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No, not the TV series (to which I’m totally addicted). The Boyfriend, his brother and I took a trip down to the south to visit some of their family in Nashville. I’ve never been to Nashville before, so I was thrilled to get an invite, explore the city and revisit some of my country roots.

 

Growing up in Colorado, I listened to my fair share of country music, rode a decent amount of horses (even was a wrangler at summer camp!) and certainly danced a good amount of line-dances at the Grizzly Rose. Needless to say, the “country scene” leaves little to be desired in San Francisco, so I was excited to get my fix. And oh, I did.

 

Sites to be seen:
  • The Parthenon: Crazy weird that there’s a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens right in the middle of Nashville. But, it was most definitely a beautiful building. We didn’t get to go inside, but we spent some time taking photos outside and meandering through the farmers market.
  • Hillsboro Village: Such a cute part of town! The few blocks that make up Hillsboro Village are located right near Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities which make the area very quaint and young. We didn’t spend much time here — just walked around and popped in and out of a few of the shops.
  • Love Circle: Aptly named, Lover Circle is a secluded “hill” overlooking downtown Nashville. It’s quite small with just one roundabout road and a small mound of grass. But, it did have a pretty spectacular view. And it was so quiet!
Coffee to drink:
The Boyfriend and I ended up going on a bit of a coffee crawl in Nashville. It was so good. I kept thinking to myself, “How is it possible that Nashville has coffee that rivals San Francisco, the home of hipster coffee shops?” Well… here’s what we decided. San Francisco coffee drinkers are primarily comprised of purists who believe that everyone should drink their coffee black to enjoy the robust flavor of single origin beans. In Nashville, yes, they’re concerned about their beans, but the baristas are basically bartenders crafting perfectly balanced coffee cocktails. Muddling orange peels, adding lemon extract, creating their own homemade vanilla bean syrup for vanilla lattes. It was seriously impressive. I’ve never been one to drink coffee black, so these “cocktails” were perfect for me. Not to mention, the baristas in Nashville were…nice. Probably some of the nicest, friendliest baristas I’ve ever encountered.

 

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  • Barista Parlor: This was the first coffee shop The Boyfriend and I went to. It was after a few days in Nashville and we walked into Barista Parlor, which is basically set inside a large garage (technically an old transmission shop), and instantly felt like we were back in San Francisco. It’s beautifully laid out and they have really amazing coffee.

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  • Crema: The Cuban and the avocado toast. Seriously. The avocado toast I had at Crema rivaled the one I had in Sydney, Australia. So, so good. Crema also has a wonderful view of the city. They do roast their own beans and have a “training lab” which is intriguing and speaks the the spot’s seriousness about coffee.

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  • Eighth & Roast: This place was probably my favorite — we had to go back twice! Their vanilla bean latte was incredible and their seasonal “lemon cream” latte was so interesting. This spot was the least “hipster” out of them all, but still attracted the young professional/creative crowd.
  • Frothy Monkey: My least favorite, apparently made famous by Taylor Swift, but still pretty yummy! This place was totally packed, but did have a nice outside seating area (if you can stand the summer heat!).
Food to eat:
We didn’t get to do a ton of eating in Nashville (guess that just means we’ll have to come back!), but there were two places that really stood out.

 

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  • Hattie B’s Hot Chicken: YUM. Hot. Spicy. Fried. Chicken. With sides. Need I say more? I loved the picnic tables out front. Surprisingly enough, the super long line did move quickly and the chicken was well worth the wait.

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  • Edley’s BBQ: Not the best BBQ I’ve ever had (ribs weren’t fall-off-the-bone), but the flavor was very, very tasty. We also met up with one of my mom’s friends for dinner here, so we had great company!
Bars and dancing!
Obviously I had to see downtown Nashville — especially because it was the weekend before the CMAs! The streets were packed and live country music poured out of every open door. It was really incredible. We went to many, many spots downtown, but these were my favorites.
  • Honky Tonk Central: Three levels of live music! This place was totally awesome. Cheap drinks, amazing live music and dancing.
  • Wildhorse Saloon: Line dancing! Gosh, I didn’t realize how much I missed line-dancing. So. Much! It’s so fun to get up on the dance floor with a bunch of other people and learn the steps to a dance. At Wildhorse, they do actual lessons, and then have line-dancing to a live band. It was pretty awesome.
  • Tootsies: Classic. Love the rooftop and the live music was just great. We spent most of our time on the top floor and outside and listened to the music.

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  • Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar: Hidden away in Printers Alley, this little hole-in-the-wall dive bar was super fun. Great energy from the band, the patrons and the bar was basically glowing in the dark.

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  • Grand Ole Opry: I saw Carrie Underwood! And Easton Corbin! And Billy Currington! It was so cool to visit the historic Opry and see the show. Eight acts broken up by real read-out-loud commercials. Pretty cool!
We spent the rest of our time in Nashville with the family, visiting record stores (Third Man Records was awesome, Grimey’s was pretty cool, too), fishing for bass (no luck!), riding scooters around the neighborhood, chasing fireflies (seriously magical creatures). Some of my favorite memories are those where we’re just sitting in the enclosed patio at the house — playing cards, drinking. I miss warm summer nights and Nashville is certainly the place for them.
Obviously, a special thanks is necessary to The Boyfriend’s family, and a few friends who gave me some wonderful recommendations. I had such a wonderful time exploring this city and was really blown away by the food, coffee and culture mecca it has become. I can’t wait to go back.

 
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