Dec 17th, 2017, 07:44 AM
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I am thinking of taking about 6-7 days for a visit to both of these cities. Probably in March, avoiding any vacation or big convention periods.

A couple of preliminary questions:

Hotel locations in Nashville: Is the Hermitage well located for exploring the city? How would the location compare to that of the Thompson of the about-to-open Noelle?

I had planned to rent a car upon leaving one city, and driving to the second destination. Which city would make more sense to have a car? Or should we just take the bus between the two cities, and use Uber or taxis to get around in both?

Main interests are music and local food: Hot chicken, BBQ, and other regional fare. I can research those, but what about more upscale restaurants? I might be interested, for example, in trying Andrew Michael in Memphis, or Catbird Seat in Nashville (latter appears very difficult to book).
Any comments on those two restaurants? Would it be smart, for example, for a New Yorker to "spend" one dinner eating Italian food at Andrew Michael in Memphis? (In writing this, I think I know the answer already, but Catbird Seat looks interesting, if pricey).

I'd appreciate any comments. I've never been to Memphis and visited Nashville only once, for work, about 25 years ago, so remember next to nothing.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 08:01 AM
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Check out the trolley in Memphis.
The best way to Memphis IMO is on the Amtrak "City of New Orleans" overnight from Chicago.
The Peabody is the famous hotel with the ducks.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 09:24 AM
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Thank you. I am not originating from Chicago so cannot take the Amtrak although would love to someday.

I am looking at the Peabody and at an apartment hotel across the street.

Is Mud Island too far away to consider for a hotel location?
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Dec 17th, 2017, 04:03 PM
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In Memphis, we loved the Talbot Heirs Guest House apartment across from the Peabody.
We were glad to gave a car in both cities; although we did some things on foot, we also drove to others.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 05:42 PM
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Memphis is a very, very strange city for a New Yorker. There is no one on the streets -- it's as if a neutron bomb went off, killing everyone but leaving the buildings intact. We walked from the Peabody to Sun Studios, about a mile, passing two people on the way there, and one on the way back.

We ate chicken (Gus') and BBQ (Rendezvous and Blue's City Cafe) all very good. Note armed guards in some hotels and restaurants. Consider driving in town, as I guess the locals do.

Weird place and I ain't a'never goin' back. I seen Graceland.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 08:21 PM
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I don't think the locations of those two Nashville hotels would make much difference. Both hotels are close to many attractions, including the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Other places will require driving. These include the Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's plantation home), Cheekwood, the Bluebird Cafe, the Belle Meade Plantation, the Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry (if it is at the Opry House, as opposed to the Ryman, which will be determined by when you go).

Do not miss eating at Monell's in Nashville. It's as authentic as Sunday dinner at grandma's--if grandma was an amazing Southern cook who made everything from scratch! The Loveless Cafe (at least a 30 minute drive from downtown) is famous for breakfasts--especially biscuits.

I am not a "foodie," but I've eaten at Etch, which is very highly rated. I've heard good things about the Farmhouse, too. Both will require reservations far in advance.

I have never relied on public transportation in Nashville. Bear in mind that you can't just hail a taxi. I assume you can call one or Uber, but I would want a car there.

Enjoy Music City!

I lived in Nashville 25 years and never visited Memphis, except to see a museum exhibit.
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Dec 18th, 2017, 05:20 AM
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We really enjoyed both Memphis and Nashville, spending about a week there.
Nashville: Hermitage (Andrew Jackson home), Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame, Grand Old Opry show, Parthenon, Belle Meade, Frist Center, State Capitol, Bicentennial Park, Tennessee State Museum, Belmont Mansion.
Memphis: Graceland, Sun Studio, Cheekwood, Cotton Museum, Elmwood Cemetery driving tour, Stax, Gibson Guitar Factory tour, Belz Museum, National Civil Rights Museum, Mud Island, Rock N Soul Museum, WC Handy House, Pink Palace.
Didin't think the Peabody Ducks or the Ornamental Metal Museum were worth it.
Our experience walking around was different; we saw lots of people, and particularly enjoyed wndering Beale St in the evening listening to music.
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Dec 18th, 2017, 05:48 AM
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Thanks, all. It all sounds great. The ducks sound kind of kitschy. I guess we would see them just cause we were there.

But do you think we should just spend 6 days in Nashville and leave Memphis for another time? We would not go to any of the historic mansions in Nashville, but would focus more on music, I think.

I know there is a good hotel on Mud Island in Memphis but what else is there to see there?
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Dec 18th, 2017, 06:00 AM
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>>>we saw lots of people, and particularly enjoyed wndering Beale St in the evening listening to music.<<<

That's true. Beale Street is lively and there's some good music.

I took a photo of the intersection of Beale Street and Main, though I was not "looking for a gal who sells cocaine."
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Dec 18th, 2017, 06:35 AM
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For my most recent Nashville trip(April 2017), we stayed at The Thompson. I LOVED the location...close enough to downtown/Lower Broadway, but not in the middle of all the craziness of that area. The hotel does have a very young and hip vibe to it--I felt like everyone's mother (or grandmother!), but the staff was very friendly and professional, and the bathrooms are to die for. We got along without a car (too expensive to park it) by walking and using Uber/Lyft when necessary although we did rent a car for one day to do some exploring outside the city.

The contrast between Nashville and Memphis is HUGE--Nashville practically buzzes with energy and life, and as someone else mentioned, Memphis feels deserted to the point of being depressing.
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Dec 18th, 2017, 09:16 AM
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Musicfan: Where did you go with the car?

I guess my interest in Memphis is really Stax and barbecue, and I imagine Graceland is a must as well. (I was so jealous of the fuzzy blue Elvis slippers from the gift shop that my sister brought home years ago).

Surprisingly, the flights from south Florida to both these cities are really limited and except for some airline unknown to me, they all connect in Atlanta. But I guess that's kind of besides the point. I guess I've mentioned here that I an now what is called a "snowbird," a term I hate and a thing I never thought I'd be! But my partner will consent to one "trip" per winter from Florida, and must be less than one week. Last year we went to New Orleans and had a blast, so for this year (after considering Cuba and abandoning the idea) I decided on this pair of cities. Now I am wondering if we ought to spend all out time in Nashville (?)

Other thing is that I go to sleep very early. So would be hard for me to go to music shows at 10 or 11pm. Is that a problem? Does all the action start really late?
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Dec 18th, 2017, 09:49 AM
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We used the car to drive out to Loveless Cafe (mentioned upthread) and general wandering about. I was traveling with my sister who had never been to Nashville and I wanted her to see more than just the city proper. I have been going there pretty regularly since 2005 and would have to really concentrate if I was going to count how many times.

There is live music in Nashville nearly all the time--even at the airport! Many of the bars on Lower Broadway have music during the day (and at night of course), and there is no cover charge. Shows at The Ryman, if there are any while you are there (and if there are--go!) start at a most reasonable 7 or 8pm.

I did a food tour during my last trip and that was a fun way to spend several hours and learn some things also!

In spring 2009, DD and I did Nashville for several days, then drove to Memphis for one night. We stayed at The Peabody (and saw the ducks), toured Graceland and ate at Rendezvous. There was some fun shopping on Beale Street, and while I wish we had had time for the Civil Rights Museum and Sun Studios, I'm not in a huge hurry to get back there.

While I don't have a specific return trip to Nashville planned at this time, I would be surprised if I don't end up there again sometime in the next year.
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Dec 18th, 2017, 10:42 AM
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Three friends and I went to Nashville in September. We stayed in a VRBO that wasn't within walking distance of the music venues on Broadway. The neighborhood was very quiet. We had a car and went to the Loveless Cafe (amazing biscuits!!), to Franklin (we're history buffs), to the Belmont mansion, to Opryland for a performance, and to the Nashville cemetery. Nashville is one of those cities that I always want to revisit.
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Dec 21st, 2017, 01:38 PM
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Hey--I just got a Travelzoo notification this afternoon for The Thompson Hotel in Nashville for a $249/night rate through March 15th that includes valet parking (usually $39/night) and I thought of this thread:
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Dec 21st, 2017, 02:17 PM
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>>>Probably in March, avoiding any vacation or big convention periods.<<<

Also check for any basketball craziness. Nashville often hosts the SEC basketball tournament and Kentuckians take over the town for several days.
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Dec 21st, 2017, 03:44 PM
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We found the Civil Rights museum to be very well done, well worth the trip to Memphis. The Peabody is a classic hotel and is an easy walk to Beale Street, barbecue. rock and soul museum, and if the Grizzlies are in town, there's basketball, too.
If the river is high, Mud Island may not be a great option. I think we went in April and there wasn't much going on there. Graceland ended up being our first stop after the airport, and it was an easy drive into the city afterward.
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Dec 21st, 2017, 06:48 PM
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I am a (relatively new) New Yorker and just went to Nashville for a brief getaway. It is wonderful. The Thompson is great. It is very clean, with a great coffee shop next door. The only knock is that the part of town it is in felt a little shopping center like and sterile. Hermitage is more centrally located, but seemed a little more dated and the Thompson is a quick cab ride to anywhere you'd want to be.

Renting a car is a good idea. You can easily drive to many worthwhile sites, including Loveless Cafe (worth a trip if you are a foodie and like biscuits). Prince's -- iconic, no frills Hot Chicken joint, is also a car ride away. When you go there, I recommend ordering a few levels of hotness and plenty of water!

We did not go to Catbird Seat, although many people recommend it. We did go to Rolf and Daughters in Germantown, which was wonderful.

Broadway is a hopping good time with fun bars. We liked Robert's Western World on Broadway. The Country Music Hall of Fame is also worth a trip.

Have so much fun!
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Dec 22nd, 2017, 11:44 AM
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> Also check for any basketball craziness. Nashville often hosts the SEC basketball tournament and Kentuckians take over the town for several days.

Good thinking! The men's tournament is in St Louis this year, but the women's is in Nashville (downtown at Bridgestone). Probably won't affect crowds as much, but could spike hotel prices.


If you're interested in Catbird Seat I would book as early as you can.

Whether you'd benefit from a car depends on what you're interested in. If you stick to downtown and the Gulch (where the Thompson is) and nearby areas like Germantown, no real need. Those areas are walkable once you get there, and we do have Uber and Lyft as well as cabs. If you want to venture further, like to Franklin, the Loveless, Jack Daniels, etc, you'd be better off with a car.

The Noelle just opened; the location is as good as anywhere else downtown would be, maybe slightly better than the Hermitage. I can't tell if it would be awesome or pretentious, so if you stay I'd be curious to hear.

Music - if you're interested just in the honky-tonks and whatnot, those are going all day, as musicfan mentioned. The shows locals are more likely to go to will start later at the various clubs, usually 9-10. Shows at Bridgestone or the Ryman will start more between 7-8. So it depends.

Restaurants - I could give you a long list, but Eater Nashville has good coverage and I'd start there and just see what sounds good. Save the barbecue for Memphis, except for Martin's. (<- controversial opinion )


The Civil Rights museum and Sun Studios are both definitely worth your time. I was there for the weekend in September and ate at three Andrew Michael restaurants (Italian Kitchen, Porcellino's, and Catherine & Mary) and they were all delicious with their own personalities; whether you'd be impressed or not is I suppose up to you, but I enjoyed them all. If you're looking for wow factor, Catherine & Mary is probably a better pick than Italian Kitchen.

I'd probably want a car more in Memphis than in Nashville, unless you stay right downtown the whole time.
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Dec 22nd, 2017, 11:58 AM
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6 days in Nashville would be a lot of time. I'd include Memphis also. Consider a visit to Franklin for small town Americana. Visit White's.
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Dec 22nd, 2017, 02:34 PM
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OH, this is all great information! I will take a closer look and respond very soon. Many thanks! Looks like the combo of cities will be the plan..thanks, Starrs.

MusicFan..can I get that rate, too?

Thank you to everyone who responded here who I did not thank by name..will return as soon as I can to finalize plans.

Is Spirit an ok airline? They have the only direct flights from where I am right now, I think... I don't care about comfort that much as it is only a short flight, I care more about reliability.
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