Posted by: strangecation | June 1, 2010

Southern Exposure – Memphis & Nashville, TN

Why we were there:  I woke up one day with the thought that I would someday move to Nashville, TN.  I had never been there; it was just a feeling I had.  My boyfriend, Chris, who loves adventure as much as I do, thought I should at least check out the city before I hired a moving company, so we planned a trip there as Christmas gifts to each other.

We started our trip in Memphis…


The Peabody Hotel

We stayed at the renowned Peabody Hotel, which is walking distance to almost everything.  We arrived just in time to see the Peabody ducks exit the elevator onto a red carpet leading to the ornate lobby fountain where they spend their days.  Our room was huge and comfortable…a perfect retreat from the city below.

After a night of drinking on Beale St. we cuddled into our luxurious king sized bed for a peaceful night of slumber.  At approximately 12:30am the fire alarm goes off in the hotel!  My thinking is: we have to get all of our stuff because we’re only here for one night and if there really is a fire, I’m sure they won’t let us back into the hotel and the rest of our trip will be ruined!  So, I make Chris, who’s still drunk, take all of his belongings and run down 10 flights of stairs to safety.  The second we get downstairs the fire alarm is turned off and we’re told to go back to our rooms.  False alarm.  We were the only people who had our stuff with us.  Others were in bathrobes, PJ’s, slippers…not us.  We were fully dressed with all of our shit!

Blues City Café

When one of the concierge’s at The Peabody recommended TGI Fridays for lunch, we were a little shocked, we weren’t exactly looking to discover the glory of Memphis in a chain restaurant, but thankfully another one recommended Blues City Café.  Their pulled pork sandwich is to die for!  It is located right on Beale St, thus began our five-day BBQ binge.


We also had to eat at Rendezvous based on two shows we saw on the Travel Channel: “Man V. Food” and “Rib Paradise”.  We were not disappointed!  Their dry rub ribs were so tender and flavorful…I’m salivating just thinking about them!


Love, love, loved Graceland!  There is something very emotional about cruising up that long winding driveway and pulling up in front of the house where the King lived.  It’s a little pricey ($10 for parking plus $30.60 per admission ticket), but well worth it and gave me, someone in her 20’s, an understanding of the lasting contribution Elvis had on all types of music.

Beale Street

Not much beats a pub crawl down Beale Street.  Live music, neon lights and you can drink on the street Vegas style.  It was especially fun when we were there because that night the two blocks of bars and souvenir shops were crowded with hundreds of Southern motorcycle clubs.  We saw everything from bad ass Harleys and tricked out Hondas to people in full leathers and confederate flags.  Very interesting…

Crystal Shrine Grotto

This is not a “must do” by any means, but if you have a little down time and like seeing weird shit, then you’ll enjoy this.  It was made by artist Dionicio Rodriguez in the 1930s.  It’s made to look like a giant, old tree stump, somewhat Disney style with quartz crystals lining the interior.  Inside there are statues depicting different stories from the bible.  Very bizarre…gotta love the Bible Belt!


The Hermitage Hotel

About 3 and a half hours and a Waffle House breakfast later, we pulled our bottom-of-the-line rental car up to the valet in front of the sophisticated 5 star Hermitage Hotel.  The Hermitage Hotel has a lot going for it: friendly staff, elegance, beauty and location, location, location!  Whether you’re here for vacation or business, The Hermitage is ideally located within walking distance of the Honky Tonks, the Ryman, the Convention Center and many other downtown Nashville attractions.

We asked the concierge where we should grab a snack.  She recommended Rippy’s on Broadway.  It was perfect!  We sat outside on their roof top terrace overlooking the Honky Tonks, ordered some nachos and had a couple of two-for-one Happy Hour beers.

The Hutton Hotel

Nashville’s only “green” hotel has a chic and modern vibe, very much like a W Hotel.  It’s located a few miles from downtown, and walking distance to Vanderbilt University and Centennial Park.  A nice feature about this hotel is the hybrid courtesy vehicle (it was a Lexus RX 400h when we were there) which guests can use on a first come, first serve basis within a several mile radius.

There are a million things to do in Nashville and I feel like we did almost all of them.  Here are our recommendations:

Nashville Attractions

Check out the Honky Tonks for live music, a fun “anything goes” atmosphere and really cheap drinks.  There is truly something for everyone.  A couple of our favorites were Tootsies and Crossroads.  There are no cover charges, but don’t forget to bring lots of dollar bills to tip the bands.

Be sure to stop at The Bluebird Café, an intimate venue for checking out some amazingly talented singer/songwriters.  We saw an “In the Round” featuring four different artists.

At the Grand Ole Opry, we caught Opry Country Classics which was really interesting because it’s a live radio broadcast.  It felt like you’d stepped back in time to an era before television where people gathered around their radios for entertainment…needless to say, I felt like we were the youngest people in the crowd, but we still had a great time.

Belle Meade Plantation gave us a glimpse of a significant part of southern American history.  Our guide dressed in period clothing and gave an excellent tour of the mansion as she explained the history of the place and the family who owned it.  This particular plantation was in the thoroughbred horse business.

On our way to the Belle Meade Plantation, we stopped at The Loveless Café for some famous melt-in-your-mouth, buttery biscuits which were served with butter and homemade jams.  They were absolutely AMAZING!  I could have eaten just those all day long and been very content.

Hatch Show Print is one of the oldest letterpress print shops in America.  They have been printing advertisements and posters for local shows for about 130 years.  We picked up a few of their prints.  They are very reasonable, starting at about $15 and going up from there.  Really cool place with incredibly nice people.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was a bit of a letdown, a lot of information to take in and read.  The floor dedicated to the Williams family was interesting and we hear the RCA Studio B tour, for which we arrived too late, is pretty good, too.

We had to stop at Swett’s based on a review we read on Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog where she was on a quest to find the best fried chicken.  This is cafeteria style dining at its best.  You choose a meat plus 3 sides.  I got the rotisserie chicken (Chris got the fried chicken) plus candied yams, creamed corn and baked corn bread, all of which were very tasty.

The drive to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg crosses some pretty lush countryside.  Unfortunately, the distillery is located in a dry county, so it wasn’t a tasting tour, but it was still incredibly fascinating.  The fact that it was free, leaving us more money to spend on the great southern cooking, made it even better.

We had such an amazing time while we were there.  Will we be moving there in the near future?  Probably not.  Will I be back?  Absolutely!



  1. Wow! What a great trip and what a fun blog! Where are you guys going next?

  2. Hey Miss Ashley,

    I miss you! This looks like an amazing trip with Mr. Baldwin. Thank you for sharing. I have a client that just graduated from Vanderbilt so Nashville is in the air!

    Biggest Kiss,


  3. Sounds like so much fun! I wanna visit nashville now! 🙂

  4. What a great read. I felt like I was right there with you guys…..was there anything you didn’t do/see.
    Will you research my next vacation?….for a fee of course!
    Watch out Huell Howser….there is a new kid(s) in town. ( BTW—he’s originally from Tenn)

  5. Hey Darlin! Wicked sweet trip and now you can blaw blaw blawg about your trip to Niagara, coming up! Can’t wait to see you. Much Love xxx

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