Unpopular opinion or not, country music sucks. But I can assure you, Nashville, Tennessee does not disappoint.
If you are overworked, stressed, bored, or just straight up need to dance it out – Nashville is the place for you.
It started out as just a concept between me and my best friend. “What if we took a vacation to Italy.” No, too expensive. “Well, we could just turn it into a long weekend thing.” Still too far away. “What if we took a road trip somewhere?” And that’s where the idea of Nashville came.
Only being about a 7-hour drive from the Chicagoland area, this was the perfect not-too-far-but-just-far-enough-from-home trip to shake off those winter blues without having to chisel off too many hours from work.
We left after work and supper at about 7pm and started driving. If you’re going to start your journey as late as I did after a day as long as mine, you need to find yourself the best road trip warriors and create the best playlist to keep you awake. Lucky for me, I was with my ball-of-fire best friend from middle school, Daniela. We talked about anything and everything the first third of the drive, got tired and sat in comfortable silence the second third, and when we finally started feeling incredibly tired and delirious (Ok – 11PM might not be late for some of you folks, but I am old and was STRUGGLING) started jamming out to that playlist we were holding onto for this exact moment.
FINALLY we pulled up to the cutest Airbnb on the outskirts of Nashville. I need this house. Our hosts were so kind to leave out snacks for us, coffee, and something we were extremely grateful for the following day, a first aid kit. We were out like lightbulbs the minute we hit the sack.
We took our time getting up and ready because we knew we would be walking all day and up all night. After brewing a pot of coffee and sipping it on the front porch, we decided to head towards the Farmer’s Market. One of the best things I found about Nashville is how cheap Ubers are. I’m talking literally $5 for a full car to go 5 miles. This made getting around so much easier, so when the sun is blazing as it usually is in Nashville take an Uber.
We must have missed the market because everyone was packing up or already gone by the time we arrived. However, we were starving by this time and thankfully there is the Market House Restaurants with lots of options with a country feel! There was everything from a wine bar to Chicago style food (ha!) and fresh pressed juice to classic BBQ. Of course we opted for the BBQ.
I got a brisket and fried okra and it was amazing. The service was even better. The man at the register could tell we weren’t from around there thanks to our “accents” and took a minute to step aside and write us a list of where to visit while in town. Unfortunately, I lost this list but I still was shocked at how friendly the people were (and how good the fried okra was)!
We climbed the hill to reach the capital and back down around the War Memorial until we finally met up with our friends. At this point, the sun was beating down and we were ready for a drink. Where else to head than Music Row?
We stopped at an open air bar, ordered a bucket of beers, and enjoyed the warm air and live music. The band was a man on the guitar, a mother and her 16-year-old daughter. I’m telling you, this girl could sing.
We wanted to explore more of what Nashville had to offer, so we headed towards the Johnny Cash museum, a personal favorite of mine. Afterwards, it was time for an ice cream we saw everyone walking around with. Right across the road was the Goo Goo store.
Goo Goos are a gift from God. Our Airbnb hosts left a couple in our snack basket to try and I won’t lie to you when I say I put all of them in my purse after I tried a bite. Peanut-y, chocolate-y, peanut butter-y or carmel-y rounds of absolute heaven. I still dream about these things. Not only did they have the old school peanut clusters, but there was also fudge and ice cream.
It was some of the best ice cream I have ever had. Or maybe I was just hungry and for sweets and hot from walking around. Either way, I enjoyed the biggest scoop of chocolate ice cream in a sprinkle waffle cone while Daniela got a few licks in and the rest fell onto the ground! RIP ice cream.
And then the night begins..
Florida Georgia Line House:
One of our favorite spots in all of Nashville. Who am I kidding, FGL House was our favorite place in all of Nashville. The drinks were reasonably priced, there was a large, open rooftop overlooking the city and a consistent flow of great music = both pop and country, which was nice to not only listen to the same country songs everyone requests. When the night was still young and nobody had their dancing shoes on just yet, I took the opportunity to mingle and talk to people I probably will never see again. People came from all over and were there to have a good time. From Ohio to Lousisiana and everywhere in between, everyone was friends for the weekend.
As the bands were switching and the sun was going down, we noticed a pretty girl with knee-high sparkly boots. Her name was Bailey and we loved Bailey. Bailey had the pipes that instantly sucked you in and made you her biggest fan. My group of friends and I had no problem starting the dance floor and Bailey and her band loved it. She danced with us, sang with us, and became our new best friend for the night. Soon everyone was on the dance floor.
Perfect weather, great music, and new friends made the night one I won’t forget.
Lack of sleep and a few too many vodka sodas led us to Waffle House the next morning. A huge waffle with a massive dollop of butter, a big bowl of grits, two eggs and a few sausages was just what I needed – and I just about finished it all!
The first aid kid our hosts left out for us definitely came in handy because Daniela’s food literally was shredded. Her torn open blisters were so big it reminded me of those thick cuts of parmesan cheese.. Ok never eating Parmesan again. Crater-like wounds weren’t going to stop the party. We wrapped those suckers up and strapped on her sandals. We headed back downtown for day two.
After failing to see any of the landmarks Nashville is known for, like the Country Music Hall of Fame, the various street art, or a sporting even, we did see a lot of Music Row that day. Taking another $6 Uber for the four of us, we headed back to the famous street of music and beer. Completely filled to the brim the day before, we were unable to go upstairs to Honkey Tonk Central. But today there was slightly less of a crowd and we managed to get a table on the 2nd floor.
Of course, we had to order a bucket of beers and just kicked back and enjoyed the music. The band did their best to play both country and pop covers but unfortunately didn’t know many of the songs people were requesting, including my request, a Josh Turner song his voice would have been perfect for. After the they finished their set, the guitarist picked me out of the crowd and made his way toward me. After trying to butter me up a bit, he invited me to his next gig that night at a swanky bar down the street. (I did go but this time it was not fun and the crowd was not the type to dance – what fun is that??) Bored of waiting for the next set to come up and ready for a change of scenery, we headed back to ol’ reliable.
This time we decided to grab some food before the party began. Sharing a tower of BBQ pork nachos, my body was screaming V E G E T A B L E S, so I ordered a salad. This salad was to die for but unfortunately I was already filled up with pulled pork and cheesy tortilla chips. Instead of meandering around downtown., we headed upstairs to continue what we had started the day prior.
After square dancing with a cowboy, being asked if I 3lieved in the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, and eating the best pizza of my life, the night came to an end.
The end of a perfect weekend:
I was incredibly sad to go home. I was not ready to make the 7-hour trek back to Chicagoland. After a stop for Cracker Barrel, that was that and our weekend was over.
Whether you go to soak up all the culture and history of the capital of country music or your there to just let loose, Nashville is a place where everyone can have fun. I can’t wait to go back and haven’t stopped talking about the trip since I got home. Yummy food, great music, and even better people made for the perfect weekend.
See ya soon, Nashville.