Exploring Nashville: A Beginner's Guide to Broadway
August 09 2015

By now, you’ve heard the news: Las Vegas and Bourbon Street had a kid and named her Nashville.

Your bags are packed. Your boots are on. Your sharpie’s tucked securely into your trucker hat, ready to be deployed for an autograph if—no, when—you run into Taylor Swift. You know all 70 “world famous”, “can’t miss” Honky-Tonks on Broadway and “y’all” has become the only operative pronoun in your vocabulary. 

Broadway, a six-block stretch of live music and brides-to-be, has become the whiskey-fueled, neon-colored pulse in the heart of Music City. It’s the cowboy themed costume party that makes Nashville one of the most popular weekend getaways and it’s easy to see why. It’s impossible to not giddily succumb to the sights and sounds of your first walk down Broadway. The guitar strums and kick drums of your favorite country songs pour out of every bar at once, the result less cacophony and more composition, weaving together a siren song utterly unique and tailored to you. It sounds like your own personal theme song, it sounds like the start to an unforgettable night. 

More accessible than anything in Vegas and less chaotic than anything on Bourbon Street, Broadway delivers, hitting an elusive sweet-spot in nightlife that makes expectation and reality one in the same. It won’t disappoint, and in that way, it’s tempting to stay put and honky-tonk until its time to hang the boots up and call it a weekend. But the fact is that it’s just one street in one of the most cultured, progressive and unique cities in America.

Broadway for Beginners: A Night Out at Nashville’s Most Popular Party 

Just because you are a tourist doesn’t mean you have to act like one. You can’t go wrong at night on Broadway, but it definitely helps to have a plan. Here’s yours. 

Where to Start:  Pinewood Social

Located within walking distance from the best bars on Broadway, Pinewood Social is the perfect place to kick off an authentic Nashville night. The menu boasts local, fresh takes of some of the most classic Southern fare (Meatloaf, meet Jalepeno Mac and Cheese… Catfish, meet Fried Broccoli) but what makes Pinewood truly unique is what it offers outside the kitchen. This place has it all. Play bocce ball while you look out over the Cumberland River. Reserve a karaoke room or an hour of bowling for you and your friends. And if you’re not having fun after any of that, your friends just might push you into the pool for being too much of a downer. That’s right, there’s a pool, too. Pinewood’s the best place to start your night with food and fun, it may just be the best place to finish it, too. 

Where to Snap: John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

Walk North toward Broadway on 3rd Avenue from Pinewood and you’ll run into one of the best photo-ops in all of Nashville. Named after John Seigenthaler, a giant in journalism at USA Today and The Tennessean, you’ll learn first hand that a picture is worth a thousand words. You’ll get the best shot of the Nashville skyline and its famous “Batman” Building, a photo that will surely stand out amid the countless nondescript group poses to follow. 

Where to Sip: Robert’s Western World or Tootsie’s

Congrats—by now, you’ve made it on Broadway! First, take your time and let it all sink in (or give a couple high fives if you have to) because, truly, there’s no place like it. When you get home, you’ll have friends who will ask if you went to Robert’s Western World or Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. These are two of the most famous, prototypical “honky-tonks” in Nashville. If you’re looking to start your night with the traditional Broadway experience, these places each have multiple floors of live music and plenty of room for you to take those new cowboy boots out for a spin.

Where to Stay: Acme Feed and Seed

Head down towards the Cumberland and you’ll find yourself at Acme Feed and Seed, an old farming supply warehouse. Don’t worry, it’s been thoroughly renovated. Acme is four stories of authentic Nashville flair, each making a nod at Nashville’s past, present and future. The first floor hosts some of the best live music on Broadway. One floor up you’ll find vintage video games, a bar-top shuffleboard table, some seriously comfy couches, a bunch of flat screens, and famous Sushi master Sam Katakura doing what he does best. The third floor houses The Hatchery, a music venue that hosts pre-programmed events and concerts (go to Acme’s events page for more info). At last, the rooftop, where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of Broadway while dancing to DJ-curated music. Stay awhile, Broadway doesn’t get better—or more diverse—than this. 

Where to Say Goodnight: Paradise Park

Don’t go to sleep on an empty stomach. Paradise Park Trailer Resort has the highest quality late-night fare on Broadway. Order the burger and a side of tater-tots and end your night deliciously. Even if you’re not hungry, the atmosphere and music is incredible. They curate some of the best local talent and famous musicians will often stop by and perform. My last visit to Paradise Park left me face to face with Darius Rucker…even if it was in line at the restaurant.

 

Mike Matesich

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