Before we had The Nations, 12 South or East Nashville, Music City’s first “cool” neighborhood was Hillsboro Village. Within easy walking distance of Vanderbilt University, Peabody College and Belmont University, Hillsboro Village has long served as a thriving retail area, where students, faculty and neighborhood residents could do their banking, watch a movie, and visit family-owned shops and restaurants. Sadly, many of the shops have disappeared, but there’s still plenty to do in Hillsboro Village on a hot summer day. And in the summertime, when most of the college students have left town, Hillsboro Village is a great weekend destination. Here are 5 ways to enjoy a weekend in Nashville’s original “cool” neighborhood.
- Start with brunch – If you’re early enough to beat the long line that forms at The Pancake Pantry (or at least early enough that you won’t pass out from the heat while standing in line), you can find out why this family-owned breakfast place has been attracting lines for over 50 years. Or, if your breakfast tastes run a little more adventurous (and healthy), you might opt for Bongo Java’s Fido Cafe, located in the former Jones’ Pet Shop (they kept the distinctive sign). Crave a cocktail at breakfast? Perhaps you should satisfy your Bloody Mary craving at Jackson’s Bar & Bistro, where weekend diners can order from the brunch menu until 3pm!
- Explore the shops – These are shops that are meant to be explored. In fact, I don’t think it’s advisable to plan to purchase anything very specific, because the whole fun of this adventure is strolling through the shops, exploring the variety of available merchandise and picking up a wonderful impulse item. Don’t miss Davis Cookware – half amazing vendor of specialty coffees and teas, and half jumbled assortment of cool kitchen gadgets. While you’re in that part of the Village, shop Book Man/Book Woman – a true bibliophile’s paradise. And stop by Pangaea to explore the interesting assortment of gift and décor items.
- Take in a movie – The Belcourt Theatre is an old-style movie theatre that has been converted to a not-for-profit cinema. Although they are known for being one of the only places in town to view limited-release movies, they also show classics. Checking out their website, I see that, on the weekend of June 20, they’re showing a Hobbit movie, a 1974 Robert Altman feature, an Indiana Jones adventure, and a really interesting-looking documentary called “The Wolfpack,” about 6 brothers who were raised in NYC but were secluded in such a manner that their only experience with the outside world was through the movies they were allowed to see.
- Go to dinner – After the movie, you can continue walking west on Belcourt Ave. and you’ll find a variety of good casual eateries. Belcourt Taps has live music nightly, Savarino’s, Lucky Belly and The Dog of Nashville are popular for delicious, reasonably-priced food.
This next one isn’t for everyone, but I hope you’ll keep an open mind…
- Go to church – I happen to among those that think going to Sunday service Sounds Like Fun. And it just so happens that one of my favorite Nashville churches is located in Hillsboro Village. Belmont United Methodist Church has a beautiful sanctuary, a diverse and welcoming membership, and a nice musical program. The 8:15 am service has communion each week; the 10:30 service has communion the first Sunday of each month. It’s a great way to start the week.