“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life” – Michael Palin
Did you ever think about taking a trip to Nashville?
Did you ever wonder if it would be worth your time?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth the drive, or the airplane ride, or the bus ride, or the horseback ride, or whatever your mode of transportation happens to be.
The Most Amazing Hotel in Nashville
Last month my husband and I took our second trip to Nashville and stayed at an Airbnb, celebrating our anniversary a little early. But our first trip was a few years ago for our 25th and that time we stayed at the same hotel that we visited on our wedding night – the Opryland Hotel. It’s been called the Gaylord Opryland Resort for quite a few years now. But the grandeur from many years ago is even greater these days. Many of the hotel rooms have balconies overlooking one of several vast atriums containing tropical vegetation, waterfalls, lazy rivers, restaurants, and more.
Since it was our anniversary, we opted for one of the balcony rooms and loved keeping the door open. It was soothing to hear the sound of the waterfalls in the atrium and we enjoyed gazing out over the cheery Christmas decorations and lights.
The location was also very convenient – right behind the hotel is the Grand Ole Opry House, and behind that is the Opry Mills Mall. I spent a little too much money in the mall. On myself. But that’s another story.
Nashville – the Country Music Capital
We all know that Nashville is the county music capital of the world, right? There are a lot of great music options all around, in the city and in the countryside. A few places you can check out while you are in the area include:
The Bluebird Cafe – This is an unlikely little place in the middle of a shopping center that you would never notice when driving down the street. You would just pass right on by. But if you are in the know, you will look for it. You will make reservations ahead of time, or stand outside in a line, hoping for an empty seat to become available. This place is famous. It’s been featured on the show, Nashville, quite a bit. It showcases song writers “in the round,” and up-and-coming artists that are hoping for their big break. Sometimes music celebrities pop in for a surprise treat. We visited there on our first trip to Nashville and it was a fun and unique experience. You can tell from the picture below that we didn’t have the best seat – we were looking at the backs of their heads – but you sit where they put you and since we only had a party of two, that’s where we ended up. Despite our seats, we had an enjoyable night.
The Grand Ole Opry – Nashville is pretty much synonymous with this place. The Grand Ole Opry has been going strong in one form or another since 1925. There are two locations you can visit – the older one, now known as the Ryman, or Opry at the Ryman, and the newer bigger stage, known as the Grand Ole Opry House. I have had the opportunity to visit both locations.
During the Christmas season, all Opry shows are held at the Ryman, due to other shows being held at the Grand Ole Opry House. The first time we visited Nashville, the Rockettes were performing their Christmas show on the big stage, thus our visit to the smaller one. There is something special about that older, smaller stage. When you visit, you can feel the nostalgia and sense of history there.
There are several acts that perform through the course of the night and the headliner the night we visited was Rascal Flatts. They put on an outstanding show. We just loved it! All the other acts were great, too. I think one group was called Striking Matches, if I remember correctly and I am really surprised they haven’t hit the big time yet!
The bigger stage of the Grand Ole Opry is located behind the Gaylord Opryland Resort and the seating is set up the same as the original location. The smaller location has long benches, and so does the larger venue, only they are more plush. The drawback to this type of seating in both locations is the closeness you have with your neighbors. There are no boundaries between individual seats, so if you end up next to a large person or someone who likes to spread out you may have personal space issues!
Our most recent trip to Nashville included a visit to the Grand Ole Opry House, the bigger location, and made for a nice evening out. There were several entertaining acts during the evening, Lonestar being one of the better known.
Wildhorse Saloon – We visited this joint the last time we were in town. It had been on my list on our first Nashville trip, but the night we had free was the night they were closed that week. I was disappointed! I don’t really know how to line dance but I was looking forward to learning some steps. So this time around, we made sure to make it a priority.
Wildhorse Saloon is located in the downtown area of Nashville, so parking can be challenging. Of course, we look hard for free parking, so that makes it a little more challenging. There are free spots on the street and there are paid parking garages, the latter being a little easier to find but a little harder on the wallet. It’s easier if you are going with a friend, because one of you can hop out and grab a table and the other one find a spot. And that’s what we did.
When you visit, you need to decide if you are going to eat a meal here or not. There’s so much great food in Nashville, we decided to reward our palate elsewhere and just come here to dance and observe dancing. If you eat here, you get a better table. But there are some available next to the bar and some upstairs where no food is required. We did order some soft drinks and appetizers to make the waitress happy and tipped her well for taking up her space.
Different local (I’m assuming local) groups perform on different nights and the night we were there we heard a band called Cumberland Gap. They provided nice entertainment, but what I was here for was the line dancing. I convinced my hubby to join me out on the floor. We were both wearing new boots we had just purchased at a discount a few doors down and were looking forward to trying them out. Well, after around 100 ladies and one other man joined in my husband decided it wasn’t for him and left me there. Alone. From that time on he just watched me from upstairs. Oh well. I had fun. It actually was a blast. Even though I messed up quite a bit, there were others messing up too, and no one was really watching me except my man.
There are quite a few other venues for catching some great country music in and around the Nashville area. One musical venue that was on my list, but that we didn’t make it to, is Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in the tiny hamlet of Leiper’s Fork. We did get to visit Leiper’s Fork a time or two during our stay, but not during times that music is featured at Puckett’s Grocery. Leiper’s Fork is a quaint and charming little place with a couple of restaurants and very interesting little shops that are fun to browse. Since our Airbnb was only a couple miles from the town, we had an easy time stopping by on our way to other places.
A Lovely Little Airbnb
In the past, I haven’t really shared information on the individual, non-hotel places we have stayed since there is only one room available per night. But I had quite a few friends who wanted the info on the Airbnb that we enjoyed in Leiper’s Fork, so I decided to go ahead and tell about it here.
I highly recommended this location. It is a studio space over the garage of a private home and is in such a lovely setting. If you are wanting to be in the heart of the action of Nashville, this place is not for you. However, if you are looking for a peaceful, out-of-the-way place, this is a contender! It is located a couple miles from the sweet little town of Leiper’s Fork, it is about 20 minutes from the Loveless Cafe, and farther than that from downtown Nashville. We really enjoyed driving through the countryside and past many horse farms on our way to our Nashville and other destinations. It is beautiful country!
If you are interested in booking some time there, it is listed on Airbnb as The Loft at Quest Ridge, located in Franklin, Tennessee. Just click on the link in the last sentence and it should take you to the listing. I don’t make any money from the link, just wanted to make it easy for you! The host, Robert, is listed as a “Superhost” and the place rents for around $125 a night. We had plenty of privacy and our host even left a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls for us on our arrival! Yum!
Nashville has so much to offer! The downtown area has many restaurants and music venues (mostly inside bars) to visit. There are also a lot of country music related museums downtown and even one outside of Nashville to see. There are a bunch of places to buy boots! And restaurants – oh my goodness! So many mouth-watering restaurants. You could visit Nashville just to try the restaurants.
I’ll be writing one or two more posts about Nashville – one covering amazing food – mostly comfort food, and maybe one more that discusses unique things to do in the area. I hope you’ll join me on the journey!
Until next time – happy traveling!