This Annual Manual is different from other Annual Manuals. Just like in the Choose Your Own Adventure
® series, originally published by Bantam Books and now issued by Chooseco LLC, you and YOU ALONE will direct your path through the adventure that is Nashville.
In these pages, you will encounter hundreds of unique venues, events, restaurants and activities. YOU must choose among the many captivating features of our city.
First you must select a neighborhood in which to start. From there, you’ll face choices of places to eat, hike or scout new bands and songwriters. You can get involved with a nonprofit agency or take up a new sport. At any time, you can start over, backtrack, relive or reinvent your Nashville experience.
The choices you make will shape your narrative on a daily basis. Try to choose wisely, but then again, in this adventure, there are no bad decisions. Choose below.
Once a near-deserted corridor, downtown is flourishing again, drawing human traffic to eat, hear music and support visual arts and athletic teams. Some pioneers are even moving in and calling the place home. By 2009, more than $1 billion will have been invested in downtown improvements in just a decade. Among the most notable developments are the newly renovated Metro Courthouse and Public Square park and the $120 million Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which finishes out the SoBro (South of Broadway) square bounded by the Gaylord Entertainment Center, Hilton Suites Hotel and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. On the construction horizon, a Michael Graves-designed federal courthouse promises to raise the profile of the urban landscape, which residents of developments like The Stahlman Building and The Viridian now call their front yard. An H.G. Hill urban market—for all practical purposes the first grocery shopping in the reincarnated urban core—may be the linchpin for downtown residential life. Today, downtowners can order grocery delivery online from Plumgood Food while also enjoying an expanding, pedestrian-friendly array of restaurants like Rippy’s, The Standard at the Smith House, Past Perfect, Parco Café and Broadway Brewhouse/Mojo Grill. You know what Petula Clark would do.
To begin your adventure downtown, click here.
CHARLOTTE AVENUE/SYLVAN PARK
Situated just west of center, Sylvan Park is home to a gaggle of state-named streets and to the charming stretch of businesses along Murphy Road that hosts Café Nonna, Goldie’s Deli, Park Café, Star Bagel, Love at First Sight and Sylvan Park restaurant. Charlotte Avenue west of Richland Park becomes dense with businesses: furniture shops, Bobby’s Dairy Dip, Southern Thrift and Wendell Smith’s meat-and-three/liquor store. Further west, just past White Bridge and what looks like a scale replica of the St. Louis arch, the newer, cleaner and mercifully less crowded branch of K&S International Foods anchors a small shopping center, where it shares parking with Vietnamese eateries Miss Saigon and Kien Giang, a SCUBA supply store, a small Asian grocery, a home-brewing supply shop and a public storage facility. The presence of K&S, along with a coterie of taco carts, car lots and southeast Asian restaurants, groceries and video stores, gives this stretch of Charlotte a “Little Nolensville” kind of feel. Ready to star in your West Side story?
To begin your adventure in the Charlotte Avenue/Sylvan Park area, click here.
There is one section of the city where denizens may seem a bit jumpy, likely because they’ve had too much coffee. Hillsboro Village and Belmont claim two of the city’s best caffeinated hot spots: Fido and Bongo Java. MacBooks and iPods gravitate to the free wi-fi like lions to a badly injured gazelle. Elsewhere, fashion enthusiasts of all stripes can shop Posh for pricey urban streetwear, Pangaea for hard-to-define funky, and Fire Finch for beautiful but unnecessary jewelry and leather handbags, while culture vultures can buy a book from Bookman/Bookwoman or rent a movie from Spun, one of the last independent rental stores around. For weekend drinks, Sam’s Sports Bar, Jackson’s and The Villager await those who don’t mind mingling with the college crowd, and the 20th Century Pool Room, Snooker and Cocktails, upstairs at Sportsman’s Grille, is the best-kept neighborhood secret this side of Vanderbilt. Exploration of PM or Tabouli turns up more Asian- and Middle Eastern-inspired fare, respectively. The area has pretty much everything a single urban yuppie could want, from handsome college students to young families pushing strollers, but beware the joggers and bicyclists; their velocity could be your undoing.
To begin your adventure in the Hillsboro Village/Belmont area, click here.
You wouldn’t know it by looking, but a tornado ripped through East Nashville in 1998, leaving in its immediate wake a land of blue tarps and stumps. Since then, restaurants and bars of all sorts have opened on the “other” side of the Cumberland, where you’ll encounter an eclectic mix of longtime residents, post-tornado transplants, artists, house-rehab junkies, musicians (many of whom have built home studios that operate largely by word of mouth), power moms and working-class families. A number of East Nashville’s new businesses have emerged in repurposed architecture: an old gas station is now Margot Café; Bongo Java roasts coffee in a former electronics repair shop; a 1930s pharmacy houses Eastland Café; Family Wash serves pub food—including an amazing shepherd’s pie—in an old Laundromat; Turnip Truck, an auto-body-shop-turned-health-food-grocery, offers Provence bread and homemade soup; hordes gather at the Garage Mahal, the former tow truck shed that’s home to the annual Tomato Art Festival. You get the idea. Perhaps, in this growing section of our city teeming with nightlife, food and arts, you, too, will find a new purpose.
To begin your adventure in East Nashville, click here.
In the former railway scar along 12th Avenue South, The Gulch is undergoing a transformation from industrial blight into a diverse retail and residential district. The area now houses the bakery operation for Provence, music performance venue City Hall, the landmark Station Inn and RuSan’s boisterous sushi restaurant. At the north end of The Gulch, the relocated Judge Bean’s Bar-B-Que is developing legions of brisket-taco addicts. High-end housing has recently sprung up here, with more high-rise digs in the offing. Meanwhile, a mile or so south, 12th Avenue winds toward suburbia through a corridor of gentrification-in-progress. 12South, as locals have dubbed it, has long been home to Dolly Parton’s compound and Katy K’s Ranch Dressing. Now, an upwardly mobile class of yoga- and-java-fueled urbanites has taken to reviving the area’s downtrodden bungalows while watching their property values skyrocket as places like Mirror, Rumours Wine and Art Bar, Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria, Corrieri’s Formaggeria, Portland Brew and Frothy Monkey transform the district into a snappy and walkable neighborhood. Throw in a car wash, Corner Music, Fork’s Drum Closet, Las Paletas and the Islamic Center of Nashville, and you’ve got some exploring to do.
To begin your adventure in The Gulch/12South, click here.
Just north of downtown you’ll find Jefferson Street, home to Meharry Medical College and Fisk University, famed for its art collection and Jubilee Singers. You’ll also see plenty of students from nearby TSU browsing at rap and hip-hop superstore Platinum Records*
or getting their ’Q at Mary’s Old Fashioned Barbeque Pit—famous citywide. Just across Eighth Avenue lies Germantown, which is being transformed by markets, galleries, studios and the like sprouting up like weeds and bringing a contemporary counterpoint to the neighborhood’s old-world ambience. There’s also plenty to eat here. The Mad Platter (open since ’89) pioneered contemporary American cuisine in Nashville, while Monell’s provides meat-and-three, family-style dining at its best and Germantown Café is quickly becoming an institution. Though it’s fair to say that Germantown dwellers don’t make too many trips to the unisex salons on Jefferson Street and that, likewise, Jefferson Streeters probably don’t feel a great pull toward Oktoberfest, the nearby annual celebration of German culture, your journey needn’t abide by any such divisions. Travel northward as the city opens toward MetroCenter Boulevard and even more discoveries await you.
To begin your adventure in Jeffertown/North Nashville, click here.
BELLE MEADE/GREEN HILLS
To the extent that there are sidewalks in Nashville, they end in Belle Meade and Green Hills, giving way instead to mega-lawns and half-mile driveways along leafy boulevards and cul-de-sacs. These emerald suburban neighborhoods house the elite of Nashville society, as well as a friendly mixed bag of retail and recreation. On one side of Hillsboro Pike, not far from the site of the highly anticipated Whole Foods, you’ll find the Mall at Green Hills, a microclimate of high-end retail, including the luxurious likes of Tiffany and Louis Vuitton. Across the street and a bit south, at the landmark Bluebird Café, a tiny strip mall storefront houses a gritty—but world-class—stage for hopeful singers and songwriters. Meanwhile, out Belle Meade way, there’s über-chic shopping like Jamie and Coco women’s clothing, or Bella Linea fine linens. At the end of “The Boulevard” unfold the beloved Warner Parks, nearly 3,000 acres of sprawling forest, hills and trails for biking, horseback riding and walking. Are you ready, boots?
To start your adventure in Belle Meade/Green Hills, click here.
BERRY HILL/NOLENSVILLE ROAD
Where the street signs are blue and a spaceship sits in the yard of a bungalow-housed shop called Curious Heart, you’ll find the quirky universe of Berry Hill. Here, Sam and Zoe’s coffee shop, Venus and Mars/Silvery Moon vintage clothing store, Gilchrist and Gilchrist Interiors, The Beaded Bungalow and Eden garden store all occupy homey digs—the antitheses of the big boxes like Home Depot and Staples on the other side of Thompson Lane. You’ll also find the cemetery where Tammy Wynette is buried, the infinite faucet of Jack Steakley’s plumbing business, giraffe sculptures roaming the quaint shopping district, a hand-painted Volkswagen jalopy—if you can see it for the hordes of people queuing up at Baja Burrito—and a gently tended herb garden out in front of The Yellow Porch restaurant. Further east, the ethnically and commercially diverse Woodbine neighborhood straddles Nolensville Road between I-440 and Thompson Lane. Among seedy car lots and pawnshops, Persian, Mexican and Turkish restaurants flourish alongside an Indian grocery, record shops, La Ilusion Bridal Shop, and any number of lunch carts and taco stands. You could go around the world and back—in the space of a few blocks.
To begin your adventure in the Berry Hill/Nolensville Road area, click here.
* Kijiji Coffeehouse and Deli has been removed from this entry because it no longer exists in this location.