So somehow I’ve deferred writing up a travel diary for a trip we took down to Nashville back in October – eeek! Have I mentioned I’m a master procrastinator? 😉 Sometimes I find travel posts so hard to write – probably because all the traveling is over.
Anyway, I figured it was time to get this up, especially because we had such a great time in Nashville and really enjoyed the city!
Where we stayed
Sheraton Grand Nashville
As usual, we stayed in a Starwood hotel. While it didn’t look like much from the outside, overall we were happy with our stay. It was in a great location, about a 10-15 minute walk from Broadway (which is where we spent quite a bit of time).
The room itself was nice and appeared to be fairly recently renovated, sans the bathtub (it was older and kinda rusty).
What we did
Tour – Joyride Nashville
On our first full day we took a tour of downtown via a golf cart; I had read nothing but good reviews about the tour and this tour company in general so we went in with high expectations. All-in-all, we left a little disappointed. Our tour guide was kind of lack-luster and didn’t really seem to want to be there. That said, we did learn some interesting history about Nashville and stopped at some sites that we may not have on our own. I think the quality of the tour is 100% going to depend on your guide though and I personally feel like Nashville is small enough that you can do without a tour like this.
Country Music Hall of Fame / Studio B Tour
We aren’t huge country music fans but the day we did this it was cold and rainy and this was an inside activity. The museum includes lots of memorabilia, stories and information about country music artists and music in general. They had a Shania Twain exhibit on when we were there and it was interesting to see the costumes she performed in throughout the years.
The tickets we purchased included a tour of the infamous RCA Studio B, which is a recording studio that has seen/heard the likes of Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. We heard all about the history of the studio and heard stories about the artists that had recorded there too.
I found the Studio B tour interesting and worth it but I don’t think the museum is worht it unless you are a big country music fan (which I’m not) or if the weather isn’t great and you’re looking for some refuge from it.
Grand Ole Opry House
We bought tickets for this in advance even though we really weren’t sure if this was going to be something we’d enjoy. Everything we read online recommended it so we decided to bite the bullet and go. As it turns out, we were actually really glad that we did. The Grand Ole Opry House is basically a concert hall that started out as a radio broadcast that featured live country music back in the 1920’s, and is credited for making country music famous. Today they continue country artists from the past, present and future.
The venue itself was beautiful and the acoustics were amazing; we caught their nightly show which featured 8 different artists who played no more than 2-3 songs each. The line up included two up-and-coming artists which we enjoyed the most, in addition to some more traditional country artists and even a real-life square dancing show (that was interesting). The nice thing about that was that if you didn’t like one artist, you knew they were only going to be on stage for 1-2 songs more – sounds harsh but believe me when I say not all styles of country music are to everyone’s taste. All in all, we were really glad we got to experience the Opry and learn it’s impressive history.
Nashville Predators vs. Calgary Flames
This was the first time we had attended an away game for the Flames and it set the bar high. The fans are really fun and into and most importantly – respectful! The Flames pulled off a win that night and we had Nashville fans congratulating us on our win (that’s really rare!). I totally recommend catching a game if you’re in town.
Mr. PRL is a big Foo Fighters fan so when we realized they were playing in Nashville at the same time as us being there, we grabbed some tickets. Everyone that heard we were going to their concert told us to prepare for the best concert of our life. Low and behold, the night before, they cancelled the concert due to a family emergency. 🙁 We were both beyond disappointed but given that Dave Grohl played a concert with a broken leg, we figured the reason for cancelling had to be pretty serious. They ultimately rescheduled the concert to this May which didn’t really work for us so we’re hoping to catch them some other time.
Nelson’s Greenbriar Distillery
MRL is also a pretty big whiskey fan so given that our concert was cancelled, we had some time to kill and decided to do a distillery tour. This distillery had a very interesting history and apparently exceptionally good Bourbon. I don’t mind whiskey in a mixed drink but straight up – bleh (I couldn’t drink my tasting flight). Despite not being a whiskey-lover, I still found it to be a cool experience overall.
I saved the best activity for last. If you’re wondering what the fudge honky-tonking is, you’re not alone because I had no clue either, until we got there. In short it equals drinking and hitting up country bars but honestly, that doesn’t really do it justice.
In downtown Nashville there is a stretch of street that is literally jam-packed with bars and restaurants. Inside each one of those bars/restaurants is a stage with either a band or artist performing and usually a large group of people sitting around listening and drinking. Here’s the thing – this isn’t the just-okay band you’ll find in your local bar at home, these are top-notch performers with serious talent. As mentioned, we are not big country music fans but we were completely blown away by every single band or artist we came across in Nashville.
Some of the more famous honky tonks include Tootsies Orchid Lounge and Nudies (no nudes – I promise) and we visited them both, in addition to several others. Tootsies is the definition of a dive bar – it’s grimy, dirty, old but it’s always packed to the brim and had such a fun atmosphere. We were there in the dead of the afternoon and listened to an amazing band play and we could barely move.
Nudie’s was probably my favourite of the ones we visited; it had a history behind it and had that dive bar feeling but had it had been renovated so I didn’t feel like I needed to bathe in hand sanitizer once I left.
We also stopped into Skulls Rainbow Room for a quick afternoon drink; this place also had a very interesting history, with it being opened in 2015 after it’s original owner was murdered during a robbery gone wrong and they shuttered it for over 17 years. Many famous artists have performed on it’s stage including Elvis Presley, Tim McGraw and Paul McCartney.
Where we ate
Last but most certainly not least, FOOD. Wow, Nashville you have some ah-maz-ing bbq! We ate some things here that I will literally remember for the rest of my life. Our two favourite restaurants had to be Martin’s BBQ (I had turkey that melted in my mouth!) and The Stillery (hot chicken mac n’ cheese anyone?). But not far behind would be Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and Biscuit Love.
Trip in Review
As mentioned, we had a fantastic time. We ate and drank well, enjoyed our hotel and took in a lot of what Nashville has to offer. It actually reminded me a lot of Las Vegas with a strong country vibe. It’s a great place for a bachelor/bachelorette party, girls/guys trip or a couples trip. I don’t think you have to drink alcohol to enjoy things here but if you don’t, you may be annoyed but the amount of intoxicated people around, much more at night than during the day (I was and I drink).
There’s only two complaints I had – first the flights here from Calgary kinda sucked. We had to to fly there via Toronto and that required us to be up at 4 am to be at the airport for our 6 am flight. Not ideal for us, particularly if we wanted to do a quick weekend trip, but for those who live further east it’s obviously a much more convenient location.
Second complaint – no shopping downtown! I came across a Loft store in one neighbourhood but that was about it. All of the shopping was located outside of the downtown core and we didn’t really venture outside of that. My credit card obviously saw this as a huge advantage but who cares what it thinks.
While I’d love to go back to Nashville, we don’t have any plans to do so anytime soon. Until then I’ll just be dreaming of bbq with country music in the background.
Have you ever been to Nashville?