It’s not too late for a last hurrah of the summer. If you love music, good food and southern charm, set your GPS for Nashville. You can pack a lot of fun and sightseeing in a quick visit.
The last weekend in August, Beth Meece of Beavercreek and I spent 24 hours in the Music City for a girlfriend getaway.
We flew from Columbus, a taxi dropping us off at our hotel at 8 a.m. We asked for an early check in and lucked out. Then we walked to Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant.
I ordered the Southern Stack — sweet potato pancakes, fried apples, slow-smoked pulled pork and an egg. Beth had the Leiper’s Fork Favorite — buttermilk pancakes, two eggs and bacon. I must have looked bleary-eyed because our friendly waiter kept the coffee refills coming.
Then it was a short walk to Ryman Auditorium, known as “The Mother Church of Country Music.”
Displayed are costumes and instruments of country music’s legends — one of Porter Wagoner’s “Nudie Suits,” made by the Ukrainian-American tailor Nudie Cohn, known for using rhinestones and Western fantasy-theme embroidery. You’ll also see Minnie Pearl’s hat, a red gown worn by Loretta Lynn, and a dress Sissy Spacek wore in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
“The auditorium felt like a welcoming place,” Beth said afterwards. “It would be a great place to see a concert.”
Then we checked out the stores on Broadway, including Ernest Tubbs Record Shop, which has a large offering of country and bluegrass.
Outside the store we could hear a street musician play. Lots of people come here, hoping to make it big. Most of the bars don’t have a cover charge, so it’s easy to pop in and out. “I liked that there was live music in every bar we walked past, no matter the time of day,” Beth said.
We couldn’t resist handmade ice cream at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, which also makes candies and taffy, truffles, candied apples and fudge.
A few blocks away is Johnny Cash Museum, which opened in 2013. If you haven’t been to Nashville in a while, you’ll want to put it on your must-see list. Artifacts span across Cash’s entire career, and I saw a number of visitors cry at the end of the exhibition where the music video of Cash singing “Hurt” is playing.
A just-opened exhibition is “Legends of Sun Records.” It runs 18 months and features Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins, whose blue suede shoes are on display.
Nearby is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips” opened the previous day and goes through June 12, 2016; another exhibition, “Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City,” runs through Dec. 31, 2016.
Beth and I loved the fashion, including Gram Parson’s infamous marijuana and poppy Nudie suit; boots belonging to Hank Williams, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans; and gowns worn by Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill and many others.
Plus there are cars: the Trans Am from “Smokey and the Bandit II”; Webb Pierce’s 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible with pistol door handles and a saddle console; and Elvis’ 1960 Cadillac with a finish made with crushed diamond powder and fish scales.
Sight-seeing builds up an appetite, so we hit the taco bar, Bajo Sexto. We sat on the patio, watched Pedal Tavern wagons go by and felt like we’d already packed three days of sight-seeing into one. But we weren’t done.
After a breather at our hotel, we headed to the neighborhood called The Gulch, where we enjoyed a specialty cocktail on the patio at Whiskey Kitchen. The weather was perfect, with the supermoon rising in the east.
We left our hotel at 8 a.m., exactly 24 hours from the time we arrived. Beth and I agreed our adventure couldn’t have been any better.