Day 84 (8/23/14): Nashville, TN
When we arrived at our campground in Nashville yesterday, it had been extremely hot and dense with humidity. Kentucky had been humid but not unbearable. We had actually even enjoyed the moist air at times. Nashville was a whole new level of humid though. We were sweating profusely through our shirts as we got set up at our campsite and weren’t sure if we’d be able to handle the sweltering, heavy air. Luckily today though it was overcast and began drizzling, cutting through the thick humidity.
We headed into downtown Nashville excited to check out the country music scene. The downtown area is interesting with older looking buildings scattered among modern high-rises. While some of the brick buildings added charm, most of the venues seemed to be chain restaurants, and the streets were extremely touristy. We stopped in one of the many bars to grab a drink and listen to some live country music. While we were there, we got to talking to a couple of the bartenders. One of them had lived in Nashville for about a year while the other bartender had been there for roughly 9 years. Both of them wanted to move out of Nashville though, which got us wondering why everyone raved about Music City.
After finishing our drink at the bar and listening to a couple of country songs by a live band, we continued walking up the street. However, we quickly decided that downtown Nashville was too touristy for us. We had reached our fill of downtown and headed north to the Hermitage area. Hermitage was disappointing though and seemed like it was perhaps one of the not-so-nice areas the bartenders had warned us about. Hopefully we’ll find some better Nashville suburbs during our stay.
Day 85 (8/24/14): Nashville, TN | Brentwood, TN
Always on the lookout for good restaurants, we wanted to have breakfast at the Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village. That didn’t happen though because when we arrived, the line was wrapped around the building! Starving, we decided to settle for the restaurant next door but were extremely dissatisfied. Feeling gypped, we agreed to return to the Pancake Pantry tomorrow hoping it wouldn’t be as busy on a Monday.
After glancing around Hillsboro Village, we were slightly disenchanted to discover that the “village” seemed to consist of only one block with a just a couple of restaurants and shops. It appears to be growing though and is located near the universities (Vanderbilt and Belmont).
From there, we headed over to the neighboring 12 South area. The street of 12 South was more bustling and spread out with other eclectic eateries and boutiques. We then drove through the surrounding neighborhoods of Belle Meade and Oak Hill, which we really enjoyed with their quaint craftsman and stone houses. If we wanted to live near Nashville, those seemed like nice areas fairly close to downtown.
As we continued driving, we came upon a shopping center and ran a few errands. While we were checking out, we started talking to the girl at the cash register about Nashville. We asked her, “If you could live anywhere in Nashville, where would you live?” She said Brentwood, so we headed there next finding that it wasn’t too far away. It seems like everything is conveniently located within just 10-15 miles of downtown.
Once we reached Brentwood, we were in awe of the countless palatial mansions spread out on huge lawns. I couldn’t stop taking photos of the impressive homes! Come to find out, Brentwood is one of the wealthiest cities in America. Also, the county Brentwood is located in is one of the top wealthiest counties in the nation. We weren’t surprised by those facts.
After drooling over the beautiful massive houses, we headed back to downtown Nashville. We ended up on Music Row and enjoyed seeing the old homes and buildings converted to music studios and agencies. The surrounding area had a good energy with a younger crowd and eclectic bars and restaurants.
Day 86 (8/25/14): Nashville, TN | Franklin, TN
Determined to try the Pancake Pantry, a Nashville tradition, we went back to Hillsboro Village. Luckily, our theory was correct about Monday being a better day to go to the breakfast joint. There was still a line, but it was much shorter and didn’t wrap around the building this time. It definitely paid off to go back. Both the food and service were excellent! I’m usually not a fan of frilly pancakes, but the Apricot-Lemon Delight pancakes were delicious!
After breakfast, we visited The Parthenon in Centennial Park, which is an art gallery modeled after the original Parthenon in Athens. It was a fascinating sight to see, especially since it was so odd and random that they decided to build a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, TN. Why? Why the Parthenon? And why Nashville?
Next we decided to check out the area by Nordstrom and Whole Foods like our strategy in Vancouver, WA. Traffic had been pretty good in Nashville up until this point. As we approached the mall with the Nordstrom, we hit our first traffic jam. The Whole Foods was located in a nice little outdoor shopping center though. From there we drove through the nearby Belle Meade and Forest Hills neighborhoods. With lots of mature trees and secretive residences tucked back from private driveways and entrance gates, they both seemed like well-off, established areas.
One of Justin’s friends, Eric, gave us a great tip to check out the town of Franklin about 20 miles south of Nashville, so we headed there next. Thanks for the recommendation, Eric! We were pleasantly surprised by the Main Street of downtown Franklin. The charming town had the quaint Small Town America feel we had been looking for! Another great thing about Franklin was that it had free parking! How refreshing! 🙂 We stopped at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant for some country cooking and tasty beverages served in mason jars. We partook in the refreshing Peach Tea with a splash (or two) of peach moonshine and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of the interesting little cafe/market.
For dinner later that night, we decided to have Hattie B’s Hot Chicken as our last meal in Nashville. Hattie B’s is known for their fried chicken with different levels of hotness: Southern (no heat), Mild or Medium (touch of burn), Hot! (feel the heat), Damn Hot (fire starter) & Shut the Cluck Up!!! (burn notice). You can choose how spicy you want your chicken to be with the hottest version being “Shut the Cluck Up!!!” Haha! We weren’t brave enough to try the ultra spicy version. However, the Mild & Medium chicken we ordered had some heat but was super tasty. In fact, it was some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever had! Hattie B’s was definitely a good meal to complete our time in Nashville!