Vanderbilt University located in Nashville, Tennessee is a hot school right now and for good reason. Known for its rigorous academics, vibrant Greek life, and a beautiful campus, Vanderbilt is consistently ranked as one of our nation’s top schools. Founded in 1873 by Cornelius Vanderbilt, the private research university is home to just under 6,900 undergraduates. Located just over a mile from downtown Nashville, the city long known as “Music City, U.S.A.”, is crafting a new image, emerging as a hip, young, creative metropolis with a dynamic food scene.
Stay: Directly across from campus check into the Loews Vanderbilt, renovated and redesigned in 2013, it’s many families first choice. The Hutton just down the street is a modern, contemporary boutique hotel with friendly service. Brand new, The Aertson, a Kimpton property, is also popular with Vandy parents, and very convenient to campus. Are you coming for a game? You can’t get more convenient than the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt Stadium; you may get lucky and get a room overlooking the action on the field. Maybe you want to stay in the heart of downtown, approximately a 15-20 minute drive from Vandy. The brand new, quirky, art-filled 21C Nashville and the Westin Nashville are challenging Nashville’s grand dame, The Hermitage Hotel, once the only good option and in our opinion tired. In the red-hot Gulch neighborhood, just a mile from downtown’s attractions, The Thompson created a lot of buzz when it opened last year, with interiors paying homage to Nashville’s music history. The scenic rooftop bar/café L.A. Jackson attracts quite a crowd at night, but your room key will get you right in. Marsh House restaurant from celebrity chef John Besh and Killebrew coffee shop are other built-in bonuses of a stay at the Thompson.
Coffee: Close to the Commons (the freshman campus) in Hillsboro Village, everyone goes to Fido—for the coffee, the funky vibe, and solid food at breakfast and lunch. Across the street from Fido, one student steered us towards Revelator Coffee, his favorite morning caffeine spot. If you’re staying in the Gulch, don’t miss Barista Golden Sound, a super cool hipster spot where you’re sure to spot upperclassmen camping out on their laptops. There’s a small menu of breakfast items but be sure to try one of their homemade Pop’s Tarts, a play on pop tarts with preserved fruit made by the owner’s dad in the center.
Breakfast: Right next to The Aerston, students, and families are flocking to Caviar and Bananas at all times of the day. More a gourmet food hall than a traditional restaurant there’s a coffee bar with baked goods, a salad station, sandwiches and hot dishes. The space is bright and inviting—a great new addition to the neighborhood. Hillsboro Village, basically an extension of campus has a branch of the uber-popular Biscuit Love. (Also a good spot for lunch.) Fans line up early for their buttery biscuits with country ham or fried chicken with sausage gravy, while others indulge in biscuit–doughnut hole hybrid bonuts. There’s another location in the Gulch for those staying downtown. Looking for something lighter, refresh at Juice Bar, right next door. And then there’s Fido, mentioned above, popular with everyone from music execs to Vandy students to local families for their all-day creative breakfasts.
Any Time Of Day: Pinewood Social is more than a restaurant, it’s a “social gathering place,” and it’s very cool. Open at 7 am for coffee and breakfast, switching to lunch and dinner later in the day, it’s a "wow" space that was once an office park, now with six reclaimed wood bowling lanes, and two dipping pools. (Approximately a 12-minute drive from Vanderbilt.)
Lunch: You have to try Nashville’s famous fried chicken at least once while you’re in town, and right near campus is one of the best—Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. Don’t worry when you see the line; it moves fast, but better yet order online. You’ll get a pickup time slot, and you can go right to the front when you arrive. Don’t even consider ordering the “damn hot” or “shut the cluck up,” locals who like spice told us the most they dare is “hot.” In Hillsboro Village follow the students to The Grilled Cheeserie for a quick bite. South 12th, just a short 10-minute drive away, is a lovely street to wander with some of the best local shopping boutiques (don’t miss trendsetter Imogene and Willie, Hero, and Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James) and a ton of eating spots. Sit outside at Bar Taco with one of the better patios in town, or for something quick try the Frothy Monkey, a hip coffeehouse serving southern food. Everyone loves Burger Up for upscale burgers and salads and a mean Moscow Mule! After lunch enjoy a fruit or vegetable Popsicle at Las Paletas or a doughnut at Five Daughters Bakery.
Casual: Fans speak of pit master Pat Martin in hushed tones, his eatery; Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint is renowned for whole hog barbecue. Now with a new enormous location downtown, the 6th from the legendary Martin, only die-hard fans need to drive the 30 minutes to the original location in Nolensville. Spread across 13,000 square feet with live music and a backyard beer garden complete with ping-pong tables, dartboards and shuffleboard this is a fun night out. Housed in a former shipping container in the Gulch, The 404 Kitchen serves farm to table American fare washed down with the largest whiskey menu in Nashville.
A Step Up: Nashville is fast becoming one of the country’s hottest food destinations, and deciding where to go is not easy. Rolf and Daughters, and City House, two of Nashville’s hottest tickets jump-started the food scene in Germantown, one of Nashville’s most up and coming neighborhoods. Across the street, reserve well in advance, to eat all things seafood, in the beautiful dining room at Henrietta Red. If you can’t get a reservation, no worries. Head to the bar pre-dinner for wood-roasted oysters with green curry and an excellent hot crab dip. We hear chef Sean Brock has been spending more of his time in the kitchen at Husk, one of the city’s top tables set in a charming house. Vandy students tell us they book tables at Virago, Moto, Adele’s and Kayne Prime when their parents are in town, all on the Gulch’s McGavock Street, a lively restaurant row commonly referred to as M Street. Foodies, try and snag a reservation at James Beard award nominee Bastion with just 24 seats from chef Josh Habiger formerly of Catbird Seat, located in an old factory in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. (Quickly becoming an arts and culture hub.)
Nashville Classics: It would be a shame to spend time in Nashville and not visit Arnold’s Country Kitchen, the city’s legendary Meat and Three. The cafeteria-style line may be long, but it moves fast, and it’s worth the wait for a real taste of old style Nashville. Arnold’s is like no other meat and three, which if you’re not familiar with is a choice of meat such as roast beef served with three sides such as mac and cheese, black-eyed peas, stewed okra or fried green tomatoes. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, located in East Nashville and dating back to 1945 is widely considered to be the king of Nashville’s iconic dish. Don’t want to make the trek; a new Prince’s just opened in South Nashville.
Local Attractions: Centennial Park, right across from Vanderbilt, has a full-scale replica of Greece’s Parthenon. Sure, downtown Nashville is touristy, but if you’ve never been, it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re a fan of Country Music. Boot, scoot, and boogie in and out of the honky-tonks on Broadway, favorites include Acme Feed and Seed, The Stage, Nudie’s Honky Tonk and of course world famous Robert’s Western World. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, an interactive, intriguing museum, and then tour The Ryman, one of our country’s best music venues. The Ryman has been home at times to the famous Grand Ole Opry radio show, now with a permanent home approximately 25 minutes outside of town. Check their calendar to see what shows are on while you’re in town. Other live music spots not to miss are the legendary Bluebird Café, Listening Room and The Station Inn.
Worth the Drive: Spend an afternoon in the charming town of Franklin, just thirty miles outside of Nashville. Stroll the sweet Main Street weaving in and out of the authentic, local boutiques and eat lunch at Puckett’s Grocery or 55 South. (A third Biscuit Love is opening soon.) Travel back in time to the civil war with a tour at Carnton Plantation before heading back to town. The Loveless Café is not that far from Franklin, visited by some 450,000 guests a year (definitely not a secret spot) who come for their home-style fare and famous biscuits. You can buy the mix to take home in the Loveless gift shop. (Yes, they are catering to tourists!)
— QUOTES FROM CAMPUS —
DONT MISS THE BEST RESTAURANTS
VANDERBILT FAST FACTS
Black & Gold
Early Decision I & Early Decision II
SAY - AVG
ACT - AVG
Medium - 6,800 Undergraduates
2305 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203-1727
(p) (615) 322-2561
(f) (615) 343-7765
NCAA Division I
Robert Penn Warren
Just toured the Vanderbilt University Campus? Are you a Vanderbilt University student, parent or Alumni? Fill out this 2 minute survey to supplement our Daytripper University Guide for Vanderbilt University!