Family Fun in the South, Part 1: Nashville

Steve, Trevor, and I just got home from our most recent travel adventure, an epic 15-day trip that took us to 10 cities in 5 states. We flew to our starting point (Nashville, Tennessee), drove 1100 miles, and flew home from our ending point (Charlotte, North Carolina). It was awesome.

Our days were filled with visits to museums, state and national parks, and every other educational attraction I could find that was unique to the area. We ate the local food and absorbed the culture. We had an amazing time and I'm so excited to tell you everything we did!

Because I blog about educational travel, I received free admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. Some attractions we toured are free for everyone; we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I share here is something that I recommend without hesitation. If there is a gap in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, restaurant, or hotel enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.



I hate crowds and will do pretty much anything to avoid them, including booking flights during less-than-desirable times. It was for that reason that we left home at 5:00 am on Saturday, December 25 (yes, Christmas morning) to catch our flight to Nashville. I'm happy to report that my strategy worked. The roads to the Oakland airport were empty, there was no wait for security, and there were lots of open seats on our flight. Perfect! 

We landed in Nashville at 2:00 pm Central Time. 

Because it is expensive to park a car in Nashville and we wouldn't need one most of the time we were in town, we opted not to rent a car until it was time to head to our next city. Fortunately, there were a lot of Lyft drivers working on Christmas Day and it was no trouble getting to our hotel. We checked into the fabulous Homewood Suites Downtown Nashville, where we'd be staying for the next three nights. Our suite was clean, comfortable, roomy, affordable, and conveniently located in a quiet area of downtown, an easy walk from most of the places we'd be visiting. 

Once we unpacked, our first order of business was finding lunch. Or, dinner - whatever you call the meal you eat at 3:00 pm when your body thinks it is noon and all you've eaten so far that day is airplane snack mix. We headed to NashHouse Southern Spoon and Saloon, a short walk from our hotel, for our meal. We had to wait a long time for a table (it turns out tons of people also needed a restaurant meal at 3:00 pm on Christmas Day), but the wait was totally worth it. The food was amazing. We split a handful of dishes, including this bacon mac-n-cheese with pulled pork and the most delicious biscuits ever, served with butter and four house-made jams. Yum!

Then it was time for Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry. In case you are not familiar with it, the Opry is the longest-running radio broadcast in US history. It showcases country music, as well as bluegrass, folk, and gospel. Each Saturday night (including Christmas Day, when it falls on a Saturday), millions tune in to hear the Opry on the radio, while 4000+ watch live in person.  


We don't listen to country music and I knew very little about the Grand Ole Opry before researching it. When planning our trip, I debated about whether or not to splurge for tickets. Would we enjoy the music, or would it just be songs we didn't recognize in a genre we don't follow by performers we'd never heard of? In the end, I decided that the Opry was too iconic to skip. We chose the least expensive seats, which turned out to be just fine. They say there isn't a bad seat in the house. Major fans might prefer to sit front row center, but we were happy where we were. I loved the comfy pew-style seats and the casual dress code. 

I am SO glad that we went! All three of us loved it. The show was entertaining from start to finish, and we were delighted that the performers included so many Christmas songs. It was a perfect way to celebrate Christmas together. 
The show opened with the Opry Square Dancers...

During intermission, we explored the theater. I love these guitars in the lobby. 

The show resumed with performances by Teea Goans, Riders In The Sky, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, and John Berry

(Disappointing not to have a good photo of Fred LaBour's cac-tie.)

And just like that, the show was over. It was so much fun and I'm so glad we went. Even if I hadn't loved the music (which I did), watching the mechanics of a live radio show was a unique experience. The announcer, the stage hands scurrying around, the ON AIR signs... it all added to the fun. Definitely go when you're in Nashville!

Of course, this isn't all we did in Nashville. We packed A LOT more activities into our limited time in Music City. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

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