Featured image: Gavin Whitner
As I mentioned in my other Nashville post, many of the cool neighborhoods are not within walking distance of downtown so I definitely recommend renting a car or at splurging on a taxi to visit at least one of these areas while in town. Exploring Nashville’s innovative art hubs was a major highlight of my trip and completely altered my perception of the city as a whole. Here are five neighborhoods to shop for everything from handmade crafts from local artists to vintage designs from generations past.
This area is one of Nashville’s hipster hangouts, especially for young and stylish urbanites. When I first arrived to Hillsboro Village I was slightly underwhelmed because for whatever reason, I pictured a large network of interwoven streets rather than a single street with very little foot traffic. Fast-forward about five minutes and I realized I’d judged this place way too soon.
I immediately gravitated toward the downtown, alternative vibe going on and began popping into the different shops. There are three main types of stores here: cafes, fashion boutiques and used bookstores. There are also a few restaurants, a beauty salon and a few artisan shops selling flowers, handmade soap and other items. Try Fido for coffee and The Impeccable Pig (pictured below) for affordable but fashion-forward clothes.
This urban oasis has developed into “Nashville’s Creative Community,” over the past few years. Certainly not your typical Nashville neighborhood, the four block complex is comprised mostly of artist, photographer and designer studios. Marathon Village got its name because it was originally the home to the Marathon Motorworks Factory. The area still has a very industrial appearance. Mike Wolfe’s store, Antique Archaeology, is probably the most popular store but my personal favorite is the Otis James studio even though it mainly caters to men.
There’s also a coffee shop, an artisan distillery, a delicious candy shop and a radio station here, not to mention a restaurant and music venue that are still under construction. Unlike other shopping areas, the owners of each studio have different opening hours so if there’s a store you really want to visit, make sure to call ahead of time or check online.
12 South got its name quite simply. All the action takes place along along 12th Avenue South. Similar to Hillsboro Village, there is one main street of shops and a few that intersect at cross streets. However, 12 South, felt more mainstream to me but that could have just been my perception. There’s a little bit of everything here including a cafe, flower shop, design store, vintage clothing stores and restaurants.
I started out by grabbing a coffee at the Frothy Monkey, which by the way has a winding staircase leading upstairs. Then I wandered into the Imogene + Willie to see first hand how they custom their jeans to fit each customer’s exact size measurements. I can totally relate to jeans that don’t fit properly, so I was super intrigued by the whole process. My last stop was The Filling Station and if I wasn’t on my way to dinner, I’m sure I would have bought some of their beer on the go.
Catering to both the foodie and the fashionista, East Nashville is brimming with creative minds. My exploration of East Nashville began at Edley’s East for some BBQ and locally brewed beer and ended with the shops along Woodland Street. Just next door to Edley’s East is Fat Bottom Brewing, which has a nice outdoor seating area for the summer months and if you’re interested, you can even take a peek at the brewery in the back to see how the beers are brewed.
The shops around Woodland Street were some of the most interesting in my opinion. On one end of the spectrum there is a small bookstore that strictly sells Nashville-based authors and on the other, there’s a tiny shop selling gourmet oatmeal blends. The one common thread is that all the vendors were friendly and passionate about their work and that’s contagious.
Although more residential than some of the others on this list, Germantown has a lot to offer in terms of design. The area got it’s name because of the large number of German immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century. There is a year-round farmer’s market, various restaurants and gorgeous houses built in Victorian style architecture.
Stepping foot into the Peter Nappi store felt more like walking through a museum. I hadn’t actually heard of the designer before traveling to Nashville but so many people suggested I visit. He specializes in Italian leather boots, handmade leather bags and other leather goods, with a few vintage items thrown into the mix. Even if you don’t buy anything, I’d recommend stopping by for the decor alone. The studio is huge, at least by my New York City standards, and the warm brick gives the space a warm, cozy feel.
Looking for more cool art hubs? Check out some of my recent neighborhood guides.
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