Nashville, Tennessee The Flip Side
Tennessee and its own retained ideals of Southern charm are not lost on the general public. Yet, like most Southern states, Tennessee is presented as a place home to pieces of yesteryear. Things that owned Americana. The sentiment can equally be shared with Nashville, the state capital and the largest metropolitan area in the state. When many think of Nashville, images of The Grand Old Opry come to mind. Those images are followed by thoughts of world famous barbecue, country music, Jack Daniels whiskey and one of the more esteemed academic institutions in the country in Vanderblit University.
It’s true, all of the above mentioned are perfect reasons to visit Nashville. However, there’s another side to Nashville that few uncover and during my recent trip to the city, my eyes were opened to the various gems that make Nashville one of the more underrated pieces of our country.
If you do visit Nashville, attending the Opry is a must. The VIP Tour gives you more access to understanding all the things that occur behind the scenes before the big red curtain goes up. And if country music isn’t your thing, Nashville will surprise you. There’s something for all of us in the Music City, whether you’re an adventurer, a foodie or, a music lover.
Hotel Lodging Recommendation #1: The Gaylord Opryland Resort
Owned by Marriott, the Gaylord Opryland Resort stands as one of the largest hotels / resorts in the entire country. With nearly 3,000 guest rooms, there’s a variance of nearly every suite you could imagine. Atriums, parlors, executive cabins and more. The Opryland Resort not only pampers you like a star who belongs in the Hall of Fame, they show you how Nashville does glamour.
With so much to do in Nashville, the best course of action is taking a Gray Line Trolley Tour. Familiarizing yourself with the many distinctive Nashville neighborhoods is key. Even though many believe they belong under the umbrella of all being country, they’re vastly different and unique. The trolley tour guide will offer up a brief history of the city. If you miss anything, be sure to take a few notes and educate yourself on how to make your visit far more easier to navigate.
After the conclusion of my trolley tour, the first stop on my list was The Parthenon. With decorum that rivals that of ancient Rome, the history of the structure and its importance greatly intrigued me. Or why this structure, with its European features doubles as the tallest indoor structure in the Western world? The Parthenon is a must. For the full history of the Parthenon replica, a docent-let architectural tour is highly recommended.
After my afternoon of historical and architectural I then headed on over to Martins Bar-B-Que in the downtown area for an early evening dinner and some pretty tasty libations. Now, being the Texas girl that I am (and competitive when it comes to barbecue), my loyalty to my love for Texas BBQ would not let me indulge. However, the catfish? With all apologies to my father, it’s probably the best catfish I’ve ever tasted. To best enjoy the catfish and great sides, my recommendation is to sit in the open upstairs area (weather permitting) & order one of their signature cocktails to sip on while listening to some great music.
I’ll admit this: being a morning person isn’t always good for you. If you’re like me, a late wake up is refreshing. The feeling is made all the more exemplary when you’re in a large warm and inviting room with a bed so comfy, you’ll want to order room service and sip on a great cup of coffee. Then sit on your balcony listening to the soothing sounds of the waterfalls in the Cascade section of the Opryland Resort. If you’re travelling with children, the Cascade section is the absolute best place to bring them.
To get the afternoon started, a trip to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts was a must on my agenda . Once Nashville’s central post office, this modern day Art Deco building is now home to a 24,000 square foot visual art exhibition center featuring rotating exhibitions from local, national, and international sources ranging from Andy Warhol to Picasso. While the art itself is a fascinating sight to see, I was really captivated with the building with a main hall reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. (www.fristcenter.org)
After a day of getting your “art” on, a nice refresher back at the hotel is recommended before heading out to dinner. A few miles from the downtown area lies Urban Grub’s. This 165-seat neighborhood restaurant includes three patios, four fireplaces, and a fire pit. The lively allure is the perfect setting to complement its menu. There may be no better place to go for the best shucked oysters along with the best cured, smoked and grilled meats.
Recommended: Andouille Sausage & smoked chicken flatbread to start,
an entrée of Double Cut Pork chop accompanied by the stone oven mac & cheese.
After dinner, head out to the beer garden in the back to relax. Reservations are recommended. (www.urbangrub.net)
If you want to hit the town for a little late night fun, here are some of the best live music venues to check out, regardless if you’re an R&B fan or prefer jazz or country:
Exit/In, Mercy Lounge, Station Inn, Douglas Corner
The daytime. What’s a trip to Tennessee without a visit to the good ol’ home of Jack Daniels? The Jack Daniel’s Distillery is located about two hours away from Nashville in Lynchburg but it’s a must see destination.
Drawing visitors from across the region and whiskey lovers like me in particular, the tour features the entire process of the making of the Tennessee whiskey. As you go along the guided tour, you’re educated with the history of Jack Daniels’ is explained along the way. It’s a pretty fascinating tour but tastings are not offered because ironically, Lynchburg is a dry county. Yes, you read that correctly, a dry county. But don’t let this discourage you, special edition bottles are for sale for you to take and enjoy back at your hotel.
Speaking of hotel, we had to sadly say goodbye to the massive Opryland Hotel & Resort and stayed at the Hotel Indigo downtown. This boutique hotel is perfect for the traveler looking for accommodations that are posh and modern and easily accessible to a various choice of nightlife venues in the city.
The rooms are plush and eclectic without missing any details on amenities. The bar and live music nightly are perfect for those that are looking for more of a nightlife type of experience during your stay in Nashville. Yes, the live bands play an assortment of music to please all types of music lovers. Of note, I fell in love with the evening atmosphere at this hotel. The next time I come to Nashville? I’m checking in here and staying.
Day 3 of our travels through Nashville concluded with dinner at Le Sel, a quaint French restaurant located at the Adelicia in Midtown followed by a nightcap and some music at Hotel Indigo.
With one day left in our exploration of Nashville, I ventured out for coffee. I had heard about a great coffee spot, Barista Parlor’s Golden Sound. Located between downtown and Vanderbilt University, otherwise knows as The Gulch, this artisan coffee house has an industrial feel with a mix of retro vibe. Ironically enough, the venue is backed by Dan Auerbach, guitarist for noted rock band The Black Keys.
Dressed up as the hip place to get your dose of java, you can also grab light bites to please your grumbling stomach. The sausage biscuit is highly recommended but then again, there are some great chocolate choices as well. After all, coffee and chocolate were meant to be enjoyed together, right?
Venturing off the beaten path, my music inclination led me to the Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum which is also now home to the GRAMMY Museum Gallery. A perfect dip of nostalgia and history, it was an intriguing walkthrough the past and present of some of music’s biggest moments.
Frontmen are known as the people that usually bring a fan to a particular group. The Museum however sheds light to bit players, and essentially the engines that made some of these great acts go. There’s a focus on the broader aspects of music creation from production to songwriting, the overall song creation process and a strong emphasis on discovering what made the legends what they are.
Upon first stepping into the museum, I was welcomed by the various types of music listening devices ranging from gramophones to 8-Tracks, to the current technology available today. The museum perfectly captured the distinctions of various sounds and how we as fans took in music over the years.
The best part of being inside the museum of course comes when you’re thrust into the spotlight to learn interactively. Fleshed out with plenty of instruments as well as a DJ booth, I imagined myself as DJ Lola playing for the masses at a Las Vegas club. Did I take a video of it on Snapchat? Of course I did, the kid in me would be disappointed with any other decision.
Since I decided day 4 would be a day of music appreciation, I took a detour to Grimey’s New & Preloved Music to pick up a couple of vinyl records I had long been searching for before heading to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. I’m a glutton for everything spicy. Of course I tried the various levels of spiciness ranging from medium to shut-the-cluck up. Let’s just say I need to stick to hot and be satisfied with that.
The long line might have you second-guessing this dining choice but trust me, the sizzling golden chicken along with the mac and cheese and the bacon cheddar grits are definitely worth the wait. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.
To end the evening, I visited what I personally believe is the best hidden gem that Nashville can offer: the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Imagine every movie you’ve seen or book you’ve read about jazz artists getting together in some small off the wall club and creating some amazing sounds during a jam session. That, in a nutshell is the Nashville Jazz Workshop. The intimate venue seats about 90 so reserving seating is highly recommended. Also food and alcohol isn’t served but patrons are encouraged to bring their own.
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