“While you’ve been away, we’ve been creating, and it’s time to come on back to Nashville safely,” said The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. in a recent press announcement. When the world slowed down, “Music City’s” creative community forged ahead with brand-new openings, reimagined offerings from iconic hotspots and, of course, new music.
Here’s what visitors can expect in 2021:
In February, the National Museum of African American Music celebrated a long-awaited opening on Broadway. A block away, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum launched its new “American Currents” exhibit, featuring stars like Dan + Shay, Luke Combs, John Prine and Ashley McByrde, and, across town, the Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery launched new food pairings with either wine or bourbon from chef Stephen Kruger.
Since March 2020, more than 115 food retail offerings opened doors in "Music City." On the west side, Sylvan Supply and L&L market’s expansive new retail and dining developments bring chef/author Amanda Fredrickson’s restaurant Radish and retail outlets Living with Landyn and Happily Grey, among others. Multi-level Assembly Food Hall opened downtown with local vendors like Thai Esane and Donut Distillery, with more to come this spring. Right next door, Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria made history in March as the first black-owned business to open on Nashville’s Broadway, while country superstar Miranda Lambert announced a summer 2021 opening of Casa Rosa—the first bar and restaurant to open on Broadway from a female country singer. James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock was busy in 2020, opening Joyland and The Continental. He plans to open his highly anticipated Appalachian-food focused restaurant Audrey, located in East Nashville, later this year.
In 2020, 2,539 hotel rooms opened, and 2021 is expected to bring 3,023 more. Full-service hotel openings in 2021 will bring the W Hotel (Gulch), Hyatt Centric, Embassy Suites and 1 Hotel (Downtown), among several other limited-service offerings that will be opening.
On the events front, Nashville will also welcome back its “Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th” concert, headlined by country superstar Brad Paisley and ending with the largest fireworks show in Nashville’s history. Plus, a trifecta of racing hits town, including the first NASCAR Cup Series race at the Nashville Speedway in 37 years on June 20; the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) championship race at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on July 17; and the inaugural Music City Grand Prix August 6-8 with IndyCars racing through the streets of downtown Nashville.
Even many of Nashville’s most iconic spots have been refreshed with new offerings. Meat-and-three “mecca” Arnold’s Country Kitchen launched its Arnold’s After Dark series with nighttime hours and menus; 1930s landmark eatery Elliston Place Soda Shop will reopen in an expanded location this spring; and, after 60 years, long-time breakfast favorite The Pancake Pantry is serving dinner Thursday to Sunday. The historic Hermitage Hotel, in partnership with internationally acclaimed chef and restauranteur Jean-Georges Vongerichten, will debut a new restaurant and café this fall, and Centennial Park will complete its massive improvement project, in line with the Parthenon’s 90th anniversary.
To highlight the changes, Nashville will run TV ads featuring fashion designer Andrew Clancey of Any Old Iron with Nashville-based supermodel Karen Elson, acclaimed celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan dining with Kings of Leon’s Nathan Followill at her restaurant Chaatable, and GRAMMY-winning artist Keb’ Mo’, actor/songwriter Charles Esten and musician Lindsay Ell at Ocean Way Studio performing the campaign’s soundtrack “Come On Back.”
This past February, Nashville was named a “Safe Travels” destination by the World Travel & Tourism Council, making it one of only a few destinations in the United States to achieve the designation. Nashville businesses that are members of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp’s “Good to Go” program display the Safe Travels logo to give added confidence of their health and safety measures to patrons.