- Opryland: The name Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center pretty much sums up our issues with it: The place is a corporate machine, and it feels like one. There are two big exceptions: the holiday season, when Opryland is truly a festive wonderland; and for parents of young kids, for whom this hotel will be much more fun to explore than any chic, downtown option. Those caveats aside, Opryland is expensive and far away and it’s simply not the unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience many travelers believe it to be. At the risk of being kicked out of town, we'll also say this: The Grand Ole Opry is just OK. It’s a fun variety show, and for people who remember tuning into the Opry on an actual radio, it will be worth the trip. For everyone else, save your money and buy a concert ticket to the Ryman.
- Distant Attractions: Ten years ago, a car was an essential accessory for anyone traveling to Nashville, but that is not at all the case today. With so much good stuff in the city center, there’s an increasing list of things that are simply not worth the time or trouble it will take you to get there. For me this list includes Opryland (see above) but also Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. They’ve done a decent job making the Hermitage tour modern and interactive, but at some point, if you’ve seen one old Southern plantation, you’ve seen them all, and this one is 30 minutes away. Also, while I adore the Loveless Café for its charm, you can absolutely get a good biscuit somewhere that’s not 30 minutes outside of town and doesn’t require an hour wait. Speaking of which:
- Standing in Line for Breakfast: Nashville has copious amounts of fantastic restaurants, many of which serve food I’d gladly wait in line for. Ironically, the restaurants that typically have lines out the door are, by and large, not those places. Pancake Pantry is, simply, ridiculous. The place serves fine breakfast food that can be had at any number of places in town. Biscuit Love is the same: The food is good, but it is just good. For the love of God, please don’t waste half your morning standing in line to get it.
- “New Nashville”: New Nashville includes, but is not limited to, pedal taverns, bachelorette parties, mediocre barbecue restaurants, burgers with too many toppings, coffee shops where someone is wearing a monocle and taking 15 minutes to make an espresso, and, most of all, “country music” stars who own bars on Broadway. Thus far, that includes Blake Shelton (“Kiss My Country Ass” is emblazoned at his spot and pretty much says it all), Jason Aldean (whose bar is made out of an old John Deere tractor), Dierks Bentley (whose Whiskey Row is at least housed in the former home of Gruhn Guitars and thus has some modicum of authenticity), Luke Bryan (who had the audacity to involve sushi), Kid Rock (who is hilariously calling his place a “steakhouse,” which is terrifying) and, the piece de resistance, Florida Georgia Line House, which blasts music so terrible and so loud that you might hear it from several blocks away. I say this all to let you know up front that this book will not unlock any secret ways to skip the line at FGL’s “Sundaze Brunch,” which is a name I didn’t make up but I wish to God I did. Going to any of these places is tantamount to ordering french fries at McDonald’s in Paris. Do so at your own peril.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.