I’ve been to Nashville 3 times; however, all these trips were entirely different experiences. Nashville can be fun, but it’s not my favorite U.S. city to visit. First, it’s very crowded. Second, drinking is the norm and heavily encouraged. Third, it’s usually packed with bachelorette parties, or as they are known, “Woo Girls”, because they either walk by in large groups or ride by on large “pedal taverns” (multi-seat “bikes” with a circular bar and bartender in the middle that is powered by the peddling of the drinkers) screaming “WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!”… nonstop… usually in matching t-shirts. Many wrongly assume that this place is a sleepy Midwestern, “country” city, but it’s really all about drinking and partying. In fact, many in the area refer to it as “Redneck Vegas”.
I’m not going to cover my first trip to Nashville, since literally all we did was drive straight to the Opry Mills Mall so we could eat at the Rain Forest Café. It’s located at 353 Opry Mills Dr., and it’s best to check their website for the hours. For those who haven’t been to a Rain Forest Café, just picture what a rain forest looks like and plop a bunch of booths and tables everywhere. Add in some animatronic elephants, tigers, and birds, and multiple gigantic aquariums, and you’ve got it!
So, without further ado, onto my 2nd and 3rd trips to the Woo Capital of the United States.
After getting into town, our first stop was the Nashville Parthenon, which is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Greece. Located at 2500 West End Ave., it’s open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 4:30pm, on Sunday 12:30pm to 4:30pm, and closed on Mondays. It was built in 1897 and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It’s located in Centennial Park and was designed and built by architect William Crawford Smith.
I was completely overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of it. It really is a sight to behold. It costs $6 to enter, and on the first floor there is a mini museum with artifacts from Greece, as well as an art gallery. On the second floor is a gigantic 42-foot-tall gold statue of Athena, surrounded by various Greek artifacts and information boards. The awesome thing about this? This is what the actual Parthenon would’ve looked like in ancient Greece, with a giant statue of Athena dead center. As for why there is a replica of the Parthenon and a massive statue of Athena in Nashville, Tennessee – it’s because Nashville’s nickname is “Athens of the South”. This influenced the design of the building, which was the centerpiece of the 1897 Centennial Exposition.
After checking into our hotel, the Millennium Maxwell, we headed to downtown Nashville. We went into various shops selling cowboy boots, hats, western-style clothing, etc., which were all very pricey. Then we headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, located at 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S. If you want to go to the museum part, it’ll cost money, however, there are other parts of the building you can wander about for free. They have some stuff from various country music stars inside glass containers that you can view, but not much. You can also go upstairs to the upper floor and stand outside the room where they hold the Country Music Awards, but alas, you cannot go inside.
Next up was the Johnny Cash Museum, which was NOT a favorite of mine. Located at 119 3rd Ave S, it’s open Monday to Sunday 9am to 7pm, and costs $19.95 per person. If you’re a huge fan of Johnny Cash then you cannot miss this museum; however if you’re a wishy-washy semi-fan like me, save your money and go somewhere else. While there’s tons of stuff in there that belonged to Cash and June Carter, as well as information about them, it was so unbelievably crowded. Claustrophobic and overwhelmingly crowded. It was a small victory every time I was able to get close enough to an exhibit to see or read it, and even then, I felt so uncomfortable because of all the people surrounding me (this was, of course, pre-Covid). If you don’t like being surrounded by people in a small space, be advised.
We came back to Downtown Nashville that night for dinner, plus to experience the insane night drinking/bar hopping culture that is very popular here. Many hotels in the area have free shuttles that take you to and from the downtown scene, which is what we did. We had dinner at Brugada Bar and Lounge, located at 204 Commerce St., which features Mediterranean food, along with live entertainment and a hookah section. If you like Greek or Turkish food, you’ll like this place, but they have some “American” options as well. After eating, we hit 2nd Street, the location of all the bars and insane partying.
We went to several bars, including the infamous Coyote Ugly, and they’re all pretty much the same: crowded, with drunk people and loud music. As I am (clearly) not a drinker or partier, after a few hours I was ready to call it a night and head back to the pick-up spot for the shuttle. We all called it a night, but wanted to do one last thing and that was take a horse-and-carriage ride around the downtown area. It then dropped us off by the shuttle pickup location. It was nice, but being the horse lover I am, I felt terrible for the poor horse…
I visited Nashville for the third and final time (God willing) during the last leg of Kristi and my 2019 road trip. We were passing straight through Nashville and decided to meet our two friends there for a night. We stayed at the Radisson Hotel Nashville Airport, which used to be the Millennium Maxwell, where we stayed in 2017 during my 2nd visit. However, when it was the Millennium Maxwell, it was much, much… better.
This was in July of 2019, so it may have gotten better now (2022). However, back then, it was going through the switch in ownership, which brought on a remodel that severely impeded our stay. Not only did the rooms look more like a Motel 6, but the main elevators didn’t work, forcing guests to use the service elevators, which were considerably further away and much smaller. When we were leaving, we had to wait at least 20 minutes for an elevator car that was empty enough to fit us and our luggage. At the risk of sounding like a “Karen”, we weren’t offered any kind of discount or complimentary offer, nor did we ask for one. I will simply just stay somewhere different and closer to downtown if/when I ever go back.
Moving on – our first stop was dinner at Dicks Last Resort, located at 154 2nd Ave N. It’s tacky and vulgar, but it’s decent food for a decent price. If you’ve never eaten at Dicks, please do not go if you are easily offended (I mean that as sincerely as possible). Dicks whole premise is in the name. The staff (including waitresses) are instructed to be rude and apathetic. They usually don’t attack looks or things people cannot control, they’re just rude and indifferent, but in a sort of funny way. They also give you nice little hats with personally crafted insults on them.
We then hit Downtown, filtering in and out of various bars as one does while in Nashville. We eventually landed at Buffalos Nashville, located at 154 2nd Ave N #2, which is marketed as a pool hall and sports bar. I really enjoyed this bar (and I am not a bar person). It wasn’t packed to the gills like many of the bigger bars. Also – some places do charge covers, but most do not (this bar does not).
After about an hour and a few rounds of pool, we moved on to Wildhorse Saloon, located at 120 2nd Ave N. This is a much bigger, 2-story, far more crowded bar, with a giant dancefloor, huge stage with live entertainment, tons of tables downstairs and upstairs, and multiple bars. They do charge a cover charge to enter. This bar is NOT somewhere I’d recommend if you’re claustrophobic or hate very loud, live music.
We danced at Wildhorse Saloon for about an hour before moving on, back out onto the streets, to meander in and out of some more stores. After visiting a few shops, including one of the multiple candy stores throughout downtown, we called it a night and headed back to the hotel. All of us had been to Nashville multiple times, so staying out all night and soaking up the experience wasn’t imperative.
Overall, if you can’t already tell, Nashville is not high up on my list of favorite travel locations. This is due to a completely personal preference, as I know plenty of people who love going to Nashville and find it very fun. I’m not a huge country music fan… nor am I a fan of drinking and drinking-related activities… nor a fan of huge crowds… so Nashville is simply not my favorite jam. However!!! If you are a fan of these things, or at the least, don’t mind them, then Nashville can be great. Also, there’s obviously much more to do here other than what I’ve described. Ultimately, you can always stay away from downtown, however, that is where everything is, including museums, sooo good luck.
Until next time (or maybe not), Trashville. ✌🏼