We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving 5 hours 45 minutes Southwest of Charleston, West Virginia brings you to Nashville, Tennessee, also known as Music City. Country music put Nashville on the map, but trendy neighborhoods, a mammoth music festival, talented musicians, and upscale eats have made it the tourism giant that it is today.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN NASHVILLE
Nashville is a treasure trove of awesomeness with plenty for all ages and interests.
Kids will adore the Nashville Zoo. It is home to 365 types of animals including red pandas, two-toed sloths, and snowy owls. Take advantage of the Zoo’s Critter Encounters for an up close experience with many of the animals. Another spot for kids is the Adventure Science Center, with a planetarium and 175 hands-on exhibits, such as Body Quest and Space Chase.
Shoppers will dig the 200+ stores at Opry Mills, an enormous shopping/dining/entertainment complex. Stop in Saks Off 5th, Vera Bradley, and Bass Pro Shop while the kids spend time at Madame Tussauds Wax attraction or playing arcade games at Dave & Buster’s. For upscale shopping, visit The Mall at Green Hills and shop the boutique stores in Nashville’s most popular neighborhoods, Hillsboro Village, Germantown, 12 South, and East Nashville’s Fatherland District.
It wouldn’t be right to come to Nashville and not indulge in the city’s music history. Tour the iconic Country Music Hall of Fame with 350,000 square feet of artifacts and memorabilia or go on a star home tour and see where your favorite country music stars live. You may also want to take in a musical performance at the Ryman Auditorium, Bluebird Cafe, or the Grand Ole Opry. SiriusXM listeners should head to Margaritaville on Friday from 3 to 7 PM to take part in The Highway’s Music Row Happy Hour with Buzz Brainard.
History buffs will want to pop in The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. Explore the 1100 acre National Historic Landmark and experience life as it was during the time he lived there. The Hermitage is one of the most visited presidential homes in the nation. You can also visit the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, which offers lovely photo ops.
Get outdoors at Centennial Park, one Nashville’s jewels, with 132 acres of trails, urban space, monuments, and a full-size replica of the famous Greek landmark The Parthenon.
Nashville has an NFL (Tennessee Titans), NHL (Nashville Predators), and AAA baseball (Nashville Sounds, affiliate of the Oakland Athletics) team. Are you a college sports fan? Vanderbilt, Belmont, Lipscomb, and Tennessee State University are all in Nashville, too.
End your evening in Music City by bar hopping on Lower Broadway; be sure to stop in Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, the Tin Roof, and Rippy’s. Want to avoid the Downtown crowds? Head to 3 Crow Bar, Pinewood Social, Rebar, Winners, or Losers.
Be sure to take a picture for Instagram in front of one of Nashville’s popular murals, like “I Believe In Nashville” or “WhatLiftsYou” angel wings at 302 11th Avenue S.
WHERE TO EAT IN NASHVILLE
Nashville is full of delicious eats. In fact, TripAdvisor lists almost 1,800.
In Nashville’s coolest neighborhood (12 South), you’ll find the likes of Bartaco (upscale street food and killer margaritas), Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria & Neighborhood Pub (delicious Northern Italian food), and Josephine (American farmhouse). For a delicious cold brew or latte, pop in Frothy Monkey.
The Iconic Pancake Pantry has been a favorite (Hillsboro Village) for 50 years and offers fantastic pancakes and crepes, both sweet and savory. Unless you arrive 30 minutes before opening, you will have to wait in line for a table. It’s worth the wait, though. Another tasty breakfast option in the same area (or at The Gulch) is Biscuit Love.
Downtown, the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium (at the Union Station Hotel) has a great range of craft beers, perfect Loaded Rocket Tots (jalapeño, goat cheese, bacon, green onion, fried egg), and a yummy Saucer Dipster shaved roast beef sandwich. Jack’s Bar-B-Que serves awesome barbecue and side dishes while Puckett’s is notorious for Nashville Hot Chicken. Merchant’s has fantastic Duck Fat Tots with a trio of sauces while the Palm is sensational for happy hour, upscale dining, and people watching.
WHERE TO STAY IN NASHVILLE
The Gaylord Opryland Resort is one of the largest hotels in the world and staying there is like a vacation in itself. Not only can you enjoy comfortable and elegantly decorated garden style rooms overlooking the huge indoor complex and gardens, but also shop, dine, and explore the Resort’s nine acres, complete with a waterfall and two water shows.
The Hutton Hotel offers excellent prices and unique rooms with attractive furnishings. A great splurge is the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel (with luxury accommodations in a fun part of town) or the Hermitage Hotel (Nashville’s oldest and most historic hotel, circa 1910).
Keep in mind that there are also hundreds of Airbnb options to satisfy all budgets and number of guests.
NASHVILLE: A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH
Nashville, often called “Nashvegas” as it is perceived as flashy based on its entertainment industry and therefore compared to Las Vegas’ likeness, still continues to grow by leaps and bounds, setting the tourism market on fire. Visitors now come from all over the world to experience the Nashville culture. If you haven’t been there yet, Nashville should rise to the top of your travel bucket list.