Many of yall know that I prefer traveling alone or with one other person just because of it is usually easier to plan and organize a successful trip. Large groups can be slower (its hard to get everyone to show up on time!) and everyone has their own separate opinions on what to do and where to eat (it can be very hard to agree on an itinerary). Nevertheless, there is also the upside of experiencing your travels with so many of your friends and learning about the destination through their perceptions and lenses. So I decided to organize a girlcation with some of my sorority sisters and head to Nashville for MLK weekend! Although, I do have several solo trips coming up (Madrid!) I was really looking forward to hanging out with some of my close friends and being back in the South (aka I was dying to eat fried chicken). I made sure to bake some extra time into Nashville so that I could still experience some of the city on my own. Side note- this time last year I had the fiasco with a cancelled Quebec City vacation (so much false hope and so much wasted time at the airport) so when I saw that snow was in the forecast again for MLK weekend I was prepared to be snowed in and booked several activities last minute when I was sure that my flight would not be cancelled. Luckily, the snow held off and I made it to Nashville! I’m so used to the hustle and bustle of New York and how brusque New Yorkers can be (yes I admit to be one of them too) so I loved how Nashville embodies Southern hospitality. Everyone I met was so kind and welcoming! 2019 is definitely off to a good start.
Suzy Wong’s House of Yum
When I heard that there was a drag show brunch in Nashville (because how fitting is that!) I knew we had to eat there. Bonus- the food is Asian fusion and I love a good fusion restaurant. The drag show at Suzy Wong’s occurs every Saturday and Sunday in 30 min intervals and costs an additional $3 (a small fee when you consider the how much the drag shows in New York costs). In reality the show was a bit of a disappointment as only one performer performed at a time and it was surprisingly all lip syncing. Nevertheless, we had a good time interacting with the drag queens and chowing down on some delicious katsu chicken and waffles and breakfast potatoes. There were so many bachelorette groups here so I guess its the place to be for girls wanting to have a good time!
My own personal motto is that no vacation can kick off without a cup of aromatic coffee. It’s the perfect pick me up after the stress of flying and getting into town late and puts everyone in a good mood for the rest of the trip. Crema has such good reviews on Yelp and is located near the Cumberland River so I headed there before brunch to savor my iced Cuban latte (made with sweetened condensed milk). I wish the weather had been better because it would have been so nice to sit outside on the patio in the sun and enjoy. But I’ll have to save that for my next Nashville trip because I will definitely be back!
I arrived in Nashville a day earlier than my friends (I had to get some solo time in!) and chose an Airbnb in East Nashville because its often an area overlooked by many tourists for the hyped up downtown Nashville neighborhood. Instead of eating a cold bagel sandwich on the plane (like I usually do), I opted to wait until landing to Uber to Five Points Pizza and try a slice of their delicious prosciutto and basil pizza. It didn’t disappoint! Of course motto #2 is to never end a meal without dessert so after my pizza, I walked next door to Soda Parlor to try their famous waffle and ice cream combo. I definitely wish I was able to bring my friends to these places because I know they would have loved how yummy everything was, but it was nice to soak in my first few moments of Nashville alone. I highly recommend staying here if you’re in the East Nashville area! The hosts were so sweet and the room was so comfortable and huge.
Listening Room Café
I love listening to live music and as Nashville is the live music capital of the world, I knew I couldn’t leave without experiencing some of it. The famous Bluebird Café (of which celebrities like Taylor Swift have performed) was impossible to get tickets to so instead we opted for the equally famous, but much bigger, Listening Room Café. Cover is $10 (we booked in advance) and there is a $15 food and beverage minimum, which isn’t a big deal since most shows start around 6pm, making it perfect for either dinner or a pre dinner drink. Simply put, I loved the Listening Room. The songwriters performing were beyond talented and amazing and you could tell they were so dedicated and passionate about their craft. We had the privilege of listening to Corey Batten (who wrote Blake Shelton’s She Wouldn’t Be Gone) and Jesse Lee (who wrote Kelsea Ballerini’s Peter Pan) perform live in such an intimate environment. I loved that we got to hear the brains and talent behind the hit songs that are usually sung by other famous individuals. Another highlight of our night was definitely hearing up and coming artist, Jesse Labelle, sing songs off his newly released album. We even took a picture with him at the end of the night so if he ever makes it big we can say we heard it first at the Listening Room! Definitely come here for live music if you’re in town.
Grand Ole Opry Backstage Tour
While we weren’t able to see a show at the Grand Ole Opry (again tickets sold out in a flash because Sara Evans was performing that night), we managed to get tickets for a backstage tour. At $35.50 a piece these tickets weren’t cheap, but were so worth it. The hour long tour allows for an inside glance at one of the most famous music venues in the world and the opportunity to learn a bit about country music history. We were able to see the dressing rooms where the artists get ready in before each performance and we peered out into the audience pews from the stage where the artists performed every Saturday night. Of course the highlight of the tour was being able to step into that well known ring and hold the same mic that is used by so many great country legends.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
When I first told people I was visiting Nashville over MLK weekend, the first recommendation most people had for me was to try Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. They all claimed that it was the best they’d ever tasted so even though I’m not the biggest fan of hot chicken (it can be a little too spicy for my tastes), I still wanted to try it. Luckily for me, Hattie B’s has different spice levels for their chicken- no spice, mild, medium, and hot. I went with the mild because I did want to eat a somewhat spicy chicken to get the Nashville experience and the chicken turned out to be amazing. I scarfed down all the food because it was simply irresistible! Be prepared to wait in a line if you’re wanting to indulge in Hatti B’s chicken though because it is long.
Vanderbilt University and Centennial Park
I had a few moments on Monday before heading to the airport so I thought I would check out Vanderbilt University. I’ve always been curious about how other University campuses are and what it would be like to be a student there. After visiting, all I can say is that Vanderbilt University students are very lucky because their campus was gorgeous. So many stately buildings and beautiful architecture. I loved seeing all the students walking around- it made me miss my alma mater UT! Across the street from Vanderbilt is Centennial Park- a spacious area filled with swinging benches, a giant lake, and the stately Pantheon replica building. I took a quick stroll around the Park and marveled over how peaceful everything was. Definitely a nice change from the city!
Country Music Hall of Fame
I didn’t plan to visit any museums while in Nashville just because I wanted to experience walking around the streets of the city and seeing everything. Unfortunately for me, the weather on Sunday in Nashville was way too cold (even for this New Yorker!) so I decided to spend some time indoors at the Country Music Hall of Fame and learn a little about the musicians that have made Nashville famous. From Roy Acuff to Willie Nelson to Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood, the Hall of Fame museum provided a wealth of information on some many successful and talented individuals. The best part of the museum was walking into the airy and bright atrium where the plaques of all Hall of Fame inductees is located. It was so interesting walking around and reading about who was part of the Hall of Fame and why they were chosen to be inducted.
Nashville Farmer’s Market
I also wasn’t originally planning to visit the Farmer’s Market because it was a bit on the outskirts of central Nashville, but in the end couldn’t give up the opportunity to try bubble tea in Nashville. For those that know me well, they know I have a strong obsession with bubble tea (as any Asian does?) and I love drinking bubble tea anywhere I go. I’ve had it in its original Taiwan, across America, and even in London and Brussels. While Nashville lacks good Asian food and Asian culture, there was one spot in the entire city, Bubble Love, that served up my favorite drink. While at $6 it is quite expensive, I thought it was still a pretty accurate taste. Since it was winter the Farmer’s Market fresh fruit and vegetables were sadly not being sold, but inside the indoor portion of the Market plenty of food stalls were open and ready to serve the hungry public. I recommend coming here in the summer time to get the full Farmer’s Market experience, but savoring a delicious bubble tea is worth a trip as well.
On my last day in Nashville I was again on my own and decided to stop by the highly rated Five Daughters Bakery to try its popular 100 layer donuts. I have a love hate relationship with donuts- the first bite is always SO good, but a few more bites in it becomes too sweet and it starts to seem too big to finish. I was doubtful on how good these donuts could possibly be, but boy was I wrong. This is for sure the place in Nashville to get your sweet tooth fix at. There werent too many seats available for eating the donuts and I wanted to wash down my donut with a nice cup of coffee, so I chose to go next door to the Frothy Monkey café and sip a Monkey Mocha (chocolate and banana infused coffee) while savoring my oatmeal whip donut. Something to note- the Frothy Monkey was SO packed when I arrived (and at 9:30am too!), but there are a lot of seats available in the back including a few communal tables so don’t be discouraged if it looks like there’s nowhere to put down your coffee cup. One of the things I loved most about 12th Ave was that it had the same laid back casul vibe of Nashville without the frenzy of Broadway street. There were so many adorable shops lining the street and plenty of eateries and cafes along the way. I was even able to take a picture with Reese Witherspoon’s store Draper James! 12th Ave reminded me so much of Austin- it even made me a little nostalgic for my college life when I was so many Vanderbilt students studying inside Frothy Monkey.
And there you go- that was my Nashville trip in a nutshell! There were just way too many things to do, places to eat at, and live music venues that I was unable to fit into my short 3 day weekend so I’ll just have to come back to Nashville someday! Taking recommendations for my next trip…….