Travel Thursday: It Isn't Just The Chicken That's Hot In Nashville, Tennessee
When I visit a city, I usually know very soon if it's one that I'll want to spend my time and money in and even think about returning to see more. Our last visit to Nashville had us soaking up as much of Broadway and downtown as I could in the short 2 hours of daylight slotted to see the capital of Tennessee during a road trip across the south eastern United States. In that amount of time, I knew I was going to be planning a return trip back to see more of NASH.
Before we dig into Nashville, I was surprised how inexpensive it all was. The beauty of Nashville is that it is in the middle of just about everywhere, unless you're on the west coast. But from Texas, New York, Chicago, and Florida, it is a quick hop to the home of country music. And if you arenot a country music fan, there's a lot more to enjoy.
This time around to Nashville, I was fortunate enough to piggy back some pleasure at the tail end of a conference being held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, a Marriott hotel just 6 miles from the airport as well as downtown Nashville. The place was massive as it holds the position of 30th largest hotel in the world, and largest in the United States outside of Las Vegas.
The section of the hotel I stayed in was the 4.5-acre Delta Atrium. There was a quarter-mile-long indoor river with flatboats and there was an hourly water fountain show that was quite impressive. The Cascades Atrium was where we spent a couple of nights and meals at The Falls bar and some regenerative food from the Wasabi restaurant. We were pleased with the stay and the convention space and were even more pleased with the VIP desk our last couple of nights there.
They assisted with the shuttle service, making reservations in one of the many restaurants in the resort (I recommend Jack Daniels), and just being there when we needed them. My friend joked that the place was like a biosphere and you had everything there you needed. He was right. For the nights of the conference, Tuesday through Friday morning, all our needs were met with flying colors.
We enjoyed a bourbon, burgers, and beer celebration on Thursday night at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, but had planned a quick hop into town that had some of us hurting the next day. It doesn’t matter where your Uber lands on Broadway in downtown Nashville. As long as you are between 5th and the Cumberland River, you will step foot into a good time.
We were doing the one and done routine, one drink at one bar and move onto the next. Some of the haunts that you should hit are the Second Fiddle, Tootsies, Whiskey Row, and Nudies. I didn’t list the one we were asked to leave (we crashed a private party), but these were all giving us a great vibe and great music. At the last bar, Nudies Honky Tonk, we found ourselves on the rooftop dancing to some ‘90s hip hop. At that point, 3 or 4 sheets, we were ready to bust a move on the dance floor. We had not aimed at going to any gay bars that evening, but we were in the company of some very attractive fun men, and some “family” members, too.
Knowing that we were going to Nashville, we did check out the Total Access Pass (info: http://www.visitmusiccity.com/visitors/discountsdeals/totalaccess ). It’s $75 pass that and gives you access to 4 attractions, plus several other things.
- Admission into your choice of 4 attractions & tours from a list of 33.
- Free admission to The Parthenon.
- Free admission to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
- 25% off any Gray Line of Tennessee Sightseeing Tour.
- 10% off at the Music City Shop or Music City Marketplace.
It saves you around 54%! If you can cut costs in half and get a good list of recommended spots, it’s worth it.
Two of the highlights of the weekend were Centennial Park and the Ryman Auditorium. EVERYONE talks about the Ryman and rightfully so. The history, the feel, and the presentation of the historical side of the auditorium was probably the best out of all the places we went in Nashville. Definitely do the tour, watch the video first, and enjoy. What made our trip extra special was about 30 high school kids that followed us. Now, I used to teach high school, but if I don’t need to be around them any more, I’m happy. But this group of kids was a chorus and they sang three songs while they were in the balcony and we walked around the rest of the auditorium. The sound quality was perfect.
We didn’t plan it as such, but we Ubered out to Centennial park and found an Earth Day celebration going on with food trucks, earthy things, and a beer tent. Our main draw to the park was to see the Parthenon and 60-foot statue of Athena. There was a good amount of history and art in the museum at the base of the Parthenon, so spend the money or use the free pass from the Total Access Pass to go see it all.
Our pass was good for some other museums so, besides the Ryman, we also hit up the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum. I enjoyed them, but if I was a true country music fan, I would have enjoyed them more. I am more of a more modern day country music fan so some of the history was lost on me. It was very interesting to see, but I did gravitate toward the Grammy Museum Gallery at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum.
We had done Broadway already one night, hit Centennial Park and so many museums. Nashville is a great city to go walking around in and just find something to do and look at. One thing we started to notice was all the public art. Just do a search for Nashville public art and you will be amazed at how much is out there. We found a couple of web sites to help us find more art, but all you had to do was pay attention. Walking around the Gulch, an up and coming hip (not hipster) neighborhood just a short walkable distance southwest of downtown, we kept finding more and more art, until we ended up back downtown and realized there were so many more pieces we had walked by just the previous day.
As for food in the city, we did eat a great amount at the Gaylord, but we were able to dive into a skillet of Sizzle Chips (kettle chips drizzled with mornay sauce, blue cheese, and tomatoes) from City Fire (on the edge of the Gulch), and a hefty helping of nachos from Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (on Broadway). I do think the foodie items in Nashville, well for at least us, turned out to be mac and cheese, bacon mac and cheese, chicken mac and cheese, and of course Nashville hot chicken. Check out Puckett's just up the hill from the Ryman auditorium for their great brunches and live music.
Nashville, thanks. I did the quick 2-hour jab and I wanted more. I did the 2 day walk everywhere and see everything trip and I’m still smiling. Next time, we’re gonna gay it up and see what kind of LGBT hospitality SMASH, NASH, Nashville has.
As for a final statement, I’m not upset that I didn’t get to do they gay side of Nashville. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, I was back at the Gaylord with my shoes off, relaxing, and a smile on my face. The capital of Tennessee showed me a good time and I’m content with that. The fact that a gay man can have a great experience and a wonderful weekend in a Southern city in the United States while mixing it up with all the country western crowd and what not, I think that’s a great thing.
See you next time, Nashville!
Some of the Nashville public art web sites I found through a quick Google search.