A few months ago, we found out that British Airways was launching a new direct route from London to Nashville in Tennessee.
This new information, compounded by the fact that we’d had such an amazing time on our 3 weeks road trip across America (Florida to California) with friends meant that in mere minutes of hearing this new information, we’d already started making plans to explore more of the south of the US.
Typically, the planning might have been a lot slower but I’ve been intrigued with Tennessee for quite some time now.
It’s the home of Jack Daniels, for starters (I knew I just had to see that spring that every single drop of JDs comes from) and then there was the whole Country music, Rock and Roll, Soul and even Rockabilly music that Tennessee as a whole is known for – all of which, when you throw in that delicious Southern food, made a trip here one that fairly quickly switched from a ‘Maybe’ to a definite ‘Yes’!
And so, a few weeks later, we hopped on the flight with Bear Grylls and headed off to Nashville Tennessee! (I casually make that sound like I know Bear Grylls personally but we just happened to meet at security checks area 😄).
Southern hospitality, by the way, is a real thing and as soon as we arrived in Nashville, the immigration people (who, in my past experience, seemed like part of their job description was to look grumpy) were the very first taste of Southern hospitality!
After checking my details, the lady then proceeded to recommend all kind of places I had to visit. She told me I had to have ‘hot chicken’ – apparently Nashville is known for it, and reeled off places for me to try this out in – as well as barbeque which is also a really big thing here.
It kinda took me by surprise. Usually, at immigration, there’s barely even pleasantries at this stage let alone a lovely conversation about something I really care about (food!). Suffice to say, the very first thing we did as soon as we arrived was to try out some of that famous hot chicken.
The one in centre of town is apparently so busy there’s always a queue there (this is true, by the way – we got to find this out later on during our time here) but there’s one just outside of the city centre that’s better to head to if you have a car as it’s quieter and you get served much quicker.
They are not kidding about the hot chicken either. I can handle pretty much any level of spicy food – I grew up with spicy food so it’s easier for me but I went in expecting Nando’s (a UK restaurant) ‘Extra Hot’ but Nandos has nothing on Hattie B’s when it comes to hotness!
There are of course varying levels of hotness, let’s say 1 to 5 with 5 being the hottest (i.e. the “Shut the cluck up!”) and I went for a 5. To be fair though, it is as delicious as it is hot – a reason why despite the runny nose and fiery tongue, we headed back again over our time in Tennessee and I stuck to the “Shut the cluck up!”.
The following morning, after a long sleep to try to counter the jetlag (it worked wonders and set us right for the entire trip), we wandered into Nashville – in search of barbeque and coffee (that’s the other side with having slept for a relatively long time – somehow, I still end up ‘snoozy’ – like not tired but definitely nap-ready).
That search, however, ended up being a distracted rambling through the city’s many murals. They’re in such cool little spots dotted across Nashville and can actually be a fun way to explore parts of the city you might perhaps even have missed out on.
The murals somehow led us to the Union Hotel (we were walking past and figured we might as well pop in).
The hotel used to be a grand train station and is quite an impressive place to visit (so much so that it’s on the national register for important historic places – I guess in the same way we have ‘Listed Buildings’ here in the UK).
For lunch, we headed over to Pinewood Social, a rather fun spot in the city which from the outside looks rather unassuming but inside is home to an amazing bar, restaurant, rather chilled work-space and even a bowling alley.
The whole concept here is that it’s a social space to do a varied amount of stuff with your friends and I think the idea is just brilliant!
There’s even a small pool outside, with a patio area complete with games.
Lunch started off with a cocktail (as all good lunches should) before tucking into steak and eggs for myself and fried chicken for Lloyd. (The food is pretty good here, by the way, which is brilliant – it’s easy to see why lots of people recommended checking it out!)
After lunch, we popped into the Ryman Auditorium for a slice of music history.
Ryman is such an iconic part of Nashville and a key part of its music history. It’s been home to so many amazing performers with everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Houdini, right through to Dolly Parton having performed in this very spot.
It’s also home to some memorable iconic parts of American music as a whole – including Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and even Willie Nelson’s trademark red bandana.
Leaving the Ryman, we headed down the road to the Country Music Hall Of Fame – which, as someone who grew up listening to Country Music was one spot I really wanted to check out.
Even if country music isn’t your thing, it’s totally worth checking out the Hall of Fame! (I think it’s probably the first time I’ve seen a real-life Grammy Award).
It’s such an important part of Nashville’s history and it’s really fun to see actual items you may have seen in music videos, TV shows, movies and so much more.
Leaving the Halls of Fame, we headed off on a jolly jaunt in the sunshine…
…stopping to check out the view of the city at the John Seigenthaler bridge
…before weaving out way back through the city and deciding to head back to the hotel and kick-it poolside before dinner.
Dinner for the evening was at 5th and Taylor – another brilliant recommendation sent to us on Instagram! The food here’s pretty amazing – let’s just get that out of the way, and it’s just one of those places I have no hesitation in recommending you check out when you’re in Nashville.
Wasting no time whatsoever, we went straight for mains – friend chicken for myself and a pot roast for Lloyd (if ever there was a place to gorge on fried chicken – Tennessee is it, I’ve said that before and happily say it over and over again).
I ordered a white wine Sangria to kick things off – which turned out to be my only reservation of the meal. It just tasted too much like drinking white wine – with a cordial thrown in. The fruitiness of Sangria is half the point of having Sangria and if I wanted to have white wine, I’d have just ordered it (and I certainly wouldn’t have thrown in a dash of cordial). That being said, there are so many other amazing cocktail options on the menu so chalk that down to a bad choice on my part and try something else when you visit.
For dessert, I went for the fried apple pie (soooo sooooooooooo good!), while Lloyd went for a boozy brownie – a gooey delicious chocolate delight – topped with ice cream (and equally as amazing as the apple pie!).
Dinner at 5th and Taylor was just the perfect way to finish off a brilliant sun-soaked day exploring Tennessee and one that sent me straight to sleep as soon as we got back to the hotel – eager to explore even more of Tennessee over the coming days.