Jul. 31. 2015
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN


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


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


  • 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


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:


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.


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!


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.