Traveler’s Guide to
Written by Lori Boatfield
Photos provided by Nashville CVC,
Lori Boatfield & Carolyn Stephenson
Special thanks to:
Gaylord Opryland Resort
Just a hop, skip and a boot scoot north lies the thriving city of Nashville, Tenn. Since we often feature a travel editorial in our September October issue,
we decided to get a first-hand view of what Music City has to offer.
In addition to the traditional must-see stops, we uncovered some gems that were
under the radar for most tourists, thanks to our very own Nashville “Trip Advisor,” Stephen Hubbard.
It began with a VIP check-in at the Gaylord Opryland hotel. EVENT Publishing co-owner and Director of Sales Carolyn Stephenson and I took off on a whirlwind trip on an August evening. Destination: Nashville. Our starting-at-sunset-drive out of Huntsville made us hungry, so by the time we were shown to our comfy room on the fifth floor of the Cascades, we were excited to have our late-night snack on the balcony overlooking the atrium. After we wound down from the sugar and caffeine from our sodas, the sounds of the cascading waterfalls lulled us to sleep. We awoke raring to go explore. First stop (on the advice of our guide) was the Frothy Monkey Roasting Company, where we intended to sip our designs-in-the-froth coffee only but were tempted by the French toast with berries. -With six locations in Nashville, the original coffee house is in the 12South neighborhood – a half-mile stretch along 12th Avenue South with a vintage clothing store on one end, a gourmet restaurant on the other, and many unique Nashville businesses
businessesin between. It is touted as one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Nashville. 12South also includes:
Draper James – Reese Witherspoon’s signature boutique
White’s Mercantile – Holly Williams’ (daughter of Hank Williams Jr.) eclectic store –known as “a general store for the modern tastemaker”
Imogene+Willie – a premium denim company housed in an old service station
Five Daughters Bakery
And much more
Find it: 12th Avenue South
Next was Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company. Stepping into the door was like going to chocolate heaven. The aroma was divine, and as we walked in, we were greeted by the owner, Scott, who offered us a sample of whatever we liked. We liked everything! Among vintage crates and barrels, burlap sacks and an antique Victrola speaker, bars of chocolate stood. Through a viewing window, we took in the process. “Slow-roasted and stone ground in small batches, select single origin beans are combined with pure brown sugar for a smooth and robust flavor unique to Southern Artisan Chocolate™. The combination of traditional methods, modern European technique and classic Southern flavors make Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. the new old-fashioned chocolate.” They offer tours that can be booked online at oliveandsinclair.com
Find it: 1628 Fatherland Street
We hopped back in the car to meet our guide extraordinaire, Alabama native (but longtime Nashville resident) Stephen Hubbard. We met up at Elliston Place Soda Shop. Carolyn and I were still stuffed from our French toast, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to try some pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes. Stephen opted for traditional southern dishes and ordered dressing, mac and cheese, pintos and mashed potatoes. We pronounced everything absolutely delicious and sadly didn’t have room for a slice of house-made chocolate or lemon pie with mile-high meringue.
-The Elliston Place Soda Shop beganwith a boy on a bicycle. LynnChandler spent his youth pedalingfrom the family farm to work atNashville pharmacies. He learned thebusiness from the bottom up and wasdrawn to the soda fountain most ofall. In 1939, a 23-year-old Chandlerbought the soda fountain business ofElliston Pharmacy–and the rest ishistory. – ellistonplacesodashop.com
Find it: 2105 Elliston Place
As we say in North Alabama, we were each “as full as a tick,” but we piled into Stephen’s red BMW SUV and were treated to tours of several Nashville highlights:
-The Gulch: Just south of downtownlies a once-abandoned industrial areathat’s undergone an urban revitalization in recent years. The exceedingly walkableLEED-certified community is teeming with boutique hotels, instagrammable murals,shops, live music venues, breweries and diverse culinary offerings. —visitmusiccity.com
Notable Spaces in the Gulch include:
The Gibson Garage: the flagship guitar store where you can try out a guitar, take a lesson, learn about Gibson’s history or see a live show on their stage
Angel mural: take a photo in front of the giant wings, or take one of your pet in front of the smaller version
Nashville Boot Company
Art Beat Fine Art Gallery and Gifts
Photowalk Nashville – an interactive photo experience where guests have a professional photoshoot while being taken on a tour of The Gulch.
-Music Row: The home of the country music industry, with a slew of record labels,radio stations, and recording studios working side-by-side. There are also live venues on or near Music Row, to check out established artists as well as up-and- comers looking to break through.
Our last stop of the day was to L&L Market. Once a mill for manufacturing hosiery, then a factory for making shoes and later storage for restaurant equipment, it’s now home to a market boasting gourmet food, luxury retail not to mention a fabulous Dolly Parton mural.
Find it: 3820 Charlotte Avenue
As the skyline receded in the rearview mirror, Carolyn and I wished we’d had more time to explore. But the lyrics of the Bobby Bare song Visit Me in Music City came to mind, “Music City has always been good for me. There’s room for you and your cowboy boots. We’ll even give you a rhinestone suit…So come and visit me in Music City.” We’ll be back to visit you Bobby, and you Stephen. And we’ll be claiming our rhinestone suit. See you soon, Nashville!
-Gaylord Opryland Resort & Conference Center: Rooms and suites, dining, spa and fitness, shopping, seasonal activities and entertainment. Soundwaves: the nation’s first truly upscale indoor/outdoor resort water attraction.
-Grand Ole Opry: Experience the thrill of a live concert at Nashville’s premier country music stage. For more information on tickets and tours, visit opry.com
-Ryman Auditorium: Hallowed ground for Nashville performers, the venue began when steamboat captain and prominent Nashville businessman Thomas Ryman attended a tent revival attended by 5,000 people and was so moved by the experience that he dedicated his life and fortune to building the Union Gospel Tabernacle, a place where people could gather and worship. When Ryman died,the name was changed to honor his legacy. The 1920’s brought sought-after traveling acts like John Philip Sousa, Roy Rogers, Bob Hope and the Ryman became the anchor of Nashville’s cultural offerings and was known as the CarnegieHall of the South. Later the venue was home to the Grand Ole Opry and brought live radio and TV shows into America’s living rooms featuring Elvis, Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline and so many more. The Opry changed venues in the 1970s and the Ryman sat empty, neglected and faced demolition. A Nashville effort spearheaded a complete renovation in the 1990s and saved one of the world’s most significant music heritage sites. -excerpts from ryman.com
-Music City Walk of Fame: On Nashville’s Music Mile, the landmark pays tribute to those from all genres of music who have contributed to the world through song or other industry collaboration with connection to Music City.
-General Jackson Riverboat: While “rollin’ down the river,” enjoy stunning views,a delicious meal and toe-tapping entertainment in a two-story Victorian Theater.One of the largest showboats ever built, the grand General Jackson is a triumph of American ingenuity. With its elegant lacy filigree and stately design, the boat is reminiscent of the opulence of the American Victorian era. -generaljackson.com
-Nashville Pedal Tavern: Voted the #1 Outdoor Activity in Nashville, the party bike scan accommodate up to 15 people. Nashville Pedal Tavern is BYOB, so passenger scan enjoy the beverage of their choice. Cooler, ice, and cups are provided. Nashville Pedal Tavern is a unique and affordable way to experience the beautiful city, from Broadway to Music Row.
-Nashville Zoo at Grassmere: Situated on the grounds of the Grassmere Historic Home and Farm, Nashville Zoo is a progressive and dynamic zoological park located just 6 miles south of downtown Nashville. The Zoo is one of the top tourist attractions in the state and has been named the Best Regional Attraction and Best Day Trip by The Tennessean.
-Nashville Symphony, Schermerhorn Symphony Center: The Nashville Symphony has been an integral part of the Music City sound since 1946. In a typical year, the ensemble performs more than 150 concerts. The orchestra is equally renowned for its commissioning and recording projects with Nashville-based artists including bassist Edgar Meyer, banjoist Béla Fleck, singer-songwriter Ben Folds and electric bassist Victor Wooten. For tickets and information, visit nashvillesymphony.org
Thanks to Stephen Hubbard for serving as our advisor, guide and friend!
Stephen Hubbard grew up in beautiful downtown Rockledge, Ala., (doesn’t exist,) and moved to Huntsville for his dream job, right out of college, at WAAY. Not long after, he came to his true home in Music City to work for Crook & Chase in 1996. Along the way, he’s had Paula Deen kiss him on the cheek, been around Dolly Parton too many times to count, and is still wondering why Ashley McBryde isn’t a bigger star. He can attest to the fact that the meat and sixteen is A+ at Elliston Place, and is going back for the lemon meringue because Lori cut him off…
Hubbard works as a country reporter, producer and writer with ABC News/ABC Radio.