What’s better than a spontaneous girls weekend? A spontaneous girls weekend in the home of country music, when you surprise your friend with flights the night before, to celebrate being single. Duh.
So yeah, last May, I was in Nashville for the American Payroll Association Conference (thrilling I know, blogging unfortunately is not my real job). I luckily, was at the conference with my cousin from Tuesday- Friday and we got to stay at my favorite hotel in Nashville—The Omni. We had a great time after the conference each night, going to eat at some of our favorite Nashville spots—Kayne Prime and Saint Anejo and of course “Honky Tonkin’” on Broadway. For those of you who don’t know the term “Honky Tonkin,’” “It’s what you do on weekends in Nashville for the classic & ultimate Nashville experience. Get rowdy in every country bar on Broadway, pick your favorite and close it down.”—Official Urban Dictionary definition sums it up nicely.
If any of you know me at all, I was of course snapchatting every single thing we did. Most people probably stopped watching my snaps after the first 4 or 5, but you could at least get the gist of things that I was in Nashville.
So about one day into being there, I received a text from my friend Alyssa who lives in California. I met Alyssa when we studied abroad in Sevilla back in 2010 and rarely get to see her anymore, so she texted me all excited because she saw I was in Nashville and she was going there on Friday! I was of course, very excited too, but told her I was leaving Saturday morning because my best friend back in Chicago had just gone through a breakup that week and we were going to have a girl’s weekend. Ironically, Alyssa informed me that her and her boyfriend had just broken up too and he was supposed to go to Nashville that weekend, but now she was coming solo.
Friday night came and Alyssa and I had quite the reunion. Champagne upon arrival, dinner to catch up, drinks, discussions about the recent ex boy, more drinks. So after about the 5th round of drinks and lots of boy talk, we came up with the BRILLIANT idea that we should just buy my friend in Chicago flights without telling her. So, that is exactly what we did, while sitting on the rooftop at Acme Feed and Seed. We bought flights without even mentioning it to my friend. We then, do a classic somewhat drunk dial to tell my friend (better to drunk dial her than Alyssa’s ex-boyfriend, eh?), Martha, that she’s coming to Nashville tomorrow. She legit thought we were crazy, but she’s known me for 8 years by now, so also is well aware that I’m borderline cray.
The next morning, Martha arrives and we decide to go full out on this girls weekend. We book hair appointments to get dolled up for the day/night ahead of us and get our sweat on at The Sweat House.
Side note, on The Sweat House… I’m not sure why this isn’t a thing anywhere else I’ve been? I’m sure there are other things like it, but I just haven’t seen any. The Sweat House is literally a place where you just sweat your brains out for 30 minutes in an infrared sauna. It’s basically like being in a tanning bed, but instead of getting tan, you sweat out all the toxins in your body and burn some sort of crazy amount of calories. You can read more about the benefits on your own, but it’s something about the way an infrared sauna warms your body compared to regular saunas that makes you burn so many calories. I mean how amazing is that? You literally have to do nothing, but lay down (and become uncomfortably hot) for 30 minutes and you burn more calories than an Orange Theory workout! I’m talking 600 calories!!
So, after sweating out everything from the night before, we headed over to The Dry House (lol, I know. The Sweat House to the Dry House) to get our hair “did.” Immediately when we walk in, the hair stylists are all “ohh who’s getting married? You’re here for a bachelorette party, right?” This is like the 4th time I’ve been to Nashville for just a random girls weekend and everyone always assumes you’re there for a bachelorette party. And when you say you’re not there for a bachelorette party, you more often than not get looked at like you have 12 heads. “Wait.. then why are you all here??” Like can’t some single girls just go away for a weekend and celebrate being SINGLE LADIEZ?!?! So, that’s what we said. “We’re celebrating being single!” The reactions were amazing. Everyone loved the idea. Probably because they see 1,000 basic bachelorettes every weekend. The idea of celebrating the exact opposite, was exciting to them.
(Side note—I’m in no way knocking the idea of having your bachelorette party in Nashville. I will 100% be the most basic of the basic brides, prancing around Nashville in all white and a tiara on my bachelorette weekend. It’s an incredible place to have a bachelorette party.)
After getting dolled up, we went shopping for new outfits. Duh. We got our hair done in Green Hills, so we went to the mall there for a while. I’ve actually read that The Mall at Green Hills is a great place for celebrity sightings. We were at Lulu Lemon in Green Hills and ran into Shawn Boothe and Kaitlyn Bristowe… 2 of my all time favorite “celebrities”. I know people will judge me for calling them celebrities, but I’m actually weirdly obsessed with them, so deal with it because they’re celebs to me.
I later read that so many celebs live in Nashville because it was a paparazzi free city and they love to live there because people don’t ask them to take pictures. I felt like a total asshole. So, take note, if you see celebs in Nashville, try to not gawk and take pics. Whoops.
After Green Hills, we went over to this little boutique called “The Mill Boutique” and absolutely everything was friggen adorable. We didn’t just buy outfits for the night, but outfits for the whole damn summer and it was only May.
After putting on our new outfits and taking 100 mirror selfies we went to dinner at BarTaco in 12 South. I don’t normally like to eat at chains in new cities, but Bar Taco in Nashville is an exception for me. It’s sooo cute and has a great atmosphere. There’s also nothing I love more than having margaritas at dinner before a night on the town (#basic). If you go there, I highly recommend trying at least one of the mushroom tacos. I know they don’t sound wicked enticing, but I actually dream about them. They are SO. Good.
After dinner, we headed to Broadway to go honky tonking! Now, normally, I would say avoid Broadway on a Friday or Saturday night, but it was one of my friend’s first time in Nashville, so we HAD to go. Just know that you’re probably going to wait in line to get in places. We decided to just wait out the line at Tootsies because it is a Nashville staple. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but it has 3 floors of country music and a rooftop and is super old and tiny. It’s amazing. You also can always count on incredible music because only the best play at Tootsies.
We danced and sang and celebrated our single-ness for hours. It’s one of those places that you’ll say “oh I love this song, we’ll leave after this one.” Next song comes on, “Omg, no this is one of my favoriteeee songs! We’ll leave after this one.” And then it’s 2 am and last call before you know it. But if you do find a song you don’t like enough and are able to leave, some other places I like on Broadway are The Stage, Honky Tonk Central, Acme Feed & Seed. Also, if you go off of Broadway on 2nd Ave there are a bunch of lively bars including the Coyote Ugly Saloon. We honky tonked til close and then got street vendor hot dogs and headed back to The Renaissance Hotel (we had to switch because the Omni was too expensive for Saturday night– Renaissance is a solid option, close to Broadway.)
The next morning, we were in dire need of brunch/bloody mary’s, so we headed back to 12 South and stopped at The Flipside 12’s for a ginormous Bloody Mary.
Once we were feeling back to normal, we went down the street and ate a delicious brunch at Josephine’s. The menu there changes seasonally, but if they have the cinnamon donuts (I think they always do because they’re bomb) when you’re there, don’t think twice. Get them. Everything else is delicious too, so you can’t go wrong. After brunch we continued down 12 South and took the basic Nashville photo in front of this mural below. Had to do it. The other famous mural with the wings is in the Gulch, if you’re mural hunting/trying to get that perfect gram before you head out of town.
We still had a couple hours to kill before our flight, so we headed back to Broadway to Honky Tonk Central to soak up a little more country music before we headed back home. Overall, it was an epic weekend of celebrating with long distance friends. We made a pact to do more “gals weekends.” Because sometimes all you need is a weekend away with your girlfriends to get over a breakup or a shitty job or any other curveballs that life can throw your way. Cheers girls!
*Traveler Tip #1* Broadway is so much better/more manageable during the day or on a weekday night. Friday and Saturday nights are so crazy busy and you have to wait in long lines. I have been out to Tootsies multiple times on Monday or Tuesday nights when I’m there for work and it’s always crowded enough that it’s fun, but you don’t have to wait in line. Obviously, most of you will most likely be traveling to Nashville on a weekend, so I would recommend “honky tonking” on Broadway during the day on Friday or Sunday if you can and you shouldn’t have to wait in lines.
*Traveler Tip #2* I know I briefly mentioned Kayne Prime and Saint Anejo, but both of those restaurants are in an area called The Gulch. I have also been to Virago, Whiskey Kitchen, Moto, and Biscuit Love in the Gulch and all are amazing. I’ve been to pretty amazing happy hours at Whiskey Kitchen and Saint Anejo, but they might only be during the week. Kayne Prime is honestly one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Normally we will get the housemade bacon, popcorn buttered lobster, wagyu filets, and a couple sides. I think I have tried every side there and they’re all so amazing that I can never choose, so I let whoever I’m with make the decision. The housemade bacon is the best thing I’ve ever had—it is thick cut bacon, with cotton candy on top, that melts into a sugar coating. The popcorn buttered lobster sounds weird, but it’s great. Also, I would recommend splurging for the Wagyu meat if you’re getting steak. Last time we were there we did the experiment and ordered one regular filet and one wagyu. Wagyu all day, everyday.
*Traveler Tip #3* The Omni Hotel is by far my favorite hotel in Nashville, but a couple new ones are opening this year that I’m excited to try out. The cheapest I have ever seen rates at The Omni are for $299 per night. The most expensive I’ve ever seen them is $899 per night. The hotel is located just a couple blocks off of the main drag and is connected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. They have an amazing rooftop pool, great gym and fun bar with live music—Bar Lines. If you see a rate for under $350 per night, book it. Otherwise, if you are going with a big group, definitely look into Airbnb, there are some really cool ones. Germantown, East Nashville, and 12 South are cool areas to look in because they’ll have a lot going on in the area and just a short uber away from downtown.
*Traveler Tip #4* There is a restaurant goddess in Nashville named Miranda Whitcomb Pontes. Every restaurant she’s ever opened is pure gold and delicious. Eat at one of her restaurants while you’re in town and you won’t be disappointed. They include: Burger Up, Frothy Monkey, Prima, Josephine’s, and two opening soon– Lulu and Geist.
*Traveler Tip #5* Opryland. Everyone feels like they HAVE to see Opryland when they go to Nashville. I hate to be the one to say this, but it’s not as exciting as you may think. I had a conference out there once and it was cool to see, since we were already there, but FYI it is about 20-30 minutes outside of downtown Nashville. Now, personally I’m not the biggest museum person, (sue me) so my own opinion is, it’s not really worth it. But if you’re into that type of thing, totally go for it! This tip is just for those on the fence about whether it’s worth it or not.
This post is just a beginner’s guide to Nashville because there is so much more to Nashville than Broadway, Music Row and 12 South. One of my local friends in Nashville, lives in Germantown and hangs out in East Nashville on Friday and Saturday nights mostly. I’ll do another post on more local activities and places in a bit, but hope this helps for you first timers! Cheers!