Nashville here we come...
May 6, 2007 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Nashville Filter: Going to Nashville for a week (starting Tuesday 29th May). What are the BEST things we can do?

We are already lined up for a trip to the Grand Ole Opry on the 1st June. What else would be part of the best things two 40+ British people (Christians, as in followers of Jesus, not interested in anything to do with Religion) could do with a week in Nashville?
posted by pettins to Travel & Transportation around Nashville, TN (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Concrete Parthenon is the very best kept secret of Nashville.

2nd and Broadway is fun, if a touch touristy. Broadway's got more of the old-fashioned music bars.

I also liked The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home.

There's the Country Music Hall of Fame, but it's frankly not all that impressive.

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel has an indoor forest that's worth checking out, if you're in the area.
posted by Nahum Tate at 12:09 PM on May 6, 2007

opryland hotel is a nice place to spend an afternoon--it's practically an indoor theme park. there's a mall there too.

downtown's 2nd avenue and printer's alley are fun if you're into the club scene. up broadway (all within walking distance of each other) are all the old country dives with live music.

the frist center is a nice art museum. it's on broadway at 10th.

there's a farmer's market next to the bicentennial mall downtown that might be a good place to stock up on provisions.

if there's a show at the ryman, it's worth seeing. (it was the original home of the grand ole opry.) i haven't been, but the country music hall of fame and music row are supposed to be entertaining, if touristy.

centennial park is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon, with a full-scale replica of the parthenon. vanderbilt university is across the street, and there are lots of good little restaurants in the area (also around 21st avenue).

if you're into fine old homes/gardens, try cheekwood and belle meade plantation. for history, go to traveler's rest, which was andrew jackson's old home.

if you have a car and are into civil war history, you can drive to the shiloh and stones river battlefields, where you can take tours.

if you are lighthearted, you might enjoy a nash-trash tour, which is a humorous tour of the city.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:13 PM on May 6, 2007

d'oh--the hermitage is andrew jackson's home. traveler's rest is a different historic home. both lovely.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:14 PM on May 6, 2007

There's always hot chicken! Definitely take in the country bars down Broadway and 2nd, even if you don't like country and you don't drink. I particularly like Legends on Broadway and Lonnie's in Printer's Alley (a couple of blocks off 2nd Avenue, everybody will know where it is). On Music Row is Bobby'd Idle Hour: a couple of trailers housing a bar that sells Budweiser and hot dogs. Most nights you'll find a circle of old guys sitting around passing around a guitar and singing old country songs. In a similar (but more formal) vein is Bluebird Cafe, which packs a bunch of people into a small restaurant for dinner and an intimate acoustic performance by some locals and sometimes some big names. If you can make it for an "In the Round" performance, it's usually four people taking turns singing songs.

(Note, that I actually don't like country music, but I definitely appreciate all these activities in Nashville. Something about it feels right there. When in Rome...)

If you like Mexican food, La Hacienda on Nolensville Road is absolutely incredible. It's not much to look at, but it's cheap and the best Mexican I've ever had. When I lived in Nashville we ate there at least three times a week. Another favorite of ours is Calypso Cafe. There's a couple of locations and our favorite is off Broadway near Centennial Park. It's Carribean food, and their specialties are rotisserie chicken and black beans. Definitely, definitely get the black beans in some shape for form, and if you like iced tea, make sure you get their fruit tea: a blend of fruit juices, mostly peach, and fresh brewed iced tea. I think fruit tea is very much a Nashville thing, and Calypso's is my favorite in town.

Hmm, let's see... I'll give it some more thought and come back and post more later... Right now all I can think about is food and drink cause I miss it so much.
posted by AaRdVarK at 12:21 PM on May 6, 2007

Cheekwood Gallery and Gardens is small but lovely. The Tennessee State Museum will provide a thorough overview of the state in an entertaining and enjoyble manner. Worth the time-defnitely. Then when evening bekcons, have a hot time on the patio at Rumba
posted by peace_love_hope at 2:35 PM on May 6, 2007

You could always search.

Aside from that, pick up a copy of The Scene.
posted by klangklangston at 3:11 PM on May 6, 2007

Seconding Cheekwood - I always brought friends there when they visited me in Nashville (where I lived up til last year). They have the original family mansion set up with the first floor as a museum and the second floor as an art gallery with travelling exhibits (often extremely good), and the grounds are done as a series of different gardens - Japanese garden, color garden, herb garden, etc. (There's also a sculpture trail which is a nice walk through their forested area, but the sculpture is mostly kind of meh, except for two or three pieces like the glass bridge and the tree that is shaped like a person.)
posted by joannemerriam at 7:01 PM on May 6, 2007

If you go to Cheekwood you may want to stop at Loveless Cafe and have a real Tennessee / Southern meal. Just a few miles southwest of Cheekwood on highway 100. Best barbecue is Whitt's (several locations).

For music, try the Bluebird Cafe for original country & acoustic. The Station Inn is great for Bluegrass.

More museums: Frist Museum, downtown. The state capitol is worth a visit, too.
posted by jams at 7:16 PM on May 6, 2007

opryland is horrifying. go only if your tour group has an interest in highly-coiffed old ladies in christmas sweaters (i counted 132 in under two hours, when i was there--to be honest, i don't remember seeing anything else).

and i disagree entirely with the first characterization of the country music hall of fame. it's a wonderfully designed and laid-out museum with tons of great things to see and hear.

the best thing to do, in my opinion, is to sit in on the all-day, no-cover live music along the strip, but that's not especially practical for a group of 40+.
posted by wreckingball at 9:30 PM on May 6, 2007

I'll second the Bluebird Cafe, and the Ryman. If you think you would like the artist just get a ticket and go both of these are wonderful Nashville treasures.
posted by nola at 9:40 PM on May 6, 2007

Just a follow up, I went to a show at "City Hall" the other night in Nashville. The Decemberists (not really a fan, my girlfriend and her friends you known. Not that they're bad or anything) half way through the show Gillian Welch and David Raleigh come out and play with them for a few songs. This happens all the time in Nashville, it's the kind of city were you could have gone to see Willie Nelson , and half way through the show Jonhhy Cash shows up, and nonchalantly sits in for a few songs with Nelson. It's spontaneous and fun , hey they don't call it music city for nothing. Hope you have a good time.
posted by nola at 9:50 PM on May 6, 2007

If the Country Music Hall of Fame is well-laid and wonderfully designed now, it must have changed since I was there in 2002. It has an assload of incredibly interesting artifacts (I got to hold the first Les Paul ever, the fence post with the boxy bits bolted on), and a cool selection of Nudie suits, but the layout was confused, without clear flows and too much emphasis on recent MOR folks like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
Not saying that it's not worth seeing, but I was kinda disappointed. But hell, I thought that the Opry mall was kinda bullshit too when I got stuck there.
If you get the chance though, everyone should take Limo Larry around once... He's cheaper than cabs if you have 10 or more folks at once (well, even with 5 he can often be cheaper— he charges by the minute strictly), and he's got so many great stories that it's hard to believe he's not dead.
posted by klangklangston at 10:32 PM on May 6, 2007

I was at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum last year, and it seemed well laid-out to me - it was chronological. It was easy to skip the modern stuff, which we did. If you're interested in music it's worth it, though I wouldn't rank it above Cheekwood, the Frist or Centennial Park.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:22 AM on May 7, 2007

Oh how could I have forgotten the zoo!

Nothing particularly Nashvillian about it, but the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is a very good zoo - they have elephants, giraffes, clouded leopards, red pandas, lions, etc., and some kind of primate (I foget) which climb trees and hoot at each other great distances. The meerkats are perhaps the most adorable thing they have since they got rid of the otter exhibit (unless they've brought that back by now).

If you go, though, make sure everybody is wearing a hat that shades their face and is dressed for the heat and has something cold to drink, because most of the interesting stuff is (of course) outdoors and mostly unshaded, and in May/June it is already hot enough in Tennessee to make you feel like you wandered into a blast furnace. If it's cloudy, remember that cloudy in Tennessee can still give you a terrible sunburn.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:26 AM on May 7, 2007

Las Paletas. Incredibly tasty Mexican popsicles.
posted by mingshan at 2:04 PM on May 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all - Great suggestions. Spot on!

Thanks again, and if you think of anything else please add in the next couple of weeks.
posted by pettins at 10:35 AM on May 13, 2007

Mercy Lounge
posted by de novo dahl at 10:01 AM on January 20, 2008

Pancake Pantry
posted by de novo dahl at 10:01 AM on January 20, 2008

Bobby's Dairy Dip.
posted by de novo dahl at 10:02 AM on January 20, 2008

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