But I’m sure your dessert will be equally delicious! And you can look up Cocorico elsewhere because it’s definitely still going strong in Nashville.
That’s it for the food tour! If you want to taste all these yummy treats yourself and learn even more fun facts and historical tidbits, you’ll have to book the tour yourself here.
24 Hours in Nashville
Afternoon: Johnny Cash Museum
The food tour will end in the middle of the afternoon, so I suggest hitting up a smaller attraction that’s open until late. Lucky for us, the Johnny Cash Museum fits the bill perfectly! Johnny Cash wasn’t born in Nashville, but the country music legend became one of the city’s brightest stars, along with his second wife, June Carter Cash.
The Johnny Cash Museum has priceless Cash artifacts that you won’t find anywhere else. Plus it has tons of his music to listen to and even TV and film roles to watch, so you can easily spend time here immersing yourself in the Johnny Cash experience.
We don’t have enough time for me to tell you everything you could possibly find at the Johnny Cash Museum, but we definitely have enough time for…
Three Fun Facts: Johnny Cash Museum
1) Hi! Who is Johnny Cash?
Cash is the handsome young man you see in the middle of those other two gentlemen, whose names I do not know at all. Johnny Cash was born JR Cash in Arkansas. Yes, his given name was actually just the initials JR, and he chose the name John himself because I guess everyone thought it was creepy dealing with a person who had no name, just letters.
Cash joined the military when he was young and then hooked with legendary music producer Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee. That’s how his amazing career in country music got started. (Yes, we will learn more about this when we hit up Memphis. Much more.) Cash was originally part of a group called the Tennessee Two, but he eventually struck out on his own! That’s when things get really interesting.
2) Hi! Who is Mrs. Cash?
Well, that’s a complicated question. Johnny Cash’s first wife was named Vivian. They married young and were happy for a time, but their marriage grew strained because of his drug and alcohol problems and his being on the road all the time. (I’m pretty sure he was keeping company with other ladies while he traveled, too.)
Enter June Carter, who was a member of the illustrious Carter country music family. She and Johnny fell in love, and eventually she agreed to marry him after he and Vivian were divorced. You can see a photo of Johnny and June above, and it’s obvious even from that picture how in love they were.
They made an Oscar-winning movie about their relationship called Walk The Line starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, and you can see artifacts from the movie at the museum.
3) Hi! What’s the Coolest Object in the Museum?
So many, it’s hard to know where to start! Is it Johnny Cash’s piano, which you can see above?
Is it a very real Grammy that belonged to actual real Johnny Cash? (I just noticed that if you say something is real too many times, it starts to sound fake. But I swear that is Cash’s very real Grammy!)
My favorite object might be this stone wall from one of Johnny Cash’s houses. The house was eventually purchased by Bee Gee Barry Gibb, but then it burned down in a fire. Mr. Gibb got out fine, though. You could say that he was “stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive”.
Ahh ahh ahh ahh, stayin’ aliiiiiiiiiive! Sorry, I seem to have gotten off the subject of Johnny Cash. I’ll try to walk the line for the rest of our 24 hours in Nashville. Anyway, the stone wall also survived the fire, and Mr. Gibb was kind enough to donate it to the Johnny Cash Museum, so we can all enjoy it.
24 Hours in Nashville
Evening: Dinner at Yolan
Yolan is just another example of how cosmopolitan Nashville is. Some people might not expect that you can find an amazing Italian fine dining restaurant right here in Music City. People in the United States often associate fine dining with French or Japanese food and they don’t realize that Italian can be just as glamorous an experience.
Yolan truly reminded me of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Rome, Florence, and Venice. Let me walk you through Yolan’s gorgeous tasting menu, and I promise you’ll be drooling by the end of our 24 hours in Nashville.
Up first we have an olive cracker topped with tuna bresaola. This was a small bite packed with flavor–the olive cracker tasted exactly like an olive, only crunchier, and the tuna bresaola had so much heft, I almost convinced myself I was eating meat.
Dishes in a tasting menu usually get heavier and richer as you go, until you fall off a cliff and end with dessert. So here we have a slightly more substantial vegetable course. The base is an Italian chickpea pancake called farinata, and it’s topped with boodles of squash. (This was summer, so it was definitely squash boodle season.
Again, though this dish was little, it was fierce. I especially loved the contrast of the textures between the sweet squash conserva and the crunchy fresh squash.
What makes an Italian tasting menu different from the French, Japanese, Mexican, etc. tasting menus that I’ve had is that there will be a pasta course, or several. Our first pasta course of the night was a beautiful hand-rolled pasta called trofie served with a freshly made to order pesto.
Pesto is my favorite pasta sauce of all time. When I was a teenager, I used to eat so much pesto that my friends would call me Old Pesto Head. So believe me when I say this was the best pesto I had ever had.
Our second pasta course is a light, stuffed pasta called pansotti. This dish is extra beautiful because it’s topped with flowers from Liguria. (Yes, the flowers are edible.) The flavor contrasts in the dish were interesting because the pansotti was sprinkled with lightly bitter summer greens but filled with a sweet and salty rich walnut pesto. Basically there was every taste you could want in one bite!
And yes, we’re even getting a third pasta course! This gorgeousness was actually off-menu, but they just gave it to me to be nice. Actually, I get free dishes all the time because I dine alone so much. I think people suspect me of being a food critic. And I guess technically I am one, though I don’t think of myself that way.
Anyway, this was an insanely decadent gnocchi topped with cream sauce and truffles. I almost fell asleep at the table after eating this. It was hard to go on and finish the last four courses, but I womanly forced myself to do it anyway!
Three pasta courses are clearly not enough carbs, so we need some risotto! Actually, for a carb dish it’s pretty light, as you can see this sexy shrimp is dominating everything. He’s actually a royal red shrimp, so I needed to call him His Royal Highness of Shrimpington before I bit his head off.
At last, some real food! Any tasting menu worth its Maldon sea salt is going to have at least one fish course and one meat course, except for that one tasting menu restaurant I went to in Serbia that only served meat. (That’s not a joke.)
Our first fish course was a Chilean sea bass served with a summer succotash. I gathered that the fish of the day changes depending on what was fresh. The sea bass was light, sweet, and firm, just perfect with the collection of summer vegetables like tomato and corn.
At last! It’s the final savory course of the night: rabbit with pancetta, cherries, and cipollini onions. Some people think rabbits are too cute to eat, but I never let cuteness get in the way of a good meal. (I might draw the line at puppies or kittens, though.)
The rabbit was fragrant and tender, and a little salty and crispy because of the pancetta. Also I love how the onions and cherries are cut to be the same shape! It’s almost as cute as a bunny is before it gets eaten.
If you’re anything like me, your stomach needs a cooldown at this point, so it’s time for dessert. After all that rich food, it was a relief to have this honeysuckle pannacotta and spring melon on top of a drizzle of some of the most amazing honey I have ever eaten.
You just know the bees who made this honey were extremely happy. Like, these were ethically treated bees who just got to sit around eating pollen all day and watching B movies. And after that perfect 24 hours in Nashville, I bet we feel just as happy as those bees.
24 Hours in Nashville
How to Get There?
By Car: This is an easy way to get to your 24 hours in Nashville, if you are coming from somewhere else on the southern East Coast in the United States. You can drive here easily from Louisville, Atlanta, or other parts of Tennessee.
However, I don’t know how to drive, so this wasn’t an option for me. Fortunately Uber and Lyft are widely available in Nashville. If you need to rent a car, you can use the search engine Expedia to find the best price from the available car rental companies.
By Plane: Fortunately, there is an airport in Nashville! Since I live in New York City and don’t know how to drive, I found that flying was the easiest way to get to our 24 hours in Nashville. (Again, I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights.)
By Bus: I have definitely used the Greyhound bus to get to Nashville from Louisville. It’s a pretty easy and cheap ride–if you are car-free and coming from a fairly nearby destination, this might be the place for you.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Nashville, Tennessee
What would you do with 24 hours in Nashville? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Nashville? Why is it called chess pie? And is Mona Lisa handling her day drinking okay? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Nashville. If you have another 24 hours in Nashville, add this itinerary.