Pre- and post-COVID times, Nashville continues to break records for tourism, welcoming 15.2 million visitors to the city. In case no one had noticed, that’s nearly double the tourists Nashville saw just 10 years ago. That’s likely also a record of biscuits and hot chicken (not to mention beer and whiskey) sold.
The intense 24-hour itinerary below focuses on areas downtown or within a short drive and strives to help visitors get the most out of their stay by highlighting some of the most quintessentially Nashville spots in town. With the short timespan in mind, this itinerary includes just one place that requires waiting in line (plus an option for one more if your stay absolutely requires biscuits, which — okay — fair).
And do let readers know in the comments section what your perfect 24-hour itinerary would be in Nashville. There are a lot of ways to spend a perfect dining day here.
8 a.m. - Breakfast at Silver Sands Cafe or Pinewood
If you’re fighting through a headache after a long night on Broadway, pop into Sophia Vaughn’s Silver Sands for time-tested homestyle breakfast recipes from pillowy pancakes to country ham and biscuit sandwiches to help right what ails you (and also maybe a local IV bar like Intravenous Solutions). On the lighter side (or for those looking for a spot to work and dine) — grab a spot at Pinewood and sip on Crema coffee with house granola, brûléed grapefruit, or a California bowl (but really, don’t miss Mr. Aaron’s everything bagel breakfast sandwich with a charred tomato).
9:30 a.m. - Coffee stop at Barista Parlor (with optional pastry purchase)
Get ready for a full day of dining with a dose of caffeine from one of Nashville’s best coffee shops, with locations in Germantown, East Nashville, the Gulch, Marathon Village, and even BNA. Have a sweet tooth? Do your best to snag a Conny & Jonny Donut or a Brightside Bakeshop croissant from the display case — they’re some of the city’s best sweet treats.
11 a.m. - Obligatory meat-and-three meal at Arnold’s Country Kitchen
Hopefully, beat the lunch rush and order anything — it’s all good at Nashville’s essential meat-and-three. Fried chicken, roast beef, and macaroni and cheese are some crowd favorites. Yes, it’s a marathon eating day, but at least do have a bite of dessert, like spicy chocolate pie, banana pudding, or seasonally available peach pie.
2 p.m. - Hot chicken stop at Prince’s or 400 Degrees
Best bets for hot chicken procurement involve hitting them at non-peak hours. Show up to the South-of-town location of the OG hot chicken destination, Prince’s, between lunch and dinner.
Bolton’s is closed currently due to the recent loss of Bolton Matthews, but 400 Degrees is another extremely solid bet for fiery fowl. Looking for a full-on day filled with hot chicken? Check out our full map here or venture out with some unique takes here. Popular and rapidly expanding hot chicken destination Hattie B’s also brings some heat and pretty long lines. Venture to the 8th or Charlotte locations for less of a wait, and/or order online to skip ahead while scoring some dirty looks in the process.
After hot chicken hunger games and before happy hour: nap
6 p.m. - Dumpling and shaved ice “snack” and highballs at Locust
Stop by the patio (or plan ahead by booking a table on Tock) for shared bites at one of Nashville’s hottest and best new restaurants, Locust. The brainchild of former Catbird Seat Chef Trevor Moran changes the menu often, but constants include those excellent steamed dumplings, shrimp toast, mouth numbingly spicy cold noodles, and flavor-packed shaved ice.
7:30 p.m. - Dinner reservations at City House or The Continental
In these crazy tourism times in post-COVID Nashville, it’s best to make those dinner reservations ahead of time. Choose your own adventure from old or new Nashville — Tandy Wilson’s long-essential restaurant City House or Sean Brock’s impeccable new spot the Continental (roll the dice by arriving early to dine at the bar at either location). Wilson’s Sunday suppers are a Nashville treasure (that meatball sandwich though), but you can never go wrong with a belly ham pizza or the catfish, whatever small plates they’ve cooked up, and one of pastry chef Rebekah Turshen’s stellar desserts. At the Continental, don’t miss the pate en route cart, the prime rib cart, or the ice cream cart (or any of Keaton Vasek and Michael Werrell’s desserts).
10 p.m. - Robert’s Western World
A stumble down Broadway is a must for any Nashville visitor, and Robert’s is one of the few oldies but goodies that remain. If there’s any room left at all, opt for the recession special — that’s a fried bologna sandwich, a sack of chips, and an ice-cold PBR. This is the Nashville of yesteryear, and we all sort of really miss it, tbh.
After a night out on Broadway: Hermitage Cafe
Another long-time Nashville tradition — sopping up all the alcohol with greasy diner fare at Hermitage Cafe. Extremely well-known musicians, factory workers, and tourists alike can all be found dining side by side at the historic all-night diner.
Need (even more) dining inspiration? Check out Nashville’s essential 38 restaurants and hottest hotspots.