When your company mandates PTO between Christmas and the New Year holidays, you have a few options:
- Staycation at home (and never leave your apartment until you become one with your bed)
- Staycation at your family’s (and risk your sanity)
- Pick up other side jobs (and deny yourself a much-needed break)
- Travel (and live your best life)
Isn’t the answer obvious?
I visited Nashville earlier this year for the Rock n Roll Half Marathon, but I felt like that wasn’t enough time. My boyfriend and I decided to road trip to Nashville for our own mini food and booze tour. We were able to explore several neighborhoods in Nashville and enjoy the South for a few days.
Thursday, December 27, 2018
We left early Thursday morning from Illinois for a long, rainy drive. We literally hadn’t discussed our plans at all for the trip, but in true type-A character, I made a spreadsheet of restaurants, bars, gyms, and areas to explore. Also in my true character, the majority of the places we went to were not on my list. Idk, making lists is just fun?? But, if anyone ever wants the overly detailed recommendations, I gotchu.
We checked into our Airbnb, which is close to Germantown, just north of downtown. We never drove more than 10 minutes to get anywhere in the Nashville area, and Lyfts to downtown were never more than $7. It wasn’t the most wholesome of streets, but it was a prime location for our purposes. Our host met us upon arrival, and he had the music BUMPIN. The loft was so cool and way bigger than we expected. The California King Size bed was so extra but awesome, and we really appreciated the Starburst on the coffee table (favorite reds, to be specific).
For dinner, we went to ACME Feed & Seed, which everyone had recommended. The live show was about to start, so we were standing by the bar to eat. Honestly, after that long of a drive, we preferred it. I had a tuna sandwich but mainly just wanted the sweet potato fries, he got the ribs, and we shared the hot chicken bites. He experimented with the different hot sauces, and I laughed my ass off as he was literally toweling himself off with napkins at the bar. He loved the heat, but the heat did not love him. Did we really want to try true Nashville hot chicken?
With the Music Bowl on Friday, Broadway was packed with Auburn and Purdue fans. We walked into a fun looking bar on Broadway, and it turns out it was the new Kid Rock Honky Tonk. Their stage was awesome, but the performers didn’t even know the lyrics to a Kid Rock song. Eeeeeep.
Then, we went to Jason Aldean’s bar. We began our count for how many times we would hear Friends in Low Places that weekend (5, but I honestly expected at least 10). With full bellies and a few beers after a long day of driving, we were still wiped out in bed shortly after 10. Honestly, that’s one of my favorite things about Nashville. You can still feel like you had a good night out even if you start early — none of that nightclub-out-til-4am bullshit.
Friday, December 28, 2018
Neither of us had been in a gym for a week, and we were dying for a workout. We dropped into CrossFit Music City in the Gulch. I’m already not a dedicated CrossFitter by any means, and with my lower back issues this year, I try to take things easy with weights. I struggled with this workout that was almost entirely overhead lifts, so I was disgustingly excited to do 40 burpees. Now those I can do!
For breakfast, we ate at Holler & Dash. Loaded tots, bacon and egg biscuit, and of course we had to try the beignets. Those were my only donuts in Nashville, but they were bomb. They were very biscuit-like, and they didn’t need the coffee dipping sauce.
After we cleaned up, we headed down to explore 12 South. I would imagine this neighborhood would be poppin’ for a weekend brunch with many cute boutiques and coffee shops. He may or may not have slightly regretted getting coffee from the first place he saw, so choose wisely.
We drove around Nashville a little more with some sightseeing and shopping. We stopped at Tailgate Brewing Company for pizza and beer and to watch the end of the game.
For dinner, we went to Martin’s BBQ. Like everywhere at anytime in Nashville, there was a line. We’re always the first to jump at an open bar seat, so it’s never that bad. We split their some wings and the Kid Brother Platter with some brisket, ribs, a cornbread hoecake (basically a pancake, it was unfortunately underwhelming), and some bomb mac + cheese. I loved their BBQ sauce and the Memphis dry rub on their wings. Their bartenders are also hilarious in how they manage annoying customers — that was entertainment in itself!
Afterward, we walked to Broadway for a couple more bars. We loved Swingin’ Doors Saloon! It was more of a dive, but the band was great with a smaller bar vibe. We also went to the Stage, which was probably our favorite bar of the weekend. Both acts were awesome, especially the first with a badass fiddler. I had too many vodka sodas, and we still were back at our Airbnb before 12. Prime.
Saturday, December 29, 2018
On every trip I’ve been on since knowing my boyfriend (Boston, Denver, and NYC), I always somehow manage to get strep throat, and it’s always right after he’s visited me in Chicago. We joked that if I were to get strep in Nashville, we would break up. I mean I would have to get my tonsils out if I kept seeing him?!
So when I woke up on Saturday with a slight fever and chills, I was like RUFKM???? Thankfully, it was nothing much more than that, but I was still a little grumpy all day.
We dropped into CrossFit Nashville, and I (again, jokingly) told him that if we had to do more overhead squats and snatches, I was walking out. Of course, that’s exactly the workout. Lol it was a partner workout though and it was fine. Their music was good, so I was happy. With the drop-in fee, you also get a shirt, so now I’ll look like an actual CrossFitter even though in reality, I’m more like Spongebob trying to lift with Larry the Lobster.
For breakfast, we ate at Fido in 12 South. The line wasn’t as bad as we expected, and we had the steak scramble and the Pete’s breakfast, which were both super yummy.
I took like an hour-long shower trying to warm up and pretend the chills weren’t from a fever, and then I napped while he watched football. I felt bad being a bum while we’re in Nashville… but it was colder that day, and I doubt he was like, “Darn! I have to stay in and watch football!!!”
We went to East Nashville to explore a bit. Five Points was a cute area, and I loved the Idea Hatchery. It’s a little shopping area with pop-up shops of local startups, and there was tons of cool stuff to look at. I also now want to start a crystal collection. Friends who appreciate the woo-woo — help me out!
Then, we stopped for coffee and tea at Cafe Roze. It was a really cute little cafe/bar. I wish I would have gotten their matcha, but their Day Dream tea was a mix of peppermint, lavender, and chamomile, which is as a dreamy as it sounds.
For dinner, we went to Monell’s in Germantown. This was probably the highlight of our Nashville food tour, and it’s probably what I’ll talk about anytime anyone brings up our trip. It’s traditional Southern cooking with family-style serving. You sit at a large table with other groups like you would at a hibachi restaurant, but no phones (or open flames) allowed at the table. You pass the dishes to the left, and you share. But don’t worry, they bring out seconds. And thirds.
The menu changes each day, but we had fried chicken, catfish, ribs, cornbread, biscuits, corn pudding, coleslaw, pea salad, white beans, green beans, mashed potatoes, cinnamon apples, and then peach cobbler. And, of course, tons of sweet tea. My favorite was probably the catfish, and he was in love with the fried chicken.
We left feeling so full, but none of it was super heavy. It all reminded me of my late Grandma Kesinger’s Sunday dinner. I bet their brunch would be incredible, and they also do a midnight brunch from 12-3am if you want some good drunk food. Bottom line — you must go!
Some of my hometown friends were visiting too, so we met up with them at Winners in Midtown. It was nice to get off Broadway and see where the locals actually go out. Karaoke was absolutely hilarious, and I almost lost my voice singing along to Total Eclipse of the Heart. I’m not sure if it was the caffeine or the sugar from all that sweet tea, but I was feeling better thankfully.
Sunday, December 30, 2018
We were up at 6am to get on the road early to go back to Chicago. He was having some issues with his car, so when we stopped in Louisville for brunch, he had his car checked.
But first, we got coffee and tea at Please + Thank You, which apparently has the best cookies that we didn’t try. We ate at Wild Eggs, and I had “Nashville hot” (not) chicken and waffles while he had a burrito. Their syrup was more white and creamy which I didn’t expect, but it was good. Also, the servers were all wearing holsters. We were making guesses on what they could be. A jam pump? A butter gun? But no, it was just an aggressive pepper grinder. Oh, the South.
We had so much fun on our weekend trip to Nashville, eating and drinking literally everything. After seeing Nashville in the spring earlier this year, it’s interesting to see how lively the city can still be even when it’s cold. I’m so grateful to have finished 2018 with another wonderful weekend getaway!
I’ll be headed to Miami in Feburary (birthdaaaaay trip!!) and would love everyone’s recommendations. Where are you traveling this year? Any fun cities or areas you’re hoping to explore? Any races I should add to my bucket list? Let me know on Insta! You know travel and experiences are always > anything materialistic 🙂