I’m happy to FINALLY post about the roadtrip I took with my mom back in May! I finally found the time to sit down, write, and sort through all of the photos, so I hope you enjoy AND learn about the must-sees on your next trip to Nashville!
I surprised my Mom with a roadtrip to not only celebrate her big milestone birthday, but to visit some dear friends of hers that live in Hermitage, Tennessee, which is about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville. My mom hadn’t seen them in many years, so I knew it was time for a reunion.
There are ENDLESS amounts of things to do and see in both Arkansas and Tennessee, but for our 5-day trip, we saw as much as we could as we passed through Hot Springs, Arkansas, then through Memphis, Tennessee, with our final stop being in Nashville, Tennessee for 2 full days.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Where We Stayed
As much I would have loved to stay at the historic Arlington Resort and Spa, I scored a great deal on Hotel Hot Springs, which sits just off of the main drive through downtown. It’s a renovated and refurbished hotel, and it was immaculately clean. One of my favorite things about the view from our hotel room was a large, beautiful mural on the side of a Habitat for Humanity charity store, which spoke to my music-loving heart.
We were also on the 13th floor, which made me laugh out loud when checking into the hotel. “Oh, wow! The 13th floor is called the ’13th floor’ here?” The clerk looked at me like I was crazy, said “yes…” and handed me the room keys. (And I am happy to report that we did NOT encounter any ghosts, apparitions, nor anything spooky or eerie.)
Other than the landscapers waking me up at 6am because their weed-eater echoed up 13 floors to our room, it was a very nice stay. We could tell that the walls were thin because a very mouthy toddler was next door, but we only heard him during non-sleeping hours (thank goodness)! I would definitely stay there again!
Things to Do
We were starving when we arrived to Hot Springs (it’s about a 5-hour drive from DFW), and we chose to eat dinner at The Purple Cow Restaurant, which is a cute nostalgic and classic place, modeled after a 1950’s diner. We used to have a location us in Fort Worth, but apparently the only locations are now their original locations in Arkansas. My mom and I had one of the best BLTs we’ve ever eaten, followed by their Famous Purple Vanilla milkshake and a Caramel Cashew Sundae. Needless to say, we were miserably full after our meal, but we were definitely happy to have eaten such good meal.
After dinner, we drove back to downtown Hot Springs to walk the streets and see everything there was to see. Their Central Ave is essentially their “Main St., and everywhere you look, there are shops, restaurants, and all sorts of things to do and see. We walked through the Arlington Resort and Spa, and a small portion of the nearby Smokey Mountain State Park, which sits across the street from the Arlington. We spent some time reading all of the historical markers, and learning about the area.
As if we weren’t still full from dinner, we proceeded to visit Superior Bathhouse Brewery, which is now a fully-operational craft brewery that took over an old, abandoned bathhouse, formerly the Superior Bathhouse (hence the name). I got a flight of beers, and truly loved them all. They are the first brewery in a US National Park, AND the world’s first brewery to use mineral water as a main ingredient! They also have a full menu, but we were NOT about to eat at that point in the night, haha.
I ordered the Raspberry Sour, Candy Mountain Pale Ale, Spicy Ride Jalapeño, and Space Force Hazy IPA (I LOVED the last two!)
Ideally, I was wanting our stop in Hot Springs to actually include a visit to one of the bath houses, but with Covid, everything was booked months and months in advance. Next time, then!
Before hitting the road the next morning, we walked down Central Ave. again, took some more photos, and then hit the road!
We didn’t actually stay in Memphis, but we did stop briefly to get refueled; both us and the car 🙂
The lines for good BBQ were crazy, so we didn’t end up getting to eat any at a non-chain/local establishment, but we ALMOST got some at a local establishment before having to hop back in the car (Covid limited the number of people in the tiny store, and they were SO slow), and be stuck in traffic for an hour because the I40 bridge through Memphis was shut down completely. Neat.
Me, being hangry and irritable, we decided on a place to eat called Jim n Nick’s, where we proceeded to have one of the most interesting meals I’ve ever had. I don’t want to call it a bad meal, because everyone has their own preferences…. but I’m here to say….
Nashville and Carolina BBQ are NOTHING LIKE TEXAS BBQ.
The Nashville brisket was over-cooked, and the sauce tasted like a over-peppered ketchup. And the Carolina pulled pork had an atrocious vinegar-based sauce.
Bless their hearts.
And that’s all I have to say about this place. However, they did TRULY redeem themselves with some delicious cole slaw and these heavenly cheese biscuits that were more like muffins.
We got to very briefly see Beale St. and shortly after, I turned the wrong way on a one-way street.
Gotta love out-of-towners.
Where We Stayed
About 4 hours after we left Memphis, we arrived in Nashville! We stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites, and while it was a convenient and simple “hotel” for our stay, there were some things about the place that irked me. It just didn’t seem very clean, and it had a consistently musty, damp feeling in the air.
That, and at 4am. YES, 4AM. I was awoken by a jerk on a motorcycle revving his engine, and then just idling what sounded like RIGHT outside our window (on the 4th floor…)
I was destined to not get any sleep on this vacation.
Things to Do
Rather than endlessly writing about every detail we did, I’ll let the photos and brief descriptions speak for themselves! We spent the rest of he week with The Martins (our friends AND chauffeurs ;)) and we are so grateful that a) we get to see them, and b) that they were able to give us an AWESOME weekend tour of Nashville and surrounding cities.
One of the two things that I HAD to see while in Nashville was Reese Witherspoon’s flagship Draper James store, and it did NOT disappoint. The store was filled with beautiful pieces, stunning décor, and a team of associates that were as sweet as pie. (I bought two dresses, and my mom sneakily bought me the “Totes Y’all” tote bag!)
This famous photo op spot is directly next door to Draper James, so we knocked out an accidental agenda to-do!
Did you know that there’s an exact, full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville?! I definitely didn’t, so it was such a cool little gem to see! We didn’t go inside, but I definitely want to next time I’m in Nashville!
Country Music Hall of Fame
We didn’t get to go into the actual Hall of Fame Museum, but I definitely want to add this to my list for my next visit!
Hatch Show Print Shop
I could have spent the entire day in this place. With so many cool things to look (which includes a MASSIVE print shop with operating printing presses.) Such a cool process to watch!
“Honky Tonk Row“ – Broadway between First and Fifth avenue
A must-see/must-do when in Nashville. Be prepared for crowds, though… it’s an iconic and fun area! We happened to be there the weekend that the mask mandate was lifted, and people were EVERYWHERE!
Ernest Tubb Record Store
We stumbled into this place because I was looking to buy a magnet for my fridge… And the history in this place was FASCINATING, and an employee gave us a low-down on how the record store came to be, and about all of the famous artists who have walked through and even performed within those walls. You can read all about it here!
Bridge + Nissan Stadium
Walking out onto the downtown bridge near sunset was so beautiful! You get great views of the city, the river, and Nissan Stadium!
Tennessee State Museum
By far, one of my favorite things we did while in Nashville. This FREE museum was fascinating, and so insightful! Even though there was a good amount of history about the state of Tennessee, there was SO much US history as well. You HAVE to check out this place!
City of Franklin
Looking for cute shops and a fun little town for shopping? Franklin is the place!
Places to Eat/Drink
Y’all. This is one of the best cupcakes I have ever eaten. This is a MUST if you live in, or are traveling through Nashville. The owner is the mother of a former co-worker of mine, and she’s an absolute doll and inspiration to female entrepreneurs. She was even featured in Southern Living Magazine recently, so she’s also famous now 😊
We ordered the Strawberry Lemonade, Sweet Potato, Red Velvet, and Wedding Cake cupcakes. They. Were. SO. AMAZING.
If you’re a wine-o or you just like being outdoors, Arrington Vineyard is MASSIVE, and has plentiful seating and grassy areas for an afternoon with some wine, snacks, and live music on select nights. The wine is delicious, and I took a couple of bottles home with me so I could bring a little piece of Tennessee home.
Black Abbey Brewery
A GREAT local brewery with various options of craft beer! I opted for a flight so I could try a little of everything, and I definitely not disappointed. Mom even had the cider! 😉
After a day of drinking lots of great wine, dinner consisted of a couple of pizzas and a local craft beer. GREAT place, and a cool atmosphere!
WHAT a trip. And y’all…. I cannot wait to go back! Tennessee was absolutely beautiful, and there’s no wonder that people have been flocking out that direction because it’s such a beautiful and fun place to be.
And I had to include photos from my mom’s actual birthday, one of which is an action shot of Ellie trying to jump on the table to try and lick the icing…
Until next time,