Third Man Records
623 7th Ave. S, Pie Town
Jack White—of White Stripes fame—initially launched Third Man Records in Detroit. The label moved to Nashville in 2009 and is now a sprawling complex that includes a record store, a distribution center, and a photo studio, as well as the actual offices. Come see a show, or book a tour to learn the ins and outs of the modern music industry.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
222 5th Ave S., Downtown
Not only is a visit to this museum a must for anyone with a passing interest in country music; it also provides a lot of context for the city as a whole. Every aspect of the industry is documented in painstaking detail. Standout exhibits include Sing Me Back Home, full of photographs and original recordings that go back to the nineteenth century. Kids get their own exhibits and programs—there are live instrument demonstrations, songwriting classes, and interactive galleries in the Taylor Swift Education Center.
Belle Meade Plantation
5025 Harding Pike, Belle Meade
More than just a farm, Belle Meade Plantation features a mansion, a winery, and was once the premier breeding farm for American Thoroughbreds in the South. The Harding-Jackson family lived here for over a hundred years. Bullet holes and other damage from the Civil War are still evident on the exterior of the Greek Revivalist mansion, and the winery is fully operational and produces traditional Southern wines like Muscadine and Blackberry. Overall, a visit here is a fascinating look into the area’s history.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Pl., Downtown
This neoclassical stunner looks straight out of the nineteenth century but was actually completed in 2005. And it’s so much more than a typical symphony hall. Aldridge is a fan of the movie nights, where feature films (like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Star Wars) are played with a live orchestral accompaniment: “It’s such a magical experience for families to hear the symphony play alongside classic movies,” she says. “We love watching Home Alone at Christmas. It’s fun for both grown-ups and kids.”
Urban Cowboy B&B
1603 Woodland St., Lockeland Springs
Owner Lyon Porter opened Urban Cowboy in Nashville after his original Brooklyn location proved to be a big success. And the concept works just as well here: wildly original design at fair prices, which attracts a younger, hip crowd. It’s a big, historic Victorian mansion in East Nashville with eight guest suites—all are variations on a kind of threadbare, rustic mashup of the South and the Wild West (wood-plank floors, distressed leather club chairs, vintage Oriental rugs). One thing they all have in common: stand-alone clawfoot tubs. It’s a fun perk, even if you aren’t a bath person. And if you aren’t staying at the hotel, it’s still worth a visit to the Public House, Urban Cowboy’s bar, for the outstanding craft cocktails and just as outstanding small bites before heading into the rest of your night.
200 4th Ave. N, Downtown
Noelle is a 1930 Art Deco gem of a building. Located steps from Printers Alley, it’s a few minutes’ walk from places like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Frist Art Museum. Stellar location aside, it’s great for those who like their hotels beautifully designed but without a lot of fussiness. A night in one of the sparse guest rooms feels like staying at the apartment of your most stylish Danish friend—hardwood floors, marble side tables, and custom-made fabric headboards. There aren’t a ton of bells and whistles, but none are needed when the place looks this good. And come morning, you don’t have to go far for an excellent cold brew—the in-house café, Drug Store Coffee, is one of Nashville’s best, which is saying something.
401 Union St., Downtown
In the middle of downtown Nashville’s arts district, the polished, mid-century-inspired Fairlane Hotel fits perfectly amid the area’s urban charm. The overall design is striking—original travertine columns, terrazzo floors, and plenty of brass finishes. And guest rooms are pleasantly pared back and uncluttered, with marble bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the cityscape. Stop by Mile End, an offshoot of the Brooklyn-based deli that serves some of the best bagels and lox in town. Union Teller, meanwhile, is great for a grab-and-go cup of Stumptown coffee and almond croissant.
1218 6th Ave. N, Germantown
This 1865 Federal-style brick townhouse (formerly the home of H.H. Wallman, who was a shoemaker to the city’s nineteenth-century elite) was reborn as a ten-suite boutique hotel. It’s a welcome option if your tastes run toward the intimate, historical, and quirky, rather than the modern high-rises that dominate the city’s hotel scene. While the redbrick exterior gives off a sense of quaint formality, inside, it’s a whimsical mix of hot-pink fabrics, abstract-floral drapes, and contemporary art. Although there’s no on-site restaurant, the Germantown location is a big plus: Some of the city’s best restaurants (Henrietta Red, City House) are within walking distance.
21c Museum Hotel
221 2nd Ave. N, Downtown
Part hotel, part contemporary art gallery, 21c Museum Hotel occupies a massive warehouse from 1900 (formerly the headquarters of a wholesale hardware company). The whole art aspect hits you immediately: There’s over 10,500 square feet of exhibition space, filled with rotating shows and installations. Guest rooms are spare but comfortable, each featuring prints from local photographers. Spring for a terrace suite and you get your own (huge) outdoor space, complete with sofas and dining table for alfresco meals. Three of the suites were designed with artists: one by actor Adrian Grenier, another a collaboration between painter Sebastiaan Bremer and musician-composer Josephine Wiggs, and a third by Yung Jake.
401 11th Ave. S, The Gulch
Nashville’s hip factor reaches new heights at this hotel in the Gulch. The city’s relentlessly cool neighborhood is adjacent to both Music Row and Downtown, and the Thompson’s central location means there’s easy access to landmarks like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Frist Art Museum. Inside, guest rooms epitomize rustic chic—hardwood floors, repurposed sliding barn doors, and subway-tiled bathrooms give off a Brooklyn-meets-Dixie vibe. And Marsh House draws in the locals with a menu of fried oysters, gumbo, and snapper crudo.
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