Thursday, 2 May 2019

Three nights in Nashville, Tennessee.

I completely fell in love with Nashville. I already had amazing memories from the city from when I visited 14 years ago, when I was 14-years-old (yep, exactly half my lifetime ago), but this time just cemented my love for the home of Country Music. The city feels safe, relaxed, and there is live music absolutely everywhere you go! I've been so so so excited to share this city guide with you, and I really hope it helps and gives you an idea of what we did and what we loved most!

As our trip was so intense and hectic (we drove from Chicago down to New Orleans, covering around 1,400 miles, in just two weeks), we really didn't want to rush around each city we visited and wanted to see a few key things and actually enjoy them and really spend our time taking it all in. This worked really well for us, and ensured we pretty much did everything on our list and also weren't rushing to see it all!

Robert's Western World Nashville Tennessee

What to pack:

Day 1 in Nashville

We had three-nights in Nashville, and arrived in the city around 4pm on the Tuesday after around five hours of driving from St Louis in Missouri after our Route 66 Roadtrip. We dropped off the car with the hotel's valet, and checked in to the beautiful five-star Hermitage Hotel. It's the most luxurious and most famous hotel in the city, and we were crazy excited to be spending our three nights here in such opulent surroundings! After taking a look at our room and unpacking, we got changed and drove over to the Grand Ole Opry as we had tickets to their Tuesday evening show.

Hermitage Hotel Nashville Lobby

Honestly, spending our first evening at the Grand Ole Opry was a dream come true and couldn't have been a better introduction to Nashville! The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly American country music stage concert that has been running since 1925, and it's the longest running radio broadcast in US history! A trip to Nashville isn't complete without a visit (hence I had to return 14 years later, haha). When I was 14 I was DESPERATE to go, but because they only have recordings on Tuesdays and Fridays, we couldn't go as we weren't in the city on either of those days.

We picked up our tickets from the box office (we were stood behind a cowboy in the queue which made us very excited), bought a few souvenirs in the shop, and then went inside to take our seats. As soon as the show started we were both completely overwhelmed. Both Clare and I are huge empaths, and super sensitive people in general, and we just looked at each other and had tears in our eyes! Afterwards we were discussing the show and both of us agreed we just felt really overwhelmed that we had been planning this trip for over a year, saving up, and now we were living it.

Grand Ole Opry Nashville Tennessee

The show itself was incredible. Country Music is so emotional and thoughtful, the lyrics are just like poetry set to music, and we loved every second. We saw Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams Sr's grand-daughter Holly Williams, Waylon Payne, The Swon Brothers, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, and Bill Anderson. After the show we had a backstage tour which was well-worth doing and really interesting. We got to see the green room, the dressing rooms, and stand on the stage and the famous 'circle' of wood that was taken from the Ryman Auditorium when the Opry moved locations.

We headed back to the hotel afterwards to get some rest before our busy day and night out the following night!

Day 2 in Nashville

We woke bright and early and walked all the way from our hotel up to Union Station, which is now a hotel. Union Station is a breathtaking old building that was a railroad terminal in the early 1900s. You can stroll in and take a peek in the hotel lobby and marvel at the architecture!

We then walked from Union Station up to Historic RCA Studio B (where Elvis recorded over 200 of his records), only to discover that you can only visit Studio B on an organised tour that picks you up from the Country Music Hall of Fame. Thankfully the guy was really lovely and I think he felt sorry for us when we told him how far we'd walked, so he asked us to come back in an hour or so and he'll get us onto one of the tours.

So we strolled up to Pancake Pantry via the Vanderbilt University grounds (which looked DREAMY), and queued up for pancakes. Even on a Wednesday morning there was still a huge queue for pancakes, but it moved really quickly and within 10-mins we were sat down awaiting our pancakes that tasted as though they had arrived straight from heaven. I had apple and cinnamon because it's probably my fave pancake topping (right up there with peach). They were incredible.

Our poor little legs were rather tired from our epic morning walk, so we grabbed an Uber back to Historic RCA Studio B (it was only a 5-min drive). It worked out really well, the lovely guy at the Studio let us in through the staff entrance and took us for a private tour around and showed us some areas the normal tours aren't allowed. Then we joined the official tour group and got to sit at the same piano Elvis sat at!

After Studio B we hitched a ride back to the Country Music Hall of Fame with the rest of the tour group, and picked up our tickets for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It took us around an hour and a half to visit, and was absolutely fascinating! It was interesting finding out more about the country music stars we'd seen the previous night at the Grand Ole Opry and the Grand Ole Opry members we had heard about on the backstage tour.

As we'd had a bit of a cultural morning and afternoon we decided it was time to check out Nashville's bar scene via Boot Barn (aka, Cowboy boot heaven)! We started at The George Jones which is right on the riverfront. They have a rooftop bar with live music, views over the river, and great happy hour prices. We had a couple of drinks and some bar snacks as we were a little peckish, and then headed back to our hotel to get freshened up and changed for a proper night out.

Our night out began with dinner at BB Kings - we enjoyed it and loved the food and vibe and live music, but they charged Clare DOUBLE the amount they should have, and are still refusing to pay it back (and Monzo are being awful about it too). This is the main problem with the American payment system - you sign the bill and they can just take the wrong amount from your bank account, rather than you seeing how much you're paying when you input your pin number on a chip and pin.

Anyway, after dinner we wandered up to Robert's Western World. This was one of my favourite bars of the night! It was just SO American, SO country, SO Nashville! The music, the bar, the people. All of it was just awesome.

After Robert's Western World we strolled up to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. I remember visiting Tootsie's as a 14-year-old, and we got kicked out at 9pm because under 21's aren't allowed in after that time haha. Thankfully this time we weren't kicked out, and we listened to the live country music while drinking Fireball shots (did you know, the Southern States are the home of the Fireball shot apparently?!).

The amazing thing about the Honky Tonk's on Nashville's Broadway, is that from 3pm until about 5am every single day they're open and playing live music. Entry into each bar is free, you just tip the musicians however much you want.

After Tootsie's we wandered across the road and went into the bars we liked the vibe and music of. We went to: Nudie's Honky Tonk, Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock & Roll Steakhouse, and one of our favourites of the night; Tequila Cowboy! Tequila Cowboy we spent a while in, it had a nice chilled vibe, good music, and friendly people and bar staff! We also got some free drinks there, so, ya know, we were obvs gonna stay a while longer.

By this time we were stumbling down the road, but we weren't done yet! Oh hell naw. Enroute back to the hotel we stopped off in Doc Holliday's Saloon for a more relaxed vibe with music and water, and then we went to Big Shotz where the band were AWESOME and played Proud Mary for me. We also made friends with a Hen Party - they kept talking at us in British accents and we kept talking at them in Southern accents haha.

We had one last stop on our way back to the hotel. We went to Printers Alley and Ms Kelly's Karaoke Bar. We watched some Americans murder Bohemian Rhapsody, but then the most magical thing happened. Two guys got up to sing Muddy Waters' Got My Mojo Workin', and I could have cried from joy. They were AH-MAZING. So, so amazing. One played the harmonica while the other sang, and I honestly felt like we were at a private concert. I even preferred their version to the original!

Finally it was time to sleep, and rest ready for the following day!

Day 3 in Nashville

We had a pretty long lie-in the next day and then headed down to the hotel's restaurant, Capitol Grille, for brunch. I had the delish waffles with blackberries, while Clare had the insane banana french toast (it literally looked like a door-stop it was so huge). We then wandered over to the Ryman Auditorium and saw the very first home of the Grand Ole Opry radio show, and found out more about the history of the auditorium. We then walked over to the Tennessee State Capitol, and on to Germantown which is where our lunch location was! 

Monell's is super famous in Nashville, and is essentially a gorgeous big house, filled with huge tables for about 10 people. Lunch is a set price, and you all sit on a big table with strangers and share the food and talk like a family would!

It's supposed to be a family-style lunch, and we met some GREAT people! There are no photos allowed inside, but on one side of me was an older lady who goes to Monell's about once a month. She looooves Country Music so told us her favourite bars (The Stage was one of them). One my other side was Clare, and then on her other side was a Police Officer. He's a regular at Monell's and is originally from Altanta. Let me tell you, it was slightly strange being sat having lunch with a gun right next to you, but, 'Merica.

The food was INCREDIBLE, and there was so much of it! Everything is homemade, and we had; Meatloaf, fried chicken, roast beef, mac & cheese, greens, cornbread, biscuits and grits, mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. To drink there are big jugs of sweet iced tea and lemonade. And then there was dessert; the most delicious Cherry Cobbler I have ever had in my entire life. And can you guess how much all this cost? Just $15!

We had the best time at Monell's and absolutely loved it. We headed back to our hotel after our late lunch, and then drove out to the outlet's for a bit of shopping. We also stopped off in the Gulch neighbourhood en-route to get photos with the #WhatLiftsYou street art!

After the Outlet centre it was quite late, but we were so full from our Monell's lunch that we skipped dinner, and had an early night before our long drive to Memphis the next day. We made the most of our beautiful hotel room - having lovely hot baths in the huge bath tub and then laying in bed in our dressing gowns watching TV until we fell asleep.

Checking out of The Hermitage the next day was very sad. We loved our stay and wish we could have stayed longer! Alas, Memphis was next on our list. But not before stopping off at Reese Witherspoon's adorable clothing store, Draper James, and getting a snap with the street art on the street at the side of the shop!

I really did fall in love with Nashville, and I'm desperate to go back again soon! I think out of all the places we visited, Nashville stole my heart.

Hertz Car Hire Fact Box: 

Car hire in Nashville with starts from £26 a day. For further road trip inspiration, head to Hertz American Road Trip Planner and discover iconic and off-the-beaten track routes, downloadable maps and insider guides.

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*Hertz provided us with car hire for the duration of our trip

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