Nashville holds a special place in the hearts of folks from all walks who call it home.
Skepticism will always surround change- specifically when a city begins to take new shape. Celebrity sightings, an influx of small businesses and media interest put Nashville on the “it” city map in recent years. However, as much as the city continues to grow it is still the same city that, until recently was the country’s best-kept secret. Here’s a list of factors that address the appeal of Nashville from the mouths of natives, and transplants who have lived here long enough to feel like a local.
Mutually, we agree it’s the community and incomparable creative talent, which make Music City magical.
1. Cities that celebrate their history often are better equipped at forging their future.
Nashville, in particular, pays homage to the musicians that put this city on the map with The Country Music Hall of Fame (the world’s largest popular music musician,) RCA Studio B, where stars like Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton and Elvis got their big breaks, and the recently opened Johnny Cash museum. Eagerly anticipated is the forthcoming George Jones museum, located right off Lower Broadway, in honor of the late, great icon.
2. Nashville is a melting pot of transplants and natives.
A good majority of Nashville’s residents hail from somewhere else, which creates cultural diversity and a communal bond. New friends become your extended (and chosen) family. Plus it’s incredibly entertaining to hear “y’all” said in a million different dialects throughout the course of a day.
3. Little big town isn’t just the name of a band.
This phrase perfectly sums up Nashville whose layout is so closey condensed that you can get to any part of town in 15 minutes. (sans afternoon traffic, of course.) Everywhere you go there will usually be someone you know, however the city is large enough to lay low when rejuvenating is what you desire.
4. A genuine passion for supporting Tennessee’s agricultural community.
From the brick-and-mortar farmer’s market on Rosa L. Parks Boulevard to the farm-to-table restaurants popping up around town, Nashville’s diners and chefs are proactive about putting their hard-earned dollars into the pocket of local farmers.
5. A deep love for family lineage.
Some of Nashville’s most successful businesses were built in a throwback mom ‘n pop fashion. Brands such as jeans company Imogene + Willie and Greenbier Distillery attribute the respect they have for their craft to the family heritage. These roots serve not only as an endearing selling point but a genuine driving force behind their niche.
6. Let’s party!
Nashville is a social city that loves to drink, dance and dine. The small town ideology means people are open to meeting others just to expand their network. Work meetings oftentimes casually progress from coffee to cocktails. The size of the city, and trusting nature of its residents, means you are oftentimes six degrees of separation away from anyone you wish to meet.
7. The creative energy is unparalleled.
In every coffee shop in town business plans being made, books are being written and various forms of art come to life. I believe the city’s electricity is partially responsible to the creativity that seems to be happening around the clock.
8. The fabric of Nashville’s community is hard to beat.
Collaborative, uncompetitive, and inspiring are some of the adjectives dropped on the regular. Restaurant owners refer business to one another, and industries oftentimes crossover. There is a surplus of imagination within Nashville’s borders, yet it’s a sense of community that keeps the innovators thriving.
9. The heart of Country Music.
On any given night one can hear rockabilly, classic or pop country. Writer’s rounds at venues like The Bluebird and Listening Room Café make for a unique experience in which musicians workshop their material in front of a live audience. A must-visit is the legendary Ryman Auditorium, otherwise known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” where one can catch the world’s longest running radio broadcast: The Grand Ole Opry. Also, while you may be watching an under-the-radar band on stage there is probably a Grammy-winner sipping beers beside you.
10. “Nashville” the TV show.
While campy and over-the-top, residents get a kick out of seeing the ABC television show filmed at their favorite hangs. Cast members of “Nashville” as well as other famous faces can run into Whole Foods without anyone batting an eyelash. Nashville impressed with glitz and glamour, which is why the biggest names in show business want to live here.
11. The Renaissance.
With an incoming wave of transplants, industries and revitalized neighborhoods Nashville feels like a new city every year. Life here feels like being a member of the first colonies: everything is new, fresh and infectiously exciting! You never know what is going to happen next.
12. The old standbys.
No matter how quickly the city changes, locals are faithful to those who have forged the path. From the mechanic who has been tinkering with their engine since high school, to their after-church Sunday brunch spot locals remain devoted to their favorite business owners.
13. Entrepreneurial hotbed.
Customers love buying local and knowing the story behind their favorite dress, jeans or Ipod accessories. Organizations like the Entrepreneur Center and Chamber of Commerce have been particularly proactive about giving small business owners the same support as the big guns.
14. Burgeoning arts community.
The Nashville art crawl, Parthenon, Frist Art center and Wedgewood-Houston gallery community have all solidified Nashville as a fine art destination. Networking communities, such as the Nashville Creative Group, offer artists a community to bolster their spirits.
15. University and academic element.
Belmont and Vanderbilt University as well as art schools, Watkins and O’More College of Design, attract students from all over the country.
16. Fashion industry.
Nashville Fashion Week and Project Runway’s runner-up Amanda Valentine, of the eclectic line Valentine, Valentine, have attracted a boatload of attention to the city’s burgeoning designers. Areas such as East Nashville, 12 South, and Edgehill Village host some of the best boutiques in town.
17. CMT Music Awards, Americana Music Awards & Honors and the CMA Awards.
Music festivals held in Nashville throughout the year generate income for the city’s business owners as well as celebrate Music City for its evergreen status in the country music world.
18. Free events year round.
Live on the Green, Musician’s Corner, and Nashville Dancin! are just some of the events locals look forward to all year long. These cultural celebrations bring the community together to enjoy notable acts on the cheap.
19. Affordable housing for the lower middle class.
The Ryman Artist Lofts, various mixed-income housing units and Urban Housing Solutions, which supplies the homeless with shelter, exemplify Nashville’s ethos to care for its own. The city has long stood by its belief that folks of all income levels have the right to live here.
20. Nature’s gifts in a cosmopolitan environment.
Parks and greenways smack dab in the middle of the city provide a place to hike, bike and spend a day in nature. One can get a mini vacation from the stress of city life by driving less than ten minutes from their apartment complex.
21. One of the most efficient airports in the country and centrally located to most major cities in America.
The city’s entertainment industry clan especially loves that in a few, short hours they are able to fly to a meeting in Los Angeles and New York. Touring musicians also cherish the close proximity to other music markets, which allows them the ability to expand their fan-base.
22. The healthcare, music, technology, automotive and manufacturing industries keep our economy stable.
The residents of Nashville feel more than grateful to live in a city that has sustained itself throughout a nationwide economic crisis.
23. The people.
Down-to-earth, helpful, friendly, interesting, open, and trusting. The conglomerate of talent and activity that is Nashville sleeps, eats and breathes culture.
24. Nashville always has and will be a city where dreams come true.
Many famous musicians such as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Dierks Bentley began their music careers trolling the honky tonks of Lower Broadway. As country legend Reba McEntire once said, “To make it in Nashville, as well as the music industry, it’s mandatory to have a wishbone, backbone and funny bone.” If all of those qualities are there then you’re already well on your way to success.
25. A slower pace of life.
Quality time with family and friends, health, extracurricular activities and a spiritual life are some of the most valued things in Nashville. The residents know the benefits of taking time off and strive for a seamless work-life balance.
A mild year-round climate makes for 70-degree winter days. However, the city still has the luxury of watching the seasons change.
27. Food & drink.
Nashville is famous for classics like hot chicken, fried baloney sandwiches (served with a PBR tallboy and Moon Pie at honky tonk Robert’s Western World,) and meat ‘n threes. However, nationally lauded chefs like Sean Brock and Jonathon Waxman have chosen to make their mark on Music City’s fine dining scene with restaurants Husk Nashville and Adele’s, respectively. The city has also become a hotbed for craft breweries, distilleries and wineries (check out Arrington Vineyards when the weather is warm for breathtaking views right outside of the city,) most of which offer tours and tasting rooms.
28. Family friendly.
While the bar scene is hopping, Nashville is also bursting with friendly family options. Cheekwood, Belle Meade Plantation, Centennial Park and the Adventure Science Center are merely some of the places favored by local parents. Restaurants like Burger Up, Fido and Pinewood Social (whose board games, bowling alley and bocce ball courts are sure to keep youngsters entertained) are a lifesaver on those nights when the babysitter calls in sick.
The Nashville Predators, Tennessee Titans and farm baseball team, the Sounds, all make for superb people watching and an alternative to the art scene.
30. Unconventional hangouts.
Record stores, tattoo shops, hair salons and barbershops are unlikely places to have an afternoon hang. Live music inside of record stores and makeshift bars inside of beauty salons oftentimes cause customers to hang out longer than they anticipated. Time travel to another era by stepping inside of art house theater The Belcourt, where one can catch classic cinema day or night.