Nashville might be best known for its neon-lit honky-tonk bars and open-air buses that host bachelorette parties, but Music City has far more to offer visitors.
While the rest of the world was shut down for the pandemic, Nashville kept building. According to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, 197 new restaurants, cafés, and bars, as well as 23 hotels were added during 2020 and 2021. And based on the cranes that dot the city’s downtown, it’s continuing to grow at an impressive pace.
One of the most exciting additions to Nashville’s music scene: the National Museum of African American Music, which opened in January 2021. At the 56,000-square-foot institution, visitors can travel through six galleries and see interactive exhibits that share how African Americans have shaped and created more than 50 genres of music.
Nashville’s food scene is having its own renaissance. Boqueria, a Barcelona-style tapas bar, opened its doors in Nashville this February. The menu is the same as its New York counterpart and includes paella, pan con tomate, patas bravas, and grilled octopus.
In Germantown, James Beard Award–winning chef RJ Copper opened Acqua, a sea life–inspired, avant-garde restaurant and his second restaurant in the neighborhood, after Saint Stephen. Acqua offers a 12- to 16-course experience, focusing on Italy’s coast lines.
Lou, which opened before the pandemic, is also worth a visit. The seasonal menu—including innovative takes on indigo cherry tomatoes, celery and fennel, and fermented cabbage—is paired with an all-natural wine list. The menu is a fusion of chef Mailea Weger’s Southern California roots and her French culinary training, after her first kitchen experience working in a Parisian restaurant.
With more than 4,000 new hotel rooms added over the past two years, visitors have plenty of lodging options, including the hip Moxy Nashville Vanderbilt, which opened its doors in January. The six-story hotel is the first in Hillsboro Village and has a contemporary vibe, complete with vinyl records as wall decor.
If your preferences lean more toward Old World charm, check out The Hermitage Hotel, a favorite gathering place in Nashville since 1910. Celebrated French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest restaurant, Drusie & Darr, opened its doors there last November and features regional produce, some of which comes from the hotel’s garden. A new café, The Pink Hermit, also opened its doors at the hotel in February. And the historic hotel partnered with Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James lifestyle brand to create a new staff wardrobe, one more way that the hotel continues to reinvent itself.