Trip to Nashville/Mammoth Cave on a budget?
July 16, 2013 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to do a mini road trip to Nashville from Aug. 2nd-4th and drive through Mammoth Cave on my way home on the 4th. I want to maximize awesomeness while minimizing cost. I'm pretty open in terms of ideas, but I like museums, music, and antiques, and I plan to at least do one of the tours of Mammoth Cave when I get there. I will have camping equipment with me but I'd prefer to have shower facilities while in Nashville. Any suggestions? Things to see? Free attractions? Ways to save money (especially on food)? Favorite Mammoth Cave tour?
posted by quiet coyote to Travel & Transportation around Nashville, TN (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite thing in Nashville is the Parthenon reconstruction.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:47 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

While at Mammoth cave, you might enjoy Dinosaur World, which is basically just on the other side of the highway. Kentucky Down Under is also right by there, if you'd like to get up close and personal with some kangaroos. Really fun.

For food, I enthusiastically recommend the Sahara Steakhouse, which is an old-school place with great service, and decor that looks like it hasn't been updated since the 70s. Like I said, old school, and delicious.
posted by jbickers at 11:19 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Tennessee State Museum is free.

The lower broadway honkeytonks downtown are the Nashville touristy thing to do, have constant live music, and generally no cover charge. Go to Robert's Western World for the (I think) $5 recession special of a PBR, a fried bologna sandwich, and chips.

I've never stayed there but there's a hostel in downtown Nashville that's cheap-ish.
posted by ghharr at 11:36 AM on July 16, 2013

The Williamson County Fair starts that weekend. We've been to the one in Wilson County before, but it doesn't kick off until 8/16. Admission is $6 for adults.
posted by jquinby at 11:37 AM on July 16, 2013

Also, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts gallery is free.
posted by ghharr at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2013

You'll be about 30 minutes from Bowling Green. If you want to stop there (you'll pass through on your way south to Nashville), here are some things you might like:

The Kentucky Museum on the Western Kentucky University campus. It's good kitschy fun. If you are there, you can jump over to downtown and check out Fountain Square Park (warning: there's not a ton there, but there are some antique stores). Cambridge Market is a good place for lunch. Not uber-cheap, but big portions so you could eat late and skip dinner.

The Corvette Museum. If you are into cars or just Americana. If you go there, there is a big antique mall across the street -- I believe it is called Vette City, but that might be the liquor store. At the same exit is a cheap Mexican restaurant that is very good and very filling.

You could go check out the Shaker Village at South Union (further south). There are antiques near there -- I don't know the particulars, but you can MeMail me and I can ask my parents.

Check out the Frozen Niagara tour at Mammoth Cave -- it's the most basic, famous one. They also offer spelunking tours which are very fun. There is hiking around there as well, so don't miss that.

Feel free to MeMail me if you want follow up or more suggestions.
posted by mrfuga0 at 12:19 PM on July 16, 2013

Favorite cave tour at Mammoth Caves: The Wild Cave Tour.

If you have any inkling that you might want to do something like that, do it, it's well worth the $48 price tag.

It may not be what you had in mind but it's. amazing. You will need a change of clothes if you're wanting to leave from there in a somewhat presentable fashion, because you'll be dirrrrtyyy. Unforgetable.

They have one slot left for the 4th, and it's 6 hours of awesome. You'll have to pack a lunch so cheap on that front as well. Book it now, as you can tell it tends to sell out, sometimes months in advance.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:33 PM on July 16, 2013

Nashville native here. Don't miss the Parthenon near Vanderbilt University. And The Station Inn is my fave hole-in-the-wall for superb bluegrass.

Have fun!
posted by michellenoel at 2:39 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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