What should I bolt on to my Nashville trip?
November 18, 2017 4:55 AM   Subscribe

I will be going to Nashville in April from London - what else should I add to my itinerary?

I am due to be going to Nashville in April - I have family there. Unfortunately I cannot drive, and because of reasons, my family won't be able to drive me around much either. They live in Franklin, I hear public transport in the city isn't great - while I can have a few day-trips to the city and back via Uber, it can get quite expensive quite quickly.

I'm more than happy to have some family downtime but was also thinking it would be nice to visit another city / location for a few days, since I might as well make the most of flying out all the way there. Last time around I visit a friend in Chicago on the way and had a great time. Any suggestions for a solo traveller in the area? I guess I am a little flexible in terms of distance. Things I would be open to

- Solo hikes / trails for a few days
- City trips (I was briefly thinking Louisville, tho not sure how much there is to see.. Memphis?)
- Retreats / small festivals

For any city suggestions, good public transport would be important. Generally interested in local gigs, curiosities, galleries, museums, long walks around cities, architectural tours. Friendly locals a plus. Not hugely experienced travelling solo either!

Hopefully this wasn't too vague - thanks!
posted by lethologues to Travel & Transportation around Tennessee (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Nashville to New Orleans would be a cheap, easy flight!
posted by ersatzkat at 5:50 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, requiring good public transportation takes out about every city in the region. A flight to New Orleans is probably your best bet.
posted by greta simone at 6:02 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

In Nashville, there's a recreation of the Parthenon with a local history and art museum that's worth swinging by if you're in the city and haven't seen it.

The gardens at Opryland are several acres of climate controlled greenhouses and free to the public. They're quite pretty to wander at night.

If you've not done Washington DC, it's a reasonably short flight and has good public transit if you're outside of rush hour and has tons of museums, history, and architecture.

You might also want to look at places you can get by train. Be aware that passenger trains in the US are far less timely than the UK
posted by Candleman at 6:16 AM on November 18, 2017

(Nashville isn't on Amtrak. I don't think Amtrak stops anywhere in Tennessee.)

Thirding New Orleans. Some of the best eating in the US, and the interesting part is pretty compact I think.
posted by Smearcase at 7:16 AM on November 18, 2017

I really enjoy visiting Louisville when we're over from London, but can't imagine it's easy to do on public transportation. Just putting in a vote for it since you seem undecided-- great food, some interesting architecture, very friendly people, etc.
posted by lettezilla at 7:53 AM on November 18, 2017

Fly up to one of the big northeastern cities - Boston, New York, Philadelphia, or Washington. All have interesting things to do, public transportation, and big airports so you can easily get back to London.

(Or New Orleans, but this might make your travel more of a headache.)

Not Atlanta, which is an obvious candidate if you just look at a map. I live there. It's a nice place to live but I don't think it would be interesting for the solo visitor and public transit doesn't go where you want it to.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:00 AM on November 18, 2017

Hiya! I live in Nashville, and public transit is indeed terrible, and it'll probably be a nightmare, if not impossible, to get from most parts of Franklin to Nashville via public transit.

I have a car and am game to show you around though (restaurants, hiking, Opryland, etc), or possibly a day-trip nearby. I haven't been to Louisville, but have made Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville as day trips. Atlanta is a stretch by car, but possible. Memail me if you want!
posted by Is It Over Yet? at 10:07 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Take a bus to Chattanooga, lots to see there, it's just a couple of hours from Nashville by car, probably longer by bus. Very walkable downtown. Great aquarium.
posted by mareli at 10:11 AM on November 18, 2017

Take the Greyhound to Asheville NC and drink some good beer. It also has a lot of Art Deco buildings in the downtown core, which is quite walkable. Also lots of scenic beauty. Take the LaZoom tour for irreverent local knowledge.
posted by MovableBookLady at 11:00 AM on November 18, 2017

If you haven't been to New Orleans, come here! We have great local music, food, OK public transport for the South (the streetcar will get you to most touristy areas, buses are a real option for getting elsewhere, and we're getting a series of public bike stations if you're up for it and the city is flat as a pancake so biking is easy if you watch for potholes). There are also multiple good neighborhoods for wandering and seeing the sights and meeting the locals.
posted by MadamM at 11:32 AM on November 18, 2017

Yes, New Orleans is a much bigger deal, but if you come to Chattanooga and it's not the final week of April (as I'll be away), MeMail me and I can tour you around a bit. (Our downtown has an electric shuttle, rentable bikes, bus availability, so don't feel obligated if you'd prefer to be totally solo.) We have a fun and walkable downtown, plus lots of outdoorsy stuff that's very close. And yes, Asheville is lovely, but it's quite a bus schlep from Nashville. You could do Nashville to Chattanooga to Asheville and break up the riding. If you haven't done DC and are willing to fly, that's a whole other realm of fabulous tourism overload.

One FYI option from Franklin into Nashville via the Franklin Express is only $4.25 if you're willing to head into Nashville early in the morning, and if your family can just drop you off in other nearby places on their way to work, you'll have more variety of options.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:54 PM on November 18, 2017

Nashville, the part you'd want to see, isn't that big. But Franklin is not Nashville.

The Frist museum is pretty great, depending on what they have showing, but the building itself is worth seeing if you're into that.

There's more good food, coffee, shops, etc. in Nashville than you'd expect for a city it's size because of all the money. It's a small Southern city with a lot of rich people.
posted by bongo_x at 2:40 PM on November 18, 2017

Amtrak runs north-south through Memphis, which doesn’t help you in Nashville. It would be a 3-hour drive each way to get here from there. I’d lean towards DC or New Orleans.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2017

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