If an opportunity to travel presents itself, I take it in a heartbeat and when my husband told me he had a driving safety conference in Nashville I was so excited. Travel is growth. You learn something about not only the place, its people and culture, but about yourself. You feel richer. Everyone has their own idea of attractions to see on a trip, and for me, it’s about history, nature and food/people watching. Traveling allows you to experience new sites, sounds and tastes and so it’s crucial to eat the food the place is known for and I did! I hope you enjoy a glimpse into Nashville from my point of view!
First of all, we drove and because I must visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens at least one a year, we drove to St. Louis on Saturday morning and it was glorious! I believe it is one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
Okay, so in order to maximize your time on a trip, especially a short one, prioritizing, research and organization will serve you well. I had three full days in Nashville and I wanted to accomplish four major things and also make time for the eating and people watching I spoke of. Those times you don’t really have a plan are important on a trip too.
The Hermitage – Home of President Andrew Jackson
Absolutely my favorite place in Nashville. Get there early because you need most of the day and you want to minimize the possibility of sweltering heat. (We actually got very lucky because the weather could not have been more perfect the whole trip!) Make sure you take the carriage ride. This takes you through the grounds and the guide gives great information on the slaves, the growing of cotton and cool tidbits you wouldn’t get otherwise. Plus, how can you resist being so close to horses? I can’t.
Then, you will tour the mansion, which was beautiful, and the gardens where the Jackson family is buried. After the tour, I spend quite awhile walking the grounds, looking at the artifacts found and seeing the museum near the gift shop.
Admission is; General’s tour – $20, seniors $17, students 13 -18, $15, children 6-12 $10 – President’s tour – $28, seniors $25, students 13 -18 $23, children 6-12 $18 children 5 and under $8. The President’s tour includes and ipad to give more information such as maps and images to enhance the experience. The carriage ride is $11 and well worth it. Hours are 8:30 – 5 daily.
Belle Mead Plantation
Belle Mead was built in 1807 and had three generations of horse breeders and trainers. Their prized horse, Bonnie Scotland, among many others, is the ancestor of many Kentucky Derby winner and many of the losers. Think, Man o’ War, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and this year’s American Pharoah. A beautiful mansion, lovely grounds and free wine tasting at Nashville’s only winery.
Admission – 9-5 daily – $18, seniors $16, students 13-18 $12, youth 6-12 $10
Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art
Very beautiful gardens near the museum that was once a private residence. Admission – Tuesdays – Sundays 9-5 – $14, seniors $12, students $10, youth $7
Johnny Cash Museum
Right down the street from our hotel and open every day until 7pm, this museum was the first thing we did when we arrived. A must for any Johnny Cash fan! Admission $17 seniors $16, age 6-15, $13
Country Music Hall of Fame
My husband’s convention had their party here on our last night. We were able to tour the museum along with enjoying appetizers, cash bar and live music. Definitely a must see for country music lovers and great artifacts & memorabilia.
Admission $24.95, seniors $22.50, 6-12 $14.95 open daily 9-5
Graceland (In Memphis)
We left Nashville on a Wednesday morning and headed to Graceland. You just have to do it you’re that close! There are different packages depending on what you want to see and your budget. We chose the platinum package which got us the house/grounds, a short movie of some performances and his car museum. You can see his airplane collection as well. The house is pretty over the top! And it was unbelievable how many other rooms that are full to- the- brim of his awards, clothing and other memorabilia! The cars were pretty amazing too! Make sure you consult the website before visiting as there are many choices for ticket prices and hours of operation vary according to time of year.
Admission 9-5, Sunday 9-4 – Platinum Tour – $40, seniors & students 13-18 $36, children 7-12 $19
One of the best parts of any trip, tasting the food and soaking in the culture! Here are the restaurants that we enjoyed!
People have come from all over the world to eat this good ol’ downhome country cooking. Usually there is about an hour wait, but there is a lot to do in the meantime because the hotel that used to be attached has converted into cute country shops. Free lemonade and activities for the kids guarantee you can wait in relative peace. Don’t worry, it’s worth the wait.
An Italian place right next to our hotel was our first dinner in Nashville. I must say – it was amazing. Everything we had from the bruschetta to the delicious gnocchi was mouthwatering. We met the owner, Marco, from south of Venice. He was the real deal, and so was the food.
Red Bicycle Coffee & Crepes
I stopped here for breakfast on my way to the Hermitage. Cute little place with a patio located in Germantown north of downtown, it serves crepes and more. My crepe, bananas foster was pretty good, but not insane. The service wasn’t that great. It took a long time even though it wasn’t busy. Not a huge deal, but I had places to go! All in all, I would try it again if I lived nearby.
Located downtown, the Palm is an upscale steakhouse with one of the most amazing waiters of all time! Having him was worth the price of admission, which was pretty hefty. (Thanks Doug Horn for your generosity!) My drink was yummy but my salmon was not as good as it should have been. My salad was excellent. My husband said his steak was a tad overdone. Perhaps the Palm depends too much on its reputation and needs to step it up a bit. All in all it was a great evening!
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
I’m not huge on fried chicken and I don’t like things too spicy. That being said, you have to try the hot chicken when you visit Nashville. We went to Hattie B’s on the recommendation of a local at the convention and we were glad we did. Just a dive of a place with an enclosed patio, you order at the front and they bring it to you. The chicken was ABSOLUTLEY FANTASTIC! Moist, juicy and soo flavorful! I also ordered collard greens and mac & cheese and my husband ordered the beans and potato salad. The potato salad and mac & cheese were excellent and the greens were pretty good. Don’t miss out on this gem if you ever find yourself in Nashville!
Our last breakfast in Nashville was at this lovely little place. There are 23 different varieties of pancakes and it was difficult to choose! Ultimately, we got 4 different kinds to split; traditional, corn meal, apple cinnamon, and banana bread. OMG, they were all so melt-in-your-mouth yummy! My favorite was the traditional followed closely by the banana nut. Don’t miss this!
Tops (In Memphis)
Even though we all know the best BBQ can be found in Kansas City, when you do to Memphis, you have to try theirs and just accept and embrace the differences. We stopped at this hole- in- the- wall place after touring Graceland and didn’t regret it. We split the sampler that came with ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket, and chose the beans, potato salad and fries. It was all pretty darn good. The sauce, which is vinegar based, is actually really good because I love vinegar! Like Hattie B’s, the potato salad was excellent! So glad this was a good experience, because it could have gone either way!
Finally, there’s no trip to Nashville without experiencing the live music playing at every bar day or night. It was amazing. We did plenty of bar hopping and I don’t remember all the places I went. It was quite an amazing experience and they all served a mean margarita!
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