When my friend warned me about the number of bachelorettes in Nashville, I thought he was exaggerating. But when Saturday night came around, the streets were swarming with roving bands of identically dressed women. Gaggles of ladies in black or pinch tank tops with witty marriage-related sayings followed behind their queen bees, brides-to-be dressed in revealing white outfits, more often than not, with cowboy boots and a hat. They marched/stumbled through the streets like they owned the city. Inside, I had to elbow my way to the bar and my rather tall male friends were groped as they tried to wrap their heads around what was happening. It was all a tad surreal.
Of course, outside the wild nights of downtown, Nashville is a beautiful city with abundant public art, a wide variety of restaurants and a strong culture. I think the murals left the strongest impression, representing a commitment to artistic expression in both music and art. Below barely scratches the surface of Nashville’s many offerings, as I was in the city for a mere 46 hours. Truthfully, the best part of the weekend was sitting on the porch and chatting with my longtime friends, but since that’s of no help to you, here are a few reviews that might guide you to good times:
BAR: Craft Brewed Beer
2502 Franklin Pike, Nashville, TN 37204
After we dropped off our bags on the first night, we headed out for some libation to accompany our catching up. This self-titled “Bottle Shop and Tasting Room” features shelves of alcohol, a stand-up bar and a wall of beers to choose from. My beer-loving friends had no complaints as they picked from the wide variety. A non-beer lover myself, I was content with the cider in tap, though I warn you there is no wine. I hadn’t had dinner and for some reason the only place open nearby was a Little Ceasar’s. All seemed lost until I saw a golden savior in the corner – a dispenser full of goldfish! Self-serve and paid with a donation, goldfish in a cup was the perfect snack. We sat on the outside deck until it closed at 1am.
My friend, a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt, showed me around his campus and lab. Shaded by thick, vibrant green trees, it felt like a campus from the movies. His roommate calls it “dark”, but I’d just say there’s ample shade. Modern art statues pop up here and there. The lab… was a lab (as it should be). But we got to walk through a very cheery, decorated children’s hospital to get there.
If you’re into quaint downtowns and gift shops, head to nearby Franklin, TN for a few hours. Check out more here: (http://downtownfranklintn.com/) We spent a few hours here at my friend’s recommendation after driving through (over? beside?) Natchez Trail. If you’re more hike-minded, wikipedia says this area encompasses a section of a 440 mi trail.
RESTAURANT: The Row
110 Lyle Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
We skipped the more crowded #1 Hot Chicken restaurant across the street for a 0 min wait time at The Row. My two friends were positive they wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the two hot chickens, though they don’t claim to be experts. The restaurant is split into two: the bar with live music and the separate restaurant with more tables and booths. We didn’t stay at the loud bar so that we could talk and catch-up, but I did like how high the ceiling was and the amount of windows. Basically, it was live music and a country bar, without a dark, claustrophobic feel.
The main dining room is decorated with wall paper highlighting the musicians and songwriters who were discovered there over the years. My friends had hot chicken, but I took a light route with a delicious pecan salad and a pickled deviled eggs taster appetizer. Warning: the jalapeño margarita is TOO hot.
Broadway: Drinks and Dancing
Most major cities have a main drag… a street lined with restaurants, bars and clubs that serves as a hub for debauchery into the late hours. Broadway is that street for Nashville. The fun local twist is the abundance of live music, and if you get there in time, a good number of leather boot stores. And no need to fear, the souvenir shops stay open late. We bounced around the street getting the general feel before settling on The Stage.
BAR: The Stage
The live music pours out onto the street, so you’ll know what you’re getting before you walk in. The dance floor is large, and there’s second floor balcony in case you want to chill and watch the dancers below. The long bar, and additional small bar across the room, help the crowd get their drinks fairly quickly. It has a strong southern flavor, with a few couples dancing in the center, but mostly caters to a young, party crowd. We had a good time besides the predatory bachelorette party girls.
RESTAURANT: Wild Eggs
333 Union St, Nashville, TN 37201
BRUNCH!!!! Clean, bright, and popular at around 11:30am on Sunday. All the other places we called had a 30 minute wait, but I don’t think we could have asked for more. A diverse menu of interesting options at reasonable prices kept me happy. I had a Florentine Eggs Benedict… nothing unique… but the Grits of the Day was chorizo and green pepper – mind-melting good!
2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
Oh boy. To those outside the country music universe, you may not fully understand what this is… The Grand Ole Opry started as a radio show in 1925 and has grown into country’s most famous stage, featuring classic artists and today’s hottest chart toppers. The Gaylord Opryland Resort is a massive, nearby hotel/botanical garden/amusement park/convention center hybrid. Essentially, it is a hotel with its inner walls connected, and the massive courtyards they create are covered like a greenhouse. The courtyards include “outdoor” restaurants, tropical plants, winding pathways, a mini-town center, and even a short waterway with a boat ride. It feels a bit like you’re walking through a Southern-themed Disney World. However, with the only ride – the slow-moving boat – being priced between $7-12, don’t think that there is much to do besides observe your surroundings and maybe grab a drink. Not too far from the airport, this may be a fun place to kill sometime on your way home.
**Pro-tip – skip the $23 parking by using the mall parking lot next door. There is a gap in the wall between the mall and the hotel.
Overall, Nashville is a nice stop, but would probably be even more satisfying with someone who lives there or has an inside scoop on what to do when.