Last weekend, I dragged the family down to Nashville for some sightseeing. Well, the real reason was to ensure we were in the recent eclipse’s path of totality! When we first heard of the eclipse, I thought, “Huh, that would be kind of cool…”
Next thing you know, I had flights and an AirBnB booked!
We saw most of Nashville on foot, even though we rented a car. Our AirBnB was outside of the city, so a cheap rental made a world of difference getting to and from downtown. Our regular day consisted of getting up early, driving into the Nashville Public Library Garage, and then proceeding to wear down the soles of our shoes all day, stopping only for food and drink.
On our first day, we touched down at Nashville International Airport around 9AM, central time. The airport is small, dated, but definitely sufficient for our needs. We checked in at the Alamo desk and then went to pick out a car. The whole process was very simple. Though I would have loved to drive out in a Porsche, we settled on a respectable Toyota Corolla.
In a few minutes, we were in the city of Nashville, struggling to find parking. We found the aforementioned garage at the public library, and set up camp. Since we couldn’t check into our AirBnB until later in the afternoon, I put a few things in the day pack, and we walked over to Biscuit Love for some breakfast. The line was wicked long! By now, it was about 10AM, so I shouldn’t have been surprised, and we hoofed it over to Puckett’s Grocery for a few great brunch plates. They have a breakfast buffet, if you’re feeling particularly hungry – otherwise the regular menu is good and offers large portions for the pricing.
After a leisurely breakfast, we decided to take in the sights of the city while walking up to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Definitely check out the park here, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Bring the kids, and let them cool off and make friends in the water jets, just past the railroad tracks. There are some picnic tables underneath the railroad bridge; both kids and adults will enjoy listening to the trains whizz by overhead.
The area is bustling; it’s just a few blocks from the state capitol, the Cumberland River, and right next to the Nashville Farmer’s Market. As the sun started to stare down at us, we needed to cool off with some of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream nearby. Satisfied, we moved on to walk along the riverfront, and then over to Broadway.
Nashville was busy this weekend, due to the eclipse, but I’ve heard Broadway is always packed. Even though we weren’t there long, I have to agree! The bars were filled with tourists, bachelorette parties, and cowboy boots. Most of the venues seemed too rowdy with our son in tow, but we did poke into some of the tourist traps along the street. The usual stuff – T-shirts, shot glasses, and other knick knacks.
We spent the afternoon doing some more educational stops – the Tennessee State Museum and the Nashville Public Library. Both are free, and offered some insight into Tennessee’s history and culture. The Civil War exhibits within the State Museum were excellent, and anyone that has the slightest interest American History will enjoy the quick stop. Tennessee’s role as a border state during the conflict provides a unique commentary on both sides of the war.
The library is another building to add to your list, and is worth your time. If you’ve read any guidebooks on Tennessee, Nashville, or anything on the history of the Volunteer State, you know the Civil Rights movement in this area was largely a peaceful one. The Nashville Public Library pays homage to the city’s history with a dedicated Civil Rights Room. Please stop by and spend some time reading the quotes and looking over the photos. Especially now, with so much going on, it’s helpful to be reminded of our own history.
Now, before I get all political, let’s talk about food! We stopped for dinner at Oscar’s Taco Shop across the street from the library, and then drove to the AirBnB east of the city. After a long day of walking the city, we sank into the beds and relaxed for a few minutes. It wasn’t long before I started to get fidgety, and with some deliberation, I convinced my girlfriend we should check out the Opryland Resort. Our accommodations were relatively close by, and it was the perfect thing to do to round off the night! She agreed to wander around the resort and see what was there, so the three of us hopped in the car.
Disney World. That’s the only comparison. The Opryland Resort may be smaller than the mouse’s kingdom, but there’s that same over-the-top feeling when you walk into it. Drive to the Opryland Mall, and get as close as you can to the resort without hitting the gated parking lots. Then just walk towards the resort, and you’ll find it. From the outside, it just looks like a huge hotel. Keep walking, and you’ll know why people love it here when you see it. The interior has a New Orleans French Quarter vibe to it, and the architecture to match. Everything in here is expensive, so prepare ahead of time, or just plan to wander. I was a little put off by the “magic” (read: manufactured happiness) of the place, but I can’t complain about grabbing a beer and strolling through the hanging bridges, over brick walkways and grottos.
After a long day of wandering, some actual sleep was in order, and we drove back to our AirBnB and passed right out. The next morning was early up, into the car, and breakfast!