Nashville!!!! Wow. Maybe its the music, maybe its the Hot Chicken, maybe its all of the bachelorette parties or maybe its just the sheer wall of noise. However it breaks down, Nashville should be at the top of your destination list. Nate just returned from a guys' weekend there with college buddies and is happy to file this travel blog.
Where to Stay: Nashville is a city under construction. Just look at the Crane Watch. Many of the new buildings are hotels in Downtown, several just off of Broadway. The AC Hotel by Marriott just opened earlier this year and with it's wood floors and stark minimalism it harkens to (dare we say), Scandinavia... Depending on the size of your group an AirBNB or VRBO may be the best option. That is what we did, staying in Germantown north of Downtown. It was an 8 minute Uber drive to Broadway from there, which was perfect for our group of seven.
What to Eat: I know everything isn't a suitable answer, but... We were all impressed by the quality of food, but we took an Uber-driver's advice and never ate on Broadway, we would find a place two blocks away and that served us quite well. In the Germantown neighborhood north of downtown, Butchertown Hall is a Southern-Mexican fusion joint with a fantastic bar, well worth a dinner stop away from the Broadway madness. If you are looking for something more authentic, Puckett's Grocery on Church has taken chalkboard dining to the next level. If it is barbecue you crave, Martin's BBQ rolls out a whole mess of slow roasted goodness. If steak is the goal, check out The Southern Steak & Oyster.
Nashville Hot Chicken is a whole different ballgame. There are articles on who has the best. We followed that advice and had Hattie B's delivered to the house via Uber Eats. It was very, very, very good. Being Yankees we tried the medium heat sandwich and found it to be a different kind of heat than Buffalo chicken, perhaps a little more vinegar? Anyway, it was delicious and definitely worth a try.
What to do: The easy answer is to start on Broadway by the Cumberland River and work your way towards the Bridgestone Arena. Within those five plus blocks you will find all of the honky-tonks you will ever need. The best part of this stretch is that most bars have multiple levels, with a different band playing on each floor. There are no cover charges so if you get antsy and want to move on, go ahead! The musicians in the bars are incredible and pepper in their own original material within the steady stream of classic rock and country. We really enjoyed the lower profile joints, The Bootleggers Inn and Robert's Western World as they honed in on the classic country we were looking for. The Broadway bars are the rare taverns where women outnumber men there appeared to be at least 2-3 bachelorette parties in each establishment.
If you want a little culture, we really enjoyed the Johnny Cash Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Both had great artifacts and allowed us to tell our mom's that we didn't spend the entire weekend in a bar....
The Grand Ole Opry at Opryland and the Ryman Auditorium in downtown (which hosted the Opry until 1974) are must-sees, especially if you are bringing your family. Both capture the history, the present and the future of Country music.
While Nashville is definitely a Southern town, it is also a hockey town. The Predators are the biggest game in town and seeing a game at the Bridgestone Arena is a must for any puck fan. One hint, get to the game in time for the anthem as it will probably be sung by Country Music royalty. Previous anthem belters have been Dierks Benetly, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts. Nate saw Big and Rich...but, you can't win 'em all (apologies to any Big and Rich fans out there).
One last thing: The energy on Broadway at night is frenetic. As you walk outside the clubs you are washed over with waves of sound from multiple bands cranking from all directions. While you take it in be sure to be on the lookout for scooters. They are everywhere and usually being piloted by someone who has had a few. The locals are aware of the problem and now you are too. Be Safe!!