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Nashville, Memphis, and The Great Smoky Mountains.

Nashville, Memphis, and The Great Smoky Mountains.

Dec 10th, 2008, 08:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Nashville, Memphis, and The Great Smoky Mountains.

Hi All,

We are traveling to Tennessee in mid August to take my mother in law who is visiting us from the UK to see "Elvis".

A few questions:

1. What area is the best to stay in Nashville that is convenient to just get out and walk around and see/do things.

2. Same for Memphis.

If you can give an address that would be central (like a shop or restaurant where I can look up address and see how far away the hotels are, that would really help. I'd really like to stay at an Embassy suites so if you know of one in an area that is good, that would be also good. We'll have a car, of course but if we can walk or if it's a short drive to the sights, that would be best. We also wanted to take them to a country western type of concert or dancing place, that would also be very nice. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. We've never been to Tennessee before so we're completely at a loss.

3. We have 5 nights in Smoky mountains. We've booked a cabin at hidden mountains resort for those 5 nights. Anyone want to help with a rough draft of an itinerary of what not to miss? The park is not as big as yellowstone, I'm sure but Yosemite? Is it sectioned at all so we could plan to see areas instead of hopping around alot?

Hubby and I like to hike (not too strenuous) but with in laws in tow, we might be taking it slightly slower although they're quite active. No need for restaurants and the like - cabin has full kitchen, but more like what we should not miss in GSMNP and which we should hit first, etc. I see there are several waterfalls and I think that may be a good thing to do - which one is best? What else?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions. It is much appreciated.
maria_so is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 07:05 AM
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I can't help for Nashville, but in Memphis, you should stay downtown near Beale Street, which is where the music clubs and nightlife is concentrated.

Even if you're not "nightlife" people, it's a good place to stay, near a lot of sights. And you will find plenty of blues and c/w music and dancing there. You don't want to stay anywhere near Graceland, which isn't exactly in the best part of town. (Although of course you will want to visit and take the tour - don't miss the tour of the "Lisa Marie" plane either. You can easily spend most of a day there if you visit every exhibit and gift shop.)

Look at the area around the Peabody Hotel, for example. Even if you don't stay there, you can visit the Peabody to see the famous ducks in the fountain. They put on a little show every day at 11am and are in the fountain all day. The Residence Inn is also nearby and a good choice.
cheryllj is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 11:01 AM
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Thanks Cheryllj! That's perfect! Will search on the address of the peabody hotel.

Anyone else for Nashville and Smoky mountains?
maria_so is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Peabody is a good option, but there are also other hotels nearby (there's a Radisson next door, for example) if it is out of your price range.

I stayed at the Embassy Suites in Nashville near Vanderbilt University (probably on 21st Ave) a year ago. It was fine -- it's an Embassy Suites. The area was a little seedier than I'd remembered, but it is walking distance from the University and near to Music Row. You will need a car to drive downtown to see the shops, museums, Ryman Auditorium, etc. You might think about staying downtown instead.
lisettemac is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 11:55 AM
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I agree, The Peabody would be my first choice or something close by. There is an awesome Sunday Brunch at the Peabody and of course, see the ducks, whether you stay there or not.

Take an entire day for Elvis. Get there when it opens for the least amount of waiting.

Our favorite place to eat is Blues City Cafe, which is on Beale Street. Just a little bit down the street is Rendevouz. This is my wife's favorite place to eat ribs. Blues City has great ribs as well, plus a lot more. Many good spots to eat on or near Beale Street Area. Lots of BBQ and southern food.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 01:55 PM
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In Nashville you might want the Renaissance or Sheraton downtown. For country music dancing, The Wildhorse Saloon on 2nd Ave. Plus, both Second and Broadway have lots of live music venues. Don't miss Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Also, I hope that your trip isn't in the order of your title...You'll want Memphis, Nashville, Smokys in that order. And one other word of advice--it will be very hot and very humid--especially for someone from the UK...you might not want to do much walking until you get to the mountains.

HereInFranklin is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 01:55 PM
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Yeah, we'll definitely have a car and with the set up for embassy suites, my husband thinks it's a better option for us. I do have that one at Vanderbilt booked.

Great suggestions for ribs! We'll definitely go to a few of those.

Now, what's with the ducks? I haven't heard anything about it....

maria_so is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 02:30 PM
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The Peabody ducks are a Memphis institution.


I will second the recommendation for the Rendezvous for ribs. It's also a Memphis institution (although it may be very touristy, it's good!). It's also near the Peabody Hotel and Beale Street, all within walking distance of one another downtown.
cheryllj is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 03:01 PM
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In the Smokies, I would recommend doing the Roaring Fork Motor Trail and visiting Cades Cove, both of which can be seen from a vehicle, if people are not up to hiking/lots of walking. However, both also have lots of places to pull over and park so that you can get out and hike or explore. Cades Cove also has lots of older buildings that predate the park that you can go through. If it is a clear day, you might want to drive up to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smokies.

BetsyinKY is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 04:45 PM
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The neighborhood around Vandy is not great.I don't think it would be a real safe area to walk around at night. The downtown area on the other hand is very safe at night. You would be much better off staying right downtown somewhere around 2nd ave and Broadway.That is where Toosies,Wild Horse Saloon etc are located.My son and SO just stayed there over Thanksgiving weekend.They wanted to have fun and be within walking distance to the action. They were pleased with their stay at the Holiday Inn Express downtown.I believe it was located around the 900 block area of Broadway.So that would make it 7 blocks from 2nd ave. Many of the hotels in the downtown area have shuttles to the bars around 2nd ave.I have not been there in a couple of years but they said the streets are now closed to cars downtown.I suggest you look at tripadvisor to find a hotel.
letsgo39 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 04:57 PM
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I also agree with the suggestion for GSMNP of the Roaring Forks Motor Trail and Cades Cove.I would compare GSMNP in size to The Tetons or Yosemite. It is a really easy park to do driving and you can see a lot in a few days. Memphis and Nashville will be terribly hot in August.We live 1 hour from Nashville and really suffer in August.I pretty much stay inside in the AC all month! I'm a transplanted Yankee from Chicago and even though I have lived in the south for 21 years I don't think I will ever get accustomed to the heat and humidty here in the summer.
letsgo39 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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I just love to walk around here when I'm in Nashville. It's downtown and near the State Capitol. While you walk you can learn lots about Tennessee history, geography, rivers, famous people from Tennessee. It's really interesting.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is interesing. Don't miss the Thomas Hart Benton mural, "The Sources of Contry Music", which he completed one day before his death at age 85.
maryanntex is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 05:13 PM
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Forgot to add that the Holiday Inn Express downtown has parking available at a very reasonable rate.
Just curious as to why the Embassy Suites are so enthralling for you?
letsgo39 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 07:40 PM
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I'm sorry but another poster mentioned downtown Nashville streets being closed to cars. That is not the case.

The Embassy Suites near Vanderbilt is in a safe neighborhood. There are also a number of hotels of varied price levels along West End Avenue.
msjames is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 11:03 PM
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Hi All,

Thanks for all the above!

For those that mentioned some advice for the smokies, would you mind perhaps listing in order which places to visit? We're staying at a cabin in Hidden Mountains so at Sevierville. I'm keeping notes of the suggestions so far. Thanks for comparing the parks. Thinking of Yosemite and Tetons helps me to not be too anxious about not having too much time at GSMNP.

We are flying in to Nashville arriving on a Friday around 5ish, staying there for a night - hubby doesn't want to over tax them wiht an additional 3 hour drive (especially their first plane trip will be from the UK to Houston!). Then head out early the next day to Memphis for 2 nights. Back to Nashville for another 2 nights (with a day trip to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky). Then Smoky mountains for 4 nights. Flying out late sunday evening at 6pm.

Not really "enthralled" by Embassy, per se. It's just that my in laws are early risers and early sleepers (they're usually in bed by 8pm) and are a bit older and can't just go all day. My husband and I usually like to stay in the thick of the action and can go on for a long time so staying in downtown nashville won't even be a question but since in laws are early sleepers, it's really not that important for us to stay in the thick of things since we won't be checking out much of the night life (but maybe grab some tickets to the Opry one of the nights). To save money on hotels, we can be farther away and just drive to the destination - especially since we'll probably end up using the car anyway for some reason or another during the day. We don't expect to be walking around much at night because of the reasons mentioned above so as long as it's in a decent neighborhood, we're good.

Also, the way the embassy suites rooms are set up, it has a separate bedroom and a sleeper sofa - which allows us to just need 1 room a night (they prefer to share a room). With the made to order breakfast in the morning, they can get up early and eat breakfast without having to wait on us since we're not that early risers as they are. They wouldn't be comfortable driving by themselves for breakfast what with being at the "wrong" side of the street and all . All rooms have a microwave and fridge too which isn't bad. I just think this will allow for more flexibility. Another minor detail is the way the bathrooms are set up in embassy suites which is usually outside of the bedroom so DH and I won't have to sneak in to their room at night to use the loo!

Thanks for all the advice. Please keep them coming if you/anyone thinks of anything else!

p.s. Anyone done the waterfalls hikes in GSMNP? They can do some easy hikes.

maria_so is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 07:01 AM
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It appears you will really have only 1 full day in Nashville so I would stay at the Hilton Suites downtown. You will be right in the thick of things and can walk to the Country Music Hall of Fame (across the street), Ryman Auditorium, Wild Horse Saloon, and many other fun places along lower Broadway and 2nd Ave. The Hilton is set up exactly like the ES with a bedroom and separate living room with sleeper sofa and can also include the buffet for breakfast.

Enjoy your stay and try to stay cool. We have a lot of humidity in August.
trvlgirlmq is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 09:01 AM
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thanks trvlgrlmq,

Will look into the hilton.

DH and I are used to the heat+humidity - we live in Houston after all. We're hoping a week in Houston before TN will get them prepared for the trip!

Any ideas about GSMNP itinerary?

maria_so is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 09:13 AM
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Nashville- We love the Gaylord Opryland Hotel
We also enjoy the Wildhorse Saloon for eating/dancing.

Memphis- The Hampton Inn Beale St. Is very nice (near the Peabody)--walking distance. Dyer's Burgers on Beale St. great greasy burgers. There is a Crepes Restaurant (very tiny) below the Hampton inn and it was very good! WE also enjoyed the Mud Island River Park.

Do not stay near Graceland area. Very seedy. Plan for a day at Graceland.
jasmine3 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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Consider Dollywood (Dolly Parton's theme park) for a day when you're in the Smokies area. They have great entertainment and a very nice selection of rides and shops if you're so inclined. It's one of the few theme parks that may have more appeal to seniors than teenagers because of the shows.

We are season passholders, so if you have any questions, please ask.

Or you can do the national park during the day and choose from many different Pigeon Forge shows for evening entertainment. I hear the Comedy Barn is great, but I've never been.
xrae is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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In Nashville, stay near Vanderbilt or in the West End area.

If you are free for breakfast, near Vandy campus, visit Pancake Pantry. Long lines on weekend but worth the wait. Visit Belle Meade plantation, and go to Loveless Motel for fried chicken served homestyle.

IMHO, Opryland was out of the way of most central Nashville places.

Not sure where you will be in GSMNP, but if you can manage a day trip to Asheville, very worthwhile. this is an artist colony, go see Grove Park Inn hotel, artist shops in downtown area and Biltmore estate.
aliska is offline  

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