Acme Feed & Seed
101 Broadway, Downtown
Even though it's the central hot spot for a lot of Nashville's live music scene, South Broadway's huge bars can skew touristy and get overwhelmingly rowdy at night. Acme Feed & Seed's bold challenge to that stereotype has been really well received so far, offering the familiar multilevel bar and live music experience in a cleaned-up, modern style that draws a local crowd. The first floor of the space features a store with locally crafted goods and Acme-branded pantry items, plus a restaurant with a fast-casual menu of Southern-inflected dishes like Redneck Lo Mein with collard greens and an andouille soy glaze, a Down Home Falafel Sandwich, and flavorful ribs. The vibe is more casual upstairs on the second level, which has a built-out bar and lounge, a small-bites food menu, and a sushi bar. The live music space occupies the third floor, where the calendar is filled up with a solid lineup of local bands (it can also be rented out for private parties). The open-air roof at the top of the building offers some of the best views in the city, and you can come in early…
33 Peabody St., Downtown
Pinewood calls itself "a place to meet," which is really the most accurate description of this hybrid between bar, restaurant, coffee shop, and (dare we say) rec center. It's open from early in the morning when you can camp out with a coffee and enjoy the free WiFi, until late in the evening, when groups congregate with cocktails around the bocce courts and bowling lanes. There are two pools in the back, alongside an airstream trailer that actually has its own menu, and a wide patio that makes a great spot for pre-dinner drinks. The menu is surprisingly good for a place with so much going on—you'll find an excellent fried chicken, lobster roll, grain bowl and fried broccoli.
The Southern Steak & Oyster
150 3rd Ave. S., Downtown
A central gathering place in the busting SoBro neighborhood downtown, the Southern occupies the first floor of the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, a new skyscraper that (impressively) is LEED-certified. The restuarant itself also takes sustainability seriously, serving locally-grown produce and fueling their wood-fired grill with salvaged hickory on top of the requisite non-toxic cleaning products and ambitious recycling program. Food-wise, the specialties are freshly shucked oysters, which you can order at the oyster bar, and an old-school steak menu. Also good to know in this parking-sparse area: Valet is on the house.
Frist Art Museum
919 Broadway, Downtown
The Frist has an entire gallery—the Martin ArtQuest Gallery—devoted to art activities where children can come by every day between 10 and 5:30 and on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. There are thirty decked-out stations set up for kids to experiment with different media including drawing, sculpting, printmaking, and even filmmaking with toy dinosaurs, plastic animals, and big toy spiders. For everyone else, there’s an encyclopedic lineup of rotating exhibitions from all over the world, as well as the recently renovated Martin ArtQuest Gallery, with interactive artmaking stations, some of which are inspired by the museum’s current exhibitions. Children (and adults) can experiment with different media including painting, printmaking, and animation. Bonus: Children under eighteen can visit for free.
Frist Art Museum
919 Broadway, Downtown
The Frist has an entire interactive area—the Martin ArtQuest Gallery—devoted to artmaking activities where children of all ages (including adults!) can come by every day between 10 and 5:30 and on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. There are thirty decked out stations set up for visitors to experiment with different media including painting, printmaking, and even animation with toy figures and animals. In the main galleries, the Frist offers an encyclopedic lineup of rotating exhibitions from all over the world. Bonus: Children under eighteen can always visit for free.
Nashville Public Library
615 Church St., Downtown
Here there's storytelling on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and marionette shows on Fridays and Saturdays. Stories are presented by a cast of wacky characters including the Professor, who not only reads but gets sing-alongs and lots of rainbow drawings going, too. The professionally crafted marionettes at the library are something special, made by a master puppeteer named Tom Tichenor. GP's kids got to see “The Princess and the Frog” but the shows change often and throughout the year.
Mike’s Ice Cream
129 2nd Ave. N, Downtown
Mike's has murals on the wall that remind you of a soda fountain and tall bar chairs with coiled backs. Plus, perfect sundaes: not too large, made with good vanilla ice cream, drenched in chocolate and peanuts, and topped with just the right amount of toffee.
Antiques & Garden Show
Music City Center, 201 Fifth Ave. S, Downtown
While GP was in Nashville, Faith Hill took her to the annual Antiques & Garden show. If you happen to find yourself in town any given February, be sure to check it out: It's vast and packed with quality pieces.
Hatch Show Print
224 5th Ave. S, Downtown
A working print studio and shop front, Hatch Show Print is a Nashville institution, having produced advertisements and posters for local shows since 1879. Fittingly, it is now in the hands of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Here, you can buy reissued posters of old-fashioned advertisements and concerts—Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Hank Snow, and more. The staff here is incredibly friendly and happy to answer your questions about the studio and its history. You can also have a poster custom-designed and printed there, but conceive your design way in advance, as these limited-edition prints take at least six weeks to prepare.
150 3rd Ave. S, Downtown
Historically, Downtown Nashville is the farthest thing from a gourmet destination, but Southernaire Market is looking to change all that. This elevated grocery store stocks its shelves with all sorts of artisanal edibles as well as a butcher counter, seafood case, and fresh, locally-sourced produce. Also nice: A small but very good to-go menu (gumbo, salad, panini), and great coffee.