Nashville Cats

Going to Nashville on Friday:

Any recommends for food or music or fun? We’re going just for the road trip, leaving Friday and returning Sunday. We will certainly hang in the honky tonk bar area and take in the live music, but are there any places we shouldn’t miss? Is the Grand Ole Opry a must-see or something else? Thanks!

I love Nashville and need a break from Thanksgiving, so wall-of-text incoming:

I have been making a trip or two to Nashville every year for a few years now. I sometimes plan to move there, but who knows if that will ever happen, especially since it keeps growing and not developing the infrastructure necessary to support itself.

Anyway, the food culture in Nashville is fantastic. It’s probably hard to make a wrong choice unless you’re really unlucky. Some personal recommendations I can make: Martin’s BBQ (downtown) is very good for barbeque, Black Rabbit in downtown has good small plates; Biscuit Love in the Gulch neighborhood (downtown adjacent) is great for breakfast. For stuff a little pricier there’s Etch near the middle of downtown which makes for a good place to start an evening; City House and Rolf & Daughters are both revered Italian restaurants in the Germantown neighborhood (also downtown adjacent); Tree House in east Nashville is trendy and not terribly expensive (I think it’s a little overrated but most people who go there love it); Husk on the far end of downtown does traditional Southern food with a modern twist; it might sound crazy in a landlocked state, but Henrietta Red is a very good oyster bar with nice vegetarian options, at least according to people I know who are vegetarians (also in Germantown). If you like cocktails, Patterson House in Music Row is superb and on par with the best bars in New York and New Orleans. There are some other good cocktail bars too, but I won’t inundate you with them since you didn’t ask for bar recommendations. Nashville is obviously a great city for bourbon.

Downtown is pedestrian friendly and has lots of stuff going on: music, museums, etc. It also sports a nice collection of postmodern architecture. Speaking of art, Fisk University intermittently has a good art museum, but being an underfunded HBCU, must occasionally loan out large portions of their collection so definitely check before going (Georgia O’Keefe donated Alfred Stieglitz’ collection to them, so they’ve got some good stuff). I’ve never been to the Grand Ole Opry, but if memory serves it’s in an out-of-the-way location.

Some warnings: traffic can be bad owing not so much to the volume of cars on the road, but rather how poorly designed the interstate is. I-40 has been in very poor condition every time I’ve ever been and is filled with potholes. Outside of downtown and Music Row, the city is not pedestrian friendly in the least and public transit is lacking. Also, if there’s a hockey game going on, downtown will be packed and the traffic atrocious.

Thanks! That’s very helpful.

Got back from Nashville and had a great time. We were only there for two days so we didn’t get to see a lot. We stayed at this mega hotel complex The Gaylord Opryland Hotel or something. It has 2880 hotel rooms and a huge enclosed space with a botanical gardens, an ice-skating rink, about 6-7 restaurants, shopping, a theater for shows, sledding, and more. It was fun to walk around in.

The real treat was going downtown to Broadway. It was amazing. For my money it rivals Bourbon Street in New Orleans if you like live music. It is so packed with bars, all with live music, many with three floors with three bars and three bands all playing at once. We had a great time.

It’s not really country. It’s cover bands with a country flavor, but they play all kinds of music. I heard Orange Blossom Special from three different bands and Purple Rain from two different bands. If you don’t mind good cover bands, it’s hard to beat. In the space of three blocks there are probably 30 bands playing. And the music on the weekends starts at 10 am and goes to 3 am. It’s like nothing I’ve seen.

There’s also Printer’s Alley a few blocks away with blues and maybe a bit of jazz. We had a fantastic dinner there at a place called Skulls. Very well executed prime rib and potatoes, and one of the best slices of bourbon pecan pie we’ve had. That was the culinary highlight.

The music highlight was Robert’s Western World bar. The owner is in his own band and they are great. They play a more traditional sound, but still mixed in some Chuck Berry. We lucked into a nice table and stay for nearly four hours. We were next to a family with a woman celebrating her 100th birthday, and she rocked it. She was alert, clapping, eating french fries by the handful, and even got up and danced when the band played The Tennessee Waltz. We left at 1:30 am and she was still going. Her son told us she sometimes keeps him out until 6 am. She was really amazing.

We had a great time and will certainly go back for the music scene again. I’d recommend staying in a hotel near Broadway so you can walk. From our hotel we had to Uber it and it was $20 each way, so not bad, but it would have been nice to just walk out and go hear music and walk back for a nap, etc. Anyway, cool time in Nashville.

Great tips, thanks to you for these and for those from @Dissensus as well. We’ve planned on taking a vacation to Nashville but pushed it out from December until next year sometime. I’ll certainly try to land a week where a place near Broadway isn’t too bad.

She’s never been to Austin, and though not as dense as Nashville with music, it is also nice and has some of it’s own charm. Hopefully I’ll get to take her on a trip there as well.

I’ll add that the other issue with being in a hotel that’s not walking distance from Broadway is that the parking can be tough, and expensive. Even the hotel we stayed at charged $29 per day to park. Uber seemed like the way to go to get to the downtown area. It was fast service and the drivers we got were all very nice.

I felt like if I knew my way around downtown I could probably park for the $20 I spent on Uber and then save the other $20 on the drive back, but Uber seemed so much simpler. We were on a weekend away. We didn’t want to stress.

We do the same thing. We both want to drink and enjoy ourselves and I’m very keen on avoiding driving after doing so, which puts us in Uber/Lyft territory. The hard choices are things like concerts. If you Uber in/out you pay surge pricing, sometimes both ways. But if you drive in and Uber out you have the pain in the ass of going to get the vehicle the next day, while still probably having surge pricing on the ride home.

Something like Broadway offers the ability to walk until we like what we hear, then stop and enjoy ourselves for a bit before moving on.