The fun thing about renting out our house on Airbnb is that we get to meet a lot of great people from all over the country (a few from different countries, but not many). Last April, we rented out our whole house to a family who were in town for their daughter’s BYU graduation. We met Elaine at check-in, found out we had some mutual acquaintances, and got on really well.
After their stay, she told us we could come visit them in Nashville anytime, probably thinking (like most people) that we wouldn’t take them up on the offer. But when there’s a new city to explore with a place to stay, it’s hard for me to turn that down—especially in a city that Ben and I had been wanting to visit for a while.
So, a few months later, we booked our flights for Labor Day weekend. It’s actually pretty pricey to fly SLC —> BNA, so we used some points from our FlexPerks credit card to cover the cost (I’m a pretty big points/miles nerd, and this was definitely the best redemption value).
Elaine and Andy were so hospitable, and we loved getting to know them better and staying in their beautiful home in Brentwood (about 20 mins. outside of Nashville). After getting in late Thursday night, we got breakfast the next morning at Pancake Pantry. This was the first of many, many long lines we stood in over the weekend. The pancakes were worth the wait, though.
Vanderbilt University was just around the corner, so we walked around campus for a bit and napped under a tree (our flight got in late the night before).
We made our way to the honky-tonk (downtown, touristy) part of town—shoutout to our Uber driver for letting us know that his favorite place to eat in Nashville was The Hard Rock Cafe lols! I couldn’t believe that there was live music (some of it pretty bad) coming from just about every bar/restaurant we passed at the crack of noon.
I thought this was a new, state-of-the-art performing arts center, but turns out it’s a convention center. I still think it’s pretty cool, though.
Hatch Show Print
Easily one of my favorite things we did in Nashville was visit Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest and longest-running letterpress shops in the country. Their new location is inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
After seeing the wood block carvings and how the letterpress machines work, we went into their education/workshop area to learn more about the company’s history and make some prints of our own.
After deciding the line at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken was way too long for lunch (I’m telling you, the lines in Nashville are crazy), we headed back to the Vanderbilt/Pancake Pantry area (overall, we weren’t very great about planning our routing on this trip) to catch a movie at the Belcourt Theatre, a nice independent movie theater.
We stopped inside a cute boutique next door called Pangaea before the movie and got a gift for our friends who were watching our dog.
I know it seems strange and maybe a waste of time, but one of my favorite things to do on a trip is see a movie. We saw Captain Fantastic; it was in such a small, intimate theater (maybe 15 seats total and only 3 other people in there with us), and the movie was so engrossing/meaningful for both of us that neither of us could really talk for several minutes after we got out. I think movies are more impactful when you’re taken out of your normal location or routine and you can look at your life from further away.
For dinner, we got some delicious BBQ at Peg Leg Poker . . .
And then headed toward Public Square Park in downtown for Live on the Green, a free concert series that was hosting Band of Horses that night.
As much as I love Band of Horses and loved hearing them live, I was reminded why I’m not a big concert person. Personally, I find that hearing them play outside from far away, surrounded by lots of people, is not much more enjoyable than listening on my computer. I know I’m in the minority here, but that’s just me.
We spent the first part of Saturday in Franklin, a cute and historic town just south of Nashville.
We stopped at The Factory for the farmers market and to get cronuts at Five Daughters Bakery, which were incredible.
We decided to walk the mile or so into downtown to burn off the sugars and because we were starting to get sick of taking Ubers everywhere. It was a little sketchy because there wasn’t a sidewalk the whole way, but it was still a pretty walk.
We stopped inside Gray’s on Main (an old drug store converted into a restaurant) and put in our name and number for them to call us when our table was ready. We kept walking along the street and stopped in Rare Prints Gallery, which I loved. We searched through the old book pages, talked with the owner for a while, and bought a small map of Utah—the other side of the page happened to be a map of Idaho (where Ben’s from).
We got our call from Gray’s, headed back, and were seated upstairs. I have mixed feelings about our experience there: it’s a really cool building that they’ve restored well, and the food was good, but it was a bit overpriced and the service was painfully slow. Probably won’t return, but it was nice to look down onto the street from our upstairs window seating.
We continued walking around town and headed toward a few antique shops. Most had some fun/unique items, but the town is such a destination for antiquing that everything was wayyyyyy overpriced (imho).
We headed back to Nashville, listened to Emmylou Harris at Centennial Park in another free outdoor concert,
and checked out the famous Hermitage Hotel men’s bathroom:
We tried to eat on the roof of Acme Feed & Seed. The view was really beautiful, but it felt like a crowded frat party, and since we’re old grumps, we opted out of that experience . . .
. . . and opted for some yummy ramen and hot chicken buns.
SUNDAY: Music and More Lines
We went to an hour of church with Elaine and Andy and then spent a few hours waiting for a table at the teeny-tiny, highly recommended Sky Blue Cafe for Sunday brunch.
But it was nice to just sit and talk for a while, and the food was amaze-balls.
Next, we headed up to the Grand Ole Opry, and even though the tour was overpriced and a little TOURisty, I’d still recommend seeing it in some form (preferably to see a live performance).
Next, we embarked on the Bluebird Cafe saga. If you’ve ever watched the show Nashville (we watched the pilot episode before our trip), you’re probably familiar with the Bluebird Cafe. It’s a famous 90-seat venue that hosts well-known and aspiring singers/songwriters, and it’s also where T Swift was discovered. On Sundays, they host Writers Night, and this Sunday was Don Schlitz, who’s written tons of hits, like “The Gambler” and “When You Say Nothing At All,” one of my faves. Tickets for any show there sell out online in a matter of seconds, but you can stand in line and hope to get one of the few pew seats or cancelled tickets.
We waited for almost two hours and ended up missing the cutoff by about ten people. 🙁
We rode back into town and went to a free Bluegrass jam at Station Inn inestead, which was amazing.
The best part was when this little ten-year-old started playing with these guys and then led a jam of his own.
We got dinner at Puckett’s, a grocery-store-turned restaurant and music venue, and then headed home for the night.
Monday: Antiques and Automobiles
I was happy to bring Ben to something he was finally really excited about:
Lane Motor Museum features the largest European collection of cars and motorcycles in the country—something that’s right up Ben’s alley.
Lunch at Biscuit Love was probably one of our favorite meals of the trip:
Next, we made our way to Antique Archaeology, a store owned by the guy from American Pickers on the History Channel.
The store was inside the old Marathon Motor Works factory/headquarters, so we wandered around the rest of the building, which housed other stores—and, Ben’s favorite, some of the machinery from the old factory.
Our last meal was at The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden, which has a great outdoor-seating garden and yums food.
We finished out the trip with some killer views at Love Circle.