The Ultimate Guide to Southern Summer in Nashville and New Orleans
From warm, music-filled nights to golden hour afternoons in languid, laidback cities, there’s nothing like summer in the South. Not only is the weather perfect for exploring, but summer is when Southern cities go all out with festivals, events, dining and fun. If you’re looking for a classic Southern summer experience, look no further than two of the region’s top cities: New Orleans and Nashville. Both are renowned for their live music, culture, art, food, drink and nightlife, each with its own unique twist. You’ll also get to discover picturesque Southern landscapes, from the bayous of Louisiana to the meandering rivers of Tennessee.
From festivals to food, this guide is our ode to Southern summer and everything there is to do during this glorious season in two of the South’s best cities.
LOUISIANA AND NEW ORLEANS
Get ready to pass a good time in the Big Easy this summer! During the long, warm days and sultry nights, this thrilling, colorful city comes alive like no other time of the year. Aside from Mardi Gras, it’s the best season to visit. Jazz is flowing out of music club doors, festivals and events abound and restaurants are dishing out local favorites like po-boy sandwiches and crawfish boils. Here are all the things that make summer in NOLA the best time of year.
With its lively streets and elegant French architecture, New Orleans is a fantastic city to explore on foot. The best place to start is the renowned French Quarter, conveniently located just a short walk from our NOLA hotel, the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery. With colorful buildings fronted by cast iron balconies, this historic district is an excellent place to ramble down famous streets like Royal Street and happen upon stores, restaurants, bars, museums and landmarks.
From the French Quarter, you can branch out to other neighborhoods like the Marigny, the Garden District, the Warehouse District, Uptown and many more. Each of these neighborhoods holds something new and exciting to discover, from leafy streets lined by stately manors in the Garden District to important museums like the National WWII Museum. City Parks like New Orleans City Park, Audubon Park and the National Jazz Historical Park offer lush escapes from the rush of the city, as well as unique opportunities to learn more about local art, music and culture.
Feast in Crescent City
Along with its multicultural history, architecture and art, New Orleans is famous for its food scene. Different foods like crawfish and Creole tomatoes are in season, making summer prime time to try classic dishes like crawfish etouffee and crawfish boils. Of course, you can also try year-round classics like gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, muffuletta sandwiches and po-boys. September is also the start of Gulf oyster season. But you can’t come to New Orleans in the summer and not have a snowball (or several). This beloved summer staple dates from the 1930s and is made with shaved ice and flavored syrups. Stands around the city serve up this refreshing treat all summer long, and it’s the perfect thing to cool you off on those hot days. Summer also brings foodie festivals like the Creole Tomato Fest at the French Market and Tales of the Cocktail.
Let the Good Times Roll
Mardi Gras isn’t the only big party in town. Summer brings extravagant festivals and events like Juneteenth celebrations and the Bastille Day Fête with vibrant costumes, music, dancing and good times aplenty!
Summer is also a wonderful time to experience New Orlean’s legendary live music culture at festivals like the Satchmo Summer Fest and the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival, as well as bars, clubs and concert venues around town. Frenchmen’s Street is one of the best musical hubs in the city, with tons of different clubs and music venues playing everything from jazz to blues to hip hop. Sometimes, musicians and bands will even start playing on street corners! After the sun goes down, the city lights up with music and dancing, igniting a nightlife scene like no other. As one of the few cities with no open-container laws, you can even take a drink with you as you wander around listening to music (while drinking responsibly, of course).
Bayou-bound and Beyond
Exploring New Orleans is just scratching the surface of everything that Louisiana has to offer. Just outside the city lies the Mississippi River Delta, a three-million-acre warren of watery bayous, swamps, rivers and forests. Going on a bayou boat tour or kayak tour, you’ll pass under moss-draped trees in search of local wildlife like crocodiles, alligators, ospreys and more while also learning about the local Cajun and Creole cultures.
The outskirts of New Orleans and nearby Baton Rouge are also home to numerous plantations, some of which have been converted into museums and are open for educational tours. The Whitney Plantation is one of the most notable as it’s the only museum in America about the African slave trade. Touring this historic plantation is a humbling, hard look at the atrocities of slavery, but it’s an important part of the history of this region and country.
NASHVILLE AND TENNESSEE
Music City, here we come! From sun-up to sun-down and throughout the night, the fun never stops in this music-loving city. Nashville has great live music throughout the year, but summer is when the city really shines with endless concerts, performances and festivals. Travelers can also visit local museums, try famous Nashville dishes like hot chicken and escape the summer heat with outdoorsy activities like kayaking along the Cumberland River through the heart of Nashville. All this and more are just minutes away from Hotel Preston, which offers convenient access to the thrills of downtown as well as outdoor recreation.
Hear, Hear for Music City
From iconic venues like the Grand Ole Opry to being a hub for record labels, Nashville is one of the greatest cities in the world for live music. Musicians come from all over hoping to make it big here, ensuring an endless array of concerts and performances. While country music is definitely king here, you’ll find all kinds of genres from pop to rock. Summer is jam-packed with music festivals and concert series like the CMA Music Festival, the Jefferson Street Jazz & Blues Festival, Live on the Green and so many more.
But you don’t need to attend a big festival to hear fantastic music. From rooftop bars to restaurants to concert halls, music is flowing nearly all day, every day in Nashville. Renowned artists and bands are always passing through town on tours, and smaller venues are great places to discover up-and-coming acts. You can research who’s in town playing before your trip, and ask the front desk staff at Hotel Preston for recommendations. You can even catch live music right in the hotel with the Summer Concert Series at Blackwood Restaurant, featuring original music from rising artists.
Comforting Southern Cuisine
Nashville may be the city of music, but it’s also a big food lover’s town. Here, you’ll find tons of delicious Southern specialties like collard greens, fried green tomatoes, barbecue and biscuits. But it’s not a trip to Nashville without trying the city’s famous hot chicken. Created right here in Nashville, hot chicken is a unique preparation of fried chicken with cayenne and hot sauce added to the breading to give it an extra kick. Hattie B’s, Party Fowl and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish are some of the best spots for hot chicken around town.
Coming to Tennessee, you’ll also get to drink authentic Tennessee whiskey right where it’s made. This Southern state is famously the home of Jack Daniel’s, as well as other renowned whiskey brands like Uncle Nearest. Nashville has several distilleries of its own like Corsair, which you can visit for tours and tastings. If you want to taste a wide selection of whiskeys from Tennessee and around the globe, Whiskey Kitchen and Gertie’s Whiskey Bar are two popular spots with wide-ranging collections.
Escape into Nature in and Around Nashville
Summers can be hot in Nashville, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy Tennessee’s scenic great outdoors. The Cumberland River flows right through town, offering kayaking and canoeing past the city center’s magnificent skyline. At Hotel Preston, we’ve partnered with Public Bikes to loan bikes to guests so they can explore the city on two wheels. The Nashville Greenway system has bike paths around the city, many located right along the river passing through city parks like Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and Riverfront Park.
If you want to get out of town for a taste of nature, you’ll find hiking, boating, paddling and more at J. Percy Priest Lake, a massive reservoir surrounded by nature preserves and outdoor recreation areas. You can also lounge by Hotel Preston’s outdoor pool while enjoying refreshing drinks from the pop-up bar.
Experience the Ultimate Southern Summer with Provenance
At Provenance, our goal is to help our guests truly connect with the heart and soul of the cities they visit. Our two Southern hotels, Hotel Preston in Nashville and Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans, are located right in the heart of two of the South’s most exciting, vibrant metropolises, putting you mere minutes from all the action.
After a long day exploring NOLA’s French Quarter or hopping between music shows in Nashville, our hotels are ready to welcome you back with signature Provenance amenities like luxurious sleep experiences to help you refresh yourself for the next day. You can even bring your pet along for your New Orleans or Nashville adventure, as both Preston and Old No. 77 offer pet-friendly amenities like dog beds and treats. If you need music or dining recommendations, our front desk staff or virtual concierge Paige are ready to point you in the right direction. We hope our ode to Southern summer in New Orleans and Nashville inspires you to come and see for yourself everything these magnetic cities have to offer.