Summer trip to Nashville, TN

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One of our New Year’s resolutions was to travel more within the US, and we’re making good on that goal. Kyle and I both have our travel wish lists on the fridge, and Nashville was an overlapping destination. We’ve heard great things from friends that have visited so we decided to head there for a few days around my birthday.

I’m returning home feeling inspired and also rested after slowing down to the pace of southern living. I was surprised by just how much beautiful design there was in Nashville, across the board. From colorful outdoor murals, to stunning restaurant interiors, to coffee shop corners, there were thoughtful design details everywhere. Of course, the element that adds to the experience is the welcome you receive from locals. Everyone was happy to chat and it was a nice change of pace from the pervading “mind your own business” attitude in Boston. I could definitely get used to the ambience and aesthetics of this city.

Nashville is quite spread out, so we took plenty of Uber rides to see different sections of the city. We were able to hit East Nashville, 12 South, the Gulch, downtown, and a little of Chilton. We spent some time exploring each area, and these are some of the places that stood out on the trip:

East Nashville

If we were ever to live in Nashville, this neighborhood is where we could picture ourselves. About 20 minutes outside of downtown, it’s pretty suburban but there are plenty of independently owned shops and restaurants. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to pay a visit to all the spots on our list, but we’ll just have to save them for a future trip!

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Cafe Roze was the very first stop of our trip, and it was also my favorite. We were lucky to go on a weekday morning when our only company was a handful of locals. The space is the perfect combination of feminine and industrial. When you walk in, it’s immediately clear that every element of the cafe was thoughtfully considered. Industrial gray walls and a marble bar are balanced by feminine touches of pale pink. In the morning they offer a signature rose latte and other coffee drinks as well as a range of breakfast dishes – ranging from coconut yogurt and granola, to a frozen berry bowl, up to stout waffles, and hearty egg sandwiches. I would love to go back in the future for dinner.

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Lemon Laine
Whenever there’s a clean beauty shop, I have to stop in, and Lemon Laine did not disappoint. Their store is just as pretty as the products they carry — and they’re full of favorites like Mother Dirt, Ursa Major, Coconut Cult, and Tata Harper. The entire space is so pretty and you’ll definitely want to pull up a seat at their oils bar, where you can make a custom blend (and enjoy a little wine). I’m so happy to see that the clean beauty movement is growing nationwide.

As a sidenote, East Nashville has plenty of wonderful vegan options! Being vegan in Nashville is no easy feat when you’re surrounded by talk of hot chicken and mac n’ cheese – but there are some sanctuaries, and several are in East Nashville. We loved The Wild Cow and Graze (which share the same ownership) and Koko’s Vegan Ice Cream.

12 South
This district, located along 12th Ave is a prime shopping location and nice for leisurely strolling and browsing. In addition to unique businesses, the street also has lots of colorful murals which lend themselves to photos. Genius marketing idea, Nashville! We spent a half a day here taking our time and going from coffee shop, to brewery, to lunch, and checking out each shop.

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Imogene + Willie is a shop I’ve wanted to visit ever since the day I saw it on Pinterest years ago. They make handmade jeans for men and women along with a handful of other accessories. They’re headquartered in a former gas station and their merchandising is perfection. The fact that Amelia’s flower truck (an old VW bus with make-your-own bouquets) was parked out front only added to the ambience.

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Small, but lovely in every way, Firepot Tea is the perfect spot to duck in and cool down with an iced tea. The owners travel to Morocco frequently and all of the decor in the shop is handpicked from their travels. In addition to beautiful loose leaf teas, they also have Moroccan pillows for sale (which are difficult to pass up). We spent time chatting with the woman there who happened to be a fellow vegan and offered up additional recommendations for our trip. Highly recommend a visit here!

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White’s Mercantile
White’s is another beautiful shop that just oozes southern charm. Like Imogene + Willie, it’s located in an old service station. This modern day general store has everything from clothing, to pet accessories, to kitchenware. I grabbed a few cute cards and then checked out Buck Mason, a traveling menswear pop-up in a school bus parked outside the shop.

The Gulch
The Gulch is a popular area near downtown Nashville filled with restaurants and bars, and also populated with bachelor and bachelorette party goers. You’ll see lots of pedal taverns and the infamous angel wings mural that’s so frequently posted on Instagram.

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This Cafe is the perfect place to start your morning. CREMA made the best latte that I had during the trip and the cafe was the perfect spot for a little people watching. Kyle and I grabbed a space at one of their standing tables and chatted while he enjoyed an avocado toast and pour over. If I lived locally, I think this would be my regular work spot.

Juice Bar
We hit Juice Bar in the Gulch for a smoothie to get a dose of greens. After a night of drinking this is a good spot to grab a juice to help you re-set. Detox before you retox, right?

Kyle was a fan of Jackalope Brewing in this area, and if it’s up your alley, Kristin Cavallari’s shop, Uncommon James is also nearby. Our original plan for the day in the Gulch included lunch at Milk & Honey, but there was a bit of wait so we passed.

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Ok, so this restaurant is a little outside of the city, but it’s a MUST visit! We made reservations here for my birthday dinner and it was heaven. It’s so rare that I can go to a place and order almost any dish from the menu. In fact, I could order more than Kyle could (he has a peanut allergy) which NEVER happens. They serve plant-based meals and delicious drinks like frozen avocado margaritas. Their cherry vanilla chzcake was the perfect ending to the meal. Spots like this are making me even more excited for Rewild to open in Quincy Center!

Planning for an upcoming trip and need more recommendations? I always find that following local accounts on Instagram beneficial and enjoyed checking out @thenashvilleguide in the month leading up to our trip. What summer locations are on your vacation list?


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