In June of 2015, I visited the other Nashville. That is—Nashville, Indiana, also known as Little Nashville. Population: ~1,000. If I could, I would move there. Well, I can’t move there, but I definitely plan to go back, again and again. Luckily, I have offspring who will be at Indiana University for at least four more years, so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore this little town, again and again.
Here are seven amazing bits about Nashville, Indiana, that might make you want to check it out next time you’re in the Bloomington/Indianapolis area.
- It’s a genuine artist colony. In 1905, a railroad station was built in Helmsburg, six miles northwest of Nashville, and writers and artists found their way there. Word got around and artists arrived from all over the country. Today, it’s known as the Art Colony of the Midwest and is said to rival Santa Fe and Carmel.
- It has lots of charming shops. Although the town is small, it would take more than a day to visit all the shops in Nashville, Indiana. There are specialty shops, candy stores, toy stores, galleries, clothing stores, craftsmen, antique shops, and bookstores. In all, there are at least 75 shops all within a little more than a square mile.
- It has good food. Start with the kettle corn stand next to the main parking lot. Don’t leave without picking up a bag of this addicting treat. There are at least a dozen different places to dine in Nashville. We had the best pizza ever at Big Woods Brewing Company and, later, recharged our body batteries at the Daily Grind Coffee Shop.
- A train tours the town. The Nashville Express Tour Trains take you on a 2.5-mile tour of the one-square mile town. The “train” has wheels and travels on the streets of the village, but riders get a feeling of riding in an open-car train as they wind through the streets and pick out which shops they don’t want to miss.
- Live entertainment. As you might expect in an arts colony, there’s a disproportionate number of opportunities for the enjoyment of live entertainment for such a small village. You’ll find live music at establishments like Big Woods Brewing Company and Gazebo at Hotel Nashville. Live theatre can be found at the Brown County Playhouse and the Melchior Marionette Theatre.
- Plenty of places to rest your head. Now, unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend the night in Nashville, Indiana, but I hope to sometime. There are plenty of inns to choose from, such as the Hotel Nashville mentioned above, the Cornerstone Inn, and the Artist Colony Inn and Restaurant. For such a small town, there is no shortage of places to stay.
Charm. This little town, since it probably never had much industry, has not gone the way of many small towns we see plagued by abandoned buildings and others in disrepair. That’s not a slam against other small towns, but it is something that sets Nashville apart from many towns of its size. The parts of Nashville I saw, and therefore, what you are bound to as well, are delightfully well-kept and picture-postcard ready.
So, there you have it. Seven bits about the other Nashville. If you find yourself in southern Indiana, give yourself a treat and spend some time there. You might just want to move there, too.
Ann Silverthorn writes about a wide variety of topics in numerous genres. She’s currently working on a biography of William E. Dimorier (1871-1951), a nearly forgotten poet and educator, who dedicated his life to the betterment of young people.