Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Charlottesville, VA

April 18, 2019

Nashville Travel Diary.

     I traveled to Nashville for the first time last month, and I'm finally recapping everything for you today! Nashville is a super trendy tourism spot right now, and of course it's a huge destination for bachelorette parties. My dad had a work conference in Nasvhille, so my mom and I joined him and made it a long weekend family vacation. Before my trip, tons of friends told me that I would love everything about Nasvhille, and some even said I might love it so much that I'd want to move there! Needless to say- I had big expectations. After visiting, I can say Nashville exceeded some expectations, but definitely fell short in other ways- which I'll get into later!


    I'm doing this blog post in Travel Diary style instead of Travel Guide! My Travel Guides are travel related blog posts where I dive into my experiences and recommendations, in hopes they will assist you on future travels! Travel Diaries are more personal travel posts, written more like a journal than an article. Since I was only in Nashville for a couple days and didn't get to do that much in the scheme of how big the city is, I thought a Travel Diary was more appropriate. 

   I flew into Nashville on a Thursday evening after work, on a direct flight from Richmond. My parents didn't get in until a couple hours later, so I hung out at the airport with a good book, so that we could all go to the hotel together. We were staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort- my first impressions of it that night were how big and fancy it was! I was really tired that night since I had worked that morning, so once we got to our hotel room I fell asleep quickly.




     I woke up the next morning ready to go out and explore! My parents were sleeping in, but I wanted to make the most of the day since I only had two full days there. I had made plans to meet my friend Kylie for breakfast. Kylie is another blogger (Dress in Sparkles), and we first met at The Blog Societies Conference back in 2016. Kylie suggested we eat at Biscuit Love, which I was excited about since that restaurant was recommended to me by a lot of people! 


        Biscuit Love is a cool restaurant! I ordered the East Nasty chicken biscuit, which the menu indicated was a signature item. It was pretty good, however I had a bite of Kylie's biscuit French Toast and I wish I had gotten that instead- so yummy! We ate at the Biscuit Love location in The Gulch neighborhood, which gets really busy! I was there at 8:30am to meet Kylie, and had to wait in line outside about 15 minutes. By the time we left, the line had tripled! While it was a good place to eat, I'm not sure it was good enough where that I'd wait in line for 45+ minutes to eat there, but that's just me! Glad we got there when we did. 😊
     
      After breakfast with Kylie, I checked in with my parents, who would still be at the hotel for a couple more hours. Instead of Ubering back there to wait for them, I decided to enjoy being a solo explorer, and I'm glad I did! I started by exploring more of The Gulch. The Gulch is an up and coming neighborhood in Nasvhille, filled with a lot of new construction, shops, and street art. It reminded me of big trendy city meets Southern hipster. A lot of Nashville's famous murals are in The Gulch, including the Insta-famous "What Lifts You" wings mural. I embarked on a self-guided mural and boutique tour of everything in The Gulch, and of course took pictures on the way!
      



     This colorful one above was my favorite mural in The Gulch!


     I checked out at least four or five boutiques in the neighborhood. Most of them had cute stuff, but a lot of it was expensive and not at all my taste (such as the stuff in Jessie James Decker's Kittenish store). I did find one boutique in The Gulch that I really liked, called Blush! Their store is pictured above. I found a top there that I really liked.

    After feeling like I had explored The Gulch, I looked at Google Maps on my phone and realized how close I was to downtown! I started walking towards there. My walk downtown is when I really began to notice how much construction is going on in Nashville. Look at the photo below at the multiple cranes! Honestly- that picture is just a fraction of the construction and cranes that I saw downtown during the trip, but I'll touch more on that later. 


    Google Maps had a location marked for a pedestrian bridge over the river, so I set out to find that. So glad I did! Walking across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and taking in all of the views of the skyline was honestly a highlight for me of the trip! This bridge is gorgeous, and provides many great spots to take photos and take it all in. 



     I then left the bridge and started exploring Broadway a little bit, which is the main touristy street in Nashville. It's where all of the bars owned by country stars and classic "honky tonk" places are. One thing I was surprised by was how small Broadway actually is! It's really just one street of of bars and live music, that's it. This is also when I started to see a TON of bachelorette parties, haha!


     Right before I met my parents, I stopped by the Ernest Tubb record store. I loved the displays they had in the back dedicated to Loretta Lynn's country music career!



     My parents had finally made it downtown, so I met them at a restaurant on Broadway for lunch! We ate at Merchant's, and it was one of my favorite meals of the trip! My favorite thing was that they brought out delicious seasoned popcorn instead of bread, I LOVE popcorn so I thought this was awesome. 



    After lunch, we walked a couple blocks up to tour the legendary Ryman Auditorium! I honestly didn't know much about the history of the Grand Ole Opry radio show before visiting Nashville, so I mistakenly thought the Opry was still broadcasted and performed at the Ryman. (The new Opry location is right by the hotel we were staying in!) The Ryman actually hasn't been home to the Opry in many decades, but it is still used sometimes for live music and comedy performances! It's also open daily for tours. My parents and I really enjoyed seeing it! 



     After the Ryman tour, we grabbed sweet treats at the official Goo Goo Cluster store downtown! I had never had a Goo Goo Cluster, and what better place to try one? If you're a Goo Goo fan, this store sells all kinds of merchandise- seriously, you name it, they have it with the Goo Goo Cluster logo. 


    Our last excursion downtown was one of my favorite things of the whole weekend, touring the Patsy Cline museum! This just opened in Nashville in 2017, so it's still quite new. Something you might not know about me is that Patsy Cline is one of my favorite musical artists! My mom had a cassette tape of her greatest hits that we used to listen to frequently in the car when I was growing up. The museum dedicated to her life and career is just a street away from Broadway in downtown, and the Johnny Cash museum is also in the same building!



     I learned during the musesum tour that Patsy Cline loved handwritten letters, and had many pen-pals in her lifetime- so cool!



     If you're a Patsy Cline fan, this is a must visit! She's actually from Northern Virginia- I hope sometime soon to plan a trip to tour her childhood home in Winchester (2 hours from where I live). 

     After the Patsy Cline museum, my parents and I Ubered back to our hotel. They went to dinner... but I was too tired to eat more and fell right asleep. #MorningRadioLife


     I had barely gotten to explore the Gaylord Opryland Resort on our first full day there, so I knew I wanted to kick off Saturday morning with some sightseeing in the hotel. My dad woke up early with me, and we ate breakfast and then set off exploring all of the gorgeous areas of the resort. While I have mixed feelings on staying at the Gaylord Opryland that I'll touch on later in the post, there's no denying that this hotel is stunning, and probably one of the most beautiful hotels I ever have stayed in and ever will stay in!



     You could literally spend hours exploring this hotel, and I'm glad I got to see a lot of it! Once my mom woke up, we all got ready to Uber back downtown to the Country Music Hall of Fame museum! I had passed it downtown the day before, and was so excited to finally see it. 




     The Country Music Hall of Fame is an incredible museum! I learned so much from seeing all of the exhibits- both about the history of country music, and where it is in the 2010s and beyond. I didn't take a ton of pictures in the museum since I was busy soaking it all in, but I have a couple pictures above from the Little Big Town exhibit, which is on display in 2019!

    Next it was time to head back to the hotel again, to get ready for the fancy dinner on our trip and our big evening plans! 



     Pictured above is the best steak I've ever eaten in my life- NO exaggeration! We had dinner on Saturday night at the Old Hickory Steakhouse in the Gaylord Opryland Resort- which I am pretty sure is the fanciest restaurant in the hotel. It is not cheap- let me stress that first and foremost! But so amazingly good. I've never before had any steak as well cooked and flavorful as this one was! This was our one "fancy" meal of the trip, and it sure was great. (This is actually the only eatery inside the Gaylord Opryland that I'd recommend!)

     The Gaylord Opryland Resort is just down the road from the new home of the Grand Ole Opry, and the resort conveniently provides shuttles to the show. I was really excited to get to see an Opry performance, and my dad got us great seats. It was fun to learn about the history of this iconic country radio show during our visits to the Ryman and the Country Music Hall of Fame- so now we got to see everything come together! 



     There were several performers the night that we went to the Opry- a few highlights for me were 2000s country artist Mark Wills, and Charles Esten, who played Deacon on the TV show Nashville, which I'd watched the first couple seasons of! I would definitely recommend seeing a live show here if you can while visiting Nashville.



     Sunday I had to be at the airport around 11am, so I just stayed in the hotel that morning! My parents and I had breakfast, and then took one last walk together through the hotel's beautiful gardens. Then it was time for me to head home! They stayed longer because of my dad's work conference. 
     One thing I didn't get to do on the trip was visit the Opry Mills Mall, which I'm bummed about! It's an indoor outlet mall, and was also very close to the hotel. My parents went a few days after I left, but I was only in Nashville for such a short time that seeing the sights took priority over shopping. I do love a good mall though, and this one did look great!


     Okay- now that the recap part of this post is done, I thought I'd dive a little deeper into the trip by sharing five things I liked and didn't like about Nashville! As I've alluded to throughout this blog post so far, I definitely have mixed reviews.


     THINGS I LIKED ABOUT NASHVILLE:
  • Ryman Auditorium - So cool to see such an iconic place in the history of music!
  • Country Music Hall of Fame - If you're a country music fan or interested in learning more about it, this is a must visit!
  • Patsy Cline Museum - This is tied with the Grand Ole Opry for my favorite thing on the trip!
  • Seeing a show at the Grand Ole Opry - So happy I can cross this off my bucket list.
  • Lots of cool murals - I only saw a handful of them, but loved the ones I did see!

     THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT NASHVILLE:
  • Gaylord Opryland Resort - This needs an explanation! Yes, this hotel was beautiful. Yes, I adored exploring it. And yes, I had the best meal of the trip at the steakhouse there. However- I'm 99% sure I wouldn't recommend staying here to anyone visiting Nashville! First and foremost, this place is EXPENSIVE. (My family stayed here because my dad's work conference was in the hotel, and we stayed in the cheaper older part of the building, not in one of the garden rooms!) The food here is exorbitantly overpriced, and I'm not just talking about the one dinner we had. I went to two of the breakfast buffets during my stay- one of them was a truly awful continental breakfast similar to what you'd find at a cheap hotel, the other wasn't memorable. Why am I telling you about this? Because each breakfast cost $20+!!! That's right, over $20 for bad or not memorable food. Let me tell you, if I'm spending (or someone is spending on me) over $20 for breakfast foods, I want that to be a pretty yummy breakfast! Which I can't say about either breakfast meal at this hotel. The Gaylord Opryland Resort is also pretty far from downtown Nashville- it's about a 20 minute Uber ride. Those Ubers add up quickly, as does the time spent going to and from. All in all, I think this hotel is beautiful, and if you're seeing a show at the Grand Ole Opry it's worth a visit to walk through and take pictures, but NOT worth it to stay here. Splurge on a nice downtown hotel instead... which would probably still be cheaper!
  • The construction - I have never in my life been to a city with so much construction going on. Nashville is currently one of the top destinations to move to in the US, and people are moving there at a rate the city can't keep up with (this is a fact!). Because of that, there is construction ALL OVER downtown and the neighborhoods near it. I guess it's exciting that it is expanding so quickly, but I didn't love seeing cranes and heavy duty construction equipment down every block. It got old, and was really a turn-off for me.
  • A place to go with friends, not parents - First and foremost- I don't mean this in any way against my parents! This was the first family trip we've done in three years, and it was definitely nice to see them since I live out of state! What I mean by this is that Nashville is a place to go with friends your age, and perfect for bachelorette or bachelor parties. Had I stayed there much longer than I did with my parents, I'm not sure what else we would've done, as I feel like we did all of the "family friendly" activities. Broadway downtown is pretty much exclusively filled with loud bars and bachelorette party type attractions... not stuff to do as a 24 year old with your mom and dad! I've been to Las Vegas with my mom before- and personally think Vegas has more to do for parents/kids than Nashville. 

     All in all, I'm glad that I got to see Nashville! It definitely is a very trendy tourist destination right now, and I can check that off my travel list. I also learned a lot about country music and radio while I was there. But am I dying to go back to Nashville? Nope! Since it is so popular for bachelorettes right now, I feel like statistically I'll probably go back within the next five years for a bachelorette party, but other then that I have no plans to return soon. I feel like a weekend is the perfect amount of time to see the things you need to see there. A lot of people told me before the trip that I'd want to move there after seeing it... that's a no from me! I'm very content here in Virginia, haha! With that said- it doesn't mean that you shouldn't want to go to Nashville. So many of my friends are obsessed with this city, and that's totally okay. Just because it wasn't one of my favorites doesn't mean it can't be yours!


     The next Tennessee city that I really want to visit is Memphis. I've actually always been more interested in visiting Memphis over Nashville- so I'm extra curious to see it now! Check out what I packed for Nashville here, and the outfit that I wore in Friday here!


     God Bless,


     xoxo Annaliese 










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13 comments

  1. There's a lot of things that you could have done with your parents in Nashville - see the Parthenon, go to the Tennessee State Museum, see a show at the TPAC, visit the Hermitage, walk around Radnor Lake, see a film at the Belcourt Theatre, shop at Draper James, go to a Predators game, go to the zoo, go to Mewsic Kitty Cafe, or even go play Topgolf. You didn't even scratch the surface of things to do in Nashville. Also, there's a million and one amazing places to eat that aren't in an overpriced hotel. I don't think that you gave Nashville a fair shot at all.

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  2. I'm going to need to get to Biscuit Love ASAP, definitely on my next trip to Nashville. It's such a fun place! I'm glad you stopped at Gaylord Opryland too- it is one amazing site and it's not even my favorite of the Gaylord properties. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. A great recap, looks like you fit so much in! I would love to visit one day.

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  4. I’ve always wanted to go to Nashville! You’re like me and like to shop and eat your way through a city 😉

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  5. Oh Nashville. It keeps coming up as a place we should visit next and never do. It looks like you made the most of it! And great photos. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I feel like so many people have been visiting Nashville lately and it makes me want to go back so bad! It's been almost 10 years since I was last there. Lol but all of the food, music, colorful walls, etc. looks more fun than ever! I also love the idea of travel diary vs. travel guide. :) Looks like you had an amazing time!

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  7. I’ve visited Nashville several times and always stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. When in town for conferences it’s convenient as there’s space for the exhibit halls and we could do everything under one roof. The food must have been better on my visits! I love that place and found it relaxing after a long day to wander the gardens at night. Sounds like there’s a lot going on in Nashville, with all the construction. I wouldn’t want to live there but I think I’m overdue for another visit!

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  8. What a fun experience. I adore Nashville. The food and culture scene is so fabulous. And the music . . . amazing! I must return soon.

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  9. My hometown is only 2 hours from Nashville so I've been there a number of times-- it's crazy to see how quickly it has grown! I actually remember when they built the Opry Mills Mall! I agree that the Gaylord Opryland Resort isn't the place to stay unless you're there for a reason (Fort Campbell has their military balls there and the soldiers get a discount on the rooms!) I totally agree that Nashville is more of a place you'd want to visit with friends, not family (or church-- I went there with a church group once LOL!)

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  10. I’m so sorry it fell short of your expectations. I am glad you said it’s not a good place to go with family because my parents want to go and were thinking of taking me this summer. I think you’re right, probably not the best family spot. I am so glad you got to Biscuit Love before the line. We went to the one in Franklin because it’s always been so busy in the Gulch. Nashville has so many pretty murals, I love checking them out. I need to visit that bridge next time. I'm so excited to see you tried Merchants. I love their pimento cheese.

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  11. I loved this honest 'review' because I'm actually heading to Nashville in a couple weeks with friends! I'm noting everything you said so I can know what to avoid and what not to miss when we're there!

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  12. I love these photos!

    https://alexagmarsh.blogspot.com

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  13. I have been dying to go to Nashville! Your trip looks like so much fun & that biscuit chicken sandwich looks delish!!

    XO, Katie | http://www.meshkomoments.com

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