What to do in Nashville: 2015 Edition

About once every few weeks, I get an e-mail from a friend asking the age-old question about the place we call home. I've answered the question before, but it seems like is Nashville changing constantly. There's always new restaurants to explore and  things to see—and some are better than others. Nothing is worse than traveling to a fun city, and ending up in a restaurant that all the locals secretly loathe. Nashville What to do in NashvilleSo if you're headed to Nashville anytime soon, here's the skinny on where to eat, drink and be merry. I've separated all my favorites into categories, narrowed (gulp!) them down, and included the neighborhood. I also went ahead and put these gems on a Google Map, so you can take these suggestions with you on the go!

HINT: If I'm listing the restaurant or venue, that means I've been more than three times, and have had a good experience (ie., great meal, great service, great value) every. single. time. There are plenty of places in Nashville that are worth a visit if you're a local and able to risk it. But not you, dear traveler. Not you. 

BREAKFAST/COFFEE:What to do in Nashville: Crema Coffee

  • Marche Artisan Foods (East Nashville) — This is the best place in Nashville, in my opinion. Arrive early (doors open at 8:30) and order, order and order some more. The daily tartine is always perfect, and I'm a huge fan of the croissant french toast, too (just get a half-order so you have room for the rest)!
  • Crema (Downtown) — If you live in Nashville, you'll know why this goes at the top of my list. Perfect, smooth coffee every time (the latte is my go-to). On Fridays/Saturdays, Utterly brings by delicious macarons to sell. And don't miss out on the avocado toast.
  • Barista Parlor (East Nashville or the Gulch)—not my personal favorite (plan to pay $5 for a slow-drip coffee), but it's a great atmosphere and good hipster-gawking, and the sausage biscuit is pretty awesome, too.


  • Percy Warner (Beyond Sylvan Park/West Nashville)— Drive to Bellemeade Blvd and park by the steps. Walk to the top of the stone steps and you'll see a little trailhead for a 2.5-mile round trip hike! It's gorgeous, and full of friendly hikers.
  • Radnor Park (South of Nashville)
  • Shelby Bottoms Park (East Nashville)
  • Centennial Park (Midtown)


  • Shops on Fatherland/Idea Hatchery (East Nashville)—these cute shops are the best of local, all in two little shopping areas. LITTLE is the point. These small "incubator" shops have helped launch some of the best local retailers.
  • Peter Nappi — if you have $300+ to blow, do it on a pair of these boots.
  • Imogene + Willie — Imogene (eye-moh-jean) + Willie makes custom jeans that will make you want to throw out all your other jeans. (Check out White's Mercantile) down the road as well.
  • Gas Lamp Antiques I + II (100 Oaks) — antiques for miles. And miles. Love it every time. Arrive fed and caffeinated.

LUNCH:What to do in Nashville Hattie B's Chicken

  • Hattie B's Hot Chicken (Sylvan Park)—Choose Mild, Medium, Hot, Damn Hot, or Shut the Cluck Up!-- no matter what, your taste buds will be jumping. This is the best hot fried chicken joint in Nashville. We love our hot chicken so much that every summer, we even have a hot chicken festival! So if you ask me, skip the barbecue and go straight for Hattie B's.
  • Silly Goose (East Nashville) — cous cous and delicious sandwiches. Try the T-bird and the King Kong cous cous. Closed on Mondays.
  • Germantown Cafe (Germantown)—love the miso salmon salad!
  • Local Taco (East Nashville) — right across from the Idea Hatchery, love the fried avocado taco! Also, the interior was designed by my good friends, Regiven.

What to do in Nashville: Pinewood SocialLOCAL BREWS + COCKTAILS

  • Bar 308 (East Nashville) — arrive after 9 p.m. or you'll be the only one in there (which I don't hate.) The Monkey's Paw is a great grapefruit + champagne cocktail. Everything they make is homemade and delicious. 
  • Tennessee Brew Works (8th/Downtown) — these guys did a tasting at my house once! Now, the brewery is up and running and everything is super delicious. Take a tour, enjoy live music... have a blast!
  • The Taproom (12 South) — awesome porch and beers on draft. This is where all the locals are.
  • Pinewood Social (Downtown) — great drinks and mocktails, just prepare to spend $12+ on each. Great location and beautiful porch if it's a nice day!

DINNER:What to do in Nashville: Rolf and Daughters

  • Rolf and Daughters (Germantown)—if you don't have a reservation, plan to arrive immediately when doors open at 5:30 p.m., eat at the bar, or wait until 8 - 9p.m. for second service. We love to eat at the bar and order as much as we can stomach. We've never tasted a single bad thing.
  • Burger Up (12 South)—our favorite place to be regulars. Two Lamb Burgers, Two House Red Wines. Done and Done.
  • Lockeland Table (East Nashville)—wood fired pizzas, great cocktails, awesome value. Just a good ol' neighborhood spot.
  • Two Ten Jack (East Nashville)— Asian flavor invasion. This place does Ramen like a pro.
  • Josephine (12 South)

DESSERT:What to do in Nashville: Bobbie's Dairy Dip

  • Bobbie's Dairy Dip (Sylvan Park) — it may look suspect from the outside, but Bobbie's Dairy Dip is a Nashville establishment, famous for its specialty shakes and soft-serve treats. Cheap, awesome. Perfect after a hike at Percy Warner.
  • Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (12 South or East Nashville)—Jeni's has more locations around the nation now than it used to, but the flavors are always changing so it's always fun to go see what they have in the freezer. HINT: Ask for a taste of an ice cream sandwich. They'll cut you a piece!
  • Tempur Chocolate (Germantown) – this new spot has great truffles and an insane cup of hot chocolate.


  • Ryman Auditorium (Downtown)— original home of the Grand Ol' Opry. This is a place you must see a concert before you die, but unfortunately, most concerts sell out months in advance. Plan a trip around a concert you want to see, or simply pop in for a tour. (Tours leave ever 20 minutes or so.)
  • Roberts Western World (Downtown) — the honky tonk to beat all honky tonks. Show up at 10 am, prepare to drink cheap beer, listen to some great bluegrass, and dance with the regulars.
  • Country Music Hall of Fame (Downtown) — to be fair, I've never been to the hall of fame. But I hear it's a must-see, so I would feel remiss if I didn't include it. SOMEDAY...

Alright folks... so what did I miss? What did I forget? Those of you who have been here recently, what did you enjoy the most?

Three Weeks in One Carry-on

When Patrick first suggested it, I almost laughed. Carry-on luggage only? For a three week trip? He had to be kidding.

via Tec Petaja
via Tec Petaja

He wasn't.

I get it. Packing light has many benefits. For one, we'll be moving fast—the less we pack, the less we have to lug around. Second, the less we take, the less cluttered our small little hostel and Airbnb rooms rooms will feel. And let's be honest, they're already going to be pretty small! And ultimately, there's not really a way to pack 21 pairs of underwear and 21 outfits. That's what I call unnecessary baggage.

So with that in mind, I sought to figure out what I already owned that would make an easy wash-as-you-go  wardrobe.  Here's the gist:

Three Weeks in One Bag
Three Weeks in One Bag

Footwear. At first, I wanted to just take two pairs of shoes. But what the heck. I am a girl. I knew I wanted to take a pair of boots—they're comfortable, warm, and versatile—and also because the ones I have are about to die after a long and fruitful life of service. (And won't it be nice to take them, and replace them in Europe?) Then, a simple pair of flats will work for museums, nice dinners, and walking short distances. (I like these from J.Crew factory.) And finally. I had to do it. One pair of tourist tennies. And I will wear them with a smile on my face! (Maybe.)

Tops. So in the picture above, there are four tops. Chambray is great, because I wear it everyday anyway. A SmartWool t-shirt is light, warm, and easily washed by hand. I can wear it day after day too, because the merino wool has anti-microbial fibers that fight stink! Yes! A long-sleeved black tee won't show sweat (not that I do that), and it's easy to layer. (I might borrow something like this from my next door neighbor.) And finally, the fourth option could be something like this J.Crew linen baseball T. I've also been thinking about slipping in a white collared shirt—maybe something that won't wrinkle too easily, like this Columbia version.

Bottoms. Easy. One pair of Jeans. One pair of good-quality leggings (they are fully opaque, I promise!). One pair of shorts. Keep it simple with black—because then everything matches.

Layers. I'm hoping to take a cashmere sweater to layer on top of everything. Then, I'm going to borrow my sweet friend Jaime's Patagonia vest. Sure, it's a little "techie," but it will be warm and add some variety. Annnnd... don't forget a great scarf. I might take two. And by might, I mean will.

Dress. I found this Columbia dress at REI, and couldn't help myself. It will be perfect for a few fancy dinners, and can be layered with just about everything in the bag. Score.

Intimates. I'm really looking forward to trying out SmartWool's new intimate line (more on that soon!)—but ultimately, I think 3-4 pairs will do just fine.

So take all this, put it together... and what do you get? Well.. I went a little crazy on Polyvore. Granted, I don't own these exact pieces, but the idea is there... and I like it!

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 3.48.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 3.48.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 3.49.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 3.49.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 5.42.18 PM
Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 5.42.18 PM
Pack for Three Weeks in One Bag
Pack for Three Weeks in One Bag

Not bad, eh? I know this is only 11 days... but I thought you might get sick of the mixing and matching. You get the gist.

What are your travel tips? Anything you can't leave home without?


I haven't owned a bike since I was 10 years old.

True story: When I asked my mom if we had a bike she could bring up to Furman so I could ride to class, she showed up in Greenville with the bike I had as a 10 year old.

Another true story: She made me go to a bicycle shop and listen to them tell her what I'd already told her — there's no way to make a bike made for a 10 year old work for a 20 year old. I haven't stepped in a bike shop since. (Though I've wanted to, bad.)

Thankfully, Nashville, like lots of other cities, has invested in a new bicycle share program called B-cycle. Over the last few months, we've watched bike hubs spring up across the city—stations where 10 bikes are locked up and ready for the renting. But as we passed by in our four-wheeled vehicle, I kept wondering... how does this really work?

Nashville B cycle

So... over Memorial Day weekend, when the weather was perfect, Patrick and I decided to take some b-cycles for a spin. We made some mistakes and learned some lessons that I felt I needed to share. So whether you're visiting the city, or (like us) just don't want to shell out the cold hard cash for your own cruiser—here are five tips to b-cycling Nashville.


STEP ONE: Sign up online. This takes an extra few minutes, and just a little bit of forethought. When you sign up, you'll be mailed a b-cycle card that can work at any of the b-cycle cities (16 total).  We did not do this. We walked up to the station and clicked the screen, and put in our debit card, and took out a bike. (WARNING: You only have 30 seconds to take out said bike.)


STEP TWO: Understand the Cost. B-cylce bikes cost $5 per bike per day PLUS a usage fee of $1.50 every HALF hour after your first free hour. We did not understand this.

STEP THREE: Understand the Loophole to the Cost. Bike sharing is all about sharing. So the idea behind the "free hour" is for you to be able to grab a bike, ride to work, and drop off the bike at a different station. Little did Patrick and I know... that the "free" hour resets every time you check your bike in to a new station. Therefore, the next time we take a bike ride across Nashville, we will click in and out of a few stations along the way, so it really will only cost $5.


STEP FOUR: Ride across the Pedestrian Bridge. You just HAVE to. It's so gorgeous. (And there's a station to click in and out of on both sides.)


STEP FIVE: Return the bike.

It's that easy.

**Note: a former version of this blog post was titled "How to B-Cylce." My apologies. 

Field Photos, Edition No. 5: The Best Coffee in Brooklyn


This week I'm on a quick trip up to New York City to meet with a few wonderful people (like my sweet friend Jennifer Miller) to talk about journalism and writing books. Today, I'm driving over to West Point to visit my old home and my sister Leigh's sweet family.

But before all that... I had to hit the streets of Brooklyn Heights and take a few photos to share and find a cup of good coffee. Mission accomplished.

brooklyn street

Jennifer's office, overlooking a beautiful May day:

brooklyn books

From the outside looking in:

Brooklyn brownstone

From the inside looking out:

brooklyn door

brooklen flower box

The best coffee in Brooklyn? Found. Tazza in Brooklyn Heights.

Brooklyn Tazza

BONUS. The view from an apartment in Harlem.


I miss Nashville. But I love New York.

Mor Field Photos: Edition No. 4 // Edition No. 3 // Edition No. 2 //Edition No. 1