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A Perfect Nashville Bachelorette Weekend

April 26, 2015

I met Megan during my first weekend of college.  We were in the middle of sorority recruitment and ran into each other outside of our dorm buildings.  We sat and chatted like we were old friends.  Little did I know then as an 18-year-old that she’d become one of my best friends, greatest confidants and favorite people to talk to.

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Megan is getting married in July to a great guy, Craig.  To celebrate her upcoming nuptials, we headed to a place we’ve both wanted to go for as long as we’ve been friends:  Nashville.

I can sum up Nashville by saying one thing:  It’s perfect.

Nashville is the right mix of culture and Southern charm.  The restaurants serve amazing food, the drinks are good and not too strong.  The scenery is pretty–a mix of rustic with lush greenery.  The shopping is ideal–streets lined with cute boutiques with stuff you’d actually want to buy at reasonable prices.  Needless to say, I never wanted to leave Nashville once my flight touched down.

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I’m Megan’s Maid of Honor, so I was able to plan a fun bachelorette party itinerary for our group.  Initially, we wanted to rent a house for everyone to stay in.  I started booking things about six weeks out, and realized quickly that every house and nearly ever hotel in the city was booked for the weekend we were heading there.  This seemed crazy to me, so I finally called one of the hotels to see what was going on.  It turns out the NRA was having their annual convention the weekend we were there and had blocked every room in the city.  Crazy!

We were lucky to find two rooms at the Holiday Inn Express Nashville Downtown.  Due to the convention, they were priced a little higher than you’d normally want to spend for a Holiday Inn (over $400 per night).  However, even though this wasn’t our first choice for hotel, it ended up being AMAZING!  For starters, you can walk to the bars and restaurants (and live music!) on Broadway.  Everything else that you’d want to do is also a quick drive from this location.  The employees at the hotel were also so helpful, welcome and accommodating.  I would stay here again in a heartbeat.

We landed in Nashville early on Friday morning.  Our first stop was the Pancake Pantry.  Flapping jacks since 1961, this spot is a hotbed for celebrities and musicians in the area.  There was literally a line wrapped around the building to get a table, but it was well worth it, because the food was delicious!  I had the Cherry Supreme Pancakes–pancakes with cherry compote rolled into them and then topped with more cherries.  Talk about delicious!

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After eating, we walked around a shopped a bit.  There are SO many cute gift shops in the Nashville area (more on that later).  Next, we went to the Ryman Auditorium, which is known as the “Mother Church of Country Music.”  We took a self-guided tour and got to see dressing rooms where the likes of Patsy Cline and Alan Jackson have gotten ready to perform.  The self-guided tour was reasonably priced, had some fun picture opportunities and was a nice way to learn about Nashville’s history.

Once our tour was finished, we walked around the corner and had drinks at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.  Tootsie painted her bar orchid in 1960 and was known for letting struggling songwriters pay for their drinks with IOUs.  Willie Nelson signed his first songwriting deal after performing at Tootsie’s.  We had a blast at Tootsie’s!  We actually ended up there twice on Friday.  We went there for a quick drink on the rooftop after touring the Ryman.  For early in the afternoon, the rooftop was PACKED and filled with fun-spirited people enjoying live music and the nice weather.  We headed back later in the afternoon to meet up with my friends Sydney, David, Anthony, Patrick and Brandon, who were randomly in town.  The drinks are reasonably priced and the vibe is fun, so I’d definitely suggest stopping at Tootsie’s.

After Tootsie’s Round 1, several of us headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Hatch Show Print.  Hatch Show Print is the location where many of the posters advertising performers’ concerts in Nashville are designed and printed.  It was cool to see the design process and some of the interesting historical posters.  Their gift shop also has some great, unique finds.  I’m a big country music fan, so visiting the Hall of Fame was fun for me.  My favorite part was seeing the costumes that some of my favorite performers have worn during the career.  If you aren’t a big country music fan, I might skip both of these places, though.

Next, we headed back to the hotel for a lingerie party with champagne for Megan!  Each of the girls brought a gift for Megan and to thank them all for traveling, I gave each girl a gift bag.  Amongst other things, the gift bag included sunglasses, these cute bachelorette party inspired hair-ties in Megan’s wedding colors, and a handmade Nashville-inspired tea towel that my mom made.  This site has a super cute iron-on transfer design that you can use to print on the canvas tote bags.  Overall, the tote bags were a big hit and it was fun putting them together.

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We enjoyed dinner that  night at The Southern.  The gumbo was super hot, the craft cocktails were creative and delicious and the vibe was relaxed, but cool.  This was a fun place to have dinner and the menu offered a lot of options at different price points.  Girls could order a nice steak if they wanted to, but there were also less-expensive, but still delicious options.  If you eat here, I would suggest asking to sit in the main dining room.  We were tucked away in a private dining area, which was nice for us to be able to chat with each other, but I think it would’ve been more fun to be in the thick of things.

That night, we hit the bars on Broadway.  It was SO much fun!  The guys in Nashville were such gentlemen.  I don’t think any of us paid for a drink all weekend.  We started the night at Tin Roof, which was a good place for the night to unfold.  While there was live music, it was a more mellow crowd and you could actually find a place to sit and hear the person across from you.  We were ready for something a little wilder, so we headed down the street to Honky Tonk Central (amazing name), which ended up being SO MUCH FUN!  There are three stories in this bar, and on Friday nights, each floor had a different band playing.  We headed up a few flights of stairs to the floor featuring a really fun cover band that had everyone dancing. The band played everything from Taylor Swift to Sam Smith and Tom Petty.  It was a great time that probably kept us all out past bedtime.

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On Saturday we hopped in the minivan (oh yea, I rented a minivan, because since there were six of us, it would be cheaper than taking Ubers) and drove south to Franklin, TN.  If I ever disappear, look for me first in Franklin.  Franklin is perfect.  The homes are on expansive, lush plots of land.  The life is a little slower–people talk slower, walk slower and are just more calm, gracious and polite.  I travel a lot, but Franklin was one of the first places in my life that when I stepped out there for the first time, everything just seemed to make sense.

My friend Sydney who lives in Nashville told me that we HAD to eat at Puckett’s, and she was right!  Puckett’s is a restaurant housed in a cute little grocery store found in a strip of shops and restaurants in Franklin’s main thoroughfare.  There was a wait to be sat, so we made our way to the bar, where the bartender mixed us all up some Moscow mule inspired strawberry drinks.  They were AMAZING.  The staff at Puckett’s was so nice!  I’m not a huge drinker, so I wanted a coffee.  There was a cute coffee shop next door and they welcomed my going and bringing a latte from there into their restaurant.  Our food was delicious.  We shared fried green tomatoes (delicious), fried green beans (even more delicious) and hot chicken (MY FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD) and just enjoyed a slow, lazy lunch.

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After lunch, we strolled around Franklin and took in its shoppings.  Franklin’s shops speak to my boutique loving soul.  There were amazing gift shops (Lulu), cute paper goods and card stores (Rock Paper Scissors), sweet boutiques (Philanthropy) and THE MOST AMAZING bath goods store I’ve ever been to (Bathos).  Do yourself a favor and spend $8 to order the Artemesia Mud Mask.  This is a “fridge fresh” mask, meaning that because it is made of fresh, organic ingredients, you need to store it in your refrigerator to preserve it.  It is such a treat, though, because once you put it on your skin, the feeling of the cool mud draping around your face is fantastic.  From here on out, Bathos’ masks are going to be my go-to gift for friends.

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I never wanted to leave Franklin, but the time came.  That’s because we had tickets for a show at the Grand Ole Opry!  The Orpy has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  So, we loaded up in the fan and drove the 30 or so minutes away to the Opry.  The Opry and its surroundings can best be described as country music’s Disneyland.  Being in a venue whose stage has held some of my favorite artists was inspiring.  The show was super fun and entertaining.  Mark Wills, Kristian Bush, Craig Morgan and the Charlie Daniels Band performed for us as we sipped house wine.  Afterward, we took a behind-the-curtains tour, where we got to see dressing rooms and even grace the Orpy stage ourselves!  This was a blast to me, but again, if you aren’t a country fan, I’d skip this.

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After the concert was over, we decided to head to a different area of town than Broadway to see its bar scene.  We headed to Midtown to check out two bars, Winner’s and Loser’s.  And yes, Winner’s and Loser’s are right next to each other.  However, despite the opposites found in their names, the bars are practically identical in their vibes and patrons.  The crowd featured a lot of recent Vanderbilt graduates and a group of fraternity boys who took a real liking to our 30-something selves.  I felt a little out of place and aged out of both Winner’s and Loser’s, but the vibe was fun (there was even karaoke!) and the drinks were cheap, so they may be worth checking out.

Sunday’s activities were some of my favorite of the trip.  Thus, it’s lucky that you made it this far in the post, because this is where the gems lie!

On Sunday morning, we headed to Pinewood Social.  Pinewood Social is the COOLEST PLACE ON EARTH!  It features an amazing restaurant, with a great brunch, bar and coffee menu.  Beyond that, though, there is a bowling alley, swimming pool (yes, you read that right!), ping pong tables and bocce ball court.  We enjoyed brunch at a big, comfortable table inside.  After we ate, we wanted to head outside to enjoy cocktails in their great open-air environment and soak in the perfect Nashville weather.  The manager was super accommodating in this request and we spent hours in comfortable throw-back chairs sipping craft cocktails and talking about the great weekend we had.  A few of us played some ping pong, but overall we mostly enjoyed the company!  This place is a hidden gem.  We all remarked about how surprised that we were that it wasn’t packed to the brim with people, because the service was great, the drinks were fun and fresh and the scene was SO DANG COOL.  Go there.  Now.

Our time in Nashville was coming to an end, but there was one last stop we had to make.  it was a stop for popsicles.  Yea, you read that right.

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12 South is akin to the hipster area of Nashville.  People there are just so cool and don’t even have to try to be cool.  There are great murals on exposed brick buildings.  There are awesome shops.  There is a big, beautiful park.  And then, there are the popsicles.  Las Paletas is a Mexican popsicle shop started by sisters in the 12 South neighborhood.  The line for these sweet treats goes outside of the store’s door, but it is well worth the wait.  The popsicles are served from a couple of small freezers and the flavors range from pineapple chili to chocolate and avocado and peanut butter.  They were all SO GOOD.  Every single last melting one of them.  Go there and thank me later.  I wish I had a freezer full of them with me here in Miami, but I don’t, which means one simple thing:

I NEED TO GO BACK TO NASHVILLE.  Right now.  Seriously.  i would if I could.  It was as close to a perfect trip as trips come.  Everything was enjoyable and just so pleasing.  What a gift and wonderful way to celebrate one of my favorite friends.

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