Happy Sunday, all! I hope you’re having a restful and relaxing one. Mine started out a little stressful – we’re having ongoing Internet issues and I was panicked about not being able to finish a school assignment in time (I’m in college part-time getting my Marketing Management certificate) but luckily all was resolved. Now I’m sitting with a cup of tea as the rain patters down outside, reflecting on some fun moments from our trip to Nashville. I promised I’d post a list of recommendations for things to see and do in Music City, so without further ado, here are my top picks!
Gaylord Opryland Resort: With a footprint of over 3.3 million square feet – which includes 2,888 hotel rooms, six ballrooms, 106 conference rooms and a 260,000 square foot exhibit hall – this iconic resort is one of the 30 largest hotels in the world. It’s famous for its sprawling atriums, which feature majestic waterfalls and thousands of tropical plants, and its 1/4 mile long indoor river. Even if you’re not staying here (we didn’t) it’s worth a visit to explore the impressive space and check out their shops and restaurants. We took a boat tour of the river and learned so many interesting facts – for instance, the river contains water samples from over 1,700 bodies of water around the world, including our own Lake Ontario!
Loretta Lynn’s Ranch: Located an hour’s drive west of Nashville in Hurricane Mills, this 3500-acre ranch was home to the legendary country singer Loretta Lynn. The ranch is a popular spot for camping, horseback riding and motorcycle races, but its rustic Western Town – where we spent our time – is a must-see for Loretta fans. It’s home to Loretta’s grand mansion, the Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum, a historic grist mill, and a replica of the Butcher Holler home where Loretta grew up. Check out this post for my full recap of our visit!
Broadway: A visit to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without a night out on Broadway! If you love country music and you love hearing it live, this is the best place in the whole world for it. The lack of cover charges make bar-hopping easy to do here! It’s great because you can listen to so many different singers and bands in the course of an evening – it’s like a huge country music festival that never slows down. The vibe here is so much fun; I’ve been to Nashville twice and each time I’ve had a blast on Broadway. Everyone of all ages is out having the time of their lives! You really can’t go wrong with any bar (and if you don’t happen to like the music, just move onto the next) but my favourites are Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa, Robert’s Western World, Layla’s Honky Tonk, Nudie’s and the infamous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – which they say is a tourist trap… but I’m a tourist, so there! We also had a blast at the Redneck Riviera where an amazing band was playing covers of iconic country anthems, from Reba McEntire’s Fancy to Gretchen Wilson’s Redneck Woman – the whole bar was singing along!
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens: The former home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, Cheekwood Estate is a grand 1930s Georgian mansion, surrounded by 55 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. Visitors can tour the interior of the mansion – which also hosts traveling art exhibits and houses a permanent art collection of over 7,000 pieces – and the botanical gardens. You’ll also love experiencing the various seasonal events Cheekwood has to offer. We were lucky enough to see the Charles Addams exhibit which is on through January 2023 (I love The Addams Family and he’s my favourite cartoonist!) and we were also there during their Cheekwood Harvest event, where the property is decorated with life-sized houses made entirely out of pumpkins. Currently, the property is all aglow for its Holiday Lights event!
Belmont Mansion: Built in 1860, this stunning estate was the home of Adelicia and Joseph Acklen and is the largest house built in Tennessee before the Civil War. We just stopped by the outside – which is impressive enough on its own – but if you’re interested in learning more about the home, you can take a tour and see its restored interior, while learning about its history. On the Belmont Mansion’s website, you can read about slavery at the mansion – a troubling history, but one that’s important to learn about and acknowledge. (Sometimes the topics that make us uncomfortable are the most important ones to understand.)
Country Music Hall Of Fame & Museum: This expansive museum is a definite must-visit for country music fans! Their permanent collection contains more than 2.5 million artifacts from over a century of country music history. I loved seeing the iconic costumes worn by some of my favourite country musicians – from Reba’s red “Fancy” dress to Hank Williams’ boots – and the museum did a great job at providing a deep dive into the roots of country music history. Both Tania and I learned a lot! I’m also a big Martina McBride fan, so I enjoyed seeing the Power Of Her Voice exhibit which will be on through July 2023. If you’re looking for a unique Nashville souvenir, stop by Hatch Show Print afterwards to pick up a poster!
The Ryman Auditorium: This iconic concert hall was the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. They offer a variety of tours if you’re interested in getting a backstage look at the famous venue, or you can see a live show there. We just stopped by to see the outside after our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame – they have signs that educate visitors about the history of the building, and I also snapped a photo with the bronze Loretta Lynn statue. While we’d have loved to do absolutely everything in Nashville, the truth is that all those tours and tickets add up very quickly, so we tried to budget for the things we most wanted to do. But one day I would love to come back and tour the Ryman’s interior!
12 South: Whether you’re in search of upscale shops, delicious bakeries or Instagram-worthy murals, this trendy neighbourhood has you covered. My favourite stops included Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James, ‘grandmillennial’ chic clothier LoveShackFancy, customizable accessory shop Stoney Clover Lane, and White’s Mercantile, a contemporary and curated take on the traditional general store. Keep an eye peeled for Amelia’s Flowers, a local florist that sells flowers through various pop-up stands, as well as their charming blue truck which often makes its rounds through the neighbourhood. The day we visited, Amelia’s had a pop-up stand in front of White’s Mercantile.
Murals: Nashville is home to a vast number of Instagram-worthy murals, which only makes sense. After all, it’s such a popular destination for bachelorette parties and girls’ trips, and what better way to commemorate a girls’ trip than with an epic selfie? You can head to Nashville’s official tourism website for a full guide to the city’s street art, but some favourites we saw include the candy hearts mural at Finnleys in the Gulch (601 8th Ave S), the Love Y’all mural at Pencil & Paper Co. (2028 Lindell Ave), the Hey Y’all mural inside Stoney Clover Lane (2707 12th Ave S) and the I Believe In Nashville mural opposite Draper James (2608 12th Ave S).
Well, there you have it… my favourite places we visited on our Nashville trip! There are a few places we’d have loved to visit that we simply didn’t have the time or opportunity to see: the Grand Ole Opry, the Johnny Cash Museum and Belle Meade are three ‘biggies’ that come to mind. However, I’m a strong believer in never regretting the things you didn’t do on a trip – I just look at them as excuses to go back! And Nashville, you’d better believe I’ll be back for you someday.
I hope everyone has a great rest of their Sunday and a fabulous week ahead!
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