Our last real destination on the road trip was Nashville aka Music City. It reminded me a little of Las Vegas and LA combined… Live entertainment 24 hours a day and every server or hotel bellman is an aspiring country performer. We had fun taking it all in.
Toto, we're not in California anymore…
We stayed at the historic and gorgeous Hermitage Hotel.
The location was ideal – just a short walk to the center of town where all the music venues are located. During the day they're open to minors and there's no cover charge. Each establishment that offers live music is marked with an enormous guitar pick in front, making it easy to decide where to go.
Although the ehem music was great, my absolute favorite part of our 24 hours in Nashville was visiting the Belle Meade Plantation. Plucked right from the pages of a history book, the tour and walk around the grounds was like time travel back to when the Civil War was fought on the front lawn of the property. Even our tour guide was dressed the part. She was sooo enthusiastic that after awhile I felt like she wasn't acting, like she herself believed she was the lady of the house. The grand mansion was fully furnished with original antiques or replacements that closely matched what was there when the family occupied the house.
Photos weren't allowed inside, so all I can show you are some that I took of the grounds and stables.
I highly recommend the restaurant on the grounds of Belle Meade even though you won't find it in any guide books. It's not going to wow you with ambiance, but the food was delicious! I had a sandwich that ranks at the top of my of all time favorites list. I want to recreate it (and of course blog about it), but in the meantime let me just describe it. Pimento cheese and fried green tomato with caramelized onion panini. Creamy oozy cheese with a toothsome center and a slight crunch to the bread. Sick. I had never heard of or seen pimento cheese before, so I thought it must be like pepper jack. I asked the server about it and she explained it was more of a spread and that she didn't think it even had pimentos in it! I will investigate. Cut into little triangles, these would be a fantastic cocktail party dish.
I digress, on with the tour…
This the roof of the stable where thoroughbred race horses were kept. Many Kentucky Derby winners are direct descendants of Belle Meade studs including Triple Crown winner; Secretariat.
Before we left, I was looking for a book for the trip that was about, or referencing the South. My son was reading 'Unbroken' by Laura Hillenbrand who also wrote 'Seabiscuit' so that crossed my mind as a possibility. Coincidentally, someone had recommended it to me right before we left (not knowing about the trip – just thought I would like it). As soon as I walked through the grounds and stables, I regretted not getting the book…
The stable is now filled with carriages from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. The collection at Belle Meade is mostly from affluent families, which is reflected in the materials used and elaborate seating configurations.
This is my favorite picture…
The next morning we headed to Memphis for our last night. Didn't see any of the city unfortunately, since we had to get an early start in order to catch our flight home from Austin.
Our road trip through the South turned out to be one of the best family vacations we've ever taken. Don't get me wrong, sitting poolside ordering cool drinks is great! So is exploring foreign countries, but being together as a family- in a minivan – even just sharing the quiet hours in the car as the countryside unfolded around us, brought us so much closer than I could have ever imagined.
It's definitely inspired us to do it again – next time starting at my grandparent's house in Northern VA, then heading along the coast to the Carolina's and Georgia.
Good night y'all.