Nashville is: Rowdy.
Y’all. Music City can party. When I say party, I mean there’s always a drink in your hand and a song playing you can’t help but sing. You’re surrounded by jean jackets, cowboy boots and big southern smiles all looking for a good time.
If you like being around people and love the songs Low Places and Folsom Prison Blues (I couldn’t stop singing this for three days), book your flight now. You can’t beat the music and the talent you’re surrounded by is inspiring. I loved the casual vibe and how no matter what anyone was dressed in, they seemed to fit right in. That said, we didn’t come across a ton of sights to see, it’s not the cleanest or most beautiful place and if you can’t rally, you won’t survive.
The Best Experience:
Up and down Broadway: I’ve never seen anything like it. Also known as Honky-Tonk Highway, you’ll find yourself on four blocks of bars, most of which include multiple levels, including rooftops, non-stop live music and songs by request.
This street is not for the faint of heart and if you wake up with a beating head, you better put your big girl boots on and get back on the horse. Nashville doesn’t offer a ton, but what it does offer is done right. My two favorite spots were The Mellow Mushroom and Whiskey Row which both had fantastic music, a great vibe, Southern food and seemed to make time fly. Also, Redneck Riviera would qualify as what’s known as a wild Saturday night – don’t ask me why I know that, but do check out 5 Tips to Save Money During Vacation to make sure you don’t wake up with anxiety about your bank account. This city is a place that once you visit, the word Broadway will have a whole new meaning with laughable memories and moments where you shake your head and wonder who this city turned you into. I’m not much of a dancer, but I danced in Nashville…
The Gulch: a trendy neighborhood with cute shops and boutiques, new-age restaurants, breweries and coffee shops. We took a peek inside Kristin Cavallari’s shop, Uncommon James (no signs of Jay Cutler *sigh*) and had a great, post-night out brunch in a modern, hip restaurant called Little Octopus. Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar: if you need a place to watch a game, this is your spot. Aldean and I share the same love for college football and this Georgia Bulldog knew how to do it right. Huge space, TVs galore and solid bar food. Goo Goo Shop: craving a sweet treat? Make your way to this candy shop (on 3rd Avenue and Broadway, across from the Johnny Cash Museum) which has become a southern tradition that dates back to 1912. The caramel, marshmallow nougat, fresh roasted peanuts, and real milk chocolate cluster is a must-try. Shout out to one of our cab drivers for insisting we go in!
Stop by the #WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural in The Gulch to make sure you snap your photo in front of this iconic artwork. Heads up, there may be a line, especially over the weekend, but it moves quickly and I’d consider it worth it.
And if you need a little break from Broadway (you will) head to Centennial Park for a little relaxation and self-guided tour to see the full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Tip: On your way, walk through the beautiful Vanderbilt University.
What I’d Skip:
Luke 32 Bridge Food + Drink (Luke Bryan Bar). I wasn’t all that into this place. It was very commercialized, overpriced, and felt a bit random offering sushi. I would never call it a bad time, but I would tag it as mediocre – especially compared to all of the other options you have on Broadway.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken: The Music Row neighborhood offered some of the best food in the city. When in Nashville, hot chicken is a must. Everyone recommended this place and it is constantly packed – line wrapped around the block packed. Tip: Get there at about 10:30 on a weekday and stand in line until it opens at 11:00. Once you’re in, you’ll order at the counter and experience some good ol’ fashion southern chicken (you pick your spice level) with choice of sides.
The Tavern – Seoul Bowl: I’m probably only supposed to pick one meal, but I can’t leave out dinner at the Tavern. After my first bite of their Seoul Bowl, I knew it was a dish I’d crave from that moment on. A spicy soup full of short rib, rice, vegetables and topped with a soft-boiled egg. This dish will warm your belly and your soul.
Be prepared to walk; Nashville is a very walkable city. Wear comfortable shoes and save on transportation costs.
Have small bills on you to tip the musicians; most of the singers/bands live off tips and most deserve every dollar you give them. Carry $5s with you to show the love – and get your songs played!
Find Daniel Bell. You know when you see someone do what they were born to do and it just makes you smile? That was this guy. Insanely talented. We heard him at FGL House during a Sunday afternoon rooftop show. He mixes up the music (Prince and Bruno Bars were my favorites!) and he makes it fun no matter what your favorite genre of music might be.
Bring Advil. Just trust me on this one.
Would I go back?
Nashville is a place where visiting once every decade would be sufficient for me. And my liver might argue once every quarter century. Ha. I can understand why it’s a popular destination for bachelorette and birthday parties. It’s a fun place with fun people that will end up being an unforgettable experience, but overall once you do it, you’ve done it. Make the trip once and you’ll understand the hype.
To all the people I met in Nashville, thanks for being cool. To all the people I may not remember meeting, cheers. #Lol
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