opening in 1889, President Andrew Jackson's
Hermitage has welcomed more than 15 million guests.
Located minutes from downtown Nashville, this
National Historic Site consists of 1,120 acres of
family fun for all ages. Guests are welcome to step
back in history and explore the grounds, Hermitage
Tenn. — "Nashville is the new Austin." It was
a comment I heard numerous times during the recent weekend
I spent in Music City. After about the third time, I asked
the person saying it why he thought so … was it the
thriving music scene (not exactly a new addition) or the
burgeoning restaurant scene (somewhat of a new addition)?
Perhaps it was the influx of young professionals
contributing to the city’s energetic vibe — my nephew
Scott being one of the recent transplants, relocating here
a few months ago, ironically, from Austin.
turns out the answer was: all of the above.
is a beat to Nashville now that has nothing to do with the
boot-scooting boogie; a panache that extends way beyond
Printers’ Alley. You’re likely to see just as many
people wearing three-piece suits and designer frocks as
dusty jeans and boots, and just as many carrying
briefcases as carrying guitar cases.
a new song on the Nashville charts and it has nothing to
do with unrequited love or unfulfilled dreams.
was in town for the re-opening of the Sheraton Grand
Hotel, following a $35 million renovation. That
renovation, envisioned with a focus on design, has earned
the property the "Grand" designation (one of
only five in the United States and 14 worldwide).
the unique design features are a 25-story blown glass
chandelier and floating wooden staircase in the lobby, and
an aquarium containing 150 jellyfish at the entrance to
Skye, a special events venue on the 28th floor, where the
jellies might play second fiddle to spectacular views of
celebrate the re-opening, the Sheraton had pulled out all
the stops, from a honky-tonk evening at the Wildhorse
Saloon to a private concert by Earth, Wind and Fire in the
Grand’s Platinum Ballroom.
I wasn’t partaking of all the hotel festivities, I was
checking out the Nashville restaurant scene, which these
days is a lot more than just barbecue.
Common is described as a "retro-modern steakhouse
with craft sips," although I thought it could serve
as a setting for "Sex and the City," the
was once a dry-cleaning establishment on the split between
Broadway and Division Streets is now a palace of Art Deco
splendor, luring hip diners with its rich color scheme of
copper, red and black and its shimmering decor of metal,
marble and glass (floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to
see the action on both streets).
noted, steaks top the menu here, from a 6-ounce petite
filet mignon to a 28-ounce porterhouse, while the lively
bar offers libations far beyond the "Sex and the
City" girls’ favorite Cosmos. For sophisticated
dining in a hip setting, this is the place to go.
hearty steaks to small plates is not much of a stretch in
Nashville’s urban dining scene. At Henrietta Red in the
trendy Germantown area, the focus is on the latter,
especially if they involve oysters and other types of
seafood. There is a full raw bar selection as well as an
extensive menu of craft cocktails.
course, this being Nashville, establishments offering
barbecue (try Martin’s, known for its whole-hog
pit-fired BBQ) and Southern staples are not to be missed.
For the latter, it’s worth making the 20-minute drive
out Highway 100 to Loveless Cafe, near the bridge leading
to the Natchez Parkway.
Loveless Cafe offers dinner, it is the perfect brunch
spot, with heaping helpings of country ham, fried chicken,
country fried steak with white gravy, fried green tomato
and pimento cheese and biscuits.
BEST OF THE REST
doesn’t lack for attractions, and despite its hip new
persona, many of them have been around for quite a
while. Here are some of the city’s "must-see"
Hermitage. One of Nashville’s top attractions is the
home of President Andrew Jackson — after the White
House, Mount Vernon and Monticello, the most visited
presidential home in America. A National Historic
Landmark, it tells the dramatic story of Jackson and his
beloved wife, Rachel. In the formal dining room, the
couple entertained both dignitaries and Tennessee
backwoodsmen, without regard for their station, and in a
placid location behind the garden are their graves.
Meade Plantation. "Queen of the Tennessee
Plantations," it was, during the antebellum period,
the leading Thoroughbred farm in America. So much so, that
its owner, William Giles Harding, wrote a letter to the
editor of the American Turf Registry extolling its virtues
as a breeding establishment.
stock here is all the go," he penned. "To be
without it is to be out of fashion and destitute of
Civil War and the accompanying conscription of Belle Meade’s
Thoroughbreds by both Union and Confederate armies
severely impacted its stables. Some of the finest horses
were spirited away to Woodburn Farm (now Airdrie Stud) in
Woodford County, Ky., for safekeeping, thus giving a boost
to the Blue Grass state’s own Thoroughbred industry.
Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art. This private
55-acre estate, once the home of the Cheek family,
founders of Maxwell House coffee, now houses a permanent
collection of fine art and an interconnecting series of
museum houses American and British decorative art,
contemporary art, and a Woodland Sculpture Trail,
showcasing the work of international artists.
gardens are spread across the entire 55 acres, and focus
on many styles of garden design — from English-style
boxwood and Japanese gardens to wildflower and seasonal
Parthenon. Located in Centennial Park, it is the world’s
only full-sized reproduction of the Parthenon in Athens,
Greece. Complete with a statue of Athena, goddess of
wisdom (in this case the work of a local sculptor that
took him eight years to complete), the setting is as
elegant as it is incongruous.
Auditorium. Known as the "Mother Church of Country
Music," the Ryman was the original home of the Grand
Ole Opry. Although these days, the Opry is headquartered
at Gaylord Opryland Resort, occasional performances are
still held at the Ryman. What is permanent is the ghostly
presence of the many stars who have graced its stage.
all of this seems a bit too staid, there are less
conventional ways of acquainting yourself with the city.
You can take a scavenger hunt through downtown or hop
aboard a golf cart for an art tour of neighborhood murals.
can walk (on a Taste of Nashville food tour) or crawl (to
various distilleries, breweries and pubs). You can Segway
through downtown or paddleboard on the Cumberland River.
the ultimate experience, you can see Music City on a
private tour with a working singer/songwriter.
wonder if they offer that in Austin.