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Nashville has long lingered at the top of my list of US dream cities, despite the fact that up until this June, I’d yet to step foot in Tennessee. My blind love was based primarily on two facts: (1) I’m beyond obsessed with the city’s guilty-pleasure and (2) My blogging BFF and mentor is, in my mind, the city’s de facto mayor. Throw in a penchant for crooning along with country tunes and — BAM! — I was booking a ticket for this past summer.

Nashville Travel Blog

Nashville Travel BlogPhoto by

Kristin and I had been trying to nail down a visit for oh, say, years, but with two schedules as crazy as ours it took a while before we could both carve out complimentary days on our calendar. We started scheming last November for this particular trip, and in June I flew down for a ten day Southern extravaganza — three days in downtown Nashville, a long weekend at Bonnaroo, and a quick jaunt up to Kentucky for the . Add in our trip to Bonaire and Aruba not long after, and Kristin declared it would be the Wanderland in Residence Summer over at Camels and Chocolate.

Cowgirl boots packed, I took off for Tennessee, the nineteenth state I’ve been lucky enough to cross off my list. I arrived in Nashville and immediately remembered one of the reasons I love Kristin so much. Moments after scooping me from the airport she said those four little magic words: “I need to work.” I did too! So off Kristin went to the Nashville Lifestyles office, and off I went to , the most painfully hip coffee shop that I ever did see. It’s the perfect place to plop down and work slash people watch slash indulge in expensive teas for a few hours, should you ever find yourself in Music City needing to do the same.

Barista Parlour Nashville

It wasn’t long before we reunited for more eating and drinking — this would be a theme in the South, you see — at . One bite in and I was already beyond grateful for my personal tour guide.

Whiskey Kitchen Nashville

Whiskey Kitchen Nashville

After lunch, I tagged along on Kristin’s afternoon meeting, which involved checking out a swank condo for a possible future home feature at her magazine. You guys know how I feel about peeking at other people’s houses! So suffice it to say I was an eager assistant.

Nashville SkylinePhoto by

Nashville Skyline

After a few more hours on the laptop grind back at Kristin’s cute Music City condo, we made our way to the for a William Morris-hosted happy hour. I loved checking out this beautiful building and getting to meet so many talented Nashville creatives, the first round of many I’d be introduced to throughout the week. What can I say? My host keeps good company.

Nashville Travel Blog

Nashville Skyline

Nashville Travel BlogPhoto on left by

Next we were off to Darius Rucker’s annual Darius & Friends event at the , a benefit for . I was so excited to kick off my week with live music — especially of this caliber! Other artists taking the stage included Brett Eldredge, Thousand Horses, Brothers Osborne and my favorites, Little Big Town.

I loved how casual and at ease the artists were, like they really were just jamming out with a big group of friends rather than playing a polished concert. It felt intimate and was appropriate to the touching cause they were raising money for.

St. Jude's Fundraising Concert Nashville

St. Jude's Fundraising Concert Nashville

The next morning, Kristin assured me that the secret to surviving Nashville’s irresistible food scene without needing to be rolled out of the city was to offset it with copious exercise. Hence, we kicked off our day with a kick-ass, ass-kicking in The Gulch — taught by a Titans cheerleader no less! After brunch and some window shopping in Hillsboro Village — I loved checking out Nashville’s many neighborhoods — we were off to the Jaume Plensa show at .

We didn’t linger long — because June in Tennessee, obviously — but what a beautiful little wander we had.

Jaume Plensa at Cheekwood, NashvillePhoto on left by

Jaume Plensa at Cheekwood, Nashville

Jaume Plensa at Cheekwood, Nashville

After, we cooled down at ice cream, a special request of mine that Kristin was all too happy to accommodate. It was the perfect fuel for another night ahead of more fantastic media events at fantastic Nashville locations. Frozen dessert enthusiasts, don’t miss this one! Technically Jeni’s can be found across several US states, but this was my first time trying it — hence, it will always be a Nashville treat to me now.

Jeni's Ice Cream Nashville

Of course, I had to give another local spot a try, for comparisons sake! So the next afternoon we were at it again at in Edgehill Village — and fellow Nashville (the show, this time) enthusiasts will understand why that name of this area got me so excited.

Legato Gelato Nashville

Legato Gelato Nashville

At least after all that sugar we didn’t have a fancy event to attend. Oh wait! Just kidding — Kristin had nabbed us media tickets to the . I’ve never been to awards show and so I was pumped to get all dressed up and ogle the stage from a seat instead of a screen.

I was even more excited when the other half of our Bonaroo wolf pack arrived — the ! Kent and Canaan are two more of my favorite humans, and I was literally giddy at the idea of getting to spend so much time with this dynamite crew.

CMT Awards 2015

Watermelon Clutch

CMT Awards 2015

CMT Awards 2015

I loved the show, from finding out about new country artists to seeing some of my old favorites, from giggling with my seatmates as we ran to the bathroom and back during commercial breaks to simply observing some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvers that make it so magic for television.

And it wouldn’t be an awards show without an after party — in this case, Kristin got us on the list for the official one. Now, as much silly fun as I think it is to spot celebrities, I was super nonchalant over the one Kristin was losing her mind over, Norman Reedus from the Walking Dead… because I had never heard of him. Amazing how that can make you cool as a cucumber around someone other people are debate the merits of saying hi to for the better part of an hour! I took advantage of this rarely found chill in my life to  literally chase the poor man down like a wounded animal when I saw him wandering across the hotel lobby while the girls were in the bathroom. It was their last chance for a much agonized-over meet and greet! After inexplicably briefly putting my in a headlock (me: “Is this part of your tv show? Because I don’t watch it.” him: sighs and lets go) we had a really awkward conversation while I killed time waiting for the girls to come out of the bathroom (me: “So, um… I hear your show is good. My friends, the ones in the bathroom, they really like it.”  him: “You mentioned that.”) But the results, when they finally emerged? Group photos, tequila shots, and Kristin thinking I’m the greatest friend on earth. Success! You can see more on of the night.

CMT Awards 2015

CMT Awards 2015

Thankfully we were relatively well-behaved and called it quits after just one shot — after all, we had Kent’s birthday brunch to attend the next morning. Not only was I obsessed with our venue, , I was gleeful at the opportunity to turn Kent’s infamous line of introspective questioning right back at the asker. (No one gets by me on their day of birth without reciting their highlights of the past year and listing their hopes and dreams for the coming one.)

But back to the important things, like biscuits and bonuts. Don’t leave Nashville without finding out for yourself what they are. This was my culinary highlight of Nashville.

Biscuit Love Nashville

Biscuit Love Nashville

We decided to work off some of our morning indulgence with a little stroll over to . My university printmaking studio and the many hours I spent there was one of my favorite things about Pratt, so I got all kinds of collegiate nostalgic while we were here. Next time I’m in town — heck yes there will be a next time! — I’m going to return for one of their behind-the-scenes tours.

Hatch Letterpress

Hatch Letterpress

Hatch Letterpress

Now, I’ve always loved country music. But Nashville definitely reignited that spark in me. By the time we were preparing to depart for Manchester to attend Bonnaroo, I was a full fledged super fan again, ready to will Rayna James into actual existence. (Now, Connie Britton? That’s a celebrity I would lose. my. shit. over. Any Friday Night Lights fans up in here? Texas Forever! Omg I watch too much TV.)

Nashville Travel BlogPhotos by

But back to my rediscovered love for the fine art of country music. It was just in time for CMA Fest, an event that draws a quarter million attendees to Nashville each year. No wonder they don’t worry about overlapping it with the same weekend of Bonnaroo — sounds like they both are doing great. We left Nashville on the afternoon that CMA kicked off, but we did get a little hint of the festivities that morning before we went.

CMA Fest 2015

CMA Fest 2015

CMA Fest 2015

In just three nights in Nashville I feel like I did and saw more than I would have done in a week on my own. And it’s all thanks to the amazing Southern hospitality of my dear friend and tour guide. She’s a host after my own heart with an itinerary detailed down to the hour and a recently dry-cleaned red carpet ready for unfurling. We should all be so lucky to have a Kristin Luna in every city we go to. Nashville, I’ll be back…

Stay tuned for Bonaroo, y’all!

Nashville by Night

Nashville Travel Blog

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45 Comments...
  • Heather
    October 23 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,

    I am glad you enjoyed Jeni’s! If you ever visit Columbus, Ohio where Jeni’s originates from look me up! As a fellow travel addict and blogger I’d love to show you around my hometown, which is pretty rad and I can show you were Jeni’s all started!

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      I will indeed take you up on that, Heather! I’d love to see where Jeni’s first got it’s groove on….

      • Heather
        October 26 2015

        That sounds great Meihoukai! I hope to see it happen one day. I’m an excellent tour guide 😉

    • Funny enough, while I am a frequent visitor to our now four(!) Jeni’s locations in Nashville, I actually went to the original when I flew into the Columbus for a wedding two years ago! I guess you could call me an addict…and when I met Jeni Britton Bauer a few months ago, I’m pretty sure she went straight home and filed a restraining order after seeing how much I fangirled out 😉
      Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

      • Heather
        October 26 2015

        Kristin that is so awesome! I’ve never met Joeni in person but a friend of mine from high school does their social media. If you ever come back to Cbus look me up! I’d love to meet and chat in person!

  • You saw Darius Rucker live?! I’m so jealous. My dream is to see Hootie and the Blowfish live! I almost shelled out a bunch of money to fly down to Charleston for a night to see their charity show in August, but decided not too. I have a friend who is a music producer in Nashville and I’ve been dying to go visit her. I might have to book those plane tickets now!
    Katelyn @ Diaries of a Wandering Lobster recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Do it! Yeah, seeing Darius Rucker was a highlight, especially in such a personal and sweet show. I don’t think I can ever top that.

  • Sarah
    October 23 2015

    I was in Nashville four years ago and I feel like we saw different cities – you being the person who got the better end of the deal!

    I’ll get back someday to see myself.

    Also. Norman Reedus #NotJealousAtAll
    Sarah recently posted..

    • Right??? Meihoukai wins the friend award for delaying him long enough for me to return from the bathroom 😉

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Let Camels and Chocolate be your guide… you won’t go wrong 😉

  • Anca | Globaloud
    October 23 2015

    Omg, you have the watermelon clutch. I saw it once on some fashion blog, but never realized where can I buy it. Maybe I should search on the ebay.

    Nashville looks just like I imagine America besides few huge cities like NY and LA. I would love to visit that part of America once, and would definitely, just like you, pack my pair of boots for that occasion.
    Anca | Globaloud recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      I got in from Nasty Gal! I’ve never gotten more compliments in my life. I wore an old dress and an old necklace… so that was my splurge. I think it was $30 or $40. Love it so much!

  • Andi
    October 23 2015

    You two are so cute! Looks like it was such an awesome 3 days!!!
    Andi recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      It was… you know I love touching base with my blogging friends 🙂 Wish my stay in Charlotte all that time ago was longer than just a layover.

  • Sarah
    October 23 2015

    Love it – Nashville with Kristin as your personal host! We followed many of her suggestions a couple of years ago and loved every single place. Such a hip southern city – and sometimes those two adjectives don’t necessarily come together!

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      She is the best! I shudder to think how clueless I would have been wandering around without her 🙂

  • Caroline
    October 23 2015

    Nashville has always been high on my to-do list! I don’t listen to much country music, but I do like what I hear. And I want some of that bbq!

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Mmmm… I love Southern food! I want to go back just for a ‘lil more of that.

  • Jenia
    October 23 2015

    This year, we;ve done a lot of travel in the US, and I must say it has left me wanting more, not less!! US cities are coming into their own, and there’s so much to explore. We haven’t been to Nashville yet, but now it’s on the list!
    Jenia recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      There are SO many cities I want to visit in the US… Austin, Seattle, Key West, just to name a scant few. Ah, what a big country I call home.

  • Ashley
    October 23 2015

    I’ve visited Nashville twice and loved it both times. But CLEARLY I need to go back to a. hang out with Kristin and b. eat those amazing biscuits.
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Yes and yes. I’d return in a heartbeat for both.

  • Julia Nix
    October 23 2015

    Enjoyed this post, Meihoukai. TN is rocking it – Jack Daniels and the oh so hot rock foursome, Kings Of Leon. 🙂 Don’t tell you didn’t know about their music. Ha.

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      I’m definitely a Kings of Leon fan!

  • Dominique
    October 23 2015

    I can’t handle all the awesome information in this post 😉 The only normal thing I can say right now is that your pictures are gorgeous as ever and I really like those statues in the park!

    At the same time, my mind is still flipping at all the mentions of the TV series Nashville and how awesome it is you visited the CMT awards and that you met Norman Reedus and that you mentioned a show I used to love namely Friday Night Lights (especially Taylor Kitsch)… Great post as always, I think I have to cool off for a bit 😉
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Ah, TV. Just a mere mention of Friday Night Lights makes me weepy. Dillon will forever be my favorite fictional Texas town!

  • Marni
    October 23 2015

    Love it! I definitely only get excited about a handful of celebs, but Norman Reedus is one of them. A few years ago, I got to meet him at Pop Expo in Ottawa. I was fangirling pretty hard, and actually lucked into getting two pictures with him for the price of one. I have yet to encounter a celeb outside of an event, though. Cheekwood Botanical garden looks beautiful! I think it’s safe to say I’ll be putting it on my list!

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Ha, I still don’t know who this guy is! It’s a funny story to have in my roster though 🙂

  • Whitney
    October 23 2015

    I like to think of myself as a Friday Night Lights evangelist because I tell anyone and everyone within earshot to drop everything and watch this show! FULL HEARTS CLEAR EYES CAN’T LOSE!

    And my obsession with Connie Britton also led me to Nashville – so obviously I’m super jealous of this whole trip. It’s definitely on my bucket list.
    Whitney recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      You’re telling me! I can’t wait to rewatch the entire series someday. It’s the most perfect show I’ve ever watched.

  • Kacy
    October 23 2015

    AH! The CMAs! I would have been in heaven. I’m obsessed with the show too, and was raised on country music so it’s criminal that I’ve yet to visit Nashville. I keep trying to make a girls’ trip of it, but it’s yet to pan out. Hopefully soon. Thanks for the restaurant recs!
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Well, you’ll love Nashville (the city) then as the cast is out and about almost nightly! Email me if you make it this way and I’ll give you by best-places-to-see-the-cast list 😉
      Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      You won’t go wrong with Kristin as your guide!

  • Leigh
    October 23 2015

    Such a fun city, especially for live music! I liked it better than Austin, although that could have been a vibe thing specific to my Austin trip. You really crammed a lot into 3 days! The Grand Ole Opry is fun, too, but I much preferred wandering in and out of bars downtown for live music.
    Leigh recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      We did indeed! That’s the magic of a precisely planned itinerary 🙂

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    October 23 2015

    When I saw the title of your post, I was so excited to revisit Music City, USA and get filled with feelings of nostalgia for it. And then I actually read your post and only recognized Jeni’s Ice Cream & Whiskey Kitchen (well, and Hatch Show Print and Cheekwood (fun story: Tony & I got married there!)…)! Friends back in Nashvegas have told me time and again how much the city has changed since Tony & I left in 2012, and based on your account, that really seems to be true. We haven’t been back to visit since we left though we keep wanting to, but I feel I’ll hardly recognize it as somewhere I lived for 7 years when we do make it back!

    All that said, I’m glad you had such a great time. One of our last hurrahs in Nashville was a trip to Bonnaroo, so I’m looking forward to reading your account of it!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      I was so jealous when you mentioned you and Tony getting married there before. What a GORGEOUS venue! Yeah, I can imagine a lot changes in seven years. I bet you’d have a great time though 🙂 And on that note… off to continue slogging through my Bonnaroo photo edit!

  • Veronica S
    October 24 2015

    I honestly wish myself to Nashville. It’s on the top of my list of USA cities to visit. I love country music so I would be in heaven I can see from your pictures.
    Veronica S recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 25 2015

      I love country music too! It’s in no short supply in Nashville 🙂

  • Nick @ Goats On The Road
    October 24 2015

    Nashville seems like an awesome town for live music! Love this post, Meihoukai — what a cool experience!
    Nick @ Goats On The Road recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 25 2015

      Thanks Nick! I felt lucky to see Nashville from such an insider’s point of view.

  • Britt
    October 24 2015

    Looks like you did a lot of the two things I think when I picture Nashville; good food and good music.

    I would need to be rolled out of this town if all of that delicious food was put in front of me.

    Oh wow Norman Reedus! I’m super obsessed with the Walking Dead!
    Britt recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 25 2015

      Ha, I had never seen him before that night! I guess I need to get with the program…

  • Katie
    October 25 2015

    Texas Forever! I watched all six seasons of Friday Night Lights over my recent 3 1/2 month trip in the US and Canada – LOVE that show. I’m not much of a country music fan but I have heard really good things about Nashville as a city and I hope to visit one day 🙂
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Ah, what a perfect viewing setting for FNL 🙂 That show has my heart!