Well folks, it’s official – we’re now bona fide country music fans! After years of listening to country music and attending concerts in our home state, we finally boot-scooted our way to Music City! Here’s how we spent three days in Nashville, Tennessee.
After countless hours of car games and podcasts on the road, we finally made it to Nashville! Road tripping is a great way to save money and have a car to get to popular sights away from the city. With plenty of day left, we went straight to the Belle Meade Plantation located on the southern outskirts of town. This historic property takes you back to the 1800s during the time of the civil war and prosperous horse racing. We purchased tickets for the Mansion Tour which allowed us to explore the grounds, tour the main home with a guide, and sample some wine. The property contained an old smokehouse, stables, mausoleum, and historic slave house. The interior of the mansion was decorated authentic per the period, and our guide gave interesting facts about the Belle Meade’s history and famous horse lineages.
While in the Belle Meade area, you may want to visit the Loveless cafe. Known as one of the best restaurants in Nashville, their classic country style meals draw a crowd. Thus, be prepared for a long wait for their fried chicken and biscuits. We tried going there twice only to find a three hour waiting list.
Evenings in Nashville are all about the music! We headed straight for Honky Tonk Row and hopped from bar to bar soaking in the music scene. While generally Nashville is known as the home of country music, Music City encompasses many other genres too. Wandering Broadway, we found an eclectic assortment of talented musicians playing country, blues, and rock that any music lover would appreciate. Learn to line dance at the Wildhorse Saloon, sway along with classic country at Alan Jackson’s Bar, or jam out to high energy bands at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. One of our favorites was the quieter Cerveza Jacks on 2nd Ave. No matter which bar you visit, you’ll find great music and fun that will keep you coming back for more each night.
On our second day, we purchased tours of the two famous music venues that put Nashville on the map: Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry House. Just around the corner from Honky Tonk Row is the Ryman Auditorium. Originally built as a place of worship, this historic building became the renowned home of the Grand Ole Opry radio show. The Opry radio show was the first to bring live country music into the homes of people across America. As the show grew in popularity, and the Ryman building aged, the Opry eventually moved to a new location. However, the Ryman Auditorium has since been restored and is again known as one of the best venues for live performances.
The current Grand Ole Opry House is located on the east side of Nashville and is host to some of country music’s biggest stars. Our tour took us backstage to see the artist’s dressing rooms and right up on the historic wooden circle on stage. If you’re lucky, a big name artist will be performing that night and you can get relatively cheap tickets to see them.
Nashville is also famous for their Hot Chicken. Many of the popular places like Hattie B’s or Prince’s will require waiting an hour or more for a table, so we set out to find a tasty eatery with the locals. Pepper’s Chicken fit the bill perfectly: delicious hot chicken, cold beer, and no wait. Note to the adventurous eater, beware of the X-Hot and XX-Hot, Kyle barely survived a nibble of the Hot!
By day three, late nights of bar hopping began to take a toll on our sleeping patterns, so it was nice to spend the afternoon relaxing in Centennial Park. This park, dedicated to Nashville’s 100 year anniversary, is home to a full size replica of the Greek Parthenon honoring the goddess Athena. Meander around this large structure, the lake, and the expansive grass area. Occasionally there are festivals that take place in the park, so definitely check the city website for events.
Strolling around the city, it’s hard to ignore the vibrant neon signs that light up the night, but during the day, we noticed that Nashville has some beautiful wall murals. One of the most famous is the “Wings that Lift You” pictured below. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled this photo op and other colorful gems.
One of our last stops, the Country Music Hall of Fame, is for history buffs and die-hard country fans. If that describes you, go to learn about the artists who formed a foundation for country music and see outfits and props from many famous performances. However, we were disappointed that the museum focused so much on early country artists and seemed a bit repetitive by the end.
Overall, Nashville is a great city for music lovers in general. We thought three days was a good amount of time to experience it, but we’ll definitely be back! Next time we hope to take in a live performance at the Ryman or Grand Ole Opry!