After spending just one day in Nashville, I learned so much about the lively city. I ventured through the airport, made a friend out of my Uber driver, had a delicious cinnamon latte and brussel sprout salmon salad at the modern and delicious Pinewood Social (which has an adorable bowling alley BTW), then familiarized myself with the people and places of the famous Broadway strip and its surrounding streets before dragging myself back to the airport for my flight home to Pittsburgh.
Through less than 24 hours of adventures and conversations, I learned which of Southern stereotypes are true and which are false, and got the inside scoop from some locals. I learned what to do in Nashville in the morning, like explore some of Nashville's best coffee shops, and what to do in Nashville at night, which I'm sure many of you can guess often involves live music and booze. But hey, not always! There is an endless number of things to learn about the unique city's people and places.
Here are just 26 of the things I learned from just one day in Nashville, Tennessee:
1. Not everyone in Nashville wears cowboy boots and speaks with a country twang. People move there from all over the world... like any other city... obviously.
2. People are much more likely to sing along to the music playing in restaurants and shops. It just feels natural.
3. Vanderbilt and Belmont University are extremely close to the heart of the city. They're both only about a 10-minute drive away. I don't know about you but I always envisioned these schools in more rural areas.
4. Although the tourist hub Broadway is filled with it, Country isn't the only music genre Nashville loves. The city has a flourishing bluesy rock scene as well.
5. "Iced tea" in the North is iced tea. But, most times, "iced tea" in the South is sweet tea. Very important.
6. It's not all nightlife! What to do in Nashville in the morning? Go to the Pancake Pantry. Apparently the 1961 staple is a right of passage.
7. Compared to other cities, it's a bit difficult to be a vegetarian in Nashville. These people love their meats, especially BBQ and spicy "hot chicken."
8. People ask for your name more often. I can't decide if it's because Southerners are less rushed so they have time to ask or if they're just nicer and actually care.
9. The city has lots of great green spaces and parks to relax in.
10. There is more of a celebrity scene than I anticipated. People personally know, see and gossip about celebrities but they don't seem to make a huge fuss over them the way people do in Hollywood.
11. The bartenders are MUCH friendlier than they are in the North... at least on Broadway.
12. Elvis is everywhere.
13. "Jaywalking" isn't a thing, like it is in where I'm from in Pennsylvania. Is this because Nashville has those cool four-way "scramble" crosswalks now?
14. Apparently, there are spiders crawling all over the place but I didn't notice any during my day in the city. I guess I escaped that fun little part of the Nashville experience.
15. The Bible Belt is real and in full effect. I was gifted the religious book "The Great Controversy" by the first person I encountered, my uber-Christian Uber driver.
16. Visible from Lower Broadway, there is what looks like preserved pieces of an old roller coaster track along the Cumberland River. This is actually a symbolic art sculpture titled, "Ghost Ballet for the East Machineworks."
17. The people of Nashville absolutely love Nashville and would hypothetically recommend it to anyone...
18. BUT they often hold back— especially the older folk. Nashville is expanding rapidly and some people feel like the place they know and love is changing just a wee bit too much for their liking.
19. Millennials are wearing wide-brim hipster hats right now. They're everywhere. Is it just ~the thing~ or is it a modern cowboy hat? TBD.
20. The locals stay away from Broadway for the most part. But it really is a must-see if you're visiting.
21. If locals do go to Broadway, you can probably find them at Robert's.
22. The entire city is under massive amounts of construction right now and has been for a while. Cranes here, cranes there, cranes everywhere.
23. In general, the people really are more musically inclined and a large number either are or were aspiring musicians. That's not a myth.
24. You will hear "ma'am" more times than you can count but not get sick of it because it is so honest and endearing.
25. There are approximately 2,000,000,000,000 zillion signatures on the wall's of Tootsie's... including mine now (second stall door in the women's room— woo woo!)
26. You can never learn all there is to know about a city filled with so much in just one day! I'll have to get back soon and I suggest you do too if you're looking for good music, good food, good people, and LOTS OF ENERGY. Though it's the South, this city's not exactly a slow and quiet vacation destination. It's a lively, vibrant, tireless, unique place.