A weekend in Nashville, Tennessee

Although Brian had been to Nashville before on business, our trip to Nashville this past March was my first. We traveled there with my in-laws to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday. She requested live music and a tour of the city so we made those two items our top priorities.

The Grand Ole Opry Stage during the show
The Grand Ole Opry Stage during the show

What to Do

*Please note that all prices listed below are subject to change. Be sure to check the website of each attraction before planning your trip to confirm hours and pricing.

  1. On our first morning we started with a hop-on-hop-off Trolley Tour of Nashville to get an overview of the city. The tour takes you through downtown Nashville and to several major attractions. We hopped on and off twice to visit various attractions and found that the trolleys run fairly regularly. In addition to getting and introduction to the city, I think that one of the coolest parts was driving down the portion of Broadway that makes up the Honky Tonk Highway and seeing all of the Honky Tonks (bars with seemingly constant live music) from the higher perspective of the trolley. Tickets are $40 for adults and $20 for children.
  2. Although Centennial Park with its life-sized Parthenon replica is more well-known, we decided to spend time at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park after driving past both on our trolley tour. The Bicentennial Park was beautifully maintained and has several memorials, a 95-bell Carillon, and a 200-foot granite map of the state of Tennessee. It was lovely to stroll through on a crisp spring afternoon and has numerous photo ops.
  3. Also in the Bicentennial Park is the Nashville Farmers Market. There weren’t many outdoor vendors when we visited – likely because it was mid-March – but Market House, the indoor portion, was a kaleidoscope of sights and smells. We walked around the perimeter before deciding where to have lunch. It is set up much like an international food court and was a bit hectic as it was filled with people on a Saturday afternoon.
  4. Grand Ole Opry House – Located about 15 minutes from downtown next to a mall, the Grand Ole Opry show really made us feel like we were in Nashville. Many performers have shows here on various nights, but on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the Grand Ole Opry transforms into a live radio show and musical showcase. It is divided into four 30-minute segments with an intermission in the middle. Each segment features two different artists or groups so you get a lot of variety in each show. The seats aren’t the most comfortable- they are basically church pews- but with the intermission they weren’t too bad. We found this was a great alternative to visiting the Honky Tonks on Broadway which were packed because Nashville happened to be hosting the NCAA tournament that weekend. Tickets range from $40 – $110.
  5. As a big fan of shopping, we made sure one of our stops was at the Marathon Motor Works. It is a four-block complex of galleries, shops, a distillery and winery and more. Although Marathon Motors stopped making cars in 1915, the buildings were restored and turned into a ‘creative community.’ Throughout the space there are historic artifacts related to the cars that were made there and across the street they have four of the remaining Marathon cars. One of our favorite vendors was the Tennessee Legend Distillery where they were having free tastings. Although I don’t drink much, I did purchase the peach moonshine because it was so pretty. What bar would be complete without a pink alcohol?
  6. On our last day we decided to venture outside of downtown Nashville to visit the Belle Meade Plantation. It was a lovely spring day and we enjoyed walking around the grounds. There are several tours offered. We took the Madison Tour which focuses on the home itself. The home has been beautifully restored and contains many items from the original occupants. All tours include wine tasting and there is a candy and ice cream shop on the property. Tour admission is $24 for adults and $13 for children age 6-18.

What to Eat

  1. There are seemingly endless options for food at the Nashville Farmers Market. We were only able to try a few of the many options but were very impressed with both eateries we sampled. We first tried the napoleon style pizza from Bella Nashville and were very happy. The crust was crispy and delicious. We also investigated the Columbian food stand Delicias Colombianas R. R. We tried the empanadas and the arepa rellena. The empanadas were a bit greasy but the savory filling was delectable. I also enjoyed the chicken arepa rellena- a grilled sandwich in cornmeal pocket. I recommend both with the green sauce.
  2. No trip to Nashville would be complete without tasting Nashville Hot Chicken. We decided to try Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. After waiting for almost an hour in a line that ran practically to the end of the block, we go to try the hot chicken. As I am not a big fan of spicy food, I went with the mild but my father-in-law (who once ate most of a pizza with ghost peppers on it) went with the ‘damn hot.’ It was tasty. Worth an hour wait? Maybe once because it was novel- but in the future I will order online in advance and take it to go.
  3. We ate at Butcher and Bee before our show at the Grand Ole Opry. It was highly recommended by several online review sites, and the food was phenomenal. Butcher and Bee pride themselves on using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The restaurant recommends ‘shared dining’ where everyone at the table is meant to share all items ordered. Because we have several very picky eaters in our party, this was a bit frustrating. We ordered numerous items and found that our favorites were the fire roasted carrots and the bear creek meatballs.
  4. Before visiting the Belle Meade Plantation, we drove out to the Loveless Cafe for breakfast. It was about 25 minutes outside of Nashville, but made sense because it was in the same direction as the plantation. They served an amazing southern breakfast. The biscuits and preserves were some of the best I have ever had. They reminded me of summers spent with my grandparents in North Carolina. One of my favorite meals of our trip.
The Loveless Cafe Sign
The Loveless Cafe Sign

If you are looking for more travel inspiration, you should check out my posts on Savannah, Georgia and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Have you visited Nashville? What are your favorite things do to and places to eat?

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