Nashville Tennessee, a place that has many surprises including a replica of the Parthenon where Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, handicraft and warfare is found. Her massive 41 feet adorned in 23.75-karat gold leaf makes her the largest piece of indoor sculpture in the world.
Seeing her impressive figure in the center of this carefully recreated shrine leaves the impression that she is overseeing a beloved city, the city of music. Her imposing figure appears to radiate a message; a call to strength and fortitude, as though she is imploring thousands of talented songwriters, artisans and singers to conquer their artistic fears.
Nashville neophytes seeking fame and fortune may need a little help from Athena but there are many others in town who want to make sure you are going have some fun regardless of your talent or net worth. Actress Connie Britton reminds us, “The thing about Nashville is it’s not just country music…..There’s Rock & Roll, there’s every kind of music. It’s just a music town….there’s fun stuff to get into to.” Nashville is a city filled with delightful discoveries for everyone that craves a slice of the Americana Pie.
Entertainment may be the big draw for the tourism in one of the fastest growing cities of the United States, but there are artisans, culinarians, and top designers that have called Nashville home and they want to share it with the world. Finding the right place to stay, dine, dance and discover is what Nashville delivers with good old southern hospitality.
The Historic Hermitage Hotel has been located in the downtown area since 1910 and was the first million-dollar hotel that still offers unprecedented amenities that speak of an era of fine craftsmanship and elegance. Guest rooms reflect antebellum ambience with period furnishings, luxury bedding and 5 star services.
Fully restored to a luxury boutique property in 2003, the Hermitage also houses the only Forbes five Star, AAA Five Diamond Capitol Grille restaurant which is the longest running restaurant in the state. It closely partners with Double H Farms and Garden to provide superb farm fresh Southern cuisine to their guests. Stop by the renown Oak Bar that whisks you back to the pre-prohibition speak easy days with one of the largest collections of bourbons in Nashville.
The Hotel Indigo was once a downtown bank and now imparts a modern space filled with art infused print motifs, comfy couches, oversized chairs, premium bedding, Aveda products, and soft plush towels. It is conveniently located in Printers Alley where music, museums and the state capital are all within walking distance or a short Uber ride. Adjacent to the hotel lobby, a full-service bar will keep you hydrated while The District Bar and Kitchen serves sumptuous meals and room service along with live music 7 p.m. to 10pm. Nightly.
Any trip to Nashville would not be complete without a visit to Princes Hot Chicken Shack. It is a must for those who want the 411 on the best of hot crispy chicken that has intrigued imitators for generations. It is well worth the ride over to the original shop in the northeast side of town but go early because there is always a line.
For those wanting a more elegant dining experience while indulging in the beloved dish, try the hot chicken at the Capitol Grille and Hattie B’s to get a taste of this iconic dish.
When in German town, Steadfast Coffee Roastery is the perfect place to put down the lap top while sipping a flash chilled coffee or an artisanal tea. The Greens Salad with pungent local goat cheese and the avocado Tartine with fried egg will have you sitting for a spell in pure enjoyment.
Who doesn’t like a good cupcake? The Cupcake Collection’s fresh cupcakes are not only irresistible to the taste buds, but your tear ducts may get a work out once you find out the inspirational story of founder and CEO, Mignon Francois. Guided by the “Pay it forward” idea while following her baking prowess, Francois launched her cupcake career with sweet and sweat equity. “I started in this house that at that time had no electricity and no running water on a regular basis while watching my neighbors living affluently right across from me,” said Mignon, “I knew I wanted what they had and this was the way for me.”
Generating 10 million dollars in a decade of sales, the sweet potato, sweet lemonade and other assorted cupcakes continue to be the reason why this once struggling family is now capitalizing on the philosophy of giving sweet equity a chance to those who desire to make a difference.
Nashville Farmers Market has something for every culinary taste bud, with a bevy of ethnic restaurants, crafters and food artisans that take up the space of more than 12 acres in Downtown Nashville. Outside farm sheds provide the format for more than 150 farmers and fresh food purveyors from all over the South giving everyone the opportunity to eat fresh 362 days of the year.
Fine Dining at the sleek and modern the 404 Kitchen is where Chef Matt Bolus takes the fresh local produce and crafts dishes such as the delectable scallop toast with avocado, crispy banana and mizuna. Henrietta Red located in Germantown is the newest spot to grab a shareable plate or a custom cocktail. This lovely venue is focused on fresh seafood, crudos and oysters with a local vegetable driven menu for those seeking a healthy happy hour or dinner.
For a casual bite to eat stop into a neighborhood grocery stop that exudes a New Orleans vibe, Southernaire Market. Fresh meats can be found at the butcher counter and made to order deli sandwiches are composed of regionally sourced ingredients. Browse their artisanal specialty food items for friends and foodies.
For a nice local sip, stop in to Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery which was established in 1867. The spirits are still in good hands with great-great-great grandson, Charles Nelson producing whiskey using the original recipes. Corsair Artisan Distillery has been creating small batch whiskey since 2010. With over 41 medals and counting this distillery should not be passed up.
For Sake aficionados, stop in to Proper Sake Co. and taste one of Nashville’s first sake breweries. Craft beers are big anywhere and Nashville is no exception. Also, Hops + Crafts and Jackalope Brewing Company excel with numerous choices for beer enthusiasts.
Every museum has a gift shop but stop by the Nashville’s Visitor Information Center and along with informative CVC assistants, maps and brochures, unique gifts and souvenirs abound. A Tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame also yields a generous gift shop and Third Man Records also has interesting memorabilia for sale for those seeking a music memento.
In 2011 Peter Nappi fine Italian footwear launched a forgotten family shoemaking legacy in Nashville Tennessee. Located in Germantown, the Nappi family has elevated the tradition of crafting fine Italian leather goods made with sophistication and timeless craftsmanship. Along with Nappi’s collection of fine Italian leather goods, local Claire West has joined Nappi to craft bespoke hats that are available at the Nashville store.
The Belle Mead Plantation is known as the “Queen of the Tennessee Plantations”. Once a premier thoroughbred racing and breeding farm this former Greek revival mansion and grounds now houses a museum that pays homage to a bygone era.
The manicured grounds and interesting history are worth the many tours offered on the property but the elaborate visitor gift shop, wine tasting room, ice cream parlor and fudge shop on property is where you will find a unique gift commemorating your visit to this center of horseracing history.
Music City, those words say it all. From the Ryman Auditorium with its eclectic history and exceptional acoustics to the 2017 opening of the Patsy Cline museum and the adjacent Johnny Cash museum there is music museum mania in this city that celebrates the careers of country and rock and roll mega stars.
A visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must where the newest exhibit Outlaws and Armadillos; Countries roaring 70’s has just opened. “It is about this free spirited, free flowing time of creativity in country music that focus’s in on the scenes in Austin Texas and here in Nashville,” said Peter Cooper co- curator of the exhibit. With interactive exhibits, vintage cars, and fabulous country western wear through the ages, this is THE place; the Mecca of country music memorabilia and education.
Also located at CMHF is the Hatch Show Print, where the craft of letterpress printing is still thriving. Although the heyday of the Hatch Show Prints ran from the 1920’s through the 50’s, a renewed interest in letterpress prints is now motivating 100,000 annual visitors in learning about printmaking process that has helped promote the many singers and venues of Music City.
A good song begins with a songwriter and the place to catch the people that write the music is at the Bluebird Café. Careers have been crafted here at this small venue where a microphone and a stool is all the equipment utilized in augmenting the music that inspires musicians through their claim and climb to fame. Of course, some artists may give themselves an initial boost when they share that same music online, using sites like scsuperfans to help, but the emotion is still very much the same.
No visit would be complete without a stop at Historic RCA Studio B where Elvis recorded his hits and every other country star has crooned their way to the top of charts including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Speaking about all-star talent, catch a Saturday night show at the historic Grand Ole Opry. Enjoy county music legends and a catch a glimpse of a rising star.
The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is the place to see the exhibit 50 years of the Rolling Stones. An interactive alcove provides mics, drum sets and guitars for those wanting to strike up the band, and for the vocalist sing along with your favorite star in the virtual song booth. If you have never been to Music City, a visit is a must.
If you have been in the past its time to return. Nashville is growing exponentially and has plenty of new things to explore and new songs to be sung.