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The Healthy Nashville City Guide

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City Guide: Nashville with McKel Nutrition Stripped | Priority Bikes

How to enjoy this Southern city, healthfully from my top restaurants I go to, coffee shops, nightlife, and things to do!

NASHVILLE

Meet your city guide for the day, yours truly, to show you what a day in the life of Nashville is all about including my favorite spots to visit, things to do, places to eat, and so forth. I’ve gotten so many requests to do this post and for whatever reason living such a popular city I kind of take it for granted and just go through my day to day life thinking it’s all “normal”, but in actuality it’s amazing and totally worth sharing more bits and pieces with you all!

I moved here in 2013 and instantly fell in love with the city, but more importantly the people. Hands down, when I first moved here I had no idea what was in the water, living in Ohio I had never experienced such friendliness “just because”. Southern hospitality is true and it eats, sleeps, and breathes in the tight-knit Nashville community. Another aspect, just the community. I’ve met some amazing, talented, creatives and small business owners in this city that have truly been inspiring and it’s amazing that everyone is supportive of each other. I hope you enjoy your visit to Nashville and hope this guide is helpful.

Where to Eat

I have a LONG list of places I love eating at here in the city and the amazing thing, Nashville is far more than Southern food, it’s booming with culture and starting to become quite the foodie scene. My favorites:

  • Rolf & Daughters: this is the place to go for a romantic date night and for the best chicken dish I’ve ever had in my life.
  • WildCow: this is the best place for a healthy lunch or brunch on the weekends – to go orders are just as great!
  • Sunflower Cafe: meat + three’s turned vegan and delicious
  • Pinewood Social: bowl while you eat delicious kale salad and amazing cocktails, definitely a day to night situation
  • Smiling Elephant: my favorite Thai place in Nashville
  • Burger Up: when I want a burger, I go here. They offer both gluten-free items and vegetarian!
  • Bombay Indian: The best Indian food in Nashville IMO, we normally get 5 dishes to last us several days!
  • Italia: the only place in Nashville you can get gluten free AND dairy free pizza, it’s also insanely good
  • Catbird Seat: this is a dining experience, I recommend going on a special date for two here!
  • Bastion: what seems like just a bar when you walk in, it’s actually one of the best restaurants in town. Chef calls the shots with the menu so adventurous eaters only!
  • St. Anejo: tacos tacos tacos!
  • The Perch: downtown spot for brunch, lunch, and coffee
  • EiO and The Hive: a new healthy joint in West Nashville and it’s fantastic!
  • Lulu Nashville: Germantown healthy food joint with matcha ice cream on tap
  • Anatolias: best Turkish secret dining space in West Nashville, best salmon and chicken kabobs!

Where to break a sweat!

I consider myself a recreational athlete, so I like to mix it up all the time making sure my muscles are being challenges but also allowing them to stretch and relax in different ways. My favorite combo is doing barre3 in the gulch mixed with HIIT training that includes weights like Barry’s Bootcamp. Staying active during the day is really important for me as well, it gets easy to sit down and stay put writing for hours but I always make time to get up and go for or a long run outside or bike ride in my neighborhood, to go grab tea/coffee, or for a long afternoon ride at the park. Also check out these places:

  • Inner Light Yoga
  • Shakti Yoga
  • Liberation Yoga
  • Hot Yoga East Nashville

Thirty? Coffee + Green Juice

Dessert

  • Las Paletas popsicles! Located in 12th South. It’s the perfect place to get a cold popsicle and then walk around the park right across the street or go shopping down the line on that main street.
  • Olive and Sinclair is also a favorite of mine since they make the best local chocolate.
  • Rolf and Daughter cashew ice cream (yes, dairy-free)
  • Lulu Nashville: vegan soft serve
  • Koko ice cream wagon: portable coconut milk ice cream wagon
  • Sprinkles cupcakes: have gluten free and vegan cupcakes in 12th South
  • Jeni’s ice cream: not dairy free friendly

McKel's Guide to Nashville | Sunflower Cafe McKel's Guide to Nashville | Sunflower Cafe

Work work work

If I’m not working from home cooking in the kitchen and shooting, then I’m working at the office. But I used to work from Barista Parlor, Crema, or Pinewood Social. WELD Nashville is also a really cool community-driven workspace that recently launched here in the city and it’s a great spot to check out as well.

Explore the city

I love Shelby Bottoms on the East side, it’s quiet and you always see so many animals and nature. It’s completely relaxing and always somewhere I go for peace and connecting with nature. Biking around Nashville is my favorite because of the long greenway trails at Shelby, bridges everywhere, and bike friendly roads- and I’m obsessed with these incredibly lightweight (and adorable) bikes from Priority Bicycles out of LA (pictured). I’ve been strolling around town everywhere with this rig and it’s totally my style which makes it even easier to bike around town with. I attached my own bike basket to the front to hold my planner or random shop finds or produce from the farmers market. Hiking is best at Radnor Lake, which actually has some height and hiking trails to keep you active and busy for hours.

Where to shop

I wish we had a bigger and better farmers market here in Nashville, I hope to see that turn around in the next couple of years though! Otherwise, I love supporting Bloomsbury Farm, my favorite in town or shopping at the local Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Nashville is also great at supporting farmers all around the city by having pop-up farmers markets in each corner of the city whether it’s in Franklin, Donelson, East Side, 12th South, etc. A couple of my favorite shops in town are:

IMG_9267 IMG_9272 Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Sightsee

Not to be a tourist, but going downtown on Broadway is a must, at least for a night or day! Otherwise, I love going to Centennial, walking over people’s bridge into downtown, seeing the “Batman” building- one of our most famous skyscrapers downtown, the new Sounds baseball stadium, and the huge new convention center. Arrington Vineyard is a beautiful spot to pitch a picnic with your friends or a sweet date although it’s a bit outside of the city in Franklin, TN.

Nightlife

First up, as a visitor, you kinda have to go to Broadway. Whether it’s during the day bouncing around Broadway or at night, the music city strip with doors wide open blaring country and honky tonk music. Here are my other favorite spots:

  • The Patterson House: the best cocktail lounge in the city, very sexy vibe, AMAZING cocktails
  • Old Glory: a fun spot, dark, moody and some dancing towards the end of the night
  • Pinewood Social: buzzing with energy at night, bowling lanes, bar, and booths to sit down and chill, great cocktails
  • Play, Tribe, and Canvas: all three are on the same side of the street towards the Gulch, LGBT friendly spots full of amazing people, dancing, and a fun atmosphere
  • Bar Sovereign: a cool spot downtown to hang and grab a drink with a friend
  • Thompson Hotel, rooftop bar: the vibe of the city is alive here, lots of tourists but fun!
  • Bar No. 308: popular East Nashville bar sometimes turned dance floor, more for the atmosphere
  • Belcourt Movie Theatre: this is our jam! We love going to see movies at this is the best place for it
  • Green Hills Movie Theatre: to see current movies that are out in theaters
  • Sounds Stadium: if there’s a baseball game, this is the place to go!
  • Local art galleries around town for pop-up shows and galleries – check out Oz arts for events
  • Live on the Green in August- September free concerts in the heart of downtown and it’s amazing!
  • Karaoke…because it’s Nashville and everyone can sing.
  • The Cobra: East Nashville good dive bar with music

Instagrams to follow

Accounts and/or resources that are 100% Nashville-based and are great to check out! Nashville Lifestyles | Native Magazine | N Focus | Nashville Scene | @nashvillefoodfan @nashvillethebeautiful @nashvilleexplorersclub @nashvilletn @styleblueprintnville @experiencenash and yours truly!

City Guide: Nashville with McKel Nutrition Stripped | Priority Bikes 

If you like these travel posts, you’ll love checking out other City Guides here. Don’t see a city we’ve covered, list below where you live or who you’d like to see be your tour guide for the day!

xx McKel

Bicycle photography by Amber Ulmer of Ulmer Studios.

Share your thoughts

  • You’re making me so homesick! I lived there for almost seven years, and haven’t even been gone for two, but it’s home for us. Such a great city, SO MUCH good food. We actually live in Cincinnati now (switched with you!) and I really miss the food scene, although Cinci’s is definitely getting better.
    I will say, the Franklin farmer’s market is my absolute favorite, and we lived in NYC before moving here. Franklin’s is just perfect though, and I miss the friends we made from the famers and vendors. Lauren from Bloomsbury is so great!

    • Yes! Cincinnati is actually picking up their game in every way- I was just home a couple weekends ago and was so surprised at OTR and the farmers market, it’s really cool to see that shift.

  • Arin Segal

    I was just in Nashville a few weeks ago and fell in love! Hopefully moving back for grad school in a year 😀

  • This is such a great bucketlist!!

  • The way you make it sound makes me want to move to Nashville. Right now!

  • Hello – thanks for this post! I’m an Australian girl living in Melbourne and I’ve been to Nashville twice. I love it and this guide reminded me of sunny mornings trying to figure out the perfect biscuit recipe at Barista Parlor, discovering the best sorbet ever on Broadway (hello watermelon and ginger crush!) and meeting so many friendly, talented creatives. I’ll be back later this year in October and can’t wait to check out some of the things on this list. Let me know if you think about a city guide for Melbourne, AUS – it would be my pleasure to organize it!

    Lauren @bforapples

    • That’s awesome, I’m so glad this reminded of you of your favorite places! I’ll be having multiple City Guides from top bloggers and makers xx

  • Love these pics!

  • TINA

    Sunflower is so good! We stopped on our way through town and I found it on yelp under vegetarian restaurants. Thanks for this list, I’ll save for next time.

  • Erica

    Hi McKel!

    Thanks so much for the inspiration – I’m a vegan recently relocated to Nashville, so this was really helpful! 🙂

    I have some family visiting soon and they’re wanting to go to Acme Feed & Seed – I was wondering if you know anything about their vegan options? I tried calling but the lady I talked to seemed very unsure; she said she “assumed” the falafel and the pita bread were vegan but wasn’t totally sure. I was just wondering if you had any insight. Thanks!

    • I love Acme, but I can’t speak to those menu items unfortunately, I would call them again and ask a chef!

  • Nicole

    I love everything you post. Your blog is so laid back and perfect! I wanted to let you know I’m currently studying Nutrition and Dietetics at NYU, and I tell everyone about your blog. I really want to buy the Avocado Love top and the “Good Food, Good Vibes” top, but I can’t decided between a small or a medium. What size of both are you wearing in your photos? I can’t wait to wear them all over NYC!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I wear a size medium because I like my clothes a little loose fitting xx

  • Stephane

    Hey McKel,

    I enjoy reading your blog, however, as an RD myself, I wonder why you are so against gluten? Where do you get your research. I feel that the overall the problem with obesity, chronic disease, etc, is linked to highly processed foods that are high in sugar and salt, and also happen to contain gluten. I live in a part of the country where a majority of the wheat, and other gluten containing grains are sourced locally and milled on site at bakeries. The food I consume is not coming from packages. Are you suggesting that the bread I buy from these shops is poisonous as well?

    You seem to have a adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, consume foods close to the earth, which I totally support. However I just wonder why hop on the gluten free, paleo, and to be frank, food fad, bandwagon? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks!
    Stephane, RD

    • Hi Stephanie,
      I would recommend reading my Philosophy and About me section where I share my story of food intolerances and allergies both to gluten and dairy- no research needed to prove that.

      Thanks for reading xx

  • I adore this post! Those photos are on point and that tomato wall is so cool I might go to Nashville just for some pics in front of it too!! 🙂
    *hugs*

  • Hi McKel!

    Thank you SO much for this post, and just in time for FNCE! I am already constructing a “must see” list thanks to all of your tips! Do you plan to go this year?

    Warmly,
    Kyleigh

    • I’m going to go for a couple days! Looking forward to meeting so many other RD’s in my city 🙂

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Avocado Love t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The boxy crop tee doesn’t show the tummy, just slightly when you raise your hands.

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