Disclosure-In October of last year, my mom and I went on our second girls’ trip to Nashville. We chose it since we could both fly there direct and it was a new city for both of us. Even though we are anything but partyers, we still had a fantastic time and were never bored for a second.
As for my quite epic radio silence, thanks for sticking around and still reading this. What can I say except there were major life changes on the most epic of fronts.
American cities like New Orleans and Las Vegas have long been considered “party capitals.” As in, they’re destinations that would have gotten the gold seal of approval from ‘ol man Bacchus himself. But then there’s Nashville, a city long associated with country music and more recently, the famous hot chicken, and yet it’s also one of the most popular bachelor/bachelorette party destinations in the United States. So yes, tractors pulling inebriated dancing revelers through the streets of downtown Nashville are a common sight…even at 10 in the morning. A walk down a stretch of Broadway when approaching the Cumberland River will seem anything but fun if you’re not the least bit buzzed due to all the mobs of buzzed people. But you know what? Even if you’re not in the Music City for a bachelor party, even if your days of being able to party hard like Paris Hilton never really started, you’ll never be bored in Nashville. And here’s why:
Sightsee through your stomach
First things first, you can’t go to Nashville and not try the world famous hot chicken (see above). Although there are plenty of places to partake in this fiery culinary offering, stick with a tried and true favorite, Hattie B’s, which has multiple locations including one conveniently located in the Midtown neighborhood. The lines will be long (this is not hyperbole) so go as early as possible. There are five spice levels ranging from Southern (no spice) to the hottest of them all, Shut the Cluck Up. I did mild, the second level, and I definitely felt that “touch of heat.” The side offerings (all Southern favorites) were also delicious.
Go on a food tour and sample everything from biscuits to hot chicken to cupcakes and more. And the best part? You’ll learn all about the history and background of the neighborhood you’re visiting. A full post on my fun and interesting food tour in the city’s Gulch neighborhood will be coming soon.
A couple of years ago when I visited Charleston, I was majorly bummed that I hadn’t been able to procure a reservation to Husk, the brainchild of famed chef Sean Brock. Thankfully for me there’s a location in Nashville and I was able to effortlessly get a reservation this time around. The premise of Husk is all about the celebration of Southern ingredients and my mom and I had a fantastic meal there on our last night in Nashville. Its location in a stunning historic mansion only enhances the meal.
You can’t leave Nashville without visiting Goo Goo Clusters, an American candy bar created in Nashville in 1912. The disk-shaped candy bar contains marshmallow nougat, caramel, and roasted peanuts covered in milk chocolate. Needless to say it is quite the hit with all visitors. The Goo Goo Cluster wall is also an awesome photo op.
Getting your history groove on
Nashville may be known for its music scene and yet it has a pretty interesting past too, especially when talking about the American Civil War. The Battle of Nashville was a two-day battle in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign that signaled the end of large-scale fighting west of the coastal states during the war; in short, the Confederate Army of Tennessee was basically destroyed during this time.
There’s no better way to experience this era of history than to visit Belmont Mansion. Built only a short time before the outbreak of the Civil War, Belmont was the home of a woman who outlived two husbands and six of her ten children. And even though the grounds of Belmont were occupied by 13,000 Union troops during the Battle of Nashville campaign, the house itself suffered no damage, which is quite remarkable. It’s truly one of the prettiest historic homes I’ve ever visited.
It’s also safe to say I’ve never seen a prettier former train station than Nashville’s Union Station. Although today it’s a hotel, at one time it served the passengers of eight railroads that traveled into Music City. Built in 1900, it was faced with the wrecking ball in the late 20th century until a campaign was mounted to save it. This is where my food tour began and what a stunning space it is.
Partake in the country music scene
I’ll be the first to admit that country music has never been my scene (sorry, not sorry). However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy learning about the history of country music since Nashville is truly where it all began. And there’s no better place to do it than a visit to the Grand Ole Opry.
Originally located in downtown Nashville, the new location of this iconic weekly country music stage concert is now in the suburbs, an easy drive or Lyft ride from downtown. My mom and I did the backstage tour and the highlight was definitely stepping on the same stage the performers do. What I also really enjoyed was learning that some of country music’s biggest names (Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton), still come back and do concerts here since they are members of the Opry. A testament to how some never forget their humble origins.
A ride down Music Row in the city will also be a mild thrill since so many big names and famous albums were recorded and produced in these very nondescript houses. A great way to see Music Row is by going on one of the Old Town Trolley tours. The commentary is terrific for learning all about the city of Nashville, an added bonus if your time there is brief as you’ll be able to pack a lot in.
Simply walk and explore on foot
If you’re one for skyline views, look no further than snapping a shot on the city’s John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. You’ll be rewarded with prime views of both the Cumberland River and its iconic buildings. If a trip to Athens, Greece isn’t on the immediate horizon but Nashville is, then you’ll want to visit Nashville’s Parthenon, which is a full-scale replica of the original one, located in Centennial Park. Built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, it ended up sticking around and has been there ever since. It’s safe to say that walking in Centennial Park is the perfect respite from the drunken revelers of Broadway. It truly is the perfect bucolic space.
Needless to say there’s still a whole lot more you could be seeing and doing in Music City, but if you’re there for just a weekend, this is the perfect start.
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