One of my favorite things about visiting out-of-town family and friends—other than enjoying the pleasure of their company, of course!—is exploring a new city. For me, enjoying a new activity or trying a new coffee shop amps up my interest level in a trip; my memories, for example, of Washington, D.C., include the Washington Ballet. My memories of Chicago include Giordano’s Pizza. My memories of Columbus include Mozart’s Bakery. My memories of Gatlinburg include The Donut Friar.
As Nashvillians, we have a long list of restaurants, activities, and entertainment at our fingertips. But, if you’re hosting Thanksgiving, you’ve already got a lot on your plate (pun), so you take care of the turkey and we’ll take care of the rest! Below are my favorite activities for a very Nashville Thanksgiving weekend.
Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas
In my mind, there’s no better place to take out-of-town holiday guests than Opryland Hotel. If you’re a Nashville native, you probably don’t need me to detail the Resort’s enchanting transformation at Christmas; lights go up Friday, November 20, this year (the Friday before Thanksgiving) and last through Saturday, January 2. Depending on when you visit—and, in addition to the pure holiday magic of just walking around the Resort—you might hear live music or even see a few costumed characters. The reason there’s no better place to take guests, in my mind, is because it’s totally free with the exception of parking (insider tip: eat at any of the Resort’s scrumptious restaurants to get your parking validated). There’s also a cornucopia of other holiday fun to be had nearby, including shopping at Opry Mills, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (starting Friday, November 20), ICE! featuring The Nutcracker (starting Friday, November 20), The General Jackson Holiday Dinner Cruise & Show (show runs select nights starting Thursday, November 19), or the Gaylord Opryland Event Center Play All Day Pass, which allows visitors to bundle six popular holiday events, including ICE!, Arctic Plunge Snow Tubing, Glacier Glide Ice Skating, Santa’s Snowball Toss, Gingerbread Decorating Center, and The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt. For more information, click here.
Barbara’s Home Cookin’
Treat your guests to a bellyful of down-home Southern cooking! Barbara’s is probably my favorite restaurant in all of Tennessee; you can’t get much better than juicy fried chicken, pillowy, buttery rolls, and near-candied sweet tea. Click here for hours.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden’s Holiday LIGHTS
For the first time, Cheekwood is extending its holiday decorations from the mansion to the gardens—starting Friday, November 27, Cheekwood visitors will enjoy festive displays and hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights! For more information, click here.
Fuel up for a day of sight-seeing at Nashville’s famous Loveless Cafe: eggs, French toast, country ham, chicken and waffles, coffee and hot chocolate await! Oh, and the biscuits are the stuff of Nashville legends. Click here for hours.
Historic Downtown Franklin
Black Friday not your style? Why not leisurely meander through Historic Downtown Franklin for Small Business Saturday instead? Many of Historic Downtown Franklin’s 150 shops and restaurants will be offering sales and other promotions on Saturday, November 28 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving). In addition, there’s a score of scrumptious restaurants around the square—I recommend Merridee’s Breadbasket for pre-shop coffee and pastries and Puckett’s Grocery for a relaxing post-shop dinner. Bonus: Town square is rumored to light up for the holiday season that night!
Wait in a ridiculously long line for ridiculously fantastic flapjacks (Pancake Pantry). Grab a cappuccino at the site of Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Thanksgiving 2010 coffee date (Fido). Take in an independent film (The Belcourt Theatre). With four blocks of shops, boutiques, and restaurants, Hillsboro Village is another marvelous meandering spot for Thanksgiving weekend. For more information on Hillsboro Village, click here.
Lipton Lights / Lights on Old Charlotte
Typically, Lipton Lights run the Friday after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day—make some hot chocolate and enjoy the light show from the comfort of your car! And I haven’t seen Lights on Old Charlotte yet, but it’s just seven miles away from Lipton Lights, so I think we’ll try for a double header this year.
What are your favorite Nashville traditions this time of year? Any places we missed? Let us know!