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Going to Tennessee

Old May 1st, 2010, 09:38 AM
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Going to Tennessee

Even though it may not compare to some people's travels to exotic locales, I'm excited. My tentative plan is to go in October, and spend a few days each in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Great Smokey Mountains, Chattanooga. I've started doing some reading re: what to see/do in each place.

Any suggestions for hotels and restaurants? It's probably me, but that's where guidebooks seem to fall short. Tnanks!
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Old May 1st, 2010, 12:49 PM
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Can you give specifics as to your budget and preferences (types of food, etc)? That will help a lot. It's hard to make specific restaurant recommendations without knowing what you're looking for.

I can help most with Nashville. Assuming you're looking to do some typical tourist activities, I'd pick a hotel in the downtown or Vanderbilt/West End area. The two areas are close to each other (~5/10-minute drive, depending on traffic). I can't help much with specifics since I live here, but both areas have several chain hotels (Hampton Inn, HI, Marriott, etc). If your budget allows, downtown also has a couple of very nice hotels - the Hermitage and Wyndham Union Station.

Knoxville is a great town (I'm from there) but I would spend a little less time in town itself than in Memphis, Nashville or the mountains. There's just not as much in the way of "attractions" - worth a visit, for sure, but I'd spend more of your time in East Tennessee in the mountains.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 02:01 PM
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I love Rendezvous for ribs in Nashville. They serve their ribs dry with sauce on the side. The meat and cheese appetizer is a favorite as well.

In Nashville, the Pancake Pantry has the best sweet potato pancakes I've ever eaten.

Try the Blue Plate in downtown Chattanooga for a great meal. They have a plate of homemade chips that are fantastic!

The Big River Grill is so-so, however, they have great Kobe beef sliders on their appetizer menu. Hair of the Dog is a neat little British pub on downtown as well.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 02:45 PM
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The Rendezvous is in Memphis and it is great. We like the Park Grill in Gatlinburg, if you go there.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 02:58 PM
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For Memphis, in detail:

Good spots in Nashville include Arnold's Country Kitchen (meat and three, lunch only), Monell's (family style soul cooking), Jack's Bar-B-Que (BBQ), and Pancake Pantry (breakfast, especially pancakes).
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Old May 1st, 2010, 03:29 PM
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Yes Rendezvous is in Memphis! Sorry for the confusion....was multi-tasking earlier!
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Old May 1st, 2010, 04:44 PM
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We go to Nashville quite often and try to stay at the Hampton Inn downtown. They have free parking, free breakfast, great beds and are within walking distance to the honky tonks on Broadway. We have also stayed at the Mariott in the Vanderbilt area and took the shuttle downtown. However I believe they quit running the shuttle around 11 or so and we didn't find it near as convenient. Just depends on what you plan on doing while in Nashville and if you have a car. If you click on my name you will find more posts on the Nashville area. Restaurants are another thing that just depends on what you like. Have fun planning - Nashville is a fun city!
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Old May 1st, 2010, 05:42 PM
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In Memphis, I second (or is that third) Rendezvous but there is also a little place called the Cozy Corner that is out of this world.

In Nashville, I love Tayst on 21st Ave. and Bricktop's on West End. Personally, I think the Pancake Pantry is overrated.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 07:51 PM
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We did the 4-city Tennessee sweep (Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville) a few years ago. One of the fun things we like to do is to try BBQ houses in the area. Each city has their favorites. We try to get recommendations from the locals. Many have their house specialties, such as fruit cobblers, hush puppies, or other side dishes. Sometimes the best ones we've encountered are small hole-in-the wall family run diners.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 09:15 PM
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Thanks for all the responses.
In general, we like moderately priced, neighborhood ethnic places. We don't often go for blow out meals unless it's a special occasion. We do like to try local specialties. We'll do BBQ once or twice, but my husband doesn't eat pork, and I like to eat lightly.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 05:24 AM
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Pork is the biggest type of barbecue here (as opposed to Texas's beef), but your husband should be able to find other options on the menu.

In addition to other recommendations in Nashville,
- Fido is a great coffee shop/restaurant in Hillsboro Village. Their food is delicious and a lot of it is made from local produce and meat.
- Pizza Perfect (also in Hillsboro Village) is my favorite pizza in town.
- Baja Burrito is the very definition of "neighborhood place" - people here love it. It's a burrito shop along the lines of Chipotle, Qdoba, Moe's, etc., but (to me) way better than the above. (Okay, maybe not "way" better than Chipotle, but I prefer it.) It's in the 100 Oaks area, on Thompson Lane near Bransford Avenue. Not near touristy stuff, but not too far either.

All those places can be under $10 for a meal. (Fido might be a little more if you get a drink.) For nicer places, I like Sunset Grill in Hillsboro Village - their lunches are reasonably priced, and their dinners really aren't too expensive. Tayst, as SharonG recommended, is very good but is on the pricy end for me (the one time I went my food was around $40). You could also check out - it's a group of local independent restaurants who get together for promotions and advertising. There are some good places in that group.

And just my two cents - Pancake Pantry is delicious (I like the sugar & spice). The servers aren't known for friendliness, and you may have to wait in line. If you come on a weekday, the line won't be too bad. They have a huge variety of pancakes along with some other items, but pancakes are definitely the big draw.

In Knoxville, try the Tomato Head on Market Square.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 05:28 AM
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Chattanooga has a great downtown area that is worth a nights stay. The Aquarium is suprisingly good and the waterfront and dinning is pretty good as well. Drive up to lookout and signal mountains. The houses are worth the drive.

Dont stay in knoxville unless you want to go on a weekend and catch a UT football game, and definately dont stay in gatlinburg in October. stay in townsend or maryville area. I would suggest Butterfly Gap Retreat in Maryville or Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend. There is also may cabins to rent in the townsend area. That way you can actually enjoy the mountains and you can sneak in the back way to gatlinburg if you just must have some saltwater taffy. Try to do your trip later in October to take advantage of the fall colors. The Peak time can range from 15th of October to the first week of November.

Memphis is great city to visit. Downtown area is your best bet. The Madison is great, but a little expensive. The Peabody is a little overrated but neat. The marriot properties downtown are nice and a little better priced. See Beale street and ask around for the locals favorite bbq. There are a lot of other really good local places in the Midtown area. There was a greek, korea fusion place in a old gas station that was in Midtown, but the name escapes me right now.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 02:40 PM
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I would build my schedule around the music I wanted to hear. If you like country music you are in luck. Check the schedule of the "new" Grand Ole Opry and the Reyman Auditorium.

As for hotels. I would love to stay in the Hermitage in Nashville. It was an overflow conference hotel for an event I attended and I was very jealous that I was at the Crown Plaza. The Crown Plaza and Renaisance are both nice, but nothing like the Hermitage.

Check the football schedule to make sure you are not going through Knoxville on a football home game day. (Unless you have tickets that is...)

I wasn't that taken with the Opryland hotel. It is worth seeing, but I would rather be downtown.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 03:34 PM
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Believe it or not, most of the live music in Nashville is *not* country (if you visit venues past the Opry and the honky-tonks). The Ryman has a huge variety of acts and is my favorite concert venue ever (I've seen Snow Patrol, Guster, Ray LaMontagne, Patty Griffin, OAR and the Black Crowes there, for example). So even if you're not interested in country, check the Ryman's schedule.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 04:07 PM
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All my suggestions are for Nashville--where I live.

Whenever I have company from out of town I take them to lots of restaurants. The #1 favorite is always Monell's on 6th near the Farmer's Market and Bicentennial Mall. Also gotta try a "meat & 3." I think Sylvan Park is the most authentic atmosphere. And ... breakfast at the Loveless Cafe if you have the time for the drive. It's at least thirty minutes from downtown.

I think a visit to the Opryland hotel is a must -- but I wouldn't stay there because it's not near anything but the mall.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is fantastic and part of the admission is a tour of RCA's Studio B -- where iconic classics were recorded by Elvis, Dolly, and many, many more.

If you have a good sense of humor AND DO NOT OFFEND EASILY -- you must do the NashTrash tour. 90 minutes of nonstop laughter. (It's much more of a comedy/entertainment experience than a tour.) FYI, it's ALWAYS sold out. You've got to reserve far in advance.

Don't know your budget but the Hilton next to the Country Music Hall of Fame looks beautiful from the lobby. The Loew's Vanderbilt is also beautiful. It's a five or ten minute drive to the heart of downtown but it would probably be more convenient to stay right downtown.

If you enjoy botanic gardens -- Cheekwood should be beautiful in the fall. For nature ... Radnor Lake (although it can't compare with the Smokies).
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Don't forget the Frist Museum. The building itself is historic and they have one of the best gift shops in town. Plus the cafe is nice.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 04:22 AM
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Thanks for the heads up re: UT football. We'll definitely avoid Knoxvbille when there's a home game.
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