Nashville, Tennessee. The home of country music. It’s a place I have ALWAYS wanted to travel since I begged for Reba McEntire’s cassette tape for Christmas as a little girl. If Reba lived in Nashville, I HAD to go!
My first impression was a feeling of wonder and amazement when I stepped into the BNA airport as a 25 year old woman and heard live music coming from a bar called Tootsies. This wasn’t just your average live music though, this guy was a radio caliber musician! I stopped, stood there, took it all in, and continued on my way with a huge smile on my face excited to see what else Nashville had in store for me.
Little did I know…I would be moving to Nashville five years later. The best part is that I am still a tourist here getting to know the city, culture, and people. I was worried when I moved, because I had lived in LA and NYC that this town wouldn’t be big enough for me. I was SO wrong. The music industry is SO big here that it makes this town feels just as large as the “big cities” I’ve known. Even the people from the outskirts on Tennessee call it “The City”.
My first stop tonight is a Jason Isbell and Old Crow Medicine Show concert at The Country Music Hall of Fame. The Country Music Hall of Fame is floors and floors of memorabilia of country music from the first fiddlers in sequin/fringe jackets, to present day mega stars tee shirts and jeans…with everything in between. It’s easy to get lost in here for hours! I was escorted into a small auditorium I never knew existed, and sat front row close enough to touch Jason Isbell . The intimate setting was historic, and as one of the small crowd, I swayed and tapped my feet in rhythm with the other listeners taking in this special moment. The best part is knowing that every day, Nashville has concerts just like this.
Really though, there is live music EVERY night, pretty much EVERYWHERE. It’s a beautiful thing y’all. If you walk down Broadway, there will be live music in EVERY bar. I stopped Honky Tonk Central, on South Broadway after the show and there was a band playing downstairs, and another band playing upstairs! It’s the same story all over this city. If you walk down Demonbreun, there will be live music in (almost) EVERY bar. If you walk though Winner’s and Loser’s on Division (two of the most celeb popular and famous bars) you will hear what???…some good ol’ fashioned live country music! There are SO many amazing music venues around Nashville. The obvious is The Grand Ole Opry, which is located a bit outside the city near Opry Mills Mall. I didn’t realize this when I first moved here and thought it would be right in the heart of downtown…but no, it’s not, you will have to take a car or an Uber. The Ryman Auditorium is the “mega church” the “holy land” of country music here. The Ryman is located down town and has daily tours, and not far form The Country Music Hall of Fame. Another popular location is The Blue Bird Cafe which is located in Green Hills. If you want to go here you have to book a really long time in advance because its such a small venue and every tourist wants to go. Its doable though, just needs to be planned in advance. Something I wish I had known before i showed up thinking I was going to just walk into that nights show no questions asked. Whoops.
Nashville isn’t just popular for music though. It’s also popular for it’s food. Yes, its becoming on of those “foodie” cities, with food trucks in 12South, and farm to tables in East Nashville, and Sunday brunches are HUGE with the young crowd, but it also sticks to its Southern roots with the most famous Nashville food staple “hot chicken”. Most importantly Hatty B’s hot chicken! It’s fried chicken, with spice levels ranging from Mild to Damn Hot! People wait in line for this, and it’s definitely worth that wait. There are 2 locations, one on Charlotte Pike in West Nashville and one on 19 Ave South in Midtown on the corner of 19th and Broadway! If you don’t want to wait in line…they also serve this glorious meal around town at many other restaurants including Party Foul and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.
I’m also not discounting the BBQ situation in Nashville, it’s JUST as popular. There are MANY options to choose from! I asked my uber driver when headed to Bridgestone recently for a Predators hockey game what his favorite place to eat BBQ is. He told me three options. 1.Jack’s Bar-B-Que 2. Elder’s Bar-B-Que 3. Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in that order. I asked him “Why Jack’s?” and he goes “ya know what hun…it just hits the spot and taste better.” Take that for what you will, but he’s a native so I’m gonna head to Martin’s first before the others now.
Nightlife is also HUGE in Nashville. It’s now the second most popular locations for Bachelor and Bachelorette parties besides Vegas, which makes it another city that never shuts down. South Broadway is lined with bars. Honkey Tonk Central, Tootsies, and Acme’s rooftop are places I frequent when I’m gallivanting around town after a concert or hockey game at Bridgestone or seeing an outdoor show at Ascend amphitheater. Or you and your friends can see multiple views of the city by taking a pedal tavern, which is a bar on wheels. It’s a small trolly, with a driver, that has a bicycle for each passenger on the sides, so you can drink (BYOB) and cycle at the same time around town. It’s a really fun and different way to explore the city.
All and all Nashville is packed with things to do, places to go, and people to meet. I’m still enjoying getting to know this city little by little, and still haven’t seen it all, but being a tourist and trying to learn how to be a local is my favorite way to be for now!
HERE ARE SOME GREAT WEBSITES FOR MORE TENNESSEE TRAVEL INFORMATION!
www.tnvacation.com @tnvacation #madeintn