The Smiling Elephant
2213 8th Ave. S, 8th South
Smiling Elephant's pad thai definitely gives bigger-city Thai spots a run for their money. The cozy spot operates out of a tiny cottage on 8th Avenue South, with a little stone porch out front for al fresco dining in the summer; it's also owned by the sweetest family imaginable. Pad Thai is the obvious order, but their curries are excellent, as are the spring rolls and the warm, soothing ginger tea.
Adventure Science Center
800 Fort Negley Blvd., 8th South
Although kids will love this museum’s three-floor soft jungle gym (where they can slide, climb, and jump through a model digestive system) and the child-size firemen’s truck and ambulance, adults will get a kick out of it, too. There are exciting, interactive exhibits where you can learn about astronomy, biology, physics, weather, technology, energy, sound, and creativity. Plus, Adventure Science Center is home to the renowned Sudekum Planetarium and is located five minutes from downtown Nashville with a breathtaking view of the city.
2120 8th Ave. S, 8th South
This is the place to get a guitar, banjo, mandolin, or any “fretted” instrument, if you’re picky about terminology like the experts at Gruhn. George Gruhn started the store in 1970, and it has come to be one of the—if not the—premier places in the US to buy instruments. The client list is a who’s who of musicians—Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, and many, many more. The store and repair shop specialize in vintage models, and they keep a file on the history of each and every instrument in their inventory. Basically, if music is your thing, you’ve got to pay them a visit. Their website is a frett aficionado’s haven with George Gruhn’s newsletters on fretted instruments and features on particularly special models. If there’s a vintage model you’re particularly interested in, let them know and they’ll keep an eye out for you.