The next morning in Nashville, we decided to skip breakfast at the hotel and head off somewhere lots of people had recommended for real Southern food.
Said place was – Loveless Café and boy was I excited for it. (I’m kinda always excited for anything food related so no surprises here really).
We arrived at Loveless Café to a queue which, once you ‘check in’ (and get given a beeper to let you know when your table is ready) leaves you free to have a little wander around the grounds. (At which point I spotted gigantic mugs I knew I had to take home with me and some bacon peanut brittle – which I am currently working my way through as I write this 😋).
Breakfast kinda turned into brunch really – the perfect excuse for us to go all in with the food, which by the way does not come in small portions! 😀 You came here to eat and eat you certainly will….
…starting with delicious fresh-out-of-the-oven-and-still-warm biscuits.
Unable to decide on one thing, I went for the Southern platter – chicken, pulled pork and catfish served with two sides mashed potatoes and creamed corn for me and hash browns (but not as you know it) and mac and cheese for Lloyd (who swapped the catfish for meatloaf).
Oh and here’s something I found out American portion sizes.
Usually, coming from the UK, we’re always so shocked at how huge they can be and wonder how people can finish them but that’s the thing – people don’t always expect you to finish it.
Doggy bag culture is more of a thing in the US, where you eat what you can and take the rest home to be eaten later. People expect you to take the rest home with you.
This isn’t the same in the UK, where the portions are smaller and a meal ordered in a restaurant is one you’re reasonably expected to be able to finish in one sitting.
Suffice to say, when you come from the UK (where I can almost never remember taking any leftovers home), having a doggy bag to take back home with you is not something you expect and so we tend to sit at the table struggling to finish off everything on our plates.
Quite frankly, I’m all up for being given more food than I can eat in one sitting so I can take it home – some things (pastas, chillis, stews – taste so much nicer, to me anyway, warmed up the next day).
But I digress! Anway, the food was good and set us off nicely to explore even more of Tennessee – starting with the beautiful Cheekwood Estate.
I can’t quite remember how I found out about Cheekwood. I think it may have been a combination of a blog post and Instagram but seeing as it was on our way back to town, decided to pop in.
The Estate is expansive and exploring the gardens and sculptures can easily take up an entire afternoon so I’d recommend leaving enough time to explore it properly.
My main draw here, however, was the main house in the estate. I love grand old houses and I’m always fascinated by the stories of the people who built them, lived in them and perhaps even still continue to live in them.
Cheekwood was lived in until the 1950s by the family who built it, before being turned into a museum.
We started off with the balcony/terrace outside…
…which has great views of the estate and surrounding countryside
…before heading inside to take in all the splendour of what the house was (and I guess still is till this day).
My favourite room in here has definitely got to be the library, which is slightly ironic as I’m not really a fan of wood-panelled rooms (or maybe I’m just in denial about my love of wood-panelling because now that I think about it, hotel rooms like this one in the Cotswolds have been some of my favourites… 🤔).
Eventually, we left Cheekwood (after checking out pretty much every single room here 😀 and daydreaming about country manor living) and headed over to the Belle Meade plantation – another spot that came up constantly on recommendations of what to do here.
Belle Meade plantation is actually home to a vineyard (alas, we didn’t know this in advance otherwise, we’d have booked a taxi here instead of driving) and is actually one of the most iconic places in the city.
Of course, a plantation like this is one that was built by slaves – a fact that is acknowledged immediately you start your tour of the property (oh, that’s the other thing – you have to be booked on specific tours when you visit the house and so although the grounds are free to explore, if you want to see the rooms inside, you need to set aside about an hour to go on the tour).
See, back in the day, this plantation didn’t actually grow crops in the same way most other plantations did and instead was known for its horses.
The Kentucky Derby was perhaps the most important social sporting event in the late 1800s and early 1900s (and is still pretty popular till this day) and almost every thoroughbred horse that takes part in the Derby can trace their lineage right back to this very plantation!
Wandering around the plantation, there’s a sobering reminder of what it must have been like for slaves back then and is an important place to visit, not just for the glorious tales of horse racing, wine tasting and many other fun stuff but also a reminder of some of the awful things that happened to slaves in the past and hopefully help strive long after you’ve left the estate to, in your own little way, make sure anything like this never happens again.
Leaving the plantation, we made a quick pit stop to the Parthenon at Centennial Park – an impressive replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
Inside there is also another impressive replica of a gigantic statue of Athena Parthenos which is absolutely worth checking out once you’re down with the gallery downstairs.
Feeling peckish, we stopped off at Three Brother’s Coffee for a quick ‘jet-lag be gone’ fix…
…before carrying on to one of the recommendations we’d received whilst in Nashville – Five Daughter’s Bakery for the best doughnuts ever! 😀
The reputation of the donuts (or ‘doughnuts’ – depending on where you’re from) precedes them and in my haze of excitement, I decided to order 3 different types! (Lloyd stuck to just one).
3 doughnuts, by the way, is just too many! 😄 Each doughnut is just so decadent – it’s got like 100 layers per doughnut, it’s stuffed with delicious fillings and takes 4 days to make – and is such a treat.
Like don’t get me wrong – I still ate all 3 doughnuts in one sitting! 😋 They’re just soooo good – hence is one of my favourite spots in the city (there are several of them in the city) and one that I returned to several times after (seriously – you HAVE to go here and try their doughnuts).
One spot worth visiting in the city is the RCA Studio B – a recording studio where all the legends from Elvis Pressley to Dolly Parton recorded some of their hits sung and loved by millions (perhaps even billions) across the world! Seriously, have a look at their website (the ‘Artists’ section) and see how many of the songs you know that were recorded at this very spot.
Confusingly though, you can only visit the studio in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame (which we visited the day before) and you can only visit it at specific times so it’s not one you can just rock up to.
(Even till date, I’m still not 100% sure how the organisation of a visit here works, I recommend just asking at the Country Music Hall of Fame before you get your tickets).
Alas, this wasn’t one of the spots we got to visit properly so we just swung by briefly to see what it actually looked like (trying to peer into the windows as it was closed) before carrying on to the city centre.
Another place I wanted to check out while in the city was the Capitol. (I’m a sucker for grand architecture so, despite this not actually being a place you can explore – at least, I don’t think you can), we headed over there to see what the grand old building actually looks like!
To be honest, it was a bit of a pain trying to find somewhere to park here (it’s mostly offices and residential spaces here so I guess not lots of visitors to the city head out this way) but this just makes for the perfect excuse for an evening stroll in what turned out to be one of the prettiest spots in town.
It’s a mix of grand old buildings thrown in between more modern skyscrapers and feels surprisingly quite different (in a good way) from the rest of the city.
The Capitol, by the way, is actually quite impressive and is actually where the 11th president of the US – James Knox Polk – is buried.
As the sun set, we made our way back to the city centre where the CMA Festival was in full swing in the city!
We’d kinda missed out on this the previous evening so it was nice to be in the full swing of thing. The CMT awards were also on so every so often, the crowds would go wild with people clamouring for autographs or pictures with their favourite musicians.
The energy was actually quiet electric and it was so much fun to explore the festival – perhaps even more so that it was totally unplanned.
It was only when the familiar rumbling of hunger pangs kicked in that we finally tore ourselves away from the festival and headed out in search of dinner.
Dinner, to be honest, was a bit ‘Meh!’. We’d been so distracted by the festival that we actually made no real plans for dinner and, at the very last minute, decided to do a quick search for where to eat close to where we were.
The reviews for the place were pretty good but the meals (and perhaps it was just the choices we made) were really nothing special. Anyway, I won’t waste your time by waffling on about it.
The winner here though were the cocktails, which made for the perfect mid-festival interlude before heading back out to dance the night away (and try some more Tennessean cocktails) at the CMA Festival! 🕺🏾🕺🏻😄
Tomorrow, we’d be off to explore another iconic city in Tennessee but for tonight – PARTY! 😀