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5 Reasons You Need To Add Nashville To Your USA Itinerary

Nowhere wears its heart on its sleeve quite like Nashville – this is a city that proudly loves country music, where Southern hospitality is at its most charming, and where no outfit is complete without some rhinestones and a pair of cowboy boots.

It’s also a destination overflowing with historic sites, iconic eats, bubbling creative culture and all the right ingredients for a hilariously fun night out – so what are you waiting for? Here’s why you need to bootscoot over to Tennessee, quick smart.

It’s got the best damn BBQ in the south

 

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Texas, we mean no disrespect, but Tennessee might have you beat at your own game. The barbecue in Nashville is an art form, from mouth-watering side dishes like mac and cheese, baked potato, pinto beans and slaw through to the all-important slices of brisket, smoked turkey, and perfectly-marinated chicken wings.

Hit somewhere like Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint and you can enjoy the food while country music up-and-comers play live at the venue for added Southern charm. And speaking of Martin’s, make sure you try their signature Redneck Taco: pulled pork on top of a cornbread “hoecake”, finished off with slaw and a whole lot of hot sauce. No wonder there’s a line out front.

The country music, y’all

 

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Even if you think you’re not a country music fan, Nashville will make a convert out of you yet.

It’s impossible not to get swept up in the city’s love for country music, the nexus around which everything here revolves. You can watch singer-songwriter hopefuls shoot their shot at one of Broadway’s ever buzzing bars, visit world-renowned venues like the Ryman Auditorium or Grand Ole Opry, or take in a set at the world famous Bluebird Café, where Taylor Swift was first discovered at age 14 (hot tip: you need to book tickets in advance).

Speaking of Taylor Swift, head to the Country Music Hall Of Fame and you can see such important cultural sites as her handwritten lyrics to break-out track ‘Tim McGraw’ and outfits she wore in the ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ video… as well as Shania Twain’s full get up from the ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ clip, which, we can assure, will impress you much.

And if you’ve still got time for more? Hit the Johnny Cash Museum a few doors down. Yee-haw.

The hipster revolution

 

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Forget everything you think you know about Middle America: Nashville is cool, man.

The creative undercurrent is strong in the Tennessee capital, especially across the bridge in East Nashville. That’s where you can shop for vintage threads ’til you drop at designated “it” neighbourhood Five Ways, cool off with a drink at the Village Pub and Beer Garden or grab some food and a blood orange margarita at Mas Tacos Por Favor, the city’s coolest (and tastiest) restaurant.

Downtown there’s Pinewood, which offers retro-style ten bowling as well as a restaurant, bar, coffee shop and workspace all in one. Not far away is Third Man Records, the record store owned and operated by one Jack Black – where you can record your own vinyl and stock up on as much White Stripes merch as you can handle. With a live music space out the back, Third Man is also the coolest venue to be at during Americana Fest, the annual SXSW-style festival one local described to me as “country music for hipsters”.

Did we mention the chicken?

 

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You can’t go to Nashville and not eat chicken. In fact, you can’t go to the US and not eat Nashville chicken. Here, it’s served deep-fried and hot: really, really hot. Locals will argue about which chicken shop is the best, but the main two contenders are Hattie B’s and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Better try both, just to be fair.

And if you’re in the mood for real Southern soul food, add Monell’s Dining and Catering to your hit list. We’d call it a restaurant, but that’s not quite right: it’s a Nashville institution where guests sit at shared tables in a beautiful Victorian house and pass around dishes of buttery peas and skillet fried chicken. There’s no a la carte menu, instead, the house serves everyone the same meal – think sliced roast beef with gravy and meatloaf on Thursdays, or fried catfish and barbecue ribs on Friday. Diet starts Monday?

It’s just so much damn fun

 

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Spend a few minutes walking down Broadway, Nashville’s technicolour main strip, and you won’t need us to tell you that this might be the most delightful city in the USA.

Everything in Nashville is geared towards showing you a good time, from the ‘pedal taverns’ where you can ride a bike and drink beer at the same time (if you’re so inclined?), to the cowboy boot stores offering ridiculous three-for-the-price-of-one deals.

Possibly the most delightful Nashville experience of all is a pilgrimage to a dedicated country music honky-tonk bar, and Robert’s Western World is greatest honky-tonk bar of all. Head in, soak up the old school atmosphere (the walls are decorated with guitars, boots and photos of country music stars who’ve passed through) and make a new friend or two while watching some legit live music.

Like everything in Nashville, it’s a little bit kitsch, totally heartwarming and so, so much fun.

(Lead image: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash)