your insider guide for a local perspective on Nashville, Tennessee.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

LGBT Friendly Guide to Nashville

lgbt friendly nashville

Despite being located in the South, as a 9+ year resident of Nashville, I can personally attest it is a city which warmly welcomes both its LGBT residences and guests. An incredible, vocally supportive mayor (who married the first gay couple in Nashville when it became legal in 2015, who's office promptly arranged a memorial following the tragedy in Orlando) stands alongside so many businesses and residents alike who strongly support equality amongst all.

I recently sat down with Nashville's LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Loews Vanderbilt Nashville to discuss this idea of creating a LGBT-friendly itinerary for Loews' #TravelForReal campaign, and through said conversation hand-selected businesses and compiled a three day agenda of my faves who strongly support the LGBT community. This was initially designed as a "staycation" for LGBT Nashvillians but certainly can be used by all locals and visitors, as well!

Without further adieu:

Day 1:

Brunch at Mad Donnas
One of Nashville's most popular Brunch spots and one you definitely do not want to miss. Don't let the line scare you -- you'll be through it and casually brunching in no time. Brunch features reasonable prices, 2-for-1 Mimosas, a Bloody Mary bar, their fabulous burgers, Cap'n Crunch French toast, and more.

1313 Woodland Street, Nashville

Dinner and Cocktails at Mason's

The hotel-restaurant stigma is completely thrown out the window with Mason's restaurant and bar, located in the lobby of the Loews Hotel. Chic atmosphere, top-notch service, and delicious food and beverage menus round out one of my favorite spots in town. Watching your figure? Erin Oprea, Carrie Underwood's personal trainer, has you covered. Oprea herself worked with the Mason's team to create delicious (healthy) options on both the food and cocktail list -- just look for the barbells next to the menu item. Like me and prefer to go all out? I highly recommend the Lamb meatballs, Shrimp and Grits, Ancho Spiced Berkshire Pork Chop, Brussels Sprouts, and Springer Mountain Farms Chicken. Don't forget about dessert too -- the pastry chef is certainly bringing her A-game.

2100 West End Avenue, Nashville

Post-Dinner Cocktails at Patterson House

Continue your evening with a cocktail or two from one of the most intimate bars in town. Patterson house, with its speak easy vibe, is one of my absolute favorite places to grab a cocktail. Incredibly creative drink offerings in a super-chic atmosphere, you must go here for fab beverages/delicious snacks, to see, and to be seen.

Pictured -- Mazy Makes a Sling: Luzianne Tea-Infused Gin, Lime, Pineapple, Benedictine, Grenadine, Ginger Ale.

1711 Division Street, Nashville

Play Dance Bar
Truly the only place to get your dance on in town, Play never disappoints. Featuring the best drag show in the US, DJ spinning hot tunes, and a huge, always packed out dance floor. My only suggestion? Be careful with cocktail consumption -- bartenders pour heavy, and you've got a busy day ahead tomorrow!

1519 Church Street, Nashville

Day 2:

Breakfast at Proper Bagel
Get your bagel on at this beautifully-designed New York-style cafe in the cute Belmont neighborhood. It will be tough, but try and eat somewhat lightly (i.e.: a black and blue bagel featuring homemade butter) -- as today's schedule is jam-packed with amazing food.

2011 Belmont Blvd, Nashville 

Loews Loves Pet Program + Erin Opera Dog Walk Trail
After breakfast, if you're traveling with your furry companion (yes -- Loews welcomes them!), be sure to lavish them with the Loews Loves Pet Program, which includes everything from gourmet pet room service to pet beds. Follow up your breakfast by taking them on a walk Erin Oprea's dog walking trail adjacent to the hotel.

Walk Eat Nashville Tour
Walking food tours offer a taste of the people, places and dishes making Nashville the "new culinary capital of the South". Tours offer you the perfect way to experience a local neighborhood on foot with a tour guide -- who happen to be some of the most knowledgable "foodies" in town -- and eating along the way. Perfection? Yes.  

Shopping on the East Side
East Nashville offers a wide-array of local, unique shopping. From a speciality spice store (Galena Garlic), to custom pet collars, treats, and pet beds (Baxter and Bailey), Nashville-themed t-shirts (DCXVProject 615), Home decor (Apple and Oak), affordable boutique men's shopping (Jack Randall) and for the ladies (Vinnie & Louise), to locally made and vintage goods (Hey RoosterOld Made Good) we've got it all. Here's where you can find all the can't miss shops:

Fatherland District
1006 Fatherland Street

Shops at Woodland
1108 Woodland Street, Nashville

Porter Road Shops
717 Porter Road, Nashville

Hey Rooster General Store
1106 Gallatin Avenue, Nashville

Old Made Good
3701B Gallatin Pike

Ice Cream at Jeni's
The best ice cream in the world, period. And to boot, the owner, Jeni Britton Bauer and I attended a drag show together at Play -- a night I'll certainly never forget. Standard flavors, seasonal flavors, no matter the flavor, you cannot go wrong with a visit to Jeni's.

1892 Eastland Avenue, Nashville

The Frist
Simply put: Nashville's finest art museum. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has become a magnet for Nashville’s rapidly expanding visual arts scene, and has an exhibitions schedule that allows new art to flow through its magnificent Art Deco building every 6 to 8 weeks. No matter how often you visit, there is always something new to see in the Frist galleries. 

919 Broadway, Nashville

Dinner at Sinema

image via Southern Fatty Photography
Trendy atmosphere, eclectic American menu, delicious cocktails, and wonderful service will greet you upon entering the former-Melrose theater-turned-restaurant in the 8th/12th neighborhood. Big dessert fan? Sinema offers some of the most delectable options in town.

My favorites on the current menu? The filet, served with Cremini, Corn, Fresno Pepper, Honey Mustard Hollandaise. The Cauliflower (pictured): Cauliflower Couscous, Lavender & Peach Vinaigrette, Peach Truck Peaches, Sweet & Spicy Almond Brittle, Fennel, Radish. For dessert, the Mocha Choca Latte Ya Ya: Tiramisu, Coffee Semifreddo, Irish Ice Cream, Chocolate. Divine!

2600 Franklin Pike #102, Nashville, TN 37204

Show at Tennessee RepBelcourt,  Nashville BalletStreet Theater CompanyNashville Opera Assc. 
Nashville has the benefit of its residents being some of the most talented people in the world -- and thankfully, there are so many wonderful places for us to showcase our talents. Take your pick of any of the spots listed here and you will be in for a wonderful evening of performance art.

Post Show Drinks at Old Glory

image via
Old Glory offers the most unique environment to grab a craft cocktail in the city. Beautifully designed, beautiful cocktails, beautiful people watching.

1200 Villa Place #103, Nashville

Day 3:

Workout at Loews - Erin Opera BALANCE Program

You've eaten and drank your way through the city, this morning, it's time to work off a few calories with the Erin Opera BALANCE program -- an effective but realistic program guests could take advantage of during their stay. If you’re staying at Loews Vanderbilt, all you need to do is call the front desk or Star Service and ask for the Balance Program by Erin Oprea – a set of fitness equipment will be delivered to your room, along with easy instructions for a custom workout designed by Erin.

Breakfast at Mason's
Yes -- Mason's also offers breakfast 7 days a week. My recommendation? The Lemon Marscapone Stuffed French Toast (complete with blueberry peach compote), and a side of bacon. If you don't want to completley ruin the efforts of your workout, give Erin Oprea's Persian Breakfast Frittata a try:  Two Cage Free Eggs, Garlic Aioli, Watercress, served on Rosemary Ciabatta.

2100 West End Avenue, Nashville

Massages at Adagio
The BEST way to round out your stay? Massages at Adagio, one of Nashville's best kept secrets. A lovely staff, relaxing environment, and perfect masseurs complete with the best little touches -- a pre-massage glass of champagne, and even dessert to round out your experience.

1300 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203

And finally, a few misc. LGBT-friendly ideas to keep an eye out for:

Nashville Pride + Black Pride Nashville
Support the LGBT community via our local Pride festivities.

One of the best dance parties in town -- held monthly at a 'straight' bar. Check website for dates and locale!

Drag Bingo
Held every Tuesday at Mad Donna's, 8:00-11:00PM!

Dining Out For Life
70+ restaurants in Nashville partner with Nashville Cares to raise money to help fight HIV/AIDS.


  1. #TwelveOneFive blog is a collection of ongoing writing by #Ryan Michael Sirois that centers around the personal journey of self discovery.

    Best personal journey books:King of Stars
    LGBT Community Blog

  2. Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences. gay,


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