Local Life and Lore in Nashville
Here, the insider scoop on what to do and say (and not do and not say) when in Nashville.
GOOD TO KNOW
Churchiness. If it’s Sunday, a Nashvillian is probably driving to church. Nashville has more than 1,000 churches and religious buildings. The Gideons International, those guys who put Bibles in hotel rooms, are headquartered here. The Christian music industry is very big. The Catholic Church has a motherhouse here, for those in formation in their novitiate, for nuns who administrate and teach in St. Cecelia’s Nashville schools, and for retired sisters. And as Nashville’s population grows increasingly diverse, it has growing representation of other religions too.
Got it? Lots of churchiness here. Locals and transplants alike have been known to put on a skirt for a Sunday visit to the supermarket – you don’t want people to think you skipped church, do you?
Art. Great art from the masters and deserving unknowns is all over Nashville. Chestnut Street’s grotty industrial environ is home to Threesquared Gallery, a multifunctional space. The Arcade in the heart of downtown has Twist. Belle Meade has Cheekwood, a mansion with a fine collection, terrific traveling exhibits and epic gardens worth the price of admission. Downtown’s jewel is the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, but the collection at the Tennessee State Museum is no slouch.
The popular First Saturday Art Crawl offers a great monthly chance to visit downtown galleries for receptions and art openings. It’s free, and most galleries serve wine and refreshments in case your date is less into art than you are.
Nashville Arts Magazine is the city’s premier arts magazine, celebrating and profiling Nashville’s growing artistic imprint, an imprint no longer limited to music.
Nashville’s art scene includes a love of outdoor sculptures. Distinguished politicians captured in bronze on Capitol Hill. Brave soldiers in Legislative Plaza. A giant Greek goddess inside the Parthenon. Nekkid dancing butts on Music Row. Evangelist Billy Graham at Eighth Avenue and Commerce Street. Some random guy in bronze on the park bench next to you. There’s no escape.
Sports. Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators. Professional football in the autumn (1 Titans Way) and professional hockey in the winter in the Arena at 501 Broadway. And in the summer you can root, root, root for the home team when you cheer on the Nashville Sounds, the city’s Triple-A minor league team.
Students everywhere. There are 21 colleges and universities here, and around 100,000 students enrolled at any given time.
Celebrities. Celebrity-spotting is a secret pastime here. You might spot Vince Gill having breakfast or Kid Rock in the supermarket. But follow the local rule and don’t bug the celebrities. We’re subconsciously protective of them.
Summer means Swim Club. Never mind that Nashville has three rivers and two lakes: a dozen or more swim clubs and country clubs provide waterside recreation closer to home.
Medicine. With two medical schools, more than half a dozen major hospitals and many healthcare businesses, Nashville is a great place to be under the weather.
Greenways. Upon completion, the Metro Nashville’s parks department’s Greenways Master Plan will place a greenway trail within 2 miles of every Nashvillian. With more than 50 miles of greenway trails and over 150 miles of primitive trails already, the plan is nearly two-thirds complete. Frequented by walkers and strollers, used by skaters and as cut-through by cyclists, the greenways are frequently cited as the best new thing in Nashville.
College radio. Indy powerhouse WRVU emanates from Vanderbilt and attracts a surprisingly large community audience, which the jocks occasionally forget. WMOT out of Murfreesboro and WFSK, Fisks’ station, specialize in jazz.