An adventure with your best gal pals to a new city is an exciting, exhausting and bonding experience. What started out as a birthday road trip to Asheville ended up as a whirlwind plane ride to Nashville. We played like cowgirls for 3 days until we dragged our weary bodies back on the plane…complete with momentos, mishaps and memories. A trip to be reminisced about for years to come. #nashbash
We left Maryland in the wee hours on a Sunday morning in early October and headed north to PHL. After waiting in an absurdly long and unmoving security line, enduring a screaming child who followed us through the airport, and dealing with ridiculously grumpy airport employees, we chose to kick start the day with Loconut minis. That set the tone for the plane ride. We were also blessed with the most fabulous flight attendant. In addition to being witty and sweet, she also hooked us up with 2 rounds of bloodys. So we were double fisting on the flight and staggered off the plane feeling no pain. But not before we decided to google Southern phrases that we felt would help us to fit in better. We practiced our drawls and newly coined (some legit and some made up) #nashtags on fellow passengers.
Once we arrived, we met up with our friend who flew in from another airport, called an Uber and were on our way to a random luggage locker near Hillsboro. Since we couldn’t check into our loft until 4 PM, I found a storage unit where we could stow our stuff so we didn’t have to drag it around with us all day. Of course as soon as we dropped the bags off, I received notification that we could check in. But we had a well laid out itinerary for this day so we stuck to the plan.
Bottomless brunch at Sinema? Yes please. This cool place was once an old movie house and had a great vibe. We toasted to the start of our trip and downed quite a few mimosas while satisfying our hankering for something more than airplane peanuts. We sampled omelets, pancakes and bacon brie-LTs.
And since we had wristbands for as many cocktails as we desired, we moved upstairs to the more lounge-y bar area. But not before having a mini photo shoot in the selfie-worthy loo.
The grapefruit and cranberry mimosas were my favorite…though we tried all the varieties including traditional orange and pineapple. But the absolute best drink we had was the bloody mary. Spicy, horseradishy and flavorful…it was one of the best I have ever had. After chatting it up on the leather couches with some new friends, we decided to get out in the sunshine.
We walked over to 12 South while admiring the lovely homes along the way. First stop was Draper James. Cute yet pricey Southern store by Reese Witherspoon. How can you not love a store where a little cup of sweet tea is thrust in your in your hand as soon as you walk inside.
And of course we had to take photos by the famous walls.
Then we wandered through the pretty Nashville Pumpkin Company.
Next up…Imogene and Willies. Just what we imagined a quintessential Nashville store would look like. Complete with a hipster standing out front.
By this point, we were warm from the sun and needed a seat and a cool beverage. We were #hotterthanagoatsbuttinapepperpatch. And just like that…there was Embers. Looks like a ski chalet inside and was a perfect stop. We talked with each other, the bartender (as usual) and sipped our adult beverages.
There were more stores on my list that we had wanted to visit but it was getting late, we were getting loopier and we wanted to check in, freshen up and chill out for a bit. I loved 12 South and will definitely spend more time there next time we visit. Back to the locker to collect our things then Uber over to the Gulch to check out our loft. It was industrial chic and perfect for our group. Would have been great to have another shower but we made do and had fun doing it.
Our two dinner options were Adele’s and Fin & Pearl. I was leaning toward the first option but our friends from Sinema said their favorite was F&P so that’s what we chose. It was a short walk and a beautiful evening so we opted to get drinks at the bar while waiting for an outside table. Wouldn’t you know it…it was half price bottle of wine night. No one had to twist our arms. And they threw in a sample of oysters. We ordered a bottle of white and a bottle of red. When the waiter came out, Tracey raised her hand and called out #werethewhitegirls. Did not come out as she had intended. For dinner we each chose a fish special. All delicious. Four of us got the Nairagi (Hawaiian Striped Marlin) which was served over sweet potato chorizo hash, topped with jalapeno hollandaise and a side of asparagus. Silly us ordered one too many bottles of wine so we took it with us.
During our peaceful walk home, I got too close to the edge of the sidewalk and my heel got stuck in the crack and down I went. #nashcrash. Knees on concrete though thankfully the rest of my body landed in the grass. But most importantly, the wine bottle was raised safely above my head still clutched in my hand. #savethewine
We had been awake since 3 AM, and tipsy since 8 AM so while we wanted to check out some live music, it was time to call it a night.
The next day we had a lazy morning in the loft, drinking coffee, lounging, talking, and being goofy. #loveintheloft
Today was the one day we did not have a set plan for what to do but Music Row seemed like something we should see. That was pretty much a fail. After lots walking in circles trying to find RCA Studio B, we got our photo then started heading toward Taco Mamacita in Edgehill. Mexican and margaritas never disappoint. Along the way we stopped at a few photo op spots like the big guitars, but overall, Music Row was mostly a waste of time in my opinion unless you are on a tour I guess.
Taco Mamacita was a fun place with cool décor and good food. They make a mean mojito and good passionfruit sangria. Same with the salsa and guacamole. And the taco options are endless. We tried The Memphis (with pulled pork and jalapeno slaw), Korean Beef, Baja fish and shrimp, “Boofalo” chicken and a few others. The Mexican Street corn was also very tasty. But the best part was our server, Brad, who is a comedian in Nashville and has also been on the Billy Ray Cyrus Show.
After lunch we headed over to American Threads for a bit of shopping. And a lot of dressing room shenanigans. Then back to the Gulch to hit the liquor store, then relax in the loft and get ready for happy hour and the Pedal Tavern.
The youngest of our bunch tried to teach/remind the rest of us how to play the drinking game, Thumper. What a riot that was. Only because we were all so bad at it. I think we peed our pants from laughing so hard.
After getting ready, we had time for a quick drink next door at Sambuca. I really liked this place. The Frose was very refreshing and we listened to some country jazz as we sipped. We were originally planning to eat there but we were all still full from lunch so we decided to grab a bite after the tour.
We headed to Demonbreun via Uber, brown bags of adult beverages in hand, to start our evening of debauchery. For those who aren’t privy to what a Pedal Tavern is…it’s basically a rolling bar that you have to pedal to make it move. There is an official driver though who steers the contraption though the streets while blasting music. Our route was through the downtown Honky Tonk area. And it was an absolute blast.
Our mobile bar was completely full. It was us and a group from Boston. At the beginning, we made pleasantries but by the end of night we were all best friends. On our way to the first bar stop at the Swinging Door Saloon, some random guy came up and plopped a witch hat on my head and threw a pair of giant glasses (minus one lens) at Maggie. Such a fun town. And nicer than I was expecting. Clean, brightly lit, and seemed safe. The people watching is off the charts. Must definitely spend more time here on our next visit.
The second and last bar stop was in an area where we could go to a bar our “driver” suggested or branch out on our own. We opted to do our own thing and headed to Acme Feed & Seed. What a great bar. Probably my favorite of the trip. Awesome live music, on point décor, large and friendly, great drink menu. Favorite drink of the trip was the Sunset Shandy. After some dancing we headed upstairs to their balcony bar. Awesome views. But we couldn’t stay long as our chariot awaited.
The only thing that would have made the tour better was if it was a little longer. Two hours and two bar stops doesn’t quite cut it.
But we were far from done. After we departed the rolling tavern, still clutching our witch hat and glasses, we took in the sights and sounds of Broadway. As we walked to the famous Tootsies, Lauren started her search for the first item on the scavenger hunt she had created…she managed to wrangle a cowboy hat off of a bouncer’s head. Everyone was so nice and such a good sport. As we stepped inside, Tootsies seemed smaller than I was expecting, and was super crowded. But that was only the first floor. We made our way up past the second floor to the rooftop bar where we ran into the other half of our pedal wagon group and greeted them like old friends. We danced and sang and had a darn tootin’ good ole time.
We had also wanted to check out the Wild Horse saloon. But alas it was a Monday night and had closed by the time we left Tootsies. So now my quest was to gift my witch hat to someone else. A harder task than you might think. But finally someone accepted and we begrudgingly left the vibrant streets of downtown Nashville. My new booties which were so comfortable at first had been digging into the top of my toes and I was left with matching blisters the size of pencil erasers. They were a nice complement to my torn up knee. So I was left with no choice but to take them off and walk Broadway in my bare feet. Lauren had the same dilemma and had tried to purchase some rubber flip flops but finally gave in and joined me.
Now the goal was to get back to the Gulch and find some food. We were hoping Whiskey Kitchen was open, but it was not. Nothing was. Papa John’s delivery it was. Then we all fell into bed with dreams of cowboy hats and guitars dancing in our heads.
The next morning we headed out in search of the famous wings mural #whatliftsyou, which was just a couple of blocks from our loft.
By this time, Biscuit Love was calling our names. There was a line. But that meant it was good. And it was. Such a great place. I had wanted a cappuccino with a little heart in the foam but since it was hot I opted for iced coffee. The biscuits and sausage gravy were amazing. And the bronuts dusted in cinnamon sugar, topped with lemon mascarpone and sitting on blueberry compote were delish. And they used fresh squeezed orange juice in their mimosas. I wanted to try the Nasty Princess which was the spicy version of the East Nasty (fried boneless chicken thigh on a biscuit with cheddar and sausage gravy) but I wasn’t that hungry when I ordered. Then I saw this thing of beauty and started salivating. Next time!
Back to the loft to gather our things and head back to the locker. We still had a full day ahead before our 9:30 PM flight. We made the quick walk from the locker to Hillsboro. Another cute neighborhood with lots of shopping. Our absolute favorite store was Altar’d State. It smelled amazing, was decorated to perfection, there was an atrium, fancy dressing area and really cute stuff. We spent way too much time in here.
After departing, the two brunette beer drinkers made their way to Two Dogs while we continued to poke in and out of shops #walkingandpoking.
Then we met the girls back at the bar and were treated to some puppy love by a sweet lab mix who was chilling while her people ate lunch. We grabbed some cocktails and started chatting it up with the fun group across the bar. They were like us…only way younger. Wish we had bumped into them sooner. Before we knew it…we had a game of thumper going on with them. Thank goodness we practiced the night before #sarcasm. Then a lady and her little bulldog named Yoyo came in. Dogs on bar stools. How awesome is that. Nashville is the most dog friendly place I have ever been.
We had a hankerin’ for some food so we ordered a few apps then continued to shop. UAL, which is a high end discount shop that buys designer overstocks, rewarded us with a $60 House of Harlow necklace for $12. And at Tennessee Chic, we found handmade bracelets made from the broken guitar strings that country music stars donate.
Now this is where our troubles start. My choice for lunch of Hattie B’s Hot chicken was passed over for a variety of reasons. The backup was Patterson House where I wanted to go for a drink since it’s named as one of the coolest bars by multiple publications. Figured we could also eat there. Well, we couldn’t confirm what time they opened since the websites have different times listed and no one picked up the phone. So we started walking and looking for options. The clerk at Tennessee Chic said McDougal’s was good as was Jackson’s (and bonus…it had been on the show Nashville). But it was deader than a door nail and the people who worked there were surprised to hear of this claim to fame. So maybe it wasn’t true. We headed to McDougal’s where we tried to buy a license plate as a souvenir but that effort was in vain.
We would have stayed here but no drinks except beer. And by now you know we don’t do a meal without cocktails. There was a sketchy looking sushi place next door and that was that. So we decided to start heading toward Patterson House. Which was a longer walk than expected. We did get to see a lot of Vanderbilt on our journey.
We walked and walked and walked. Past all the places we walked and walked and walked by the day before trying to get to Music Row. Then finally we made out the very obscure sign for Patterson House. Finally! The bar was very cool…and upscale. And dark. We had hoped to spend our last evening outside in a lively place but were out of time and close options. This place would be good for a date night, on a cold and rainy evening.
The menu was very limited. Only 4 wine options. Since we weren’t that hungry…and there wasn’t that much to choose from in the swanky bar area we ordered a cocktail and a couple of apps. I will say they make a wonderful caipirinha and their warm olives in a citrus oil were very tasty. That’s how I am going to make them at home from now on.
Sadly, the time had come…time to leave. We definitely could have used another night. We called Lyft to get a ride to the locker then to the airport. All I can say is I am glad we made it. About a mile into the ride it was pretty evident that our driver was sipping some special sauce in her adult sippy cup.
The walk back to our gate was much more subdued than when we arrived. We were spent but we were happy. I have to say that up until very recently, Nashville held no appeal for me. Preconceived notions I guess. But the unique neighborhoods, awesome vibe, and friendly folks won me over. I’m so glad my first experience was shared with great friends. Music City has claimed a special place in my heart and we will most definitely be back.