Location: Nashville, Tennesee
I’ve wanted to go to Nashville for a few years now. Something about the live music scene just seemed like a big drawl to me. However, I’m glad I waited since now I’m actually into country music (thanks Tim McGraw concert). Luckily, my friend Becky from Arizona, was flying out there so I decided to do the 11 hour drive from Virginia for some honky tonk fun.
First off, 11 hours in a car alone is torture. I arrived in Nashville around 6pm and was starving. I asked my hotel agent what was a Nashvillian (yes, it’s a real word) dish to get. He immediately said Hot Chicken.
Not exactly sure what that was, but was told Hattie B’s was the place to go. I made it into the city but only wanted food so I decided to just get one hour of street parking near the cafe. However, the line was out the door and around the corner. This really must be the place to go! Knowing I would never be able to order, wait for food, eat and make it back to my parking space in an hour, I did the smartest thing I could think of: I called in my order as to go, paid and waited the 25 minutes it took to make the meal. The best part was my food was ready when I got up to pay, while everyone ahead of me had to wait longer. Hot Chicken is a double frying process with a whole bunch of heated spices. I ordered wings and breast with medium heat with a side of red potato salad and pimento Mac and cheese. I don’t know if it was due to me being hungry or what but this was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life.
I think I could have handled hot on the heat level too. The meat fell off the bone. I definitely recommend this place for some good Nashvillian iconic food.
Day 2: I was rested and ready to pick Becky up from the airport for our busy adventure. We went to Belle Meade Plantation first.
Belle Meade is a plantation owned in 1820 by the Harding family. The Harding’s were known for thoroughbred boarding and breeding. The home was gigantic and extremely pretty. I’m not sure why we couldn’t take photos inside, but I wish we could have. There were horse pictures everywhere. I found it particularly interesting that Belle Meade was home to the champion horse Bonnie Scotland. The huge significance to Bonnie Scotland is that he is the bloodline for most champion horses such as Seabiscuit, Secretariat and American Pharoah. How fitting that I bet on the derby winner this year, go to the bloodline’s house, and American Pharoah wins the triple crown the next day! I’m his luck, I guarantee it!! After a tour of the house, we had a wine tasting included, which of course is the best part! I loved all the wines they offered and recommend going here for sure. After the plantation, we headed to the Parthenon.
Yes, I did just say the Parthenon. Nashville recreated the Greek building in Centennial Park in 1897 for the Centennial Exposition. The building and the statue of Athena inside are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.
Now, the Nashville Parthenon is an art museum, and definitely a weird site to be at. I can’t wait to compare it to the original one in Greece some day. Finally, it was time for the main event of this trip: Country Music!!! We decided to do it up proper by seeing a show at the Grand Ole Opry.
Started in 1925, the Opry is the place that starts most of the country music greatest singers and is the longest running radio broadcast in history. I was surprised by the layout of the show’s acts. I thought we were going to see Little Big Town, but there were about 11 acts playing in total. Each band received 15 minutes of playtime with breaks for radio commercials in between. Little Big Town was the last performer and also received 15 minutes of play just like everyone else. It was more like a variety show than a concert and gave a well-rounded view of various types of country songs. I loved every bit of it and the atmosphere of the venue was definitely one to remember. Not one place in the entire house had a bad view. After the show we decided to head to downtown on Broadway for the iconic live country music scene at all the bars.
Broadway was INSANE. Dare I even say crazier than Vegas?? Maybe because the strip here is so small and the craziness is contained to a few blocks, but at 10pm it was hard to walk around and almost 90% of the people were already drunk. The street really lit up with the lights, sounds of bands and shrills of people screaming along to songs. I also noticed that Nashville is home to the bachelorette party.
There were brides evvvvveryyyyywhere. We even saw a bride petting the police horses in her drunken state.
However, due to being very hungry and tired, we only went to one bar with live music before heading back to our hotel. The country music scene would need to wait for now.
Day 3: Today we started our day at the Hermitage Plantation, which was home to President Andrew Jackson.
At 8,000 square feet, the place was gigantic. Again, we couldn’t take photos inside but the gardens and surrounding area were gorgeous. The plantation is also home to Jackson’s gravesite.
After the Hermitage we headed back to downtown to do the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The museum was impressive and had several gold records on display. I felt they could have done better with some of the displays though. There were very tiny displays for Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Tim McGraw, but a large seven-window display for Luke Bryan. Either way, the hall of fame really brought you through the history of country music and how it has evolved. I loved seeing the outfits that singers used to wear. Lots of sequins and fringe! We headed back into downtown for some lunch and shopping.
Broadway was a completely different atmosphere during the day. You could see the trash and haze from the partying the night before, but at least now you could actually walk around. There were several boot stores as well; some even with buy one pair get two more pairs for free.
At $350-400 a pair, that was really out of my range. The smell of the leather was intoxicating and I definitely wanted to scoop some up, but resisted. After dropping Becky off at the airport and resting at the hotel, I decided to do the downtown music scene on my own.
Not one to go to a bar alone, or ever, I knew I would regret not seeing the local live music scene and all the iconic bars if I left. I definitely was not let down. I thought the brides were out a lot last night, but the amount of brides tonight was madness. I’m pretty sure every woman getting married soon was here. What makes Nashville such a place for this? I’ll need to investigate. I started my night at Legends Corner, which had amazing music and cheap drinks. From there I went to The Stage.
At 9pm, everyone was crammed into the area. The band was awesome and included a super great fiddle player. There were probably 12 bachelorette groups in this bar.
One danced on the stage and another was dressed as a penis and was brought up to dance with the band. I don’t know what was more entertaining, the bands or watching drunken brides. My third favorite bar was Silver Dollar Saloon, which is located on a side street off the chaos of Broadway.
It was large and had a great band vibe to it. This venue also let one of the brides PLAY with the band. I’m definitely glad I headed back into downtown to experience such a lively atmosphere.
Overall, the trip was fun! I definitely went out of my comfort zone and experienced a lot of firsts. First time for a long car ride alone (record was 6 hours before). First time for using UBER. We used it a few times at night and I am in love with it. AND, a first for going to bars alone. It’s not that bad when they are packed. I learned a lot!
*Thank you Becky for accompanying me on this adventure.
WOULD I DO THIS AGAIN? Absolutely. I would love to go and do more of the country music scene and head to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery.
HOW TO DO THIS:
Hattie B’s: Really good hot chicken http://hattieb.com/
Belle Meade Plantation: Home of the Harding’s and Horses. $18 admission includes wine tasting at end as well. http://bellemeadeplantation.com/
Grand Ole Opry: Great variety concert venue. Tickets around $42-$100+. All seats provide awesome views. http://www.opry.com/
Hermitage Plantation: Home to Andrew Jackson. $20 admission. http://thehermitage.com/
Country Music Hall of Fame: Great exhibits. $24 admission. http://countrymusichalloffame.org/
Parthenon: Art exhibit and Greek replica. $6 admission. http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parthenon.aspx
Legends Corner: Cheaper drinks and GREAT venue. http://legendscorner.com/legends_corner/home.php
The Stage: Extremely crowded for a reason. Get there early. http://thestageonbroadway.com/theStageOn/home.php
Silver Dollar Saloon: Really great venue on 2nd and Broadway. http://silverdollarsaloon.com/
Bailey’s Sports Grille: For food and music. http://www.baileyssportsgrille.com/locations/nashville/
Honky Tonk Central: Great views from three floors of balconies. http://www.honkytonkcentral.com/
Tequila Cowboy: Fun environment and décor. Large bar. http://tequilacowboynash.com/