It takes a while to really connect with some places. While you may have a general good feeling towards a city, it can often take a few days, or even a few separate visits, to really connect with a place. Nashville was not one of those places for me. I fell in love with this rambunctious musical city immediately, and I will forever have fond memories of the time I spent there. If you like live music, a great atmosphere and proper deep south cooking, then this is the city for you.
Before I visited Nashville I had no more than a passing interest in country music. Of course, as a T-Swizzle fan I knew and loved her early country music, though that was as far as my knowledge went. But in the course of a weekend, that all changed. I now love new country tracks and a good country playlist on spotify or 8tracks is worth its weight in gold. To me, country is feel-good, optimistic, and tells a story (often a ridiculous one) and that’s exactly what I want in my music. I’ve got no room for ballads.
So, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I recommend visiting numerous music bars on Broadway. We were particular fans of Honky Tonk Central (yes, really) because it has three floors, each with a different live performer, so if you weren’t a massive fan of the crooner on the second floor, chances were that there would be a boot-stamping good time on the third floor instead. I actually felt like I was in heaven when we had a window table with a balcony overlooking Broadway, a southern style BBQ sandwich in front of me, and a woman in amazing cowboy boots smashing some classic covers on the small stage. Can I go back now, please?
The Country Music Hall of Fame is the number on thing to do in all the guide books, and I have to say that it is worth the top spot. Even though I visited as someone who knew very little about country music heritage, I still really enjoyed it. Unlike most museums, this one plays music everywhere and had a buzzing atmosphere. So even if I had no idea who the exhibit was talking about, I could hear their music being played and suddenly it was a lot more interesting.
If you want a break from the music, take a walk up to the beautiful Tennessee State Capitol building. It’s quite a steep trek up to the top, especially in the summer heat, but the view is quite beautiful. It felt oddly peaceful up there after a day of amplifiers, cheering and singing along. Lots of train tracks loop around this area, and several of them decided to blast their terrifyingly loud horns while we were up there so we heard it echo around the whole city.
There’s only one type of food to get in Nashville; barbecue. After all, it is the deep south. Jacks Bar-B-Que is the most popular, with lines regularly stretching down the street. I loved the three flying pigs that made the sign into a landmark on Broadway. My only regret from our trip to Nashville was that we didn’t eat here. We joined the line and got frustrated when it didn’t move for what seemed like ages, so went elsewhere. So please don’t make the same mistake as me and go enjoy their ribs, brisket and exquisite authentic southern flavours.
Check in advance. Take a look at which famous country stars are going to be performing in the city during your visit. We left it too late so didn’t get the chance to see anyone at the famous Grand Ole Opry.
Use the buses. They were surprisingly easy to understand, and perfect if your hotel isn’t right in the centre of town. We used them every morning and evening, as well as getting it to the Megabus stop on our last morning.
Follow the music. Don’t be afraid to go into a bar when you hear some music you like drifting out through the open doors. Most places don’t mind if you only order a drink, and the food at most bars is also pretty good if you’re hungry.
Get out early. Nashville wakes up early, though most of the tourists don’t. If you’re planning a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, get there first thing as it really fills up after lunchtime.
Do you like the sound of Nashville, or is country not your thing?