Bookstore Bucketlist: Parnassus Books (Nashville, TN) / by Madeleine Riley

 Yes, I am aware that we are practically in matching outfits. Yes, we both refused to change.

Yes, I am aware that we are practically in matching outfits. Yes, we both refused to change.

If you follow along on Instagram, you know that I recently took a quick trip to Nashville with my mother over spring break. We're both teachers (her: preschool, me: second grade special ed) and often our school vacations line up, which makes for great travel opportunities!

First, I have to say this: my mother is one million times more fun than me. She's spontaneous, 100% an extrovert, and she loves to travel. Me, on the other hand? I'm all about careful planning, quiet time, and staying home. We're unlikely travel partners, but without my mom's influence, I would never go anywhere interesting! 

More background info: my little brother is a golf pro and has an unusual college setup in that he is rarely actually on campus. Most of the time, he's off on an internship. My mom and I have visited him on past internships on St. Simon's Island in Georgia and in The Hamptons, but I've never actually seen his school. So when my mom called to see if I wanted to take a trip over spring break, she proposed a visit to my brother while he's still on campus in North Carolina. I said yes, and 24 hours later she called me back to say she had booked us a trip to Nashville instead.

Because, as I said, she's spontaneous. 

A few weeks later, we deplane in Nashville to frigid temps and flurries in the air (so much for a warm southern trip)! We spent almost four days in Nashville and had a great time exploring (and to be fair, we did get one afternoon of pool-worthy sunshine). Thanks to the recommendations of so many TST readers, we had a long list of places to visit and to eat. And because you all are so resourceful, I had zero trouble finding celiac-friendly places with really good food. We didn't hit all of the typical Nashville spots, but I've put together a quick list of our highlights and all of the fabulous foodie spots too!



We went straight from the airport to Parnassus Books, my one and only request for our itinerary. It was gorgeous (and much bigger than I expected) with a great kid lit selection and so many fun extras to look at! 

I treated myself to an adorable tote bag, a Parnassus tee, the fourth book in the Maisie Dobbs series, a new V.E. Schwab, and a signed edition of This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by revered author and Parnassus owner, Ann Patchett. (The store keeps all of her books in stock & signed for customers!)

If you're ever in the area, it's definitely worth a stop!

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Of course, a stop at Draper James was also in order. This store represents my dream aesthetic. I could have walked away with every single thing. (But alas, the prices.)

We also spent one evening at The Bluebird Cafe, which at first glance looks like an unassuming storefront in a strip mall, but is actually a pretty exclusive venue for popular and up-and-coming country artists.

(Note: I am not a music person. I don't listen to music at all in my daily life. However the singer pictured above, Matt Stell, was my favorite of the artists featured that night, so if you like music, I'd recommend looking him up!)


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The Pharmacy for burgers & milkshakes (the milkshake was amazing, but skip this stop if you're sensitive to gluten cross-contamination)

Frothy Monkey for coffee & breakfast

Five Daughters Bakery for doughnuts (they have gf/paleo options!)

Tavern for dinner (they have a separate gf menu!)

Caviar & Bananas (we ended up here several times, as it was right next to our hotel)

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (we have this in grocery stores here but it was my first time spotting a storefront and they have so many gf options!)

There were so many readers who reached out with recommendations leading up to and during our trip, so I want to say thank you again to all of you who helped make it even more fun! My mom is already planning another trip back with her girlfriends. And me? I'm happy to be a homebody until my next big adventure with one of my besties in June!