I didn’t go on a vacation–or take any “vacation-like” time off–for the past two years. I was fired shortly after my last vacation (a “Mancation” road trip with my son to Louisville), and this week marked my first opportunity to ditch town since then.
I took my family on a road trip to Nashville, a city I’d always wanted to visit. If you’re not interested in scrolling through the pictures below, I’ll summarize by saying I loved Nashville. It’s a very livable, fun and professional city.
It also seems like it’s undergoing an incredible amount of development. I saw construction happening all around town, especially so in the downtown area.
To summarize in images:
Heading out, we passed through Indianapolis right around lunchtime. Rather than play our odds on roadside fast food further down I-65, a quick Googling led us to Punch Burger, not far from Meridian Circle in downtown Indy. It’s kind of a cross between Meatheads and Epic Burger.
Before heading back to I-65, I needed coffee. After making a quick stop at the Starbucks on Meridian Circle, I snapped a pic of Emmis world headquarters. I hadn’t been there since 2011-ish, when I visited on behalf of Emmis Interactive. I have nice memories of hanging with the staffs of WIBC, HANK-FM, B105.7 and The Fan.
Four hours after leaving Indianapolis, we arrived in Nashville. After getting settled in the hotel room, we were famished to the point of abject hangriness. The solution? BBQ. I have kind of a thing for it. We tried a place called Martin’s, which came highly recommended. It was solid, but my meal there was easily the least impressive one I had while in Nashville.
Our first (and only) full day in town was a flurry of activity, starting with breakfast at Biscuit Love in the Gulch area.
I had the “Southern Benny”: a biscuit, shaved country ham, two fried eggs and sausage gravy, along with some “bonuts” on the side (fried biscuit dough, lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote). The bill added up fast for the four of us; but … so, so good.
From breakfast, we headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Here’s what the sky and landscape looked like when we emerged from the parking garage:
The roots of American music are on display–and fascinating to see. The visit was unfortunately-timed to coincide with the Kenny Rogers exhibit, not the Johnny Cash & Bob Dylan exhibit starting later in the week. Here’s some Kenny Rogers apparel and a couple of Grammys:
Moving along in the museum, I was delighted to see Elvis’s gold-plated piano. Excess? What excess?
Here’s Elvis’s Caddy, with a TV mounted in the back:
I get it: country music sells.
The Hall of Fame rotunda has a mausoleum-like seriousness to it.
But it was cool to see all the inductees in plaque form:
The famous Hatch Show Print letterpress shop is part of the HOF complex. I saw this on display there and promptly bought a print for my house:
After the HOF, we walked over to the John Siegenthaler pedestrian bridge. By that point (10:30 a.m.-ish), the temperature had climbed from 60 to 70 degrees, and the weather was approaching perfect. The bridge goes over the Cumberland River, offering a nice burst of exercise. The views also happen to be fabulous. Did I mention there’s a ton of construction happening in Nashville?
After a round trip on the bridge, it was off to the Johnny Cash Museum. The walk-through was decidedly shorter than the HOF visit, but in many ways more rewarding. Johnny Cash, future farmer:
And Christ, how about these cups given to Cash by the Folsom prison warden? Or the explainer, written by Cash?
Or Cash’s personal Bible?
There was a “Legends of Sun Records” exhibit in the back room. My jaw dropped at the sight of this acetate version of Elvis’s “That’s All Right.”
We left downtown for a bit to visit Nashville’s recreation of the Parthenon:
And from there, we went to a restaurant called the Pharmacy, which has an awesome outdoor dining area. Even more awesome: they make sodas and syrups from scratch. My son made the best choice; he went with “The Creamsicle”:
After lunch, we went to the Nashville Zoo. Like the rest of Nashville, a lot of it was under serious amounts of construction. While the rest of the world was learning how to use the Meerkat app, I saw actual meerkats:
My favorite attraction at the Nashville Zoo is the kangaroo habitat, where there’s no boundary between roos and humans. The simple rule is humans must stay on the path, but kangaroos can go anywhere they damn well please. We hit the zoo as the afternoon heat was at its peak; the kangaroos were exhausted.
The creepiest thing I saw at the zoo? Roaches. The picture’s blurry, but those “Christmas light”-shaped things you see with black on them are all really big roaches. Sweet dreams.
The best meal of the trip was courtesy of Hattie B’s. Their “hot chicken” was also the best fried chicken I ever had. When we got there, the line was modest. By the time we left it was 20-30 deep.
Before hitting the road this morning, we had one more restaurant to scratch off the list: Pancake Pantry, near the Vanderbilt campus. There are zero frills to be had at this old-school pancake house. To make sure I didn’t end the vacation with a healthy meal, I went with the “Sugar and Spice” Pancakes. In the restaurant’s words, “Five light and tender pancakes made from a special cinnamon and spice batter. Sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Served with applesauce, butter, and hot maple or cinnamon cream syrup.” All yes, no nope.