Just one of the many reasons to love Nashville is its big city feel with the charm of a small town. But just outside Music City are numerous neighborhoods that offer an equal amount of charisma and make for the perfect day trip. Bell Buckle, Tenn., is one of those places and Sports & Entertainment Nashville ventured to this adorable little town for the second installment of our new “Day Trippin” series.
After turning off the interstate about an hour south of Nashville, you are treated to a scenic drive alongside the countryside that takes you past rolling green hills, grazing pastures and plenty of Tennessee farmland. Upon enter downtown Bell Buckle, one is met with a street full of quaint shops and southern charm.
Our first stop was to the historic Phillips General Store & Antiques, with the building itself dating back to an 1883 dry goods store. Walking into Phillips is like a step back in time, with its wide variety of vintage items that range from quilts to Civil War bullets.
The store’s owner Billy Phillips revealed that his establishment served as the first antique store in Bell Buckle when it opened in 1971. Part of the store’s authentic vintage character comes from the original features of the building, including the cash register and counters from the 1800s.
Lined along the walls above the merchandise are numerous clothing items that were featured in the store more than 100 years ago with the original price tags still on them, ranging from 3-5 cents. In just one of the display cases, you’ll find antique Halloween items like a 1905 collector’s pumpkin from the Ohio Tin Toy Company that was originally carried on a stick, as opposed to the handle style we use today.
“It’s definitely always vintage,” Phillips said of the goods in his store, many of which are pre-1900s. “We sell things you don’t find anywhere.”
But Phillips is just one of the many wonderful antique stores you’ll stumble upon in Bell Buckle. Many of the downtown shops offer one-of-a-kind antique items that you won’t find anywhere else. Hilltop Antiques, Everybody’s Antiques & More, and many others will find you lost in sea of antique goods.
Inside the appropriately titled Southern Charm you’re bound to find the perfect gift no matter who you’re shopping for. From children’s toys, to jams and jellies, and beautiful home décor, Southern Charm stays true to its name. They even have a lovely tea room you can rent out for special occasions.
The day of our trip marked the town’s first weekend of Christmas in Bell Buckle – and it was just as cheerful as you’d imagine. Many of the shops are decorated and ready for Christmas, with holiday displays in the storefront windows and Christmas music playing as you shop. Southern Charm was offering complimentary hot chocolate and cookies to visitors all afternoon, while families enjoyed free sleigh rides with Santa up and down the streets of this quaint village, waving to shoppers inside.
But the day wouldn’t be complete without a stop at another historic Bell Buckle location, Blue Bird Antiques & Ice Cream Parlor, where you’ll find old-fashioned sodas, banana splits and other treats. The moment you walk in, one instantly notices the vintage feel, with items like cherry coke on the menu. We couldn’t leave without trying the Blue Bird’s famous White Chocolate Raspberry ice cream – a delicious end to the day.
It seems like everyone knows each other in Bell Buckle, as shop owners enthusiastically greeted friends and frequent visitors. The town embodies a sense of comradery that you picture finding in a small town. But perhaps Phillips paints the most accurate image of Bell Buckle in saying, “It’s Mayberry without the police.”
Though a visit to Bell Buckle is delightful any time of year, here is a list of their upcoming annual events:
Dec. 12 & 19, 2015 – Old Fashion Christmas
March 19, 2016 – Daffodil Day
June 18, 2016 – RC Moon Pie Festival & 10 mile run
Oct. 15 & 16 – Webb School Art & Craft Show