It’s rare to get an assignment that excites me as much as this one here. Why? Because I’m Nashville’s biggest fan, and no…it’s not up for discussion.

As an Atlanta native, Nashville naturally became a fabric in the tapestry of my adolescence. A short 4-hour car ride in the form of a few podcast episodes, a call with my grandmother, and one expertly curated Spotify playlist, and I am there before I know it.

I have my Nashville routine and as a creature of habit, I do not deviate from the plan. With so much to see and do in such a short amount of time, I squeeze the absolute most I can out of every trip.

This blog is going to differ from the others in the SMB highlight series because I am going to take you, the reader, through 4 innovative small businesses that I frequent whenever I am lucky enough to find myself in Music City. It’s so much more than Honkey Tonks, Hot Chicken, and hockey.

Let’s do Nashville my way!

1. Las Paletas

popsicles at Las Paletas - Nashville

The only way I know how to cool off after some Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is with a Las Paleta popsicle. Whenever I’m making the trip to Nashvegas, I bring a cooler and fill it to the brim with these bad boys.

If you’ve never been to Las Paletas in the 12 South neighborhood of Nashville, it’s important to note that these Mexican fruit freezes are made fresh daily with local produce, nuts, and even vegetables from the surrounding area. What really sets these pops apart are the unique flavor profiles. With over 20 rotating flavors daily, you are bound to find something to freak out over.

Some of my personal recommendations? Easy. Mexican caramel, cantaloupe and cream, and the chocolate dipped plum Paletas are just a few of their can’t-miss classics!

2. Poppy and Monroe

interior at Poppy & Monroe - Nashville

Another one of my Nashville necessities always manifests itself as a stop at Poppy and Monroe. P&M at its core is a nail salon but it’s so much more than what meets the eye.

All of the products sold in the store are safe, non-toxic, environmentally conscious, and made from sustainably sourced materials. After walking around the city, I love to come here to pamper myself. So much more than just nail polish and mascara, Poppy and Monroe pride themselves on educating the customer about health, wellness, and self-care.

It’s not every day that a brick and mortar beauty bar aligns itself so naturally with the Rubicon mission. The passion is apparent in the environment and can be tangibly absorbed from the minute you walk through the door!

3. Vinyl Tap

exterior storefront of Vinyl & Tap - Nashville

I couldn’t possibly write a blog about Music City without talking about, well…the music. Since I tend to stay off of the large strip of live music clubs and honkey tonks, I find myself retreating somewhere quieter, curated, and certainly cooler.

Vinyl Tap: Wax and Drafts is one of the hippest spots in town right now. Picture a hot Nashville night (beware of the hair-raising humidity), and you and your friends are looking for a place to cool off with an ice-cold local brew and a good vibe. You walk into Vinyl Tap to find an industrial décor, 24 beers on tap (most of them local), and one of the greatest selections of records this side of the Mason-Dixon. Vinyl Tap has thought of everything. They have a menu that pairs with the beer, they have cup holders for your drinks while you peruse the stacks, and a second-to-none soundtrack to set the mood.

Open late with bar-bites to boost, Vinyl Tap has become a rock-n-roll refuge in a sea of cowboy boots and line dancing.

4. Rolf & Daughters

insides the Rolf & Daughters - Nashville restaurant

There is no better way to cap off an incredible trip to Nashville than with an incredible meal. It’s as simple as that. And the food from this SMB is soooo good.

The brains behind Rolf & Daughters only use seasonal and local produce to create mouth-watering menus year round. The sustainably sourced ingredients check my eco- conscious boxes, which in turn allows me to dig into a big bowl of R&D homemade pasta guilt free.

The wine list is extensive, the menu is eclectic, and the atmosphere is intimate. In addition to innovative cuisine, Rolf and Daughters even boasts their own clothing line complete with food pun merch.

If I’m creating my perfect meal, it looks like this…start off with the homemade sourdough bread coupled with salty seaweed butter, dig into some “garganelli verde”, a short and spinach flavored pasta that is swimming in a slow-cooked pork ragu. Finish the night off with the homemade Muscadine grape sorbet for a palate cleanser. You can thank me later!

Editor Note: References made to businesses/companies in this post are not meant to convey endorsement by Rubicon of those companies in any way.