Taking the recommendation of the lady at the airport information booth, I purchased a ticket to take this shuttle to and from my hotel, as I didn’t need a rental car for my trip to N’ville. For $24 I got a round-trip ticket. The shuttle runs about every half hour to and from the hotels, so I just stood outside for a few minutes and was promptly picked up in a clean van-bus-vehicle-thing with a very friendly and helpful driver both times.
Pros: Quick, clean, friendly
Homes of the Stars Tour
When traveling I try to avoid the typical “touristy” destinations, but I do love taking guided tours. They’re a great way to see a large area in a small amount of time, and hopefully get some history from the tour guide. Since I’m not a big fan of country music, I chose the Homes of the Stars tour instead of the Country Music Hall of Fame or Opryland. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice parade of beautifully landscaped mansions?
Pros: Price ($40), clean, friendly tour guide, beautiful homes and countryside
Cons: Would have been nice to see some non-Country music stars’ homes; TONS of pop stars and Christian artists live in Nashville too!
This was the host hotel for the event I was in town to attend; it’s connected to the Nashville Convention center, which makes it all the more convenient. The hotel seemed quite large and full-service, which is a welcome change from some of the “airport” or “business traveler” hotels with fewer amenities and services available.
Pros: Price, gift/sundries shop, helpful valets, fun music playing in hallways, clean room, good room service, makeup mirror in room. ;)
Cons: Very loud at night and in the morning (Whether this was due to construction, or just general loudness, I’m not sure), NO FREE (or otherwise) WIRELESS INTERNET in the rooms (I’m still baffled at how this isn’t a standard offering at all hotels.)
Nashville Farmers’ Market/Bicentennial Capitol State Park
The information guide at the visitors’ center recommended I have lunch here, as I was looking to eat outdoors. I took the bus, which was a short and painless ride from downtown. The area surrounding the Farmers’ Market is quite picturesque - it’s actually the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, which was pretty cool. There were lots of workers having lunch on their lunch breaks, so both areas were quite populated, but not too congested.
Pros: Beautiful landscaping, outdoor seating, inexpensive food
Cons: Food just okay (food court-quality), not enough seating on picnic tables
Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant
I attended a reception/cocktail party at this restaurant, and I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t be fooled by the name of the restaurant, or their ads featuring overalls-wearing farmer types eating at what looks like a truck stop; this place is actually very nice. Although I didn’t have any food, there was a full buffet of comfort food-chic fare, which many people raved about.
Pros: Great service, inviting atmosphere, central location, food (or so I’m told)
Cons: Sort of misleading name and print ads (I didn’t see anyone in denim at this event, that’s for sure!)
Throughout my stay in Nashville, I heard several times that this was the best, or “nicest” restaurant (read: expensive). I had a business dinner in the private party area on upper level of Merchants. My dinner consisted of the following: fairly standard salad, prime rib with green beans and mashed potatoes, and a wonderful gooey chocolate cake. The menu was a prix fixe, so the quality of food may have suffered a bit because of that.
Pros: Good service, very friendly staff, nice atmosphere
Cons: So-so food
Ichiban Japanese Cuisine
It’s no secret that I’m a sushi fanatic, and I try to have some raw fish in every new city I visit. I was alone, so I sat at the bar (not the sushi bar, but the bar-bar), so I could look out the window and get in some quality people watching. I ordered a few pieces of yellowtail sushi and two rolls: the Dixieland and Norway rolls. To be honest, I can’t recall exactly what was in each roll, but I will say this – they were delish.
Pros: Great quality sushi, friendly staff, quick service, reasonable prices
Cons: Not the best atmosphere; the place looked pretty outdated
Because I don’t have an affinity for the honky tonk-ing, I set out to find a bar or club where I could hear some other (non-country) live music. After putting posts up on Facebook and Twitter, I was lead to pretty much one conclusion: The Basement. I also saw online that Mumford and Sons played an impromptu show there the week prior, so it had to be rad. The club is the actual basement of a music store, so it seemed cool and “underground,” pun intended. Slightly outside of the downtown area of Nashville (I had to take a cab there), The Basement is located in a semi-industrial, semi-residential neighborhood, which adds to its coolness, I guess.
I was charged a $4 cover charge, even though I arrived well before the “9:00” band went on. In fact, I was there for about an hour and a half and only got to hear about three songs at the tail end of the “6:00” set. Those three songs were good; three talented singer-songwriters took turns performing. For an hour after that set ended, the bar was nearly empty, and I sat listening to pre-recorded music, wondering when this $4-worthy band would start.
At 10:00 I reached my maximum level of impatience and just left. On the way out, I half-jokingly, half-bitchily asked the door man for my money back, but he didn’t budge. Because of this whole $4 situation, I turned out to be pretty disappointed in this place, after loving the first 9 minutes I was there.
Pros: Good live music, nice beer selection, cool show posters lining the walls, great outdoor area (for smokers, or warm people), friendly bar tender, no cowboy hats in sight
Cons: The $4. I’m glad I went and would consider going back, but I’d definitely go later in the evening, to get my $4 worth.
Take advantage of the FREE MTA Music City Circuit, which is a city bus route that runs pretty much anywhere you’d want to go in the downtown area. I took this bus to and from the Farmers’ Market and was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was.
Although it’s pretty tourist-centric and somewhat corny, I loved the fact that there were live musicians most places throughout the city – even in the airport! That’s just plain cool to me, and it’s not something you can find everywhere.
Nashville treated me well, and I'll definitely be back. I may even consider buying some cowboy boots...