I’ve had Nashville on my mind ever since Connie Britton purred her first ‘y’all’ on the hit TV show back in 2012. Besides, who could find a single thing wrong with a place that Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Rayna James called home? Nashville has always been popular among country music fans but venture off the main drag and you’ll probably see more hipsters than cowboys. Brooklyn expats have been flocking here in droves, driving up property values and setting a high bar of cooler-than-thou-ness. Here’s what I learned on my 2-day jaunt to Music City:
Book Your Bed Early
This town is crazy popular and finding a hotel room is no easy feat. Between concerts, conferences and bachelorette parties, things fill up fast. Most people go for Airbnb but my husband and I snagged one of the last rooms at the Urban Cowboy in the upped and come ‘hood of East Nashville. Set in a revamped Victorian mansion, it’s got eight massive rooms decorated in ‘southwestern deco’ which basically means high ceilings, leather loungers, and lots of boho throws. This isn’t your typical B&B. The innkeepers (expats from Brooklyn, of course) greet everyone with tumblers of whisky and people come and go at all hours. This is definitely a place to make new pals and stay up late but the best part was the giant copper bathtub in the middle of our room.
Eat Something Other Than BBQ
Aside from seeing shows and drinking your face off, Nashville has a pretty amazing food scene with a surprising number of vegan, veggie and gluten-free options. Once you’ve has the city’s famous hot chicken, it’s time to branch out. We started on coffee and cornbread muffins at East Nashville’s The Post where the baked goods are sinfully delish. Lunch was al fresco at the I Dream of Weenie truck where we scarfed chips and dogs slathered in homemade pimento cheese. Dinner was right across from our B&B at the hard-to-get-into-but-well-worth-the-wait Lockeland Table. Cool and cozy, we filled up on “lobstah” roll tacos, mountain trout with hash and fried apple pie.
Shop Away From The Main Drag
If you want more than just two-for-one cowboy boots grab an Uber and head to the 12 South drag. Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James boutique is the star attraction here and we were greeted with “how y’all doin’?” and sweet iced tea. Parton’s a fan of this cheery shop where you can stock up on bright floral dresses and What Would Dolly Do tote bags. For something a bit edgier, Imogene + Willie is set in an old gas station across the street and sells its custom fitted jeans to the likes of Gwyneth and ZZ Top. Down the road White’s Mercantile (owned by Hank Williams granddaughter) is filled with natty kitchen wares, leather bags and cashmere sweaters.
Don’t Be a Country Music Hater
Even though I may not publicly admit that I know all the words to “Friends In Low Places”, I’ve definitely got a spot for country music. The Hall of Fame is a must see not only because there’s a wall of gold records that even Kanye would be jealous of, but because you’ll gain a new appreciation for how country has impacted just about every musical legend from Cohen and Dylan to Presley and Swift. And since we’d come this far, we booked tickets to see a show at The Grand Ole Opry. Seats are church pews, the views amazing and our Friday night radio show featured Nashville’s Charles Esten (aka Deacon Claybourne) who not only performed a duet with his real-life daughter (who is disappointingly not named Maddie) but also announced the series was being picked up for season 5. By the time Opry regular Carrie Underwood closed the night, the crowd was going wild (or as wild as 65 year olds can get while sitting in pews).
I never did run into Connie Britton but Nashville is officially my kind of honky tonk town.
Have you travelled anywhere for 48 hours? Where did you go and what did you see?