Honky Tonk Is Optional on the Perfect Evening in Nashville


You can find a country-and-western side and a hipster side after dark in Nashville. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Ah, Thursday night — the only truly social night of the week. It’s the night when babysitters are booked, friends convene, and drinks are imbibed. There are no family obligations to fulfill, no amateurish weekend crowds to elbow through — and the possibilities are endless. The night starts after work and ends whenever you want. In any city. All over the world. This week, we’re presenting the perfect Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn.

This town certainly has a country-and-western side, made all the more popular by the hit television show Nashville. Boots, buckles, and bluegrass aside, this midsized city is also very modern, hip, and artisan. In fact, it’s so hip that you’re likely to compare its features to the bespoke shopping of Brooklyn, the food scene of New Orleans, and the cocktails of New York or San Francisco.

5 p.m.


Stop by Imogene + Willie for vintage clothes. (Courtesy: Imogene + Willie/Tumblr)

Hit up South 12th Street for some of Nashville’s cutest shops. The street is home to the trendy Moda Boutique, displaying a host of hot designers inside of a craftsman bungalow house. Imogene + Willie has a bit of everything bespoke, from vintage boots to signature denim jeans to eclectic home goods. And Katy K Designs is legendary. This vintage shop will help you attain a more Nashville look, with snap-front Western shirts, perfectly worn cowboy boots, and a collection of bric-a-brac gems to pick over for souvenirs.

Related: The Ultimate Nashville Insider’s Shopping Guide

A hint for the ladies: 12 South Taproom and Grill has an excellent selection of southern craft beers, if your fellow isn’t up for shopping.

6:30 p.m.


On display at the Johnny Cash Museum. (Photo: Sean Benham/Flickr)

You’ll have to hurry — the Johnny Cash Museum closes at 7 p.m., but a half-hour is just the right amount of time to experience this place, which houses both temporary and permanent exhibits, not only on Cash and June Carter but also on such greats as Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Inside, you’ll find hallways lined with original guitars, signed portraits, handwritten lyrics, and videos on the lives and times of these great artists.

Related: Thursday Night in San Diego

7:30 p.m.


Pinewood Social offers bowling every day of the week. (Photo: Jenny Adams)

Pinewood Social is a somewhat dangerous stop on your Nashville tour, because there are a lot of reasons to remain here all night. From karaoke rooms to a giant main bar area serving craft cocktails to an incredible southern-food menu, this old trolley depot has been turned into one of the city’s coolest gathering spots. However, the biggest draw is Pinewood’s vintage bowling lanes in the back. The cost is only $40 per hour for up to six people per lane, with free rentals. Oh, and they have a free swimming pool and patio service in the summer, naturally.

9 p.m.


A skillet of farm-fresh asparagus and egg at the 404 Kitchen. (Photo: Rob Manville)

Mosey on over to the Gulch neighborhood and visit the 404. A single building houses the modern, boutique 404 Hotel, with only five rooms and your dinner destination, the 404 Kitchen. Travis Brazil created the incredible craft cocktail drink menu, which is full of playful twists on classics, such as his Last Word Ma’am — a riff on the famous Last Word cocktail. Their version comes with Old Tom Gin, Green Chartreuse, Cherry Heering, and a blend of citrus ($12). Chef Matt Bolus was a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category of the 2014 James Beard Awards, and it shows in every dish. Standouts include his 70-day dry-aged tri-tip and his rabbit presentation, with cider, maple, and chestnut accents. Both the dishes and the drinks here make use of the rooftop herb garden. We award bonus points for this cuteness.

11 p.m.


The Patterson House (Photo: Yelp)

The Patterson House opened a few years back as one of the first places where you could get a true cocktail in this city, which at the time was mostly known for cold beers and hot chicken. Now it’s one of dozens but remains a great choice for those who like an elegant speakeasy moment in a night of barhopping. Expect all the trappings you’d find in drinks in Manhattan, from hand-cracked ice to esoteric bitters.

Related: How to Throw the Ultimate Bachelorette Party in Nashville

1 a.m.


At Robert’s Western World, there is never a cover for live music. (Photo: Jenny Adams)

A romp down Broadway — Nashville’s most famous music row, littered with neon and street performers — is the place to finish up. We love Robert’s Western World, where you’ll find great live country acts with no cover (bring cash for the plastic tip bucket), ice-cold domestics for a few bucks, and a rowdy crowd that’s always a mix of locals and curious travelers. It’s a true honky-tonk, complete with kitsch dripping from the walls and ceiling and a delicious burger, should you need to sober up a bit.

Fun hint: If you can wake up in time on Sunday, head back here. They offer toe-tappin’, nondenominational Gospel fellowship inside the bar, held by Father Ron Blakely and his revival band.

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