Street Savvy: Nashville, Indiana

Brown County’s hub is turning over a new artistic—and athletic—leaf.

1. Sip
Yes, you can grab a mocha on the run at Common Grounds Coffee Bar & Tea Shoppe, but why hurry off? Sink into one of the cozy sofas or pull up a chair to the jigsaw-puzzle table. Try the Big Woods (white-chocolate caramel espresso with steamed milk—hot, cold, or frozen) with a tender strawberry scone. Or buy a bag of house-blend Chaos beans. “You can have a cup of this today and pick it up the next morning, and it’s still a really good cup of coffee,” says owner Iris Gearhart. 66 N. Van Buren St., 812-988-6449.

2. Sample
When you climb the rustic stairs up to The Wild Olive, you step into a world that’s part Tuscany, part Southern Indiana. Co-owner Cari Ray, also known around these parts as a singer-songwriter, says you’ll find 40 to 50 varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegar ready for tasting—the flavors change with the seasons. Buy a set of four, and the bottles will be packed in a wooden crate made by Ray’s father. 44 N. Van Buren St., 812-988-9453,

3. Imbibe
Since putting down roots in Nashville four years ago, Big Woods Brewing Company has branched out a few blocks away with a new tasting room, a gift shop, and the kid-friendly Big Woods Pizza Company, which offers specialty pies like the Kimosabe—hand-ground sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella. Back at the brewery, Quaff N’ Brew Beer School is in session on Saturdays. “It’s a beer-appreciation school, and you get to spend a couple of hours with our brewer,” says owner Jeff McCabe. 44 N. Van Buren St., 812-988-6004,

4. Pedal
Inspired by Brown County State Park’s most famous vista—and its black-diamond trail—Hesitation Point Bike & Backcountry is tapping into the town’s growing reputation for premier mountain-biking. Owners Tad and Sarah Armstrong opened the store in May and offer racks of Felt and Niner bikes for sale or rent, as well as a wide range of camping and hiking gear. Organic espresso and Wi-Fi encourage browsing. 23 N. Jefferson St., 812-988-4566,

5. Sweep
Once a mechanical engineer, Brian Newton swept aside the stress of the workaday world to make “splendidly imperfect” brooms at Broomcorn Johnny’s. Now he spends seven days a week in his new shop, crafting tools in all shapes, sizes, and colors with 19th-century equipment found in a northern-Indiana barn. Look for hand-rolled whisks and cobweb brooms, and don’t miss the sweeper that took second place in last year’s National Craft Broom Competition. 58 E. Main St., 812-200-3149,

6. Applaud
Thanks to some community-minded folks, you can catch a first-run movie, watch a professionally produced play, or listen to homegrown musicians at the revitalized Brown County Playhouse and Performing Arts Center. The old playhouse opened in 1949 as summer stock for the Indiana University Theatre Department. Now it’s owned by a local nonprofit and serves wine and beer with its productions. Popcorn, too. 70 S. Van Buren St., 812-988-6555,

7. Savor
Locals and tourists alike clinked margarita glasses when Casa del Sol relocated from State Road 46 to the heart of the village—now with a coveted liquor license. The new spot offers outdoor patio seating, live music in the fall, and a rarity in Nashville: free adjacent customer parking. Longtime patrons will recognize the vivid murals and cozy decorations from the former site. Try the taco carnitas or burrito fajitas. 101 Washington St., 812-988-4535.

8. Stroll
After 10 years of planning, the first phase of the Salt Creek Trail opens this month. The paved walking-and-biking path begins at the CVS (292 Van Buren St.) on the south end of town, dips under State Road 46, crosses Greasy Creek, and follows the north bank of Salt Creek to the Brown County YMCA. The inaugural stretch is about a mile long, and the trail will eventually extend to the north entrance of Brown County State Park.


Photos by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the October 2013 issue.