At Santa’s Pub, a double-wide trailer that houses a dive bar with a devoted fan base amongst Nashville locals, the Christmas season is not limited to the margin between Thanksgiving and December 25th. From the bar’s decor – which is filled to the brim with Christmas decorations, including an always-lit tree – to the images of Santa Claus on his sleigh painted on the front of the bar and the man with the jolly white beard behind the bar (that would be Santa’s co-owner, Denzel Stillings), the holiday season knows no bounds at Santa’s.
On an average day, you may not put much thought into the relative luxuriousness of the bathrooms that you use. At Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel, however, the men’s bathroom is so sumptuous that in 2008, it was awarded the distinction of America’s Best Restroom. Sure, the Hermitage Hotel is worth a visit in its own right – it is named after Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage estate and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places – but visitors continue to flock to the men’s room of this legendary building. Your preferred gender identity aside, take a sneak peak at the white-and-green glass tiles, shoeshine station, and terrazzo floor that set this restroom apart.
(Men’s Restroom at) The Hermitage Hotel, 231 6th Ave N, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 (615) 244 3121
At Dixieland Delights, located in the heart of downtown on Broadway, you’ll find more Music City souvenirs than you could ever possibly need. Get your fill of candies packed in guitar-shaped tins and pose for a photo with the Elvis statue out front. Before you leave though, be sure to have your fortune handed down to you by Willie Nelson. Okay, so the fortune might be printed on a card, and the psychic may be a machine, not the country music megastar himself, but where else can you get your future delineated to you by a major celebrity for just one dollar?
Just a few doors down from Dixieland Delight is Ernest Tubb Record Shop, founded by legendary country music singer Ernest Tubb – the ‘Texas Troubadour’ himself. This Broadway shop offers a large selection of country music records and memorabilia, but you may not know that this popular tourist attraction is also home to a piece of almost-history: a bronze bust of one of the first Americans killed during the Vietnam War. Local legend has it that David McCormick, then-owner of the shop, erected a bust of who he believed to have been the first soldier to perish in the conflict, in 1961. Later evidence proved that he was not, but the bust continues to stand in the shop.
Minority inaccurate bronze busts, petting zoos – if you’re searching for one-of-a-kind records stores in Nashville, you won’t be disappointed. And Fond Object, a charming white-brick record store/boutique/performance space/petting zoo in East Nashville is no exception. Browse the shop’s wide selection of music and antiques, stick around for an early-evening show, or pet a rescued animal in the backyard.
Nashville is home to more than a few recording studios, including RCA Studio B, where music legends such as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Chet Atkins have recorded songs. But the list does not stop there: Elvis Presley recorded the majority of his albums at RCA, including his 1957 Elvis’ Christmas Album. The story goes that the King of Rock & Roll could not quite muster enough holiday spirit while recording the album in the middle of the summer, so Christmas string lights were hung up in the studio – and were never taken down. See for yourself on one of the studio’s daily tours.
Taxidermied squirrels. Jewelry made of animal skeletons. Fetal pigs in a jar. Decades-old medical syringes. This may sound like a list of props for a horror film. They are, in fact, examples of trinkets you can purchase at Hail, Dark Aesthetics, one of Nashville’s most unforgettable boutiques (if you can justly call a store that sells animal skulls a ’boutique’). While the prices for these novelties may be a bit steeper than your average pair of shopping mall earrings, the selection here, not to mention the dark, almost haunted atmosphere, will fulfill any latent craving for creepiness that you may be harboring.
By Katie Miller