Music City, Nashvegas, Smashville, all outrageous nicknames aside, Nashville has become the spot for student travel pilgrimages in the South in the past few years. Recently overtaking Las Vegas as the #1 bachelorette party destination, the capital of Tennessee is caught in a struggle between an authentic music scene with southern hospitality and becoming a cheesey tourist destination with hayrides down Broadway (why would anyone want to do 5 mph in a trailer being starred at by strangers??). With everything going on in the city, why wouldn’t we compile a Nashville student guide to highlight the best places to go?
With student travelers more eager than ever to see more cities on long weekends, over spring break, and during the summer, Nashville is a perfect spot for student travelers looking for a blend of southern hospitality, hipsters, college scenes, and music! Whether you’re in town for a weekend, a week, or are starting your college experience in Nashville, here is the essential guide to a city with more nicknames than that guy who emcees HQ Trivia (sorry Scott), brought to you by the student travel experts at Rayka, of course!
Breakfast & Brunch Spots
Close to the Vanderbilt and Belmont campuses, this adorable little café is a favorite amongst students. They have a relatively small menu, but everything they do is really great! Snag a coffee and feel free to indulge on a breakfast burger. In my opinion, it’s never too early for a full-blown burger. http://edgehillcafe.com/food/
Butcher & Bee
Not only does this place have an adorable name, but this sequel to a Charleston original serves up locally sourced goodness and homemade pastries on the reg. East Nashville is the perfect setting for this spot, and you’ll know why right when you enter the hip, eclectically designed interior. http://www.butcherandbee.com/nashville
One of the author’s personal favorites, the Southern impresses visitors and locals alike. Swing through for their busy brunch hours, but definitely be sure to schedule a reservation beforehand on the weekends! The chicken and waffles along with some sweet potato biscuits are things that will put you straight back into the food coma of your dreams. The inside is a clean, open plan that is inviting, yet avoids the tendency to look ostentatiously hip. Why do people try too hard? Don’t worry, the Southern pulls it off effortlessly. http://thesouthernnashville.com/
With so many people moving to Nashville from places like North Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas, the BBQ scene has had to fulfill their cravings! Edley’s on 12 South is a staple of Nashville, and it’s almost like people recreationally stand in line for this grub. Even for those impatient, hangry food lovers, like yours truly, you gotta go here. The casual atmosphere and award-winning meats sell out quick, so be sure to get there early. Snag a large plate with some sides and get ready to chow down. http://www.edleysbbq.com/
You won’t be catching too many tourists at this Charlotte Pike establishment, but hey, sometimes you need a break from bachelorette parties and guys looking for bachelorette parties. They don’t even have a website, so you know it’s good! Korea House is incredibly authentic and has some of the best bibimbap in the South. This no-frills establishment is the bomb, and there is nothing that some savory Korean rice, kimchi, and sake won’t fix.
Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish
Everyone and their mother has a favorite hot chicken joint, and we’d reckon that Hattie B’s is probably the most commonly cited in this category. However, Bolton’s packs both serious flavor and some serious spice (depending on the cook)! Hot chicken is quintessentially Nashville, and you just simply can’t leave the city without trying it. Everyone from KFC to your local southern-fusion spot has their own take on it, but Bolton’s is ingrained in the Nashville psyche. You won’t be disappointed. https://www.boltonsspicy.com/
Pinewood Social will most certainly impress any of your traveling companions. Similar to European social clubs of old, this open floor plan with random, yet surprisingly consistent, furniture comes with a bar, great kitchen, bowling lanes, office space, outdoor area, bocce ball, and a pool. So, you essentially never have to leave! Take some Instagram pics around the bowling area, and your friends will most certainly have FOMO/think you’re the student version of Anthony Bourdain. https://www.pinewoodsocial.com/
Rolf & Daughters (East Nashville)
Oh, you fancy now, huh? To be honest, you might need to get a reservation here a month or so in advance, but hey, you’re cool, smart, funny, and good looking. They gotta let you in! That was my tactic, and I was politely put on the list for a 2 hour wait… Anyway, this fancy, artisanal take on southern classics might be the best restaurant in town. Make a reservation, plan a wonderful night out, and enjoy this amazing restaurant! https://www.rolfanddaughters.com/
Going out with the girls or just giving into the temptation of a delicious margarita? Taco Mamacita is a relative newcomer on the Mexican scene, but it’s mad good. Snag some artisanal tacos, have a marg (or two, we don’t make the rules), and enjoy the upbeat, fun atmosphere here! https://tacomamacita.com/
Burger Up (12 South)
I don’t know if I can write about Burger Up without drooling like one of those dogs that is cute from a distance, but you don’t want to pet it. There is some hot competition in the burger scene in Nashville, but Burger Up is well-known for its quality and great vibe. Try their wide variety of artisanal burgers, homemade ketchup and honey mustard, and please please get their thick sweet potato fries. They are why the sun rises. http://www.burger-up.com/
Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, or cup of egg white infused cocktail, but Patterson House feels like you’re being invited into someone’s living room for a nice drink, if you happened to be friends with award winning mixologists. Definitely not a cheap destination, but you’re bound to impress dates and friends alike with this swanky spot. http://thepattersonnashville.com/
Acme Feed & Seed (Broadway)
Come on, you can’t go out in Nashville and not swing through Broadway! This stretch of honkytonk bars downtown is known for its perpetual crowds, neon lights, great live music, and serious partying. Day or night, our favorite is Acme Feed & Seed at the end of the street. Fight your way to the top of the multi-storied bar to have a great view of the river and look down on the crazy street and people below! http://theacmenashville.com/
One of the best speakeasy’s in the South, finding the unmarked entrance to this large, dimly lit bar and lounge is 100% worth it. Roll through the back alley, and you won’t miss its bumpin music. Come in, grab a delicious cocktail (we recommend the Pony Show), and climb up to one of the two elevated stories overlooking the bar below. Seriously good drinks, awesome atmosphere, and really great people watching from above!
Squeezed right into the center of Hillsboro Village, the Villager Tavern is straight out of the Nashville of 40 years ago. People still smoke inside, you can get a cheap pitcher of beer, and dart throwing in the back is the main activity. Looking for a place for a romantic drink? This is 100% not it. Come through with your friends for some friendly competition with some serious dart-ers, and enjoy what it must have been like for our parents in college. It was always better in the “good ole days”! https://www.thevillagertavern.com/
Jeni’s Ice Cream
Not particularly specific to Nashville, but delicious and popular never the less, Jeni’s Ice Cream on 12 South and in Hillsboro Village typically boast some serious lines at night, but wow is it worth it! Ever thought about eating a stick of butter? It’s ok, we’ve all been there. Jeni’s makes their homemade ice cream so creamy that you won’t need sweets for a week! Or maybe until you come back to Jeni’s tomorrow… It’s irresistible.https://jenis.com/
Bobbie’s Dairy Dip
They may have some diner food and old school fast food, but we know why you’re here, it’s for those picturesque, tall, beautifully dipped ice cream cones! Get your cameras ready for the most basic, sinful, satisfying food-in-the-air pic that will make you look like the coolest kid in 1951 (with an iPhone, but ignore that detail). Cheap, authentic, and iconic. Bobbie’s is a must.
Cook Out on West End
Is it shameful to end this post with a late-night fast food chain? Well ask Belmont, Vanderbilt, MTSU, Fisk, and other college students in town, and they most certainly won’t be mad about it! It feels right t0 include it in a Nashville Student Guide. After a sweet night out in Nashville, every student traveler needs to have the authentic student experience of eating way too much cheap, fried food at Cook Out. $5 tray and endless combos of milkshakes keeps the drunken masses happy, and it’ll do the same for you! http://www.cookout.com/
Hopefully this Nashville Student Guide is helpful to you- and if so we’ll make some more with other US and international cities! And if you are looking for other student favorites, be sure to download Rayka on the App Store now!
Image 1: From The Southern
Image 2: From Pinewood Social
Image 3: From The Tennessean
Image 4: From Pinterest
Image 5: From Pinterest