Thursday, March 14, 2013


5 Fun Things to Do in Nashville, TN

Nashville has always been a blink of a city as we drove through the state of Tennessee on our way to another destination.  So when a good friend of mine offered to tell us 5 Fun Things to Do in Nashville, I jumped on it! Take us to the other Music City, Heidi......

Each fall, my best childhood friend and I ditch our families and run away together to a city neither of us has visited before.  We are not particular as to where we end up, as long as it is someplace new for us to explore, unencumbered with children and hectic weekend schedules.  Our method for choosing a destination is not overly scientific. We see which flights Southwest Airlines has on sale.  This year, that landed us in Nashville, Tennessee.

What we (thought we) knew about Nashville before we went:
  1. It's a country music kind of place. Yee haw!
  2. There are possibly Elvis and/or Dolly Parton attractions nearby. 
My friend, Kara, and I are not crazy for country, but that's okay because Nashville didn't turn out to be the honky-tonk town we were expecting. There are no shortage of actual honky-tonks of course, but Nashville, also known as Music City, is a destination for talented musicians of all genres of music.  From morning till way-past-my-bedtime, we heard an eclectic mix of live music emanating from just about every bar and restaurant in town.  Oh, and I'm guessing you already knew this, but Graceland is in Memphis and Dollywood is in Pigeon Forge. 

So what is in Nashville?  Plenty!  It's a city with a small town feel, easy to navigate between general stores and tourist hot spots.  Kara and I managed to cover a lot of ground in one weekend, from the Music City Walk of Fame Park to the Nashville Farmers' Market.  Here are our Top 5 Picks for Finding Fun in Music City.

1. Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center - The interior of this hotel is jaw dropping and you don't have to be a guest to enjoy it.  Take a hotel shuttle from the Wildhorse Saloon downtown and spend a few hours strolling through Opryland's nine acres of indoor gardens. You can even enjoy a Delta River flatboat tour along fish-filled waterways, past three cascading waterfalls, and an 85-foot fountain, without ever leaving the temperature-controlled atrium.
2. Music City Bites & Sites - Take a two and a half hour guided walking tour of the city and eat as you go!  Your tour guide, Ellen, will make you feel like a good friend who's come to visit as she treats you to the best eats in town.  You'll traverse the Nashville Historic District, learning about iconic and cultural establishments alike, from the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, to the historic operating letterpress print shop, Hatch Show Print. The tour starts with sweets at Pralines by Leon and ends with a soda taste test at the candy store, Rocket Fizz (pictured above).  It's a delicious adventure.

3. Nash Trash Tour - Hop aboard The Big Pink Bus for a very different kind of tour - one where you will learn very little about Nashville, but you will laugh so hard you'll cry.  Tour guide sisters, Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay Jugg, entertain by teasing their guests and occasionally bursting into song on this happy romp around town.  This is an adults-only tour and you can bring alcohol on the bus.  See a bit of the city and have a great time with the Jugg sisters. Tours sell out, so be sure to reserve your spot in advance. 
4. Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant - We discovered this restaurant on our first night in Nashville and went back for at least one meal a day.  Pancakes and brisket and cobbler, oh my!   
5. 365 Things to do in Nashville - Check out three year's worth of daily suggestions of fun things to do in Music City.  If you're planning a trip to Nashville, this online resource is tops.  It was on the 365 Things to do in Nashville Facebook page that I learned there would be a Christmas parade downtown on the night we arrived.  The parade (with fireworks!) was a fantastic way to kick off our stay.

Of all the trips Kara and I have taken over the years, I enjoyed Nashville the most. It's a welcoming city, bustling with music, entertainment, and good food, and it's easy to get around without a car.  We crammed as much fun as we could into two and a half days and easily could have filled several more if we'd had the time.  I'm looking forward to returning one day to spend more time exploring. And to eat at Puckett's again.  Mmm, pancakes.

Heidi Gollub can be found writing about her adventures with five kids in the other Music City, Austin, at Free Fun in Austin.

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