The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt parent’s weekend: DIY edition

A hometown tour for your home away from home.
Christin Ann Sanchez
Graphic depicting people near Centennial Park with a to-do list. (Hustler Multimedia/Christin Ann Sanchez)

It’s that time of the semester — parents are antsy. Tracking their precious kids on Life360 just doesn’t cut it anymore. An in-person visit to Nashville is necessary to check in on the well-being of their darling children, and let’s be real — make some critiques about how college is so different from when they attended back in the Stone Age. In order to make the weekend visit go as smoothly as possible, here is a guide on the best spots and activities to do with your parents to show them how college kids have a good time, relax and get by in the 21st century. 

Centennial Park

A good start to the weekend can be a walk to Centennial Park on West End Avenue. This park is close to campus and has lots to offer. You can walk the path around the pond and see plenty of dogs. We highly recommend it if you are trying to convince your parents to get you a furry friend. Looking at the ducks in the pond is an added bonus to walking on the paths. Next to the pond is the Parthenon, which houses a replica of the Athena statue in Greece. Not only is Centennial an awesome place to get some exercise, but its scenic views and large size make it an attractive location for musicians or festivals traveling through the area. If you’re lucky, you may find some local food trucks filling up the tree-lined pathways on a spring day. 

12 South

12 South is another great excursion if you want to get off campus and explore Nashville’s vast collection of shops and restaurants. It is a neighborhood about a 10-minute drive from main campus. Sunday morning brunch can be a bit chaotic, but if you or your parents are early risers, stop by any of the cafes along 12th Ave South. Frothy Monkey and Portland Brew offer ample seating and locally curated brunchy food options alongside coffee that won’t cost you an entire meal swipe! The Butter Milk Ranch is a sit-down option that also features freshly made pastries, including seasonally themed croissants that guarantee happy parents. If you prefer to eat out for lunch or dinner, Bartaco and Taqueria del Sol both offer tacos, outdoor seating and fun live music. There is truly something for everyone in this little neighborhood.

Vanderbilt favorites

If you’re looking for a restaurant fit for all types of people (and animals!), Von Elrod’s is the place to go. No reservations are required, and the long picnic tables can fit any number of people in your party. Vanderbilt students love to frequent here on Thursday nights or for brunch on the weekends, so it’s a perfect place to show your parents the real Commodore experience. The indoor and outdoor seating provides accommodations for whatever weather Nashville decides to throw at you that day, and you can choose between a waiter and walk-up counter to be served. To top off this restaurant’s flexibility and ambiance, the menu is full of a variety of options including loaded pretzels, wings, tacos, salads and even gluten-free items. In addition to delicious food, parents love the concept of a beer stein as it takes them back to their college days. 

 There is such a variety of entertaining live shows here in Nashville. With no shortage of comedy on social media – with clips on TikTok or maybe a comedian’s Netflix special – comedy shows are undoubtedly all the rage. What if you could see them in real life? Look no further than Zanies Comedy Club. With a show practically every night, you can show your parents your favorite comedians, and maybe even get picked to be the subject of their joke. Just go onto their website, purchase tickets ahead of time and get to the show at least 30 minutes before in order to get to the front line and get prime seats near the stage so that you can interact with the performer. There is a two food and drink minimum, but it is fun to snack while you watch. 

If you are looking for an option away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, The Bluebird Cafe is one of the city’s classic spots for up-and-coming musicians to have their moment in front of a live audience. Amongst countless other country stars’ first appearances over the years, Taylor Swift famously performed there at age 14 and was discovered by Big Machine Records. Tickets need to be purchased ahead of time as it is extremely popular, yet the atmosphere inside is a great place to chill after a busy day and get a glimpse into Nashville’s rich music history firsthand. 

Local coffee shops

Anyone who has lived in Nashville has heard of the multitude of coffee shops housed around the city. All of these cafes are quick and easy for grabbing coffee with your parents before starting your day of exploring Nashville or before saying goodbye when they finally leave our lovely city. Closest to campus are the shops in Hillsboro, including Barista Parlor (on the Commodore Card so you can finally treat your parents) as well as Anzie Blue and Fido, which also have amazing menus for sit-down food. Another underrated coffee shop is Poindexter Coffee in the lobby of The Graduate Hotel. A little farther from Vanderbilt is White Bison in 12 South, which has a little convenience store attached for all of your parents’ last-minute road trip snacks.

Favorite campus spots

To end the weekend, a sentimental sendoff will always ensure your parents leave satisfied. Take them on a tour of your favorite spots around campus and provide anecdotes for each stop. My mom loved getting to see my perch in person where I FaceTime her frequently. When I walked over the bridge where my umbrella turned inside out from the wind a few weeks prior, we shared a laugh as I dramatically reenacted the event, as my mom had remembered my complaints about getting caught in the rain. And when we strolled through the Rothschild arch, I explained my dreams of one day living in one of the turrets (alas, I will be in Cole next year, but I digress). Nevertheless, there is nothing parents love more than to get tangible visuals of what you are doing when they aren’t here with you. Fill them up with all the little details that make your life at Vanderbilt busy and fulfilling, and maybe also the parts that have you missing home, because parents also love to be missed just as much as they miss you. 

Whether it’s eating, giving your parents a sneak peek into your life at Vanderbilt or enjoying the city, there is no shortage of things to do when your parents visit Nashville.  

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About the Contributors
Greer Fraser
Greer Fraser, Senior Staff Writer
Greer Fraser ('25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to major in medicine, health and society and minor in psychology. When she's not passing time making Spotify playlists for every situation, she enjoys going to coffee shops with friends and finding tickets to last-minute Nashville concerts. You can reach her at [email protected].
Grace Delmonte
Grace Delmonte, Staff Writer
Grace Delmonte ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science double-majoring in neuroscience and medicine, health & society. She is from Atlanta, Ga., and serves as a staff writer in the Life Section. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her running around Centennial Park, baking, working in her research lab or exploring restaurants around Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
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