Boots and a bump: Nashville trip recap

Hey y’all. (Please read that in your best Tami Taylor drawl.) I got back from Nashville last night and wanted to give you a recap in case you have plans to visit Music City sometime soon. Me, waiting for my 6 a.m. flight:

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My high school ladyfriends and I try to reconnect for an annual spring break trip when possible, and this year we chose NashVegas. Although the weather didn’t exactly cooperate (it was 18 degrees colder than average for this time of year, and rainy), we still had a good time and made some funny memories, which is what it’s all about, right?

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Staying put and getting around: We stayed in the Midtown/West End area, which is walkable to downtown — especially in daylight. Just remember it’s downhill on the way there and uphill on the way back. We stayed at the Aloft, which was unfortunately under construction during our visit and doesn’t have a pool, but there are plenty of other hotels in the area that could be nice and affordable. (We walked past Union Station on our way downtown and stopped in the lobby — if you’re looking to spend more for a romantic getaway, maybe, that’s a swank and historic spot.)

Instead of renting a car, we decided to do a combo of cabbing it, walking and purchasing a day bus pass ($5.25). We definitely got our money’s worth out of the day bus pass, although it may have made us a little too ambitious. The cab ride to the airport is a flat $25, even though it’s only about 10 minutes from downtown, but the bus also stops there.

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Sightseeing: When we arrived, we walked around the Vanderbilt campus, which is gorgeous – filled with Magnolia trees and close to cute independent shops in Hillsboro Village. We rode the bus out to Belle Meade Plantation for a tour (totally scored a Groupon discount!), which ends in their little wine tasting room. On a nice day, this would be a great place to bring a picnic and hang out on the grounds. We went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts for a culture fix, too. If you’re looking to do tons of daytime activities, the Music City Total Access Pass ($50 for four attractions) might be a good option. We weren’t super ambitious on this front due to weather and apathy toward country music iconography, but I went to a wedding at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden a few years ago and had it been sunshiney totally would have tried to go back.

Dining: We whiffed it with our first dinner at Cabana. It was chock full of bachelorette parties and the food wasn’t anything to write home about. Not worth the hype, although when I was there a few years ago for another Nashville wedding, I remember it being better. We had lunch at Urban Flats in The Gulch, which is supposed to be Nashville’s up-and-coming neighborhood and is also a wine bar. It was good, but in retrospect we should have gone to nearby Whiskey Kitchen, which I’ve heard rave reviews about. We tried to have dinner on Nashville’s East side, which is apparently supposed to have more of a hipster vibe, but got off the bus at a sketchy spot and abandoned that plan. Instead we stumbled upon Fat Bottom Brewing, which was my favorite from the trip although also a slight torture because I couldn’t sample the goods.

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OK, I had one sip of their red and it was amazing. There was a live band out in the beer garden, really cool decor and we shared a cheese plate and beverages while we plotted our next move. We had some good luncharitas (virgin Strawberry daquari for me) at Chuy’s near our hotel. Apparently it’s a chain, but they did a good job keeping the freshly made chip baskets overflowing.

Our last night, we had dinner in the street-level Merchants bistro downtown.

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Their classic black-an-white decor was a beautiful contrast to the neon of Broadway. They have a solid classic cocktail menu and delicious peach cobbler dessert, too. Breakfast our last morning was at the famous Pancake Pantry. We waited half an hour in the cold to get a table, but you have to love a sweet stack. (I kind of wish we’d gotten lunch up the street at Fido at some point, because I once had an amazing salad there.)

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The main drag: Spring break in Nashville was bustling, despite the weather. The first place we stopped in was Rippy’s to watch some March Madness and eat onion rings. There may be photographic evidence of a mid-afternoon drunk best man from a bachelor party pulling me out of my seat to dance to live music. My humongous belly made everyone in the place laugh.  We enjoyed karaoke at Lonnie’s Western Room (karaoke in Nashville is for serious singers) and hung out at Tootsies on our last night. (The band kept asking for a “holler and a swoller,” which I thought was hilarious.

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There is a constant stream of live music that spills into the streets. We didn’t exactly shut the bars down any of the nights, which was just fine by me! I love that my friends and I graduated 10 years ago and still enjoy traveling together. The Nashville trip was a fun last fling before the baby this spring.

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