When was the last time you moseyed on down to this buzzy little area of town for more than just a long-a** wait and a too-quick meal at Bartaco? It had admittedly been a while since we ourselves had, and for a medley of what we consider good reasons:
1. The first being the weather. This little guide is being written mid-February after multiple bouts of wet, gloomy, and frigid days, and frankly we cannot be bothered to walk around any neighborhood in conditions like these regardless of how many free sweet teas or cookie samples you entice us with.
2. The second is, not surprisingly, the loads of out-of-towners taking up most of the sidewalks and vying for their place in front of the “I Believe in Nashville” mural. No judgement, we’re just stating facts here… once upon a time we were those same eager folks vying to get our fix.
3. The third is the sheer costliness of it all — there are few stops along 12th Avenue S that are friendly to our wallets, making it a little hard to defend a “casual” outing in this neighborhood.
But then last Sunday, something unexpected happened. The sun emerged from its perpetual place behind the clouds and the temperatures rose to a sweet, sweet 65 and we just knew — our 12 South homecoming had arrived.
When the sun shines on 12 South, something that can only be described as magical happens.
Your mindset is temporarily altered — your cynicism dissipates, your patience deepens. You feel cheerful and blithesome, and as though nothing can dampen your spirits.
You intentionally look past the fact that it’s entirely ridiculous that the line at Frothy Monkey has started to extend past the property line and creep onto the sidewalk, and you step in line anyways. Any other day, not a freakin’ chance! But you want that iced vanilla latte with a double shot of espresso and oat milk and you genuinely don’t mind the wait it’s going to take to get it. And once it’s in hand, you shake the shame you’d typically feel and boldly snap a pic of said latte, and just the latte, in front of the “Nashville Looks Good on You” mural in the parking lot behind Frothy Monkey while people are around to witness you do it (see above for reference)! And thennnn you continue on your merry way and smile at every stranger you see, and you assuredly chat up store owners even with the mutual understanding that you’re definitely not going to purchase anything from them!
We’re telling you, when the sun shines on 12 South, 12 South is your dang oyster.
So, the next time the forecast predicts nothing but sunshine here, we sincerely urge you to head to this part of town and immerse yourself in the inexplicable magic that occurs. We recommend that you park on 10th or one of the surrounding streets and come at 12th from the side. Fully commit to walking the breadth of this street — there’s simply too much to see and experience on a sunny day to just stop by for a quick coffee.
Below, we’re hitting on some gems that are often overlooked but well worth skipping the hot spots for.
Pro tip: Leave your wallet at home and just bring your ID and a set amount of cash for coffee and lunch. It’ll make your time here less expensive and more enjoyable, and you won’t feel tempted to spend just to spend.
Time: ~ 2-4 hours
Neighborhood: 12 South
Walkability: Extremely walkable!
Stop 1 — Coffee at Frothy Monkey
We know, we know. The line at this place on the weekends! It’s incorrigible! If, however, you aren’t stopping in for breakfast too and are just grabbing your drink to go, the wait is not that bad. And the rest of your morning/day will feel much more complete with coffee or tea in hand. Might we recommend our fav — an iced vanilla latte with a double shot of espresso and oat milk?!
Stop 2 — Imogen + Willie
It is sinful that we hadn’t stopped in this discreet, expertly curated clothing store until last weekend. Located in the Old Granny White Service Station in the heart of 12 South, this charming and homey shop exudes a sense of history and belonging, like they’ve been quietly nestled there since the city’s establishment. They carry a limited catalog of clothing and accessories to peruse like denim, shirts, jackets, jewelry, and keychains – and socks! So many socks! We loved chatting with their employees and learning about the events they hold in their “backyard” over summer, and we extra loved the fact that they told us to “make ourselves at home.” We felt entirely at home at Imogen + Willie and know you will too!
Stop 3 — Ceri Hoover
How lucky were we that we happened to pop into this elevated handbag, shoe, and apparel store when Ceri Hoover herself was at the helm! We chatted. her. up. and she happily shared a little about her and her store. She designs the handbags and shoes sold here herself (they’re made in LA) and most of the clothing she sells is from local friends and designers, and we love that! Though the prices might be steep, the quality is simply unmatched and it feels so, so good to support those who also call Nashville their home. We’re currently saving up to take home a Commuter Tote of our own!
Stop 4 — White’s Mercantile
What is a trip to 12 South without popping into this general store. White’s Mercantile is, and always will be, our favorite. If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for?! They’ve got clothing. They’ve got home goods. They’ve got books and candles and jewelry and beauty products. We often stop in and look but don’t touch or buy, but every now and then something stops us dead in our tracks that we have to have and we head home to grab the wallets we’ve forgotten to purchase immediately.
Stop 5 — Frozen treat at Las Paletas & Sevier Park
This two-part stop is best enjoyed when the weather creeps up into the 70s/80s/90s, but can you ever really go wrong with an ice pop at the park on a sunny day? We think not. Grab a delicious frozen treat from Las Paletas (hot chocolate with chili anyone?!), head across the street to the ever-charming Sevier Park, and slow it down just a little to get your people watching on – the darling families and pups that frequent this part of the neighborhood are simply too good to miss.
Stop 6 — Lunch at Burger Up
If you’re looking for something more substantial to grub on than a paleta, may we suggest Burger Up? This yummy spot has (obviously) burgers to chow down when the craving for one hits and lighter but equally as delicious apps and salads too, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
Stop 7 — Drink at The Filling Station
Here at Bored in Nashville, we love The Filling Station. We love stopping by the taproom in the afternoon for a beer or two, and we especially love taking home a mix-and-match six pack of their unique beers, ciders, and more. For this experience, we recommend heading in to enjoy a craft beer from their rotating menu of local drafts and regional favorites on their patio. If it’s the last stop on your 12 South journey, definitely create your own six pack to go. However, if you’re planning to forge onward toward the other side of 12 South, maybe head back with your car on the way home.
This is where our Bored in Nashville experience and list of suggestions ends, but there’s a whole other side of 12 South to explore if you’re up for it! Finnleys, Five Daughters, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Emerson Grace, Outdoor Voices, and Savant Vintage are just some of the stops you’ll find if you decide to head that way.
Tell us: What is your favorite spot in 12 South?