Plucked straight out of Jersey, when I visited the south I stuck out like a sore thumb. In fact, someone even likened me to, dare I say it, SNOOKI. Nevertheless, I went to Nashville not knowing what exactly to expect, and with well, an open mind. I must admit though, that by the time I came back home, I had an entirely newfound appreciation for good ol’ country music, and was about as southern a girl from Jersey can get. Here are some of the highlights from my trip. Enjoy!
The Omni Hotel. You can FEEL the music when you walk in. Brand new, the Omni aesthetic perfectly encapsulates everything that is Nasvhille. Why exactly? There is a biscuit bar, it is attached to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and it’s just minutes from Broadway (i.e. Honkey tonk heaven). Did I mention there is a biscuit bar?
THINGS TO DO:
1) Nashville, the SHOW! One night while strolling Broadway after dinner, we stumbled upon the real live taping of Nashville. Basically, they were recreating the Country Music Awards and as extras we played maniacal fans by the red carpet. It was one of the coolest experiences ever, and I had the chance to be extra creepy playing paparazzi with Connie Britton who plays Rayna James on the show. By the way, this lady is a true southern bell; she has the sweetest demeanor and is absolutely FLAWLESS. Apparently the show tapes all around town and often, so try to catch a glimpse if you can, ya hear?
2) Honkey Tonk Highway. One of my favorite parts of the city is its culture, and what better way to experience it than walking up and down Broadway, popping in and out of the local honkey tonks. Brimming with neon lights and loud music, this little street screams country. Not to mention all of the bars are cover-free, and these bands are AH-MAZE.
3) RCA Studio B Tour. So at the other end of town is Music Row, where a whole bunch of recording studios breed country stars (Tay Swift, Reba McIntyre, etc. etc.) It’s also the home to the itty bitty Studio B, famous mostly because of it’s history. This little gem is where Elvis Presley happened to record over 200 songs. The place is totally untouched from the 60s, and it was almost as if you could feel these legends prancing in and out and doing their thing.
4) Graceland. Speaking of the King, we also took a 3 hour detour to Memphis to see Graceland, i.e. the home of Elvis Presley. This had to be one of the coolest parts of the trip, and reminded me a lot of Disney (wierd I know, but let me ‘splain). Every single room in his house was unique, from his jungle room (waterfall included) to his pool room (adorned with multi-colored textiles form floor to ceiling), to his shag rug hallways (also floor to ceiling) to his dining room (which was utter GLAM). The whole experience was just really neat, and although Elvis was before my time, visiting his home made me appreciate the legend that he truly was. Oh, and there are about 5000 themed gift shops to boot, which is why it reminded me of Disney. Hawaiian Elvis Christmas ornament, anyone? Thank you, thank you very much.
5) The Grand Ole Oprey. Okay so now we’re back in Nashville. This place is like the mecca for country stars. It’s a gorgeous old concert hall where some of the best singers in town got their starts, not to mention Lady Antebellum who we were able to catch perform. Angel. She has the voice of an ANGEL.
6) Lonnie’s Karaoke Bar. This is the most fun I’ve ever had at a Karaoke bar without singing Karaoke. Located on Printer’s Alley, this hole in the wall catered to both Presidents and comedians (Jimmy Fallon!!) alike.
EATS & TREATS:
1) The Southern. (Nashville) It’s country swag, I tell you. This place is trendy meets cowboy all rolled in one. It’s also home to the BEST seafood gumbo EVER.
2) Central BBQ. (Memphis) When I woke up from my food coma, I eventually realized that I temporarily left planet earth for barbecue HEAVEN. Their baby back ribs are deeeeee-lectable, and when paired with baked beans, friend onion rings, and the best mac&cheese even yo mama can’t make, you just, well, die.
3) The Tavern. (Nashville). It’s where the locals go, according to some random local I stopped on the street to ask where we should go for dinner. (JUDGE ME!) Their chimichangas and buffalo fried cauliflower were LIFE-CHANGING.
4) GOO GOO CLUSTER. (Nashville) Just get one (peanut butter is my fave). You’ll thank me later.
5) The Loveless Cafe. A Nashville classic, with white-trash-hash that will blow yo’ mind. Not to mention their Hams & Jams gift shop, and their bluegrass and biscuits fest, and their jalapeno flavored bacon. MUST.TRY.THE.BACON.
All in all, both Nashville and Memphis turned out to be amazing little cities. Packed with culture, country and culinary delight, I’d love to visit again soon. With some Pepto though. CANNOT forget the Pepto.