Places We Love: Nashville Edition
At right around six hours from Fort Benning, an hour outside Fort Campbell (lucky bastards!), and three hours from Fort Knox, Nashville is just one of those places you have to experience to understand. And more importantly, you can't say no to the home of country music when you're stationed in the South! Whether you're planning a weekend getaway from Fort Benning or just a regular night out on the town from Campbell, here's a basic Nashville itinerary to get you started: I visited Nashville for the first time in the summer of 2017 with my brother, and let's just say I'm glad I survived to tell you the tale. Lesson learned: do not try to keep up with a freshly minted 21-year-old when you're past your prime.
For accommodations and transportation, my brother and I found a nice Airbnb outside the city and took an Uber anywhere we needed to go.
Fun fact: In 2017, Nashville was one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and people were moving in at a rate of 100 per day!!! What did this mean for my visit? Long effing lines, EVERYWHERE! The growth was remarkable to witness. Run-down neighborhoods were suddenly inhabited by bushy-tailed millennials, and hipster restaurants popped out of nowhere on the outskirts of town.
Enjoy the Music
The best advice I got before my trip was to go to a concert (any concert) at Ryman Auditorium. This is the place where country music was born and all the biggest legends in country music have played here. The auditorium itself is an old church setting and the pews and stained glass are the highlight. It's the most intimate way to listen to music. Luckily for us, Steppenwolf was playing, so we snagged some tickets and basked in the band's papal glory.
After The Ryman, take your pick of any bar on Broadway and chances are they've got live music playing. If they don't, then they probably won't be in business much longer (just sayin). If you can handle the crowds, squeeze your way into Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. You can hit this spot either right before or after The Ryman since it's just down the alley.
You can also go big and see a show at the iconic Grand Ole Opry House!
Take in the History and Sites
The Hermitage photo by Michael McCarthy
There's plenty to see and do in Nashville, but on my short trip I certainly didn't get to everything. I highly recommend the Johnny Cash Museum. It's filled with memorabilia and everyone got a bit misty-eyed in the "Hurt" exhibit at the end. Something about that song's lyrics and coming to terms with one's own mortality, really gets ya in the feels.
One really cool and slightly underrated activity is walking through the Gaylord Opryland Resort which boasts nine acres of indoor gardens complete with waterfalls and boat rides. It is truly a sight to see. Spend several hours walking through the different themed gardens, grab yourself a cocktail and settle in for some fabulous people-watching.
Eat, Eat Again, Then Eat Some More
Hot chicken photo by IIP Photo Archive
There's no question that Nashville is a foodie's paradise. With so many people moving to the area, there are restaurants popping up all over to accommodate the crowds. Nashville is known for its hot chicken, so if you eat nothing else then let this be your go-to meal. Prince's Hot Chicken is probably the most famous place, but I've also heard great things about Hattie B's.
If you're going for a special occasion, consider getting a reservation at Husk, which boasts Southern cuisine at its finest. Other great places include The Pharmacy and Mas Tacos, which are directly across the street from one another. The Pharmacy is a German beer garden that specializes in burgers. Bet you can't guess what Mas Tacos is known for! Both are very popular places, so get there early or expect to wait.
You could easily spend your entire trip on a rooftop bar somewhere on Broadway, drinking beers and watching the bachelorette party chaos unfold. Regardless of what your visit's goals are, you're sure to have a blast. For those who have been to Nashville, I'd love to know what your favorite things. Share your ideas in the comments!
about the author
Riley is an active duty US Army Captain and the Founder of Right and Up. She’s currently stationed in Washington, DC, with previous assignments at Fort Huachuca, Fort Bliss, Fort Riley and Fort Benning. You can typically find her eating embarrassingly large amounts of food in local restaurants, or exploring her military town with her husband, Sean and her dog, Gus. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!