By Ramona Richards
Here we are, setting on top of the conference and as a Nashvillian, I’d feel amiss if I didn’t at least offer up some suggestions about the city you’re about to visit. Nashville is a glorious, friendly place, and I hope you’ll all have a good time.
The Omni Hotel is at the edge of what we call SoBro (South of Broadway). The main entrance faces south. But for the most part, any of the fun stuff you might want to try is NORTH of the hotel. If you face south, you’ll see a lot of parking lots and industrial-looking areas. Don’t go that way, especially alone. It’s not so much that it’s dangerous–there’s a police station across the street. It’s that there’s not much down there, no cabs, and it’ll be easy to get lost, hot, and unhappy.
The exception would be Martin’s BBQ (yum) at 411 4th Avenue South. Good stuff. Crema coffee shop is south of the hotel, but it’s about a 7-block walk (east on Korean Vets Blvd and south on Hermitage/1st Avenue. (Occasionally, streets change names with no warning). But there is a small Bongo Java in the hotel.
If you don’t want to walk, we have lots of cabs, and Uber and Lyft are very active. There is a free local bus shuttle that runs frequently. The routes and times are here: Music City Circuit
The city is mostly safe and cops are everywhere (bikes, horse, motorcycles), but there are a LOT…a WHOLE LOT of people downtown these days. I DO NOT RECOMMEND DRIVING DOWNTOWN if you don’t have to. But don’t go out walking alone, and make sure you have the hotel phone number in your phone if you get lost.
As I type this, predictions call for TROPICAL: scattered showers and 85 degrees all week. The tough part is the 75% (or higher) humidity. Soupy. You’re going to sweat a lot if you walk a block or more. STAY HYDRATED. Bring an umbrella.
THINGS TO DO
Nashville is a tourist town, so there’s much more than I can cover in this blog.
• The Country Music Hall of Fame backs up to the hotel, so it’s just around the corner (easy to spot; looks like a big keyboard).
• Even if you don’t like country music there are things at the museum that might interest you, like this exhibit. The home page for this site also offers up some good info on the city.
• There’s Hatch Show Print, which is a delight, especially if you have any interest in the history of printing.
• And, of course, the Ryman, which started as a gospel temple.
• We have a great art museum, the Frist Center, which has some stellar exhibits.
• And if you’re really adventurous, Cirque de Soleil is in town that week.
WHERE TO EAT
Too many to put here. Lots of little dive places, honky tonks, and swanky stuff, mostly yummy, all within walking distance. Remember to HEAD NORTH.
My suggestion would be to Google “downtown Nashville restaurants,” zoom in until you can find Kitchen Notes (which is in the hotel), and click on a few places that appeal to you in the area.
BEST THING TO DO (in my opinion)
Head out to explore before you’re starving. Walk up (north) on Fourth Avenue, down (east) Broadway, and up Second. Take in the sights and sounds of downtown. Music PERMEATES everything. Relish the buskers and the street vendors. Pick a restaurant at leisure.
IF YOU HAVE A CAR AND WANT TO LEAVE DOWNTOWN
PM me on Facebook. I have lots more suggestions, such as the Grand Ole Opry, the Parthenon, McNamara’s, etc. I tried to stay within walking distance of the hotel for this blog. AND if you have a question about any restaurant (distance, quality, etc), PM as well.
And just ENJOY the city.
Ramona Richards loves Nashville. She’s lived there for almost 50 years, and watched all the changes. As she did, she became a writer and editor, and has published 10 books and numerous articles and devotions. You can find her at her website and Facebook pages.