There’s something about the thrill of packing up and moving to a new city entirely on your own. You’re terrified but excited all at once, and in a way it’s live or die, sink or swim. You don’t know anyone, you don’t know where anything is, so you’re almost forced to meet new people and try new things. There’s a good chance that every day you’re going to feel out of your comfort zone just a little bit, but every day is a new adventure, and if there’s one thing I’m certain about in my life right now (and probably the only thing), it’s that I want this adventure.
I’ve always known that I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life, something that makes a direct impact on people’s lives, and I’ve known that I want to live near other creative minds like myself, but I had never considered myself a city person, which is where creative people flock to. Then I lived in LA for 4 months… and after that I REALLY didn’t consider myself a city person. But the one thing I kept hearing over and over again was how incredible of a place Nashville is. A growing city (over 100 people move here every day) with a huge younger population, I began thinking this could really be the best of both worlds for me, with its country roots but growing metropolitan/modern scene. So I decided to check it out!
The coolest part of the city for me is that so many people are doing the same exact thing I am. Young people like myself are just packing up, moving… and absolutely loving it. I was fortunate enough to meet up with several girls all around my age who have been living in the city for a few years now, and essentially did just that- just up and left their home town and never looked back. They absolutely gushed about the city, the people, the music, the sports, the list could go on and on. And truthfully, after less than a week there myself, I can honestly say they have me convinced.
It’s funny because my only experience with Nashville thus far in my life is tuning in to the TV show on CMT every Wednesday night (which, by the way, I am not very happy with after last week’s episode, but we won’t go there). As it turns out, Nashville is not at all what I expected. Because of the immense population growth and people flocking to the city from all over the country, despite being smack dab in the middle of Tennessee farm country, it pretty much exudes your typical urban feel. Of course, you can get your fair share of honky tonk by taking a saunter down Broadway, but in terms of the city as a whole, believe it or not, it’s all very modern and chic. Filled with great restaurants and quirky coffee shops, all with plenty of outdoor seating and fire pits (MY FAVORITE), you can tell the city is definitely tailored toward the younger population. Especially within the Gulch area (which I made sure was my first stop in town), you’ll notice a distinct contemporary vibe.
I got to experience Nashville’s finest cuisine my very first night in town when I met up with 4-5 students who had also applied to the same graduate program I did at Vanderbilt. We went for dinner at Acme Feed & Seed, right at the corner of 1st Ave. and Broadway, and despite being located in the more touristy section of the city, I was still blown away by how packed the place was on a Wednesday night.
True to it’s country roots, Acme Feed & Seed used to be the Acme Farm Supply building, but you would never guess based on the atmosphere today. Locals today share stories about coming here to get their animal feed for their farms, and it’s incredible to see just how much the city has grown and changed over the years. Now with four floors of live music and delicious food, ranging from your typical southern fare on the first floor to a sushi bar on the second, and a drink bar up on the roof, there’s plenty for everyone. I ended up ordering the Beer Belly Tacos, which were great, but what I really loved was the grilled corn that came with them. I don’t know how exactly they doctored it up, but it was absolutely M O U T H W A T E R I N G. It just so happened it was also national margarita day on Wednesday, so I had no choice but to order one, and I’m pretty sure Brice the bartender (yes, Brice, could you get any more southern) poured mine a little strong after I told him I was straight off a 14 hour car ride. Once again, I tell ya the people in Nashville are gold.
The next day I gave myself a self-guided tour of sorts of the Vanderbilt campus in between interviews. Freshman year Jess never would have been able to go here, I can tell you that much. The university’s student population may not be all that large (only a little over 12k), but the campus is so spread out my head was spinning. But THE BEAUTY. All of the buildings are stunning and I can say I definitely picked the right weekend to visit- 70 degrees and sunny, the cherry trees were already blooming which made for some serious spring fever. Coming back to Syracuse was not easy, I’ll tell you that much…
Of course, while I wanted to see everything, you can guarantee I made my way to the athletic facilities right off the bat (ha ha get it). My motto is you can’t go to a school without first scoping out the athletics, and after being able to catch a glimpse of the baseball field being prepped for one of the first games of the season, I can tell you this is without a doubt where you can find me on a warm spring night for the next two years.
On a side not, Nashville is definitely a hub for sports all around, with Nissan Stadium just across the river, the Predators to keep your busy during the winter months and the Nashville Sound, the AAA affiliate of the Oakland A’s. If you are at all a sports or country music fan, not to mention both, this is your heaven.
If you’re not into the sports scene and would rather check out the eats (although I must tell you, some of the best food I’ve ever had has been at a sports arena, just saying), Nashville is also the place for you. One of the second year grad students showing us around during the week said she had written down a list of restaurants/cafes to check out when she made the move over two years ago. Needless to say- she still hasn’t been able to check them all off her list- instead, the list has just been growing!
In my limited amount of time, I was still fortunate enough to check out some of the greatest places, starting with Acme, followed by a few early morning coffee meetings at Frothy Monkey (an adorable coffee shop on 12th South), and a little bit farther out of town, dinner with extended family at Loveless Café. We also made a quick pit stop into the GooGoo Cluster shop for some decadent chocolates.
Quick little history lesson, Loveless Café used to be the popular pit stop for many a weary traveler passing by from Memphis to Nashville. Over the years, a motel was added to the restaurant, and plenty of music/entertainment stars have dropped in, using the Cafe as a much needed pit stop (as shown by the pictures on the walls!) Now a national foodie treasure, the Loveless Cafe has remained true to it’s roots over the years, and I would highly recommend stopping in here if you’re looking for the epitome of a true southern meal. Comfort food takes a whole new meaning here, starting with the endless biscuits all the way through cobbler for dessert. The service here was also absolutely top notch- you couldn’t find a better experience if you tried!
Honestly, I could go on and on about this amazing city all day, but I think there’s only one way to find out if I’m biased or not, and that’s to visit yourself! With plenty of entertainment options for people of all ages, I strongly consider taking your next vacation here. I don’t think Tennessee is usually a place people think to travel to, but Nashville is definitely making it’s mark on the map, and for good reason.
What did I miss?! I only had a few days to spend in the city, so I would love to hear your experiences and any tips you have for the next time I’m back!