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36 Hours in Nash-Vegas

One of many enormous boot stores in Nashville.

One of the many enormous boot stores in Nashville.

Last weekend a group of friends and I went to Nashville, TN, for a bachelorette party.  What we didn’t know was that every other bachelorette party in the world was also going there.  Apparently Nashville has eclipsed Las Vegas as the #1 bachelor and bachelorette party capital of the U.S.  Despite this, we still had a good time.  Oh, and we spent more than 36 hours in Nashville… (But yes, I’m doing a play on The New York Times36 Hours In… series, which actually covered Nashville, but to no one’s surprise, the Times seemed to have quite a different experience from us…)

 

Friday

1.  Up and At ‘Em | 4:40 am – Wake up and get a car to LGA for my 6:30 flight.  There were four of us going on this trip but we all flew separately due to geography and airline/ticket considerations.  Spoiler alert – we all had various major and minor travel problems to and from Nashville.  One girl missed her flight on Friday, and my flight was cancelled on the way home so I had to spend an extra night in Nashville.  Not sure if that always happens if you try to go to or from Nashville, but it’s worth considering if you value your sanity.

 

A quiet Broadway on a Friday morning in Nashville.

A quiet Broadway on a Friday morning in Nashville.

2.  Most Important Meal of the Day | 10:30 am – Two of us have arrived in Nashville, and we hit Broadway to scope out the neighborhood and eat ice cream as our first meal of the day!  (Ok, it was my second meal…)  Mike’s Ice Cream was pretty good, but a lot of flavors were sold out at 10:30 am – maybe because little else seemed open at that time in that area?

 

The steak salad at Etch.

The steak salad at Etch.

3.  Etch a Sketch | Noon – The bride-to-be has arrived and the three of us wander back down to Broadway for boot shopping and lunch.  We take a break from shopping to have lunch at Etch, which turns out to be excellent – really good food, big portions, nice ambiance, friendly service, and low prices for New Yorkers ($15 for large steak salad entree, for example).  We later hear it’s a favorite of many visitors and locals, and I’d definitely recommend a visit to Etch if you’re in town.

 

So many boots.

So many boots.

4.  These Boots Were Made For Walkin’ | 2:00 pm – After a big leisurely lunch, we continue boot shopping on Broadway.  We stop in almost every boot store we pass, and I’m determined to buy a pair of boots for only about $100.  I succeed!  But I also buy a second pair for a lot more.  I get endless grief for this, but I still maintain it was a totally different thing.  The bride also buys a pair at Big Time Boots, and a girl who wasn’t buying boots at all buys a pair at Broadway Boots.  Every boot store was similar, but each had a different feel and a surprisingly diverse selection, so if you’re on a mission to buy boots in Nashville, it’s worth stopping in a lot of the stores to get a sense of what’s out there.  And yes, you can get boots for around $100, but your selection will be a lot more limited.

5.  Naptime | 5:00 pm – Back to the hotel to nap (for the girls) and do PT exercises (for me).  We pushed back our dinner reservations in hopes the final girl would make it in time, but unfortunately she wasn’t able to arrive until about midnight.

 

Not our pedal tavern, but they were ubiquitous.

Not our pedal tavern, but they were ubiquitous.

6.  Pedal to the Metal | 7:00 pm – Our Nashville Pedal Tavern Midtown tour starts.  Yep, it’s one of those giant bike-vehicles with bike seats and pedals on the sides to power the moving “tavern.”  We had heard the pedaling was just for show and that they all have motors, but the pedaling was a lot harder than we expected!  When we were on a hill, we were basically standing up on the pedals to push down – more resistance than I ever use in spin class.  Downhills and flats were almost no resistance, however.  The pedaling was the best part, as our guide was surprisingly surly and totally unhelpful as a guide (he didn’t point out a single sight or tell us a single fact about Nashville).  The other guests were almost all other bachelorette parties, and since they didn’t have black souls like we did we were so much older and more boring than them, they hated us.  And the “guide” blasted music which just caused the other girls to scream even louder.  The bar stops were fine, but the bike was BYOB and you couldn’t see anything since you’re facing in while seated.  I’d put this in the “skip” category if you’re ever tempted.

 

No picture of Husk - instead enjoy this neon boot sign.

No picture of Husk – instead enjoy this neon boot sign.

7.  Tusk Tusk Husk | 10:50 pm – We finally get seated 20 minutes after our 10:30 reservation at Husk.  Don’t get the bride started on Husk.  She was not a fan.  We were not fans.  No one should be a fan.  The food wasn’t that good, was mislabeled (“pork prime rib” was actually fatty pork belly), was crazy expensive for what it was (e.g. $30 for a small plain chicken breast and side of corn), and we were seated late with a disingenuous apology (despite arriving at 10 pm).  But the biggest problem was the service.  If you enjoy being served by pretentious bearded hipsters with horribly condescending attitudes, you’ll love Husk.  The only good thing about Husk is the historic mansion it’s housed in (although the dining room is ear-splittingly loud for such a small room), but the building is definitely not enough to make it worth a visit.

 

8.  Reunited | 12:15 am – Our final friend arrives and we are complete!

 

Saturday

I still kinda regret not getting this pastry.

I still kinda regret not getting this pastry.

9.  Panera Dreams | 8:00 am  – Why are we up so early?  Maybe because there is a 1 hour time change between Nashville and NYC that none of us realized until we landed.  Oops!  Regardless, we are up, and get some breakfast at Panera Bread one block from the hotel.  I get a chocolate chip bagel and have my NYC card revoked.

 

The pool and outdoor area at the Renaissance Hotel.

The pool and outdoor area at the Renaissance Hotel.

10.  500 | 10:00 am – We exercise our minds by trying to learn the card game 500 while sitting on the outdoor patio next to the hotel pool.  (It’s like a dumbed-down version of Bridge or a more complicated version of Euchre.)  It starts to rain and our brains start to hurt, so we decide to get lunch.

 

11.  Salad Days | 1:00 pm – Lunch at The Southern Steak & Oyster is noisy but fun, features amazing grits, and their hot chicken salad is a tasty way to eat fried chicken for lunch while also being “healthy” because you’re eating a salad.

 

Part of the Corsair tour.

Part of the Corsair tour.

12.  Corsair Don’t Care | 2:15 pm – We grab an Uber to take us to the Corsair Distillery and Taproom on Clinton Street for our 3 pm tour.  It’s good that we get there early as it gives us time to get some marshmallows at the Bang Candy Company (they taste like marshmallows, nothing that special, but I love my new t-shirt), and browse the knickknack shops along the row where the distillery’s located.  The tour is very short (basically just a peek into the back warehouse area) but worthwhile for the knowledgeable and friendly tour guide and for the tastings (1 gin and 3 whiskeys – none of us could finish the tiny pours).  They also served the most delicious whiskey-lime-ginger cocktail at the bar there, which made me a happy camper.

 

No pictures of Escape room so here's another of Corsair!

No pictures of Escape room so here’s another of Corsair!

13.  Trapped in Nashville | 5:00 pm – We arrive for The Escape Game Nashville at 3rd Ave North in Downtown Nashville.  I’ve done 4 different escape rooms with 3 different companies across the country (in NYC, Portland, and San Francisco) and this Nashville room was the nicest and most high-tech.  We chose the Nashville music producer room since it had a Nashville theme and was the “easiest” room for 7 people (we booked the entire room for the 4 of us).  Unfortunately, we were one clue away from escaping when time ran out!  So frustrating!  But we still had fun and another girl and I are addicted enough that we’re planning another attempt on a different room in the near future (but we were not so crazy as to book another room for the next morning, although that thought did cross our minds…).

 

Huge main dining room at 5th and Taylor.

Huge main dining room at 5th and Taylor.

14.  It’s Located at 5th & Taylor | 7:30 pm – Dinner at 5th and Taylor, a gorgeous modern American restaurant housed in a former warehouse in Germantown.  It was packed with diners but had great service and good food and cocktails.  The homemade ice cream was delicious and helped me forget the pain of not escaping.  We all had a great time and even stayed after dinner for a drink at their outdoor bar.

 

Sunday

15.  Away in the Night | 5:00 am?? – Our first departure.  The rest of us were still asleep.  She actually gets delayed at the airport for several hours.

 

16.  Union Jack | 9:00 am – A simple diner-style breakfast at 417 Union.  The grits weren’t nearly as good as the ones at The Southern, nor was the service, but it was in a cool old building.

 

There.  You've seen it.  Saved you $20.

There. You’ve seen it. Saved you $20.

17.  No Photos, Please | 11:00 am – We have our second departure and the two of us remaining in Nashville tour Ryman Auditorium.  I’m glad we saw it, but I gotta say it’s such a rook.  $20 per person for a self-guided tour is ridiculous since all it gets you is a(n admittedly good) short film on the history of the auditorium and then just a walk through the place with employees yelling at you not to take pictures near the stage.  Everything is an upsell ($20 or $30 for a photo?) and there’s not much there.  But, again, glad I went, since it was the only museum-type experience I had in Nashville, and now it means I’m cultured.

 

Hot chicken with a local beer flight.

Hot chicken with a local beer flight.

18.  Count Your Chickens | Noon – We take an Uber to Hattie B’s for hot chicken, but the line is crazy long so the driver recommends Party Fowl which has no wait.  There are both regular sit-down tables and two separate bar areas. The famous Nashville hot chicken was good, but basically it’s just spicy fried chicken (the spice is in the breading for the chicken) served on top of a slice of bread.  I think it’s just an elaborate excuse to eat fried chicken (not that one should need an excuse).  A couple of guys at the bar told us Hattie B’s was actually a lot better than the chicken at Party Fowl, and that we’d have to come back and get it again.  Hard sell on the hot chicken in Nashville, but if it means I can try Escape the Room again, I’m in.

 

Of course I re-visit the candy store and get ice cream after my fried chicken lunch.

Of course I go to the candy store and get ice cream after my fried chicken lunch.

19.  Kid in a Candy Shop | 1:30 pm – My friend leaves for the airport, leaving me all alone in Nashville, since my flight is delayed due to “aircraft maintenance.”  I head back to Broadway to visit some of the shops and bars we didn’t get a chance to visit (like Savannah Candy Kitchen for some banana and chocolate chip ice cream), and I keep getting texts saying my flight has been delayed again.. and again… and again… and then cancelled!

 

20.  Airline Fun | 3:00 pm – I rush back to the hotel to get on the phone with Delta to try to get on another flight out of Nashville.  Any flight!  Any airline, any city, even if it means a connecting flight… nothing.  I’m on the phone with them for almost 2 hours.  I ask about them putting me up at a hotel etc. and the guy says just submit the receipts to Delta and I’ll get reimbursed.  (A week later and I’m still waiting on reimbursement…)  I’m rebooked for a flight out at 7:00 am the next morning.

 

My second, unexpected room.

My second, unexpected room.

21.  Lock In | 5:00 pm – I check back into the Renaissance Hotel and sit in my lonely hotel room.  I flip channels on TV.  I’ve failed again at Escape Nashville.

 

22. De-Hermiting | 7:00 pm – I force myself to go out to dinner because I know I’ll regret staying in the room all night.

 

This photo, nay, any photo could not do this dish justice.  It's heaven on a plate.

This photo, nay, any photo could not do this dish justice. It’s heaven on a plate.

23.  #blessed | 7:30 pm – Dinner at Rolf and Daughters, a place the guy at the front desk recommended.  It’s a small-plates type restaurant which I usually hate (small portions for too much money, too chic for old people like me, and get off my lawn!), but the food is excellent and I have the best pasta of my entire life – “Sweet corn agnolotti, lime, pecorino, jalapeño.”  They were little pillows of pasta filled with sweet corn cream that burst in your mouth, and there was also some heat from the peppers – just amazing.  I’ve seriously thought about it every day since.  Skip the carrot starter and even skip the olive oil cake dessert and get two orders of the pasta with the sourdough and seaweed butter starter on the side (it’s half a loaf of amazing chewy crusty bread with delicious butter and salt).  Ugh, now I’m depressed I’m not eating it this very moment.

 

Monday

24.  Sound the Alarm | 4:45 am – I get up early and rush to the airport to make sure I’m there in plenty of time for my flight.

 

25.  Overslept | 6:30 am – Flight is delayed because there was some confusion and a flight attendant is “at the hotel.”

 

26.  Putting on Makeup | 7:15 am – Flight attendant is still “at the hotel.”  Apparently the hotel is not in Nashville.  I’m still failing at Escape Nashville.

 

27.  Home Sweet Home | Noon – I finally arrive back in NYC when I should have been home at 7:30 the night before.  But I’ve finally escaped!  Good thing or I might have missed the wedding.

 

If you go…

The Renaissance Hotel ($704 for two weekend nights, guaranteed 2 queen beds, with tax) was perfectly fine and they were really nice when I had to check-in again on Sunday (only $221 with tax for 1 night, 1 king bed), although one of our two original rooms had a faulty A/C (and I swore it smelled like piss the first day – I blame the bachelor parties).  It was really nice that our rooms connected (via the internal door) which in retrospect was key for the weekend.

 

Lots of Ubers were taken over the weekend, but almost every trip was only $5 (except for the airport, which was about $20 for an Uber and a $25 flat rate for taxi, not including tip).  And if you’re not going to Nashville for a bachelor or bachelorette party (or even if you are), just prepare yourself to be surrounded from the moment you get on your flight to the moment you escape.  And if you do ever find yourself in Nashville and can get to Rolf and Daughters for that corn pasta, just know I’m jealous of you.

 

Have you ever been to Nashville?  Have you ever gone on a bachelor or bachelorette trip?  Have you ever visited Bachelor in Paradise?  Share in the comments!