Monday, October 22, 2018

7 Things I Loved About Nashville

Seven years ago, I hit a birthday milestone that I didn't want to celebrate. Instead of having a party, I wanted to take a long weekend vacation to the beach with one of my sisters. Who better but my sister Lisa, who celebrates her birthday 8 days before I do and for those 8 days, we are the same age! Or as they call us, "Irish Twins".

Since that wonderful sister weekend away, we have continued the tradition of an annual sister trip. We go somewhere different every year. This year for sister trip #7, we headed to Nashville, Tennesee!

Kelsey Montague "What Lifts You" Street Art
Found in Nashville Gulch Neighborhood

Without a doubt, we've gotten into a groove with our trips, seeking out the best food, excellent accommodations, and quirky attractions. Sometimes we have to do the touristy things, but we try to balance it out with things that fit our eclectic sense of fun. Here are some of the highlights of our sister trip to Nashville.

The Music
Nashville's nickname is "Music City". The birthplace of country music, you can find live music all day, every day. Most people head to Lower Broadway for live music, where you can find plenty of live music, along with lots of tourists and drunken revelers riding in pedal cars disguised as bars. We checked out Tootsie's, which is the oldest honky tonk on Lower Broadway. You know you're getting old when you walk into a crowded bar and think more about an escape route in case of fire and less about the music.  We went next door to Layla's, where we enjoyed a folky bluegrass ensemble, plenty of breathing room, and a respite from the rowdiness on the street.

Tourist trap and fire trap!
But oh, so much history!
The next night after dinner, we wanted to see live music but after our experience the day before, we weren't eager to go back downtown. I could only imagine the scene after dark. We went to The Row, which was right near our hotel in the Midtown area. The place was packed but you could actually hear the music. There was an excellent line up of musicians, which rotated every hour. My favorite was Kata Hay, who performed original songs as well as her own unique country twist on well-known songs, including "Baby Got Back". She told the crowd about her experience on The Voice. I don't understand why she was voted off--she was that good.

Kata Hay singing "Sweet Home Alabama"
The Scene
My sister and I both agreed that Nashville reminded us a lot of Austin, Texas, where we sister-tripped a few years ago. The vibe is young and the town is fun. Lower Broadway reminded me a lot of spring break mixed with a little Las Vegas. In fact, some people refer to Nashville as "Nashvegas" and after our trip, I could see why. There was plenty to see. Lots of bachelorette parties, too. Our hotel was about a mile from downtown and both of us were glad to be able to escape back to our room when we had enough!

You never know who you're going to run into...
We much preferred the Midtown neighborhood around our hotel, which houses restaurants and bars. While there were still some of the pedal cars and partiers, it just felt more manageable to me. We found another fun area on Demonbreun Hill with bars and restaurants. Wherever we walked, we enjoyed artwork--murals and statues.

Musica statue on Demonbruen
The Food
We didn't have a bad meal while in Nashville. We dined casual and waited in line for hot chicken at Hattie B's and for BBQ at Martin's. Both were well worth the wait. We dined fancy and had 2 fantastic meals at Saltine and Union Common. An unexpected treat was the lunch we had at the Tennessee Brew Works' tap room.


The Beer
Followers of the blog know I have a thing for craft beer and Nashville did not disappoint. I told my sister we had to visit at least one tap room and she indulged me with a walk to the off-the-beaten-path Tennessee Brew Works tap room. With so many good options, it was overwhelming! I was impressed by every beer I tried in my sampler. The delicious grilled goat cheese and tomato jelly sandwich I had for lunch put me over the top.

L-->R Sinsear Red Ale (aged in bourbon barrels), Hank's Saison, 1927 IPA (in my hand), Blonde Ale, and Southern Wit
Tennesse Brew Works
Everywhere we went in Nashville, I asked the bartender for recommendations on beer and they all had their own opinions. I tried Yazoo Pale Ale, Bearded Iris Homestyle Pale Ale, Blackstone IPA, Jackalope IPA, Black Abbey Belgian Style Wit, and Hutton and Smith Session APA. Yes, I drank my share of beer. Not all at once.

History
If you love music, Nashville doesn't disappoint. I'm not a fan of "touristy" attractions, but we did visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and I was impressed by the exhibits. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and it was fun to see all the memorabilia from that era. We did not go to the Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline Museums but the next time I go back to Nashville, I plan to check those out. Because there will be a next time.

So many gold records, so little time
Country Music Hall of Fame
We also visited the Ryman Auditorium, which used to house the Grand Ole Opry. This place is just bursting with music history and has hosted just about every musician that I've ever listened to. The Ryman still hosts concerts most nights. The acoustics are supposed to be some of the best. A concert here will be on my to-do list when we return to Nashville. Interestingly, the Ryman started as a church and still looks like a place of worship!

Up on top of the auditorium behind the soundboard
It's a gorgeous space and I'm thrilled that my sister convinced me to visit. Of course, I made her pay for it with a photo op on stage.


We also took a walk through the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University on our way to check out the Parthenon, which is a full-scale replica of the actual Parthenon in Greece. It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and now houses an art museum.

I would never have expected to find this in Nashville, but there you go.
When at the Parthenon...

Walking/Running
I didn't run during this trip but that's because we walked over 8 miles per day. We stayed at the amazing Hutton Hotel in Midtown, which was about a mile from Lower Broadway and all the "touristy" stuff. Prior to our trip, I had planned on running and found a route from our hotel down through Music Row to Lower Broadway, over the pedestrian bridge, and along the Cumberland River. While I didn't run it, we walked it and it was amazing.

Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River


Hidden Gems
On our first day in Nashville, we got lost on our way downtown and ended up in a neighborhood called "The Gulch", which is an old industrial area and railroad terminal turned into an upscale hipster area with restaurants and fun shops. The Gulch is where we found the Kelsey Montague mural.

Actually, we saw a lot of murals everywhere!

My personal favorite.
The Man in Black.
On our way back to our hotel from the Tennessee Brew Works, Mrs. Google took us on 7th Avenue, where we walked past "Third Man Records". It looked interesting, so we walked in. We had no clue about this place but after visiting, we learned that this was Jack White's (White Stripes, The Raconteurs) store and recording studio! Who knew?

If it weren't for the welcome sign, we would have walked right by.
We loved our trip to Nashville. We didn't have a car, yet we felt like we didn't miss a thing. We did a ton of walking and I'd recommend that visitors bring comfy shoes! We didn't make it to Music Row and that would be a must see when we return to Nashville in the future. I loved our hotel but would have preferred a location a little closer to downtown. For me, I'd have loved a run but with all the walking we did, that wasn't going to happen. The Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Marathon or Half Marathon would be a great way to see many of the sights I mentioned. Don't do it for time, though, stop and take in the city.

Considering that we were only there for 3 nights, we packed a lot in!

Have you been to Nashville? What did you like? Did you get to run while you were there? Would you go back?

I'm linking up with the Weekly Wrap and with Tuesdays on the Run aka Marcia, Erika, and Patti. BTW, I'm still co-hosting the WW with Holly--I just took the week off while I was out of town. Thanks so much to Kim (Kooky Runner) for stepping up and filling in for me this week!!!


53 comments :

  1. How fun! I love that you and your sister do these types of trips. So nice to spend time bonding in a new city.

    Nashville is a city that I'd love to visit one day. There seems to be so much to see and do there and trying all the yummy food and beer would be amazing!

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    1. While we both felt that a long weekend was plenty of time, there are still things we'd like to see. So we will have to go back.

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  2. Other than being there to tour Vanderbilt over the summer, I haven't been to Nashville since I was there on business a billion years ago. It really is a fun city. Glad you enjoyed!

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    1. We thought Vanderbilt was beautiful! What a fun place to go to school.

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  3. Great recap of our super fun trip! Lisa xoxo

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    1. Another fun adventure!!! It was fun recapping it. XOXO

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  4. Loved your trip, thank you for sharing that with us. I kind of sneakily want to do the Nashville RnR marathon ...

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    1. I never considered running RnR Nashville but after visiting, I would definitely consider it. Train for hills, tho...

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  5. I love Nashville! I haven't been there in a few years in this brings back memories. How fun that you and your sister are so close in age.

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    1. I feel so lucky that I have her to help me navigate through life. These sister trips are definitely a highlight!

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  6. Never been to Nashville. Someday . . . sounds like you guys had a great time! And you also look so much alike.

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    1. As we get older, we hear that more and more!

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  7. Wendy, you could be a travel writer! Loved reading about your Nashville experience. we were there when our kids were teenagers. The middle one played guitar in a band, so he was in heaven with all the music. I would like to back sometime without kids now. That sandwich you had at the Brew Works sounds yummy!

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    1. I would like to go back with my husband! I think he would really enjoy it.

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  8. Nashville is a happening place, no doubt! We've been there a few times, but always with little kids in tow, so our sight-seeing was limited. I do want to do the R'n'R there...it's always during spring break, but that probably won't be an issue this year.

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    1. After visiting Nashville, I totally get the appeal of RnR. But make sure you train for hills!

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  9. Rock 'n' Roll Nashville is an AMAZING way to see the city. I was so impressed by the course and how many neighborhoods it took us through. I felt like I got a really great tour of the city through the race! It's TOUGH, though - as I'm sure you realized with all your walking, Nashville is not a flat town! (It was also unexpectedly in the high 80s and humid when I did it, which didn't help. But that was an anomaly.) I really enjoyed Nashville when I went for Rock 'n' Roll - it's a fun place!

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    1. After visiting, I was thinking how much fun that race would be. But I sure wouldn't do it for time. There's just too much to look at!

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  10. Les grew up in Nashville and some of his best friends still live there, so I've been many times. We rarely do the touristy stuff, but it's always a good time. We flew Nashville to LAX with Dolly Parton once. I loved watching her in the boarding area - she was sweet to anyone who approached her.

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    1. I wish I'd known! I would have asked you for recommendations. Although I think we did pretty well on our own.

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  11. I think I drove through Nashville when I moved from Boston to Dallas, and I don't count that. I hear great stories about it, and the BBQ.

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  12. I have never been to Nashville! Looks like such a fun weekend getaway place. You all packed a lot into your vacation

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    1. I think you'd love Nashville!!! So many girls' weekends there. So much to do!

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  13. My sister has been to Nashville several times and has run RnR Nashville but I have never been there. I don't know a lot about the music scene so I don't know how much of the history would be "lost" on me. It does look like a fun place and probably some place every one should see. I'd actually like visit Memphis!

    I can also relate to wanting to do a trip rather than have a party to celebrate milestones. I've done that a few times too! -M

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    1. I'd also like to visit Memphis, but Nashville is a really fun sister trip!! Hint, hint....

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  14. How fun that you and your sister have such close birthdays! I've never been to Nashville but it seems lovely. I really like the idea of taking a trip somewhere instead of having a party... may have to use that next year!

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    1. That first trip kicked off an amazing tradition! Every year we have more fun--hard to believe but so true!

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  15. I...think I've been to Nashville? When I was 7 my family road tripped from Texas to Pennsylvania, so I think we must have gone through Nashville. Clearly it didn't leave much of an impression, though I'm sure it's changed a ton since then! From your description, it does sound a lot like Austin.

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    1. We couldn't help but make the comparison. Both places are just so much fun!

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  16. You definitely ran into some interesting people ;)
    I have only been to Nashville once before and the food was DELICIOUS (because um, that's what I REALLY care about) and I could totally go for some more BBQ now!

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    1. I'm telling you, it felt a little like Las Vegas there!

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  17. Looks like such a fun trip! I've never been to Nashville but it seems like a great place to visit. You sure did pack a lot into 3 days there!

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  18. How fun! I've never been to Nashville, and I'm not a big fan of country music, but you make it sound like a great place to visit. I love that you do a sister trip every year (and glad I got to meet you on last year's one).

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    1. I'm so happy we got to spend some of our sister trip last year with you!

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  19. I have been to Nashville; one trip included a half marathon (which was super hilly and hot). I didn't think I'd like the County Music Hall of Fame but it was very interesting. We've stayed at the Sheraton which is a few blocks from Broadway but accessible to everything. Oh, and, I walked around with a broken foot the weekend I DNS'd Chicago. I love that you and your sister do an annual trip!

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    1. You and I will have to make a trip to Nashville! Could be fun, Alabama!

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  20. I think it's awesome that you and your sister do a special trip together each year. I didn't know Nashville was so Vegas-like! Love all the vintage signs - what a fun town to wander through.

    FWIW, even though I don't drink, I'll happily accompany you to a beer-tasting joint because they usually have awesome freshly baked soft pretzels and I am a happy camper with one of those and some grainy mustard for dipping. :)

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    1. If you let me drink beer, you can eat all the pretzels you want! LOL!

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  21. Nashville sounds like such a fun area! I think I'd like to have the trip you had. I like walking around and exploring places but not sure that I would have enjoyed the NashVegas part of it lol. It's really cool that you have a sister trip too! Can't wait to see your other travels!

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    1. We've had 7 of these trips now! I've recapped most of them on the blog. Thinking we're going to Santa Fe next year.

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  22. Wow, you did do a lot in 3 days. Glad you enjoyed it and had fun with your sister. I've been there twice. The first time was for work and I remember we had an event dinner at the Parthenon. The second time was for an RnR race and it rained the entire race. That wasn't fun.

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    1. I think an RnR race would be hard no matter what, with all those hills!

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  23. What a great place to visit. I definitely want to go there.

    You and sister certainly have fun trips. You are lucky to have each other.

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  24. This sounds like such a fun trip! I've only been to Nashville for work and I really want to go back at some point o actually be able to explore the city.

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    1. It was a lot of fun--I highly recommend leaving the work at home!

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  25. Looks like you had a great trip! A friend of mine just got back from Nashville too and raved about it - I really want to check it out!

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  26. I've never been to Nashville but I'd definitely love to visit someday! The food sounds delicious and I love walkable cities!

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