How-To Spend 5 Days In Nashville
My husband and I flew into Music City early on a Saturday morning. Thanks to a direct flight on Southwest from Pittsburgh and the one hour time difference we arrive at our Airbnb before 8 a.m. Luckily, our hosts were really chill. We were able to leave our bags in the bathroom, regroup and freshen up for a few, and then head out for the day.
At such an early hour we needed two things: coffee and food.
Day 1: All the Country Music
Biscuit Love: All the foodie blogs have been calling out Biscuit Love recently so when our Airbnb host recommended it we thought we’d better hurry on over. By the time we arrived, they’d been open only an hour and there was already a line out the door. Luckily, the process was organized and moved quickly. We were even given menus while we waited so that we could make our choices before reaching the counter to order. Kevin went sweet and had The Lily, which is biscuit French toast with lemon mascarpone and blueberry. Swoon. I chose the Egg Plate because I wanted a biscuit and grits. There were also eggs and bacon.
Due to a slight delay in our order, we were given a free plate of bonuts. We didn’t even complain! A waitress just came over and told us that our food would take a little extra time and offered us bonuts. We are not the type to turn down a plate of biscuit donuts (bonuts). They were the best part of the meal. Sweet, flaky and served with the very same lemon mascarpone that went on Kevin’s French toast.
Country Music Hall of Fame: Since it was still only 9:30 a.m., we knew we had plenty of time to fill up before we could get into our bedroom at the Airbnb so we decided to tackle this Nashville must-see. We had a great time looking at all of the memorabilia, listening to country music from the last hundred years, and learning. There’s a ton of stuff to see and read. We recommend spending the extra $2 to get the audio guide. Here’s why: first, it’s often crowded so it can be hard to get up close and read the small print on the information placards. Second, you’ll hear a lot more music as you go along if you have the audio guide.
I Love Juice Bar: After the flight, breakfast, and the museum we were exhausted so we started walking back towards our Airbnb. We grabbed a juice to go from I Love Juice Bar and took a nap for most of the afternoon. We both kept it simple with a Very Strawberry smoothie each.
Honky Tonks on Lower Broadway: On Saturday evenings, Lower Broadway is packed. Wherever you go, you’re in a crowd. It’s unavoidable. The best thing to do is just embrace it and have a beer or two. All the music is free so you can bounce from place to place as much as you like without shelling out a bazillion dollars in covers. If you like the music though, be sure to tip the band. The only money they make is from tips and these musicians work hard! You’ll probably see a huge mix of talent levels and drunken levels. You won’t be bored for a second on Broadway.
Day 2: Where Can We Go That’s Air Conditioned?
Breakfast at The Pub: After sleeping in, we went to the Pub for brunch. It was pretty forgettable but not bad. I had a breakfast sandwich and Kevin had French toast. Then we sat there for awhile trying to figure out how we were going to get through the day without melting in the heat. The heat got to us much more than we expected so we had to get creative. Which is how we wound up at…
Opry Mills and the Gaylord Opryland Resort: We’re not mall people, but when it’s 100 degrees and humid, Kevin and I will go hangout anywhere indoors. Opry Mills is the mall across from the Grand Ole Opry. It’s huge! We passed a fair amount of time just walking through the mall to see what’s there. On the weekends, there’s live music at a stage in the center of the mall.
After perusing the mall and remembering that we’re not big on shopping just for fun, we went to the Opryland Resort. It has a huge indoor conservatory with a river.
Back at the mall, we saw the new Star Trek movie and had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.
We’d highly recommend a visit to the Gaylord Opryland Resort, but the mall was just a mall so you could easily spend your time elsewhere in Nashville.
Day 3: Where Can We Go Swimming?
Still going crazy from the heat, we decided that we needed to spend day three in the water. Finding a swimming pool wasn’t quite exciting enough, Nashville is pretty far from the ocean, and I learned that Kevin had never been to a water park. So, I took Kevin to his first water park. He loved it.
Nashville Shores: This small water park is located just outside of Nashville. It’s the perfect place to spend one day cooling off. It’s affordable (for a theme park) and even in the peak of summer the lines for the slides weren’t too long.
We loved the Big Kahuna. Two to four people get into a raft and fly through a twisting, dark enclosed waterslide. Someone always ends up going backwards and that’s the best part!
The Big Scream with its near vertical drop was not my favorite.
As always, the Lazy River has my heart.
Hops and Crafts: In the evening, we exchanged all the kiddos and families for hipsters at Hops and Crafts. We had the most generous beer flights of our lives and sampled beer from Tennessee and surrounding states. The locally made pimiento cheese dip was delicious to munch on with the beer.
Day 4: Pokemon Go and the Grand Ole Opry
Edgehill Cafe: Per usual, I had a savory breakfast and Kevin had a sweet one. I tried The Lovely: Andouille, veggies, a fried egg, and cheddar over cheddar grits. The grits were amazing. The rest of it was just a happy set of toppings. Kevin had the Jennycakes: buckwheat pancakes with a side of housemade sausage.
Vanderbilt University, the Parthenon and Pokemon Go: After breakfast, we went wandering about playing Pokemon Go. It’s actually a great way to explore a new city because it has a map built into it so you can use it to navigate. You might need to pop over to Google Maps now and again to check street names, but if you’re just wandering and have all day like we did, this map is good enough.
We wandered all over Vanderbilt and learned a bit about the University at each Pokestop.
Pokestops are places to get items you need to capture and train Pokemon. The Pokemon Go app gives you fun facts about each stop.
Eventually, we crossed Vanderbilt and reached Centennial Park where Nashville has a full-size replica of the actual Parthenon. It was built for the Nashville Centennial celebration, but people like it so much that they kept it up ever since. It’s kind of jarring to see a perfectly preserved version of a Greek landmark in a field in Tennessee. As I’ve never been to the actual Parthenon though it was pretty cool. Now I need to go to Athens and get my eyes on the original.
Jed’s: This sports bar close to Centennial Park is very nicely air conditioned and has some good day time specials. It was just what we needed to cool off after walking in the summer heat for several hours. Afterward, we took another short walk and a nap in preparation for our main event of the day, the Grand Ole Opry.
Grand Ole Opry: If you like country music even a little bit, you’ve got to go to the Grand Ole Opry. There are shows several nights per week. It’s a live radio show with six musical acts. Plus, you hear all the radio ads and watch all the silly games that go on between the musical acts. Everything you hear on the radio show is done right in front of you when you go to the Opry. The best acts we saw were the first one and the last one. First up was Bill Anderson whose songs are hilarious. The Charlie Daniels Band closed the concert. Watching Charlie Daniels play Devil Went Down To Georgia like it’s the easiest thing in the world was wonderful.
Day 5: Pancakes and the Best Burger in Nashville
Pancake Pantry: Go early and on a weekday to try for a short wait. You’ll probably wait a bit whenever you go but if you go on Saturday morning you’re surely doomed. Once you’ve scored your table. Get the pancakes. Any of the pancakes. I enjoyed the Pecan Pancakes, the maple pecan syrup really made them awesome.
Tennessee State Museum: It’s a free museum. It’s air conditioned. It’s not the most exciting museum in the world. But I did learn more about Tennessee.
Honky Tonks on Lower Broadway, afternoon edition: At lunch time on a weekday, Broadway is a totally different scene. There’s still music in every bar, but there are plenty of seats, the bartenders are chatty, and there are actually some local regulars hanging out. Layla’s serves the BEST burger I’ve had in a restaurant in YEARS.
After that, off to the airport for an evening flight.
QUICK RECOMMENDATIONS AND ESSENTIAL LINKS
Places To Stay
Airbnb (Recommended neighborhoods: Music Row, the Gulch, Downtown)
Places To Eat
Biscuit Love – Biscuits, bonuts
Edgehill Cafe – Southern inspired food, coffee
I Love Juice Bar – Juice and smoothies
Layla’s – Burgers, beer, live music
Pancake Pantry – Pancakes!!