I started this week in a state that pretty much matches the size of my dreams - Hello TEXAS!! It is such an honor to join Kimberly and Esteban to share my go to travel tips. We talked all things carry-ons, as I spend so much of my creative career in flight (averaging 100,000 sky miles a year and where I wrote most of my book, The New Southern). For me, traveling is a mindset and perspective is essential. It’s all about how we respond to the unexpected and the uncontrollable. Having a reliable, working system for my carry-on allows me to focus on what I love so much about the experience, which is all the abundant creativity that travel ignites for me. Having a plan and working the plan gives me the space for inspiration and creativity to grow, even on a cramped, cross-country flight. Click the link below for the full run down of my four “Cs” of carry-on packing and have fun shopping each category below! Safe travels every one and much love!! - AR
If you know me, you know I LOVE mixing a little vintage and character with NEW when it comes to styling!! The “no rules” rule of vintage paired together with fresh aesthetics is such an integral part of #TheNewSouthern style vibe...allowing you to come as you are and live your best life with the things you have. Some of my all-time favorite online retailers for all-things vintage are One Kings Lane, Everything But The House (EBTH), and Chairish — this online marketplace is ideal for chic and unique pieces with a focus on supporting small businesses and creative moments! From funky art and decor to one-of-a-kind furniture, they are the authentic alternative for all of your home design needs and they go about it in the ultimate New Southern style. So, when the Chairish team came to me and asked me to share my personal Nashville favorites for their blog, I, of course, said YES! I am honored to be is such great company with many some really inspiring Nashville Ladies!
Nashville is truly one of my first loves. Bursting with personality and full of so much life — I will never hesitate to hand out my go-to’s on the city’s latest and greatest. There are always new finds that I’m eager to share with The New Southern community and I find so much of my inspiration in those discoveries. Sitting down with Chairish for this feature reminded me, once again, of all the things that I love most about my vibrant, creative home! You’ll get to know about my favorite local cultural hubs, must-try restaurants and design-centric hotel recommendations with a few other inspiring voices. We even got around to chatting about my vintage picking process and latest offline inspiration.
I am so excited to share these little, personal bits about how I see Nashville with one of my very favorite vintage marketplaces and I can’t wait for you all to read it! I hope it inspires those that live here to explore some more of the city’s magic and the rest to plan a visit sometime soon! And, if you still need an extra dose of Nashville inspo — give my Local Guide to Nashville a read! Xx
Favorite Hotel to Recommend to visiting friends and why?
When it comes to accommodations, Nashville has a home for everyone's personality.
Hotel Noelle - This boutique hotel will satisfy a high-level curated eye and offer a truly local Nashville experience, right down to the perfect setup for a pretty snapshot of your cup of coffee in the hotel lobby.
Urban Cowboy – If you’re in town for the music (and who isn’t, really?) stay at Urban Cowboy. It’s perfect if you one who loves, say, a good neighborhood bonfire, and you’ll expect friendly faces all year round.
The Thompson Hotel – This one’s a personal favorite! Because I’m constantly on the road, I am an amenities and location-obsessed gal. The Thompson Hotel is at the center of it all in Nashville’s thriving Gulch neighborhood, and every room is designed with clean lines in mind… yes please!
21 C – If your style leans toward minimal, you’ll love 21C, where you’ll fall hard for the design, but also instantly have access to a cocktail and an art exhibit upon check-in.
Favorite local cultural hub?
The New Southern is rooted in the idea of taking a unifying step forward in southern culture through creativity and community. Nashville exemplifies that very notion. Over the years, the city has become a transient hub which allows more and more ideas and diversity to flourish. It’s incubated this incredible creative cadence connecting us all. To really see Nashville, think about the city as a dynamic coming together of old and new, and of music and art. You can begin with the historic Musicians Hall of Fame, which honors all genres and the soulful stories behind each artist, or perhaps one of our historic city tours with subjects ranging from Civil Rights to art crawls. Exploring the arts in any city is almost like a time of prayer or meditation for me. Maren Morris said it best in her song "My Church" – exploring the historic birthing grounds to some of history’s best music here in Nashville is literally a religious experience. Don’t miss the Ryman Auditorium, the mothership of country music. The Station Inn is an intimate blue grass listening room, and of course, you can’t forget the Grand Ole Opry…
Favorite Local Attraction?
There are too many to name just one! Americana Fest happens annually in September and always has the best blended lineup, so you can listen to up-and-coming talent along with all your favorites. The seasonal show Girls of Nashville, founded by a few of my favorite songbirds (hello Heather Morgan, Caitlyn Smith and Maggie Chapman) which was just touted in TIME magazine, has such an empowering spirit, recognizing female artists and songwriters on the rise. As for food, don’t miss Donut Den, a Nashville staple since I first arrived – their apple fritters always satisfy my ultimate sweet tooth. The Hatch Show Print is a historic print shop that features vintage music posters from some of the greatest musicians of all time (Hello, Elvis! and while we are exploring vintage music, lets say hello to Third Man Records who is bringing Vinyl back in a BIG way!!) And if the weather’s great, stop by Cheekwood Botanical Gardens for a serene afternoon. You won’t regret it.
Favorite Local flea market / vintage hunting ground?
My Nashville picking spots are Gas Lamp Antiques and their sister shop, Gas Lamp Too. It’s also worth checking out the Nashville Flea Market, the Downtown Antique Mall, Porter Flea (check out Apple and Oak and Oui Fresh if you make it here) and Preservation Station. If you’re up for a little drive out of town, head past Franklin and check out the charming shops in downtown Leiper’s Fork. You can’t forget White’s Mercantile, which is old-school commissary meets new-age Nashville. Founded by Hank Williams, Jr’s daughter, Holly Williams, you’re destined to find a keepsake, whether a great vintage trinket, elevated kitchen basic, or a thoughtful hostess gift for the girl who has everything.
Favorite restaurant and item most ordered?
Like most things here, music and our food scene in Nashville go hand and hand! We couldn't have one without the other which perpetuates an inspiring creative energy that those of us lucky to be locals get to experience year-round. My all-time favorite restaurant, hands down, is a hidden Germantown gem, City House, run by James Beard Award-winning chef Tandy Wilson. You won’t go wrong with the Belly Ham Pizza without the egg! Give me all the pizza, always.
Other notable favorites are any of Maneet Chauhan's four restaurants. Maneet crosses all genres and is truly changing the culinary landscape in town from traditional Indian food to inventive fusion dishes. For starters, try Chauhan Ale and Masala House (get the masala fries…!) Try her contemporary Chinese fare at Tànsuŏ and order all of the dim sum (Did you know that translates to "touch of the heart?"), especially the Bao buns. And of course, don’t forget Sean Brock's award-winning Husk. To follow a good meal, head to Bastion, one of my favorite local bars, for a nightcap.
Best Local spot to People watch?
Each neighborhood has its own flavor. 12th South has turned into a local pedestrian-friendly walkable row of darling restaurants and shops... the people watching here is family-friendly with the cutest pups. For a more vibrant scene filled with cowboy boots, bachelorette parties and pedal taverns, head to Broadway downtown for Honky Tonk heaven.
Go to spot for offline inspiration?
Disconnecting is how I find inspiration. It’s as easy as grabbing a cup of coffee at our local Thistle Farms Café, an incredible non-profit that has the support from some of my favorite soulful voices like Oprah and Brene Brown. Another favorite spot for offline inspiration is through a good sweat at Inner Light Yoga or Hot Yoga Nashville.
One thing people shouldn't leave town without dong or seeing?
I wouldn’t leave town without enjoying an evening full of love and laughter at one of my favorite restaurants. Spend time with your favorites, enjoying food and conversation and the energy that this thriving, creative city gives off. You’ll get on the plane better for it – I promise! Oh, and always order dessert. Always.
I may not be home in Nashville all that often but when I am...I become torn between cozying up at home with tea in hand and hair in a topknot, or hitting the town with those I love and adore visiting my favorite local spots, the latter always seems to win! While the internet may be plastered with endless lists of things to do, eat and see in this growing city, I am about to let you all in on my tried and true Nashville staples. These are my spots which have been the birthplace of life giving moments, magical encounters, business ideas, collaborations, deep connections, belly laughs...and most of all, so much love. This guide is for all of you. There is something for everyone on this list but most importantly, while navigating the list... and while visiting this city, I hope you all take a moment to look around and find little moments of magic for yourself and let this soulful and creative city guide you. The community and this city for me are pure magic....
City House — If given the choice, this would be my go-to for every meal, hands down! I love the deconstructed environment fit for casual and life giving conversations. It has that local neighborhood vibe that’s just perfect for a business dinner, date night and lots of girls’ nights. You will always find me nestled up at the pizza bar with a good cab and an old friend. Fun fact, chef and Nashville native, Tandy Wilson, won a James Beard Award in 2016 for best chef in the Southeast!
Josephine — This is another local favorite and it has launched a thousand ships for me, so to speak...it’s been the birthplace of a beautiful friendships, it has been an incubator for new business ideas and it is one of my all-time favorite neighborhood gems! The intention and consistency is what I love most about the staff and menu. You can find me here on a random evening, endlessly craving more pretzel bread and Brussel sprouts.
Epice — If you want to be transported to the Mediterranean without ever leaving the deep south, this is your spot! The food is fresh and healthy which is all I really need to fuel me up. Concrete walls, honed marble surfaces, raw and untouched wood...the visual aesthetics speak to my heart and make it easy to gravitate towards. Which is why I love lunch dates here. The setting is intimate and the perfect spot to connect to those around you.
Other notable mentions that are forever in my rotation include: Little Octopus, Rolf and Daughters (order all the pastas and have the bartender make you a South Side), Tánsuŏ (Maneet is a badass), and Cafe Roze.
Thompson Hotel — There is a very distinct ‘Coffee Shop’ smell in Nashville...it’s a combination of dark roast and burnt toast (if you know, you know!) It’s honestly not my favorite scent to start the morning when I am in town so this beautiful hotel is my number one go-to for a clean cup of coffee and a meeting. I’m able to get in and out, still smelling of my Le Labo Santal 33.
Barista Parlor Golden Sound — Chill and quiet between the hours of 7:30 and 10 AM. This is my spot in The Gulch for early morning meetings.
Proper Bagel — A taste of NY in the heart of Belmont, their vibrant case of bagels, spreads, salads and sweets are to die for, and they’ve got coffee to match.
My Kitchen! There’s no better place to enjoy a delicious coffee than right at home. Xx
H Audrey — Owned by a sweet friend, Mrs. Holly Williams, who is kicking ass and taking names. The shop offers Nashville a consistent selection of items that you just won’t find in department stores. If I am doing a branded shoot or need a last minute special occasion outfit, this is my first stop!
Porter Flea — Always in support of #TheNewSouthern movement, I live for shopping destinations like this cool artisan marketplace! There’s no better way to celebrate local artists and community than by supporting their modern handmade goods.
Apple and Oak — This sweet little home goods store is one of my favorite spots to find beautiful pieces for your home, or even a fun little housewarming present! You can find everything from playful decor and vintage furniture to eclectic vintage rugs.
Gas Lamp Antiques — A massive antique mall spread across two huge buildings where you can listen to 50’s and 60’s rock and roll as you shop...Each one is filled with fine antiques and furniture, home decor, vintage jewelry, books, lamps and more. As an interior design stylist and someone who loves to layer it up at home, I could spend hours and hours here.
Side note...I am not a fashionista and am actually in desperate need of a stylist to pull for some events which I have coming up (HINT HINT) but feel free to shop my creature of Habit Capsule Staples HERE!
Other Notable mentions and favorites when I have time: The Perfect Pair In Green Hills for a little shoe love, Lemon Laine in East Nashville for an all natural Beauty makeover... and the store is just as darling as Laura and her fabulous team! White's Mercantile and Draper James on 12th South.. this is my favorite spot for anything housewarming!!
Hot Yoga Plus — This studio has the best hot room power flow classes. I am all in for a good sweat and moving meditation (resting is in plank)!!
Core Power — This yoga studio is opening up soon and it was my all-time favorite when I was living in Chicago, so as you can imagine, I’m excited!
Percy Warner Park — Y’all! This pretty park is the perfect place to break away from your phone for an hour or two and be one with nature (and the concrete steps) that will whip your tush into shape. There are 3 equally beautiful trails to choose from which all vary in length (from 2.5 miles to 6+) depending on the route you want to take.
Bastion — This super casual spot is a local Nashville hang. A visit here means being in the company of musicians, creative entrepreneurs and everything in between. The best part? This establishment is about as unpretentious as it gets. I roll in with jeans and my staple white-tee, craving nachos and a beer with a wicked game of ring toss. Being here often makes me forget that I am in Nashville because it reminds me so much of a local neighborhood bar that you would find in Brooklyn. Xx
Rare Bird — Perched up on top of the cute, upscale boutique hotel, Noelle, is this chic rooftop lounge with unbeatable views of downtown. There’s a fine attention to design which makes it easy on the eyes and ideal for pretty cocktails or catching up with old friends!! We recently monopolized the bar to celebrate my girlfriends (#boss) newest single... Your Hurricane!! Customer Service at its finest Whoop Whoop!
L27 Rooftop — Another one of my favorite rooftop hangs for a quick glass of wine and literally one of the prettiest places to watch the sunset. The space was brought back to life with the talented design duo, Pierce and Ward. If you can, head to the second floor of the bar and stake your claim on a cloud couch... this paired with good conversation is a perfect evening in my book!
Patterson House — Do you want to know where the coziest speakeasy is in Nashville?? It is here. This is as mellow as it gets with the best attention to service and detail. I can safely say... they make the best drinks in Nashville and not to mention a killer tatortot for some of those late night last call evenings.
Geist — There’s no better way to describe this spot than charming, really truly charming! Which is exactly why I love hanging out with friends here! The building is one of the city’s most historic...what used to be an old blacksmith shop is now a sophisticated, cozy bar (and outdoor champagne garden) decorated with handcrafted pieces which were commissioned by local artists! There are definitely some major New Southern vibes happening here!
From Nashville to LA, Santa Barbara, Chicago and Austin — I have been hopping around time zones quite a bit these days (Hello #TheNewSouthern). Bouncing from city to city, photographing & styling beautiful spaces while collaborating with creative souls from all different corners of the country is both a joy and a blessing...but it also absorbs a lot of my physical and mental energy. Amidst my travels (over 100,000 miles a year!) I’ve managed to pick up a few personal tips which keep me going throughout my long work days and hours spent in the air. The life I’ve cultivated on the road has granted me with lots of tools for staying healthy and focused. Whether you’re packing for a short road trip or heading off on a cross-country flight — these are my go-to hacks for healthy (fulfilling) travel!! Xx
Hydration is key!
I drink plenty of water to balance tons of sky miles and I also have found great moisturizing creams for my lips and face. Every night and regardless of the season I use Epionce Medical Barrier Cream for my face cream and Avene Cold Cream Lip Cream. These two items along with lots of water have been skin lifesavers for me!!
I always have a bedtime when I am traveling!! I am nocturnal by nature and I get a second wind of creativity around 9 pm. So, when I am traveling I have to be mindful and get myself into bed no later than 10:30/11:00 pm if I want to be a fully functioning human when my early call time hits. When you have dinner meeting scheduled with clients, don't be afraid to set a phone alarm to be mindful and I always travel with a useful pair of earplugs (best $6 dollars I ever spent) for a guaranteed quiet night's sleep.
Limit the liquor…
There is truly nothing worse than traveling after a few too many drinks. I limit myself to a single glass of wine at dinner. I know that I am less effective and less creative when I am combating a headache so I avoid too much alcohol all together.
Direction vs. Schedule
All of my trips incorporate goals and direction. My goals are centered on connection and life giving moments. I connect with multiple clients in each city and when I travel I try to not have a regimented schedule. I like to be open to new dinners, new people and new inspiring moments to dictate the next decision. Having a regimented schedule prevents this and I always come from a place of yes when I am on the road — yes to new adventures, new places, and to feeling alive!
Work from anywhere
Airplanes are my office! I love to travel and embrace this uninterrupted time for myself. Sometimes I sit next to a fascinating neighbor and we become friends, but most often I am writing or editing while listening to something that is inspiring my soul. This sets the best tone for when I land. For more of the tools I use while traveling, head over to MyDomiane for my resources there. Xx
Keep it light
Traveling isn’t always easy so I try to make things emotionally lighter and have perspective when the proverbial Sh$%t hits the fan.
Example: Two weeks ago at LAX, the rental car took almost 2 hours to Get OR LAST WEEK IN DALLAS My schedule was all over the place with 3 IMPROMPTU Meetings I had to take.
Instead of freaking out, this was the perfect opportunity to catch up on emails in LA and respond to instagram DM’s and also implement a little mind over matter. I walked away from LAX feeling a little more caught up on my way to my lunch meeting and I walked away from Dallas feeling I can conquer anything thrown my way. Remember, what we focus on expands. It is so much more constructive and energy preserving to breathe through the last minute moments and tackle them head on with a positive attitude.
Keep things interesting
Cities evolve just as we evolve. I am always staying on top of the newest restaurants (I love beautiful spaces (duh!) and I’m a foodie at heart) so that I am able to create new experiences with my clients — even if I’m not in my home city. I love killing two birds with one stone when I have meetings! Do a little due diligence before arriving by researching some of your favorite bloggers in the destination city or sites such as Eater, MyDomaine or Thrillest. AND!! If you are headed to Music City, my friends at Nashville Guru have done an incredible job providing great hot spots per neighborhood. Xx
I always pack a pair of yoga pants and a bikini — just in case!!! It’s always best to be prepared for an impromptu few hours by the pool, some time in the sauna or a quick power flow yoga session. Disclaimer: This has happened to me once out of the 4 years I have been doing this but what a great way to end a productive trip!!
Food is an energy source for me! I eat to feel good. I do not diet but instead believe in moderation and really listen to my body when it comes to this. My schedule gets super hectic on the road so I always have an emergency RXbar with me, sour patch watermelons (can’t deprive myself of my sweet tooth!) and raw almonds.
For more of my travel recommendations, read my interview from last fall with MyDomaine!
MY FAVORITE TRAVEL TIPS FOR TIME MANAGEMENT WITH MY DOMAINE!