Work Hard, Play Harder: Toy Stores Near You

Mindful Toys/Therapy in a Bin ion Trousdale Drive in the Crieve Hall neighborhood.

Mindful Toys/Therapy in a Bin ion Trousdale Drive in the Crieve Hall neighborhood.

Sure, you could purchase toys at Target or order them online. But if you live in a town full of bubbly entrepreneurs passionate about supplying eco-friendly, imaginative, creative toys to children, why not see what they have to offer? In Nashville, you can make Christmas shopping and gift-buying errands about supporting local shops and teaching your kiddos to see value in community-based business-consumer relationships, and not just about nabbing this month's hottest toy before something more enticing hits the shelves. Besides, you won't find all the niftiest new Melissa & Doug toys at some giant retail store. Check out these toy stores around town and see what kind of whimsical, enriching and even educational toys and games you can find.



1705 Mallory Lane
Brentwood, TN 37027

002 Richard Jones Rd
Nashville, TN 37215

A nearby neighbor to The Perch and Sanctuary Yoga in Green Hills, this Michigan-based toy peddler opened a Nashville location in 2011. Brilliant Sky commits to supplying cognitively nourishing and fun toys in support of imaginative, enlightening play. Their selection includes not only toys but games, puzzles, crafts, books, athletic gizmos and puppets. Their philosophy centers around the notion that playing is not just handling a couple toys - it's pretending and role-playing, polishing motor skills, developing emotional and mental faculties, discovering, even cultivating interest in academic fields. That said, the diversity of Brilliant Sky's toy selection meets just about any need you may have.

Mon.-Sat. 9-8
Sun. 12-4

2. Arcade

2106 Acklen Ave
Nashville, TN 37212

Artsy, organic, upscale and inventive, Arcade is a children's store with no particular product line at its branding focus. Established by a mother of two with a penchant for antique furniture trading, this high-end children's goods store has clothes, bath soaps, skincare products for mom, and most importantly: beautiful toys. I'm talking little wearable cameras carved out of wood, block puzzles forming rainbows and Romanesque castles, craft kits, amazingly realistic stuffed animals, rubber bath toys shaped like cars and origami boats, thumb pianos, child-sized cooking sets that are fully functional. Every toy is sleek, artfully painted and impressive, which makes each one a striking addition to home decor as well as an elegant yet durable plaything for any child with an imagination.

Mon. 10-5
Tues.-Sat. 10-6
Sun. 10-4

3. Therapy in a Bin

4825 Trousdale Dr #218
Nashville, TN 37220

Initially launched in Canada by a go-getter and mother of two autistic children, this store's Music City location is only a year old and will soon be known as Mindful Toys. The inventory is organized by developmental stages, therapeutic needs and category of play, with an emphasis on providing toys and playful tools for children with autism, sensory or auditory processing disorders, dyslexia, speech and language difficulties, anxiety, social disorders, and depressive episodes. Kits with educational games and gadgets are available in spades for teachers, and the store has a sensory playroom open to the public during store hours. Brimming with whimsy, empathy and positive energy, Mindful Toys/Therapy in a Bin aims to bring joy and life to kiddos while making everyone who walks in the door feel part of a caring community.

Mon.-Fri. 10-6
Sat. 10-4

4. Phillips Toy Mart

5207 Hwy 70 S
Nashville, TN 37205

This classic toy shop, previously named Nashville's #1 Toy Store, is distinguished by its wide variety of goods, community involvement, and seven decades of operation here in town. Forever known in Nashville as the toy store that occasionally brings in a swarm of bunnies for in-store bunny-petting extravaganzas, Phillips Toy Mart stocks all the must-haves of a local toy store, from solar system sets to animal puppets. Reliable, friendly and nostalgic, Phillips offers a more diverse selection than Target or Walmart and sits serenely near the Belle Meade neighborhood, not far from Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art. Supporting local business while getting an impressive toy haul for reasonable prices is possible here at Phillips.

Mon.-Sat. 9-5:30

5. Fairytales Bookstore

114 S 11th St
Nashville, TN 37206

Tucked away in East Nashville with The IDEA Hatchery and a local art gallery, this whimsical, wonderful toy store is an entrepreneurial endeavor inspired by the owner's first child. Fairytales Bookstore is deceptively named, as it offers more than just children's books (and a wide variety, at that). Wooden sailboats and dinosaurs, stuffed animals, books packaged with dress-up outfits, play food - all this place needs in order to be a kid's haven is an ice cream parlor next door. Oh wait. There is an ice cream parlor next door. As if the idyllic location and inventory isn't endearing and satisfying enough, Fairytales hosts puppet shows and story times for the community, and even offers in-store gift wrapping services. It's a sweet excursion for children and parents alike.

Mon. 12-6
Wed.-Fri. 12-6
Sat. 10-7
Sun. 11-6

A Reader's Guide to Nashville Bookstores

If you're anything like me, being in a bookstore is like being a kid on Christmas morning. The very presence of books thrills, calms and enchants me, and I will read Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck and J.R.R. Tolkien to my future children every night even if they beg me to just let them go to sleep for once. Finding a bookstore in Nashville is vital for the following reasons: (a) you have to buy your books somewhere, (b) you have to buy books for other people somewhere in the event that a birthday arises and (c) some bookstores in Nashville are near donut shops and bakeries, and everyone needs an excuse to get donuts once in a while. Should you find yourself floundering in unquenched thirst for good text, here are some book nooks around town and the quirks that make them more than just stores.


1. Parnassus Books

3900 Hillsboro Pike #14
Nashville, TN 37215

In 2011, a plague struck chain bookstores across the country. Store after store fizzled and withered, leaving Nashville particularly scarred by a lack of literature. Enter author Ann Patchett and book business veteran Karen Hayes. The two banded together to resurrect the community bookstore, the neighborhood story-teller, the "mom and pop shop" where employees could bring their dogs to work (and they do, by the way - Bear is my favorite). But they weren't just successful in returning books to the city; Parnassus Books is the Nashvillian testament to countrywide local bookstore resilience following the devastation of collapsed book distribution giants like Borders.

Parnassus does not just sell books. It hosts community events, book signings, local artists and entrepreneurs who have something to say. It puts local writing on display and demands attention for up and coming writers right here in Music City. It offers book club lists and memberships to readers looking for a community of character enthusiasts, plot twist junkies and font geeks. It looks like the bookstore of your dreams with a whole section set apart for children, preserving the magic of reading and imagination for the next generation. If you're passionate about literature, this is your haven. If you aren't, you can at least go pet a dog. That's something to be pretty excited about.


2. BookManBookWoman

1713 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212

Yes, it is all one word. Kind of jarring to look at, I know. But stocking over 100,000 new, used and gently loved books, this quirky wormhole of yellow pages and marked down prices has been around since 1995 and began as an overflow of two book enthusiasts' unwieldy collections. Complete with that wonderful and nostalgic "old book smell," readers and shoppers will fall head over heels for this book nook, previously voted Best Used Bookstore by Nashville Scene and Nashville Woman. Happily at home in Hillsboro Village, smushed warmly between Provence Breads & Cafe and Davis Cookware and Cutlery Shoppe & Coffee Club, BookManBookWoman is a perfect date spot, Saturday afternoon outing, errand site and hideaway.

If you need an encyclopedia of Warner Bros. films dating back to the 1920s, find it here sandwiched between the Jimmy Stewart and Anjelica Huston biographies. If you crave a leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre or Of Mice and Men, look no further because the collection of masterfully bound books on these shelves will make you cry. If you need cookbooks, fitness guides, atlases, picture books, mystery novels and psychological thrillers, falling-apart volumes of 19th-century poetry - don't hesitate to look here. BookManBookWoman stocks books in every possible category from Adventure/Exploration to Yoga. Crammed from wall to wall with titles, this store is the perfect place to get completely lost in literature, or to find just the book you need.


3. Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt

2501 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203

One of the few survivors of the epidemic that wiped out several chain bookstores countrywide, Barnes & Noble stands two stories tall in an upscale shopping strip on West End Avenue. Serving a dual function as Vanderbilt University's school store and therefore making it entirely too easy for unassuming bourgeois to masquerade as members of the school's undergraduate population, this particular Barnes & Noble has a massive selection of best-sellers, old favorites and new releases. Their store brand publications of uniquely decorated and bound classics are prominently displayed on every level of the store, and if you can make it in and out without having been tempted by one of them, you may be immune to loving literature.

This store is located a walk away from P.F. Chang's and not much further from Smoothie King. It rose up just as Davis-Kidd and Borders disappeared in 2011 and took over the building Borders formerly inhabited, becoming a retail giant and a study/meeting space for college students immediately. With online order options available, expansive inventory and national appeal, Barnes & Noble is definitely a reliable book provider whether you're searching for critically-acclaimed Malcolm Gladwell publications or obscure, generally under-stocked Wendell Berry fiction. Games, cards, calendars, journals, pen collections and fancy soap are all sold here as well, so you can complete your book-buying and your gift-getting in one fell swoop.


4. McKay's Used Books, CDs, DVDs & More

636 Old Hickory Blvd
Nashville, TN 37209

Heed my words: bring. A. Water. Bottle. Because you might get sucked into a vortex of wildly underpriced books and DVDs, not realizing you've been perusing shelves for two hours, and dehydration happens, friends. Also, wear comfortable shoes. If Nashville bookstores are fish in a pond, McKay's is a whale. This oddly painted brick building just off I-40 W is a massive used media dispenser stocking video games, board games, vinyl, and most of all films, books and CDs. Books are often priced anywhere between 50¢ and $15, with movies generally being just as cheap. You can spend $20 and walk out with four books and a CD, and the selection is pretty much unbeatable.

With every genre from Religion to Graphic Novels to Biographies to Young Readers Fiction available, and pre-Technicolor films two aisles down from four DVD copies of last summer's blockbuster superhero flick, the only thing you won't find at McKay's is a customer walking in and out without purchasing anything. It's an inexpensive bookstore and movie market, a fun treat or family excursion, and a place to take visiting friends. A coffee truck parks faithfully outside, and food trucks of other varieties occasionally dish out their delicacies to shoppers on their way in and out of McKay's. Reassemble your Harry Potter collection in the Children's section or find classic compositions about ethics and political theory, and don't worry over your wallet for once.


5. Rhino Books

4918 Charlotte Ave
Nashville, TN 37209

4006 Granny White Pike
Nashville, TN 37204

A shelter for "rare, used and endangered books," Rhino rescues previously loved literature and gives it a new shot at finding a home. A locally owned store that also stocks vinyl for all you record collectors, Rhino sells paperbacks, hardcovers and even art prints and decor. This Nashville business has two locations, one in glamorous Green Hills and the other in subdued Sylvan Park. Known for its cozy interior and the possibility that you will find a live cat snoozing between the shelves as you sift through books, Rhino's atmosphere caters to the intellectual hunger of the sophisticated Nashville reader, the desperation of the parent determined to instill within their child a passion for reading, and the spontaneity of every compulsive book-buyer.

Rhino Books prides itself on the rare collectibles and unique books accounted for in its inventory, as well as the customer service available for anyone hoping to find a certain title or item. The historic storefront in Sylvan Park signifies a place of community and creativity, where music receives just as much love and attention as literature. In the early days of the store's operation, friends of the owner would arrive at any given time and jam on their instruments as customers meandered in and out. Known as a neighborhood hangout and familiar safe place for creative folks, Rhino Books is a unique shop with love for all the arts. And while you're sorting through books, keep an eye out for rhino decorations. Bet you can't count them all.


6. Howlin' Books

1702 8th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203

Deceptively disguised as a mere add-on to local music merchant Grimey's New & Preloved Music, Howlin' Books is actually its own entity, decidedly settled next to Grimey's in tangible media-loving solidarity. Connected with the 8th Ave Frothy Monkey storefront, this book shop is a dream for folks whose idea of fun is a tasty caffeinated beverage and an afternoon perusing a distinct selection of books two steps away from a record store. With a diverse range of genres and an exceedingly vast number of titles about music, Howlin' Books is known for its unique selection, warm interior and resonating support for local creativity. Getting lost amidst rows of yet unread publications is easy and delightful, and if you're shopping till you drop, Grimey's is just next door.

Owned and run by an Academy-award nominated songwriter and a small business accounting extraordinaire married to a musician, the spirit of Music City is both subtle and thriving at Howlin' Books. Howlin' Books' shelves ooze passion for preserving music history and celebrating the impact of art on culture, solidifying its relationship to Nashville's artistic community and quirky consumer base. Local bands and touring musicians often play live sets in the store or its album-selling counterpart, and book signings are regularly scheduled. Children's books are abundant and Frothy Monkey's menu is delicious and fresh. Howlin' Books is a breath away from 12 South and two breaths from Downtown, so your adventures don't have to end there.


7. East Side Story

1108 Woodland St
Nashville, TN 37206

Devotion to supporting local arts meets Nashville's unrestrained uniqueness here. East Side Story is not your typical bookstore. It stocks visual art, books, clothing and more, but with a twist: everything is local. The authors are local, the artists are local, the shop is locally owned and run. East Side Story is Music City's first local bookstore with an inventory entirely Nashville-grown. Even the name was chosen from a contest calling local writers to exercise their branding chops. This quirky storefront is a local business lover's heaven. Handmade jewelry, t-shirts, pieces from Nashville painters and illustrators, and a charming assortment of books highlight the talent of writers and artists in our very own city, giving us a chance to directly support them.

Opened in 2012 after founder Chuck Beard voiced his dream to construct a place for solely local writers, East Side Story established an online and brick and mortar outlet for short story engineers, essay enthusiasts and novelists with little to no national exposure. Self-published and published writers are all welcome to contribute their work, alongside illustrators of whimsical children's tales, historians and memoir makers. Year-round online writing contests, participation in Nashville's annual arts festivals, and bimonthly showcases featuring local writers and Nashville-born musicians and bands are all opportunities for crafters of the written word and eager arts consumers to get involved with East Side Story's creativity-celebrating community.

Cafes With a Conscience: 3 Local Eats Offering More Than Just a Meal

Generosity and quality are far from mutually exclusive in the Nashville community. Whether artists are collaborating with one another on demo recordings or businesses coordinating with charities, people in this town wield big hearts without sacrificing their aspirations. Nashville is home to approximately 2,000 nonprofit organizations, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, and that number doesn't include social enterprises still for-profit. Among these social enterprises are three Nashville eats with character, kindness and cuisine worth the trip.


1. Thistle Stop Cafe

5128 Charlotte Ave
Nashville, TN 37209

A pure delight for tea connoisseurs, folks who enjoy coffee dates in sweet sunlit rooms, and people who want to eat avocado on everything (guilty as charged), Thistle Stop Cafe is a must-try for Nashvillians new and old. Sponsored by top-shelf tea and baked goods vendors, this little cafe stems from Thistle Farms, a social enterprise with wild compassion and a storefront next door to the cafe. The store is a field day for lovers of organic skincare products, a picnic for anyone addicted to the scent of lavender or lemon sage, and a saving grace for people who need to buy gifts for mothers, wives and gal pals. More importantly, it's been a saving grace for women struggling with homelessness and addiction throughout the Nashville community, and provides empowerment to ladies smothered by systematic oppression and poverty worldwide.

Rewind to 1997, when founder and author Becca Stevens started Magdalene House and welcomed five displaced women to live there. Now, nineteen years later, Magdalene House is a thriving ministry pulling women from poverty, domestic abuse and substance-abuse, inviting them into a holistic healing program. Given the opportunity to receive economic, nutritional, physical and mental education and growth while working through transitional housing and a new start, the Magdalene House participants lovingly produce the goods sold as Thistle Farms products, including but not limited to soy candles, bath salts, sock monkeys, scarves, soaps and lotions. In 2013 Thistle Stop Cafe opened, broadening the work learning capacity for ladies in the program and bringing delectable food to hungry Nashvillians. Thistle Farms now partners with around 18 global partners, planting vocational and educational initiatives worldwide for women struggling to see their lives as things of value and beauty.

The cafe is delicious and refreshing, and the products make you feel like you're being spoiled even if you're just washing your hands. When purchasing products from Thistle Farms or chowing down at Thistle Stop Cafe, shoppers support a local business begun with the desire to bring beauty and compassion into people's lives. You show kindness to others and to yourself when you buy from Thistle Farms. Why not grab your lip balm or your Saturday morning bagel there?


2. The Well Coffeehouse

4002 Granny White Pike
Nashville, TN 37204

690 Old Hickory Blvd
Brentwood, TN 37027

This coffee dive is a hip interior designer's dream and a sanctuary for students, remote workers and social butterflies alike. The Well offers coffee and free WiFi, of course, but also has a full breakfast menu, lunch and dinner menu, smoothies, pastries and tea available. Products and gear bearing the names of charities around Nashville line dark wooden shelves along the walls, and on occasion local songwriters and acoustic bands perform on a teeny-tiny stage, making the atmosphere that much warmer and communal.

The Well's name wasn't chosen without purpose. When founded in 2012 by a group of friends suddenly heartbroken over how much they possessed compared with how much others need, the coffeehouse was born so that a vast portion of profits could fund the construction of clean water wells in Third World and drought-ridden countries, including the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Togo, Senegal and Central African Republic.

Along with supplying clean and therefore safer water for thousands of people, The Well is a leading example for entrepreneurship with a mission. The founders and Board members passionately continue building this cozy cafe into a business that tends rather than hoards its profits, and they provide a place full of sweetness and community to anyone in Nashville who could use a little more love (or caffeine, or sugar) in their day.


3. The Cookery

1827 12th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203

With Australian-inspired recipes, close proximity to The Gulch and trendy 12 South and entirely manageable prices, The Cookery is one of the most underrated eats in Music City. Partially because of a modest approach to self-promotion and partially because of its understated exterior, this little restaurant caters, hosts movie nights and educates transitioning members of  the homeless community in the culinary arts.

It's more than just teaching someone to saute mushrooms. The Cookery is a restaurant title, but the ministry behind the meals is known as Lambscroft Ministries. Staff-members and volunteers impart practical skills to formerly homeless learners, along with the invaluable opportunity to reestablish their identities and rediscover their self-worth before reentering the community and workforce. The Cookery's donation system funds the vocational training for each student, as well as any necessary medical and dental checkups and procedures. While living in housing provided by the ministry on their way to affordable housing and stable employment in Nashville's food industry, students in the program work in the restaurant, prepare delectable meals and offer the sincerest and sweetest customer service you will ever encounter.

Founders Brett Swayn and Terry Kemper united their entrepreneurial endeavors in 2008 after no small amount of heartache and struggle. Fueled primarily by the hunger to serve the marginalized and isolated homeless community of Nashville, Swayn dreamed of opening a social enterprise/restaurant for three years after living on the streets of Nashville himself. Kemper had barely managed to secure a life for herself and her four children before willingly opening her home to the homeless students of what would soon become Lambscroft Ministries. The Cookery at last entered Nashville's dining scene in 2013, and if the hope, strength and skill it gives its program participants isn't enough to ignite your appetite, its Cajun Whitefish Tacos certainly will.

Nashville Florists: Making Folks Feel Loved Since 1877

Joy's Flowers and its next door neighbor, Emma's Flowers & Gifts, nestled cozily on West End.

Joy's Flowers and its next door neighbor, Emma's Flowers & Gifts, nestled cozily on West End.

When my parents started dating, they were seniors at rival high schools in No Man’s Land, North Texas, the late 70s. Prom season rolled around and my dad wanted to get flowers for my mother. Minor hitch in the plan, corsages cost a pretty penny. So the local florist struck up a bargain with my dad: clear out the lot next door, and you can have any flowers you want. For two days, my dad worked up to his elbows in weeds and rocks and dirt in 90-degree sunshine to get flowers for my mom. And he didn’t even think to tell her how hard he worked for them.

Along with an excuse to brag on my father, this is my way of saying that flowers are a significant expression of care and thoughtfulness. Whether you’re celebrating another year of waking up next to someone and still thinking they’re pretty swell, or whether you’re just extra aware of another human and want to let them know, flowers are a great way to say you think someone deserves a little extra loveliness in life.

You may not have noticed, but Nashville is exploding with green and growing things. This city values natural life, and upon that love for nature a plethora of florists stake their livelihoods. Below you’ll find a handful of flower peddlers in town for all your first date, Valentine’s Day, congratulatory and sympathy-expressing needs. First on the list is Joy’s Flowers, which Nashville Business Journal hails as one of the oldest enterprises in Nashville and potentially one of the first floral businesses in the South. Its grand opening dates all the way back to 1877, and today Joy’s claims a storefront in the center of the city. But without further ado, the florists of Music City:


Joy’s Flowers
2412 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 329-3875

Monday through Friday, 7:30am-4pm
Saturday, 8:30am-noon

Emma’s Flowers & Gifts
2410 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 327-0202

Monday through Friday, 8am-5:30pm
Saturday, 9am-3pm

Import Flowers Nashville
3636 Murphy Rd
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 297-0397

Monday through Friday, 7am-4pm
Saturday, 7am-noon

Blooming Boutique Flowers & Gifts
4507 Charlotte Ave
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 383-4310

Monday through Friday, 8am-4pm
Saturday, 8am-noon

A Village of Flowers
1712 21st Avenue
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 369-3030

Monday through Friday, 8am-6pm
Saturday, 9am-5pm

Geny’s Flowers & Bridal
4407 Charlotte Ave
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 269-0177

Monday through Friday, 7am-4pm
Saturday, 8am-noon

Flower Mart
4503 Harding Pike
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 490-3966

4004 Hillsboro Pike #165R
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 292-7272

Monday through Saturday, 9am-6pm

The Tulip Tree
95 White Bridge Road, Suite 102
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 352-1466

Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm
Saturday, 9am-2pm

Rebel Hill Florist
4821 Trousdale Dr
Nashville, TN 37220
(615) 833-8555

Monday through Saturday, 8am-5:30pm


These are just a few flower shops in Nashville. A number of them make appearances inNashville Lifestyles Magazine and StyleBluePrint, where you can find even more florists around town. Also, Trader Joe’s on Hillsboro Pike always has inexpensive and lovely flowers for sale, though they don’t sell big, swanky arrangements. Anyway, wherever you shop for your sunflowers and daffodils, know that you’re in good hands. These flower shops make their arrangements with love and intense attention to detail, so you’ll walk away with gorgeous purchases no matter where you go.


*Just for kicks and giggles, here’s a website offering full descriptions of the symbolic meanings associated with flowers. In case you’re looking to communicate somethingreally thoroughly with your bouquet of choice. Also because I’m a total sucker for symbolism and stuff.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycling - Here's Nashville's Process

Having just moved into a new apartment in Nashville, figuring out how to get my recyclable trash recycled has been a nuisance. For anyone in the same boat, the first thing you should know is the phone number for anyone confronted with total bewilderment about recycling in Nashville: (615) 880-1000. These digits ring the Metro Government of Nashville Customer Service folks.

Curbside bins you'll see around town. Brown is for trash and Grayish-Green is for recycling.

Curbside bins you'll see around town. Brown is for trash and Grayish-Green is for recycling.

Here are the essentials of Nashville’s recycling situation. One green curbside recycling bin is provided for each single-family home in the Urban Services District of Nashville, and the recycling is picked up once a month. Extra bins can be requested free of charge, and if you’re in need of one you can call the number listed above.

Items that aren’t acceptable are glass, soiled food containers like pizza boxes, plastic toys and plastic bags, although some of these items are accepted at drop-off locations, which we’ll talk about in a second. If you recycle an item or container that had food in it, make sure all the food is cleaned out. Also, break down boxes before putting them in your recycling bin.

Here’s a list of all the recycling drop-off sites in town, if you’re like me and feel an undeniable compulsion to recycle glass regardless of curbside recycling rules. You can cart large recyclables and items the curbside pickups don’t accept to any of these drop-offs on their designated dates and times.

If you’ve just moved to town and don’t have a trash bin or recycling, you can fetch your very own city-approved bins by calling the number above. They walk you through the steps to purchase a trash bin (for a little less than $50) and a recycling bin (free of charge). In theory, they’ll want to just deliver the bins to you.

For any additional information, either call the number above or check out the recycling page on Happy recycling, friends!

Farmers Markets: Squash, Organic Muffins & Where to Buy Local

My pal, Kelsey, happy as a clam with her fresh produce, featuring a shockingly large squash that strangely resembles a telephone. October 2015.

My pal, Kelsey, happy as a clam with her fresh produce, featuring a shockingly large squash that strangely resembles a telephone. October 2015.

Last October, a dear friend invited me to a lush, quiet little farm just a Saturday morning's drive from West End. She picked up a box of fresh, farm-grown veggies and greens, we chatted and listened to good music and I bought two organic muffins. And I came away with two things, not including said muffins: (1) a general feeling of refreshment after being in a good place with a good person, and (2) a sense of wonder as I considered how many unknown local food distributors there are in Nashville, cultivating their food with care and hard work for anyone who'll look around enough to find them.

If you're looking for produce freshly plucked from the ground, this little post is for you. Maybe you're hoping to support local farmers, bakers and entrepreneurs, or maybe you're just eager to stretch your legs and traipse about Nashville in search of quality food and handmade products. Or maybe you're like me, and you just want a fun Saturday morning excursion with a friend. Regardless of your reason, here's a list of potential destinations for all of these adventures. Who knows, maybe you, too, could end up the lucky owner of a telephone-shaped squash.

Green Door Gourmet
7011 River Road Pike
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 942-7169

West End Farmers Market
Where: 4101 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
When: Saturdays 10am-12pm
Open: All year

Richland Park Farmers Market
Where: Richland Park, 4701 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37209
When: Saturdays 9:30am-12:30pm
Open: May 2016 - December 2016

Nashville Farmers Market
Where: 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208
When: Monday through Sunday 8am-6pm
Open: All year

Hip Donelson Farmers Market
Where: 2730 Lebanon Pike, Nashville, TN 37214
When: Fridays 4pm-7pm
Open: May 2016 - October 2016

East Nashville Farmers Market
Where: Shelby Park, 1500 Davidson Street, Nashville, TN 37206
When: Tuesdays 3:30pm-7pm
Open: May 2016 - October 27th, 2016

12 South Farmers Market
Where: Sevier Park, 3000 Granny White Pike, Nashville, TN 37204
When: Tuesdays 3:30pm-6:30pm
Open: May 2016 - October 25th, 2016

Vanderbilt Farmers Market
Where: Medical Center Plaza (near Eskind Biomedical Library), Nashville, TN 37212
When: Thursdays 2pm-5pm
Open: June 2016 - October 27th, 2016

Bellevue Farmers Market
Where: 684 Colice Jeanne Rd, Nashville, TN 37221
When: Fridays 5pm-7:30pm
Open: May 2016 - October 14th, 2016

St. George's Episcopal Church Farmers Market
Where: 4715 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
When: Thursdays 4pm-7pm
Open: May 2016 - October, 2016

Grocery Shopping in Music City

One of the great joys I found upon moving to Nashville was the fact that the Kroger on Franklin Pike is open 24/7. Being a smallish-town Texas kid, the only grocery store I’d heard of growing up was H-E-B, and not even the local Sonic was open all night. But here in Music City, a whole new world of possibilities unfolded before me. Powdered donuts at midnight? No problem. Toilet paper at 6:47 in the morning? Easy. But there are more grocery needs than just where to buy avocados at 1 AM, and conveniently other grocery stores.

The city is home to all manner of grocery hot spots. Once upon a time, one of these was Harris Teeter, a chain recently replaced by Kroger. Harris Teeter is no more, so don’t get tricked if you’re told to find one around Nashville. All you’ll run into is the Kroger on 21st.

Despite the disappearance of Harris Teeter, there’s a store and a grocery selection for everyone – poor college kids, organic eaters, vegans who pine for baked goods that actually taste like baked goods, people who are generally suspicious of meat, twenty-somethings who exclusively eat mac & cheese and folks who weren’t allowed to eat white bread as children. Below are some of the grocery stores with more options for buyers seeking organic and healthy foods (also ice cream made without dairy products):


The Produce Place
4000 Murphy Rd
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 383-2664
Monday through Friday, 9am-6:30pm
Saturday, 8am-6pm

*Stocks oodles of local vendors and farmers and sells pre-made organic meals. Also less than a five minute walk away from Star Bagel and Local Taco.

Whole Foods
4021 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 440-5100
Sunday through Saturday, 8am-10pm

*Stop by the Whole Body store on your way out for natural soaps, stuff made out of plants and essential oil-based fragrances and skincare products!

Trader Joe’s
3909 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 297-6560
Sunday through Saturday, 8am-9pm

*Cheap chocolate, delightful seasonal food items, inexpensive flowers and stove-top gnocchi are just a few perks of shopping here. Heads up, parking is a nightmare on Sunday afternoons.

In case you seek grocery stores that are homogeneous across the states and offer more reconcilable prices, there’s always Kroger and Publix. These are interesting because they have similar formats but are still distinct.

Kroger is typically hailed as being altogether less expensive than Publix, and furthermore offers access to gas discounts (check out their fuel program if you’re interested in learning more). With cash-saving Kroger cards available to anyone and a gradually expanding organic/healthy eats aisle, Kroger is a worthy opponent for Publix.

Publix boasts a wider selection of organic, grass-fed and pesticide-free groceries, and more clout as far as community service and community resources are concerned. You can join free clubs that give you monthly deals for baby products and pet-care supplies, and if you register with your child’s school, a portion of the profits Publix earns from your purchase will eventually go toward your school.

Here are a handful of Kroger and Publix locations around Nashville. There are plenty more stores speckled throughout the city, so note that these are just some in high traffic areas.

Kroger Stores around Nashville

2131 Abbott Martin Rd
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 297-7531
Open 24 hours

2201 21st Ave S

Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 981-8847
Open: 6am-midnight

2615 Franklin Pike
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 292-2720
Open 24 hours

800 Monroe St
Nashville, TN 37208
(615) 256-6506
Open 6am-11pm

4560 Harding Pike
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 269-5649
Open 24 hours

Publix Stores around Nashville

4324 Harding Pike
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 279-2038
Open 7am-10pm

6614 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 352-1055
Open 7am-10pm

7604 US-70S
Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 646-1870
Open 7am-10pm

**Heads up, friends, wine and liquor are finally available in Tennessee grocery stores as of July 1st!

Local Dives: Where to Swim This Summer

Hoping to hit the Nashville swimming pool scene this summer but leery of paying membership fees? Fear not. During the hotter months of the year, Nashville expands its outdoor pool selection and even sprinkles in some local water parks to boot, and none of them demand unruly prices even if some fees are involved.

For starters, you’ll want to watch out for opening and closing dates. Seasonal swim spots are well-kept and fun, but sometimes tricky. Here are the top contenders for outdoor community pools:

Rose Community Center

1000 Edgehill Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 862-8465

Looby Community Center

2301 Metro Center Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37228
(615) 862-8454

Cleveland Community Center

North 6th Street at Vernon Winfrey
Nashville, TN 37207
(615) 862-8444

Pleasant Green Pool

105 S. Main St.
Goodlettsville, TN 37072
(615) 851-2200
*Click link for fees and hours of operation

The YMCA is also a great option. For $99 a month, your family can join for the whole year or just the three months of summer. Membership gives you access to all of the YMCA’s in the area, and the one in Brentwood’s Maryland Farms – Southern Hills YMCA – has a killer kids’ area, with all kinds of water features.

Want something a little more upscale? There are member-only pools open in the summertime, if you’re looking to avoid crowds and an excess of foam pool noodles. Here are three on the West side of Nashville:

Whitworth Pool

6201 Hickory Valley Rd
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 352-6591
*Click link for hours, fees and 2016 membership application

Seven Hills

1317 Hildreth Drive
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 665-0090
*Click link for hours, fees and 2016 membership application

Sequoia Swim & Tennis Club

2120 Chickering Lane
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 373-8426
*Click link for hours, fees and 2016 membership application

If you and your family want a more adventurous excursion, here are some pools that are more like soaking-wet amusement parks, complete with snack shacks and tube slides:

Nashville Shores (Open May 14, 2016-September 11, 2016)

4001 Bell Rd.
Hermitage, TN 37076
(615) 889-7050
Click here to see hours of operation.
General Admission (52 inches and taller) – $36.99 plus tax
Junior Admission (Shorter than 52 inches) – $28.99 plus tax
Seniors (62 years old and older) and Military* – $28.99 plus tax
Children 2 years old and younger are free

If you order your tickets online, you can purchase the tickets for the Junior Admission of $28.99 plus tax per person.

AFTER 4PM – Tickets are just $21.99 plus tax per person after 4 pm. This offer is available online and at the gate.

*Must provide valid military ID for military rate
*Tickets are valid 2016 season only
*There is a $4 processing fee for online purchases
*There is a $9 parking fee

Wave Country (Open May 28, 2016-August 5, 2016 and August 6th, 2016-September 4th, 2016 on Sat. and Sun. only)

2320 Two Rivers Parkway
Nashville, TN 37214
(615) 885-1092

Monday through Thursday: 11am – 5pm
Friday and Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Memorial Day 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
July 4th 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Labor Day 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

13 years and older – $12.00
3 years – 12 years – $10.00*
2 years and under – FREE

*Admission is half price for kids between 3 – 5pm on Monday through Thursday.
**Click link for additional information and Membership Deals