Short, but Sweet Road Trip

Mar 16th, 2012, 08:24 AM
  #1  
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Short, but Sweet Road Trip

My friend and I are driving from Massachusetts to Tennessee in Mid-April. We will be leaving early on a Wednesday morning, staying in Virginia Beach the first night. Thursday morning, we will leave for Nashville, where will be staying in Mt Juliet until Saturday. Saturday morning, we will depart for Baltimore and stay there for the night.

Any recommendations for spots to visit? We'd like to spend a lot of time exploring Nashville, so we would love to hear your favorite things to see/do/hear/eat there Love live music, great food, etc. Would love to hear your favorite local spots in VA or MD too, as well as anything you think we should stop and check out while we're on the road!

As a side note, we're both mid-20s and both female.

Thanks for all your help!
nightxsky is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 08:41 AM
  #2  
 
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On your way to Virginia Beach, consider going down the Garden State Parkway to Cape May, then across on the ferry to Lewes, DE then down the Delmarva to the Bay Bridge/Tunnell. It is longer but nicer than doing 95 to 64.
emalloy is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 10:44 AM
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Out of curiosity, why stay in Mt. Juliet to see Nashville? Do you have free accommodations there? I ask because it's a pretty good drive from anything touristy, except the Hermitage (downtown is 25-30 minutes). So if you do have reasons for staying there, make sure to plan for that in doing whatever you end up doing.

After driving from Virginia Beach all day Thursday, you'll basically have one day. Most tourists would spend it all downtown, seeing the Country Music Hall of Fame and maybe the RCA studio, the Ryman, that sort of thing. That's where the honky-tonks are, if that floats your boat. There's also the Opryland Hotel (not near downtown, but pretty easy to get to from Mt. Juliet), which is a destination in itself but not near much else. Be prepared to pay a lot for parking if you go there (it was $18 the last time I tried - I used to park for free at the mall next door, but I've heard that they made that harder to do). There's also Belle Meade Plantation, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, shopping in Hillsboro Village or the 12 South area (or in Green Hills, if you have designer tastes).

As far as food, what's your budget and what kind of food do you like? There are a lot of threads here about Nashville restaurants, but it's hard to give specific recommendations without a little information.

For live music, if you want to go honky-tonking, just head to Lower Broadway. Otherwise, see who's playing at the Ryman (favorite place to see anyone, hands down), Exit/In, Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom, 3rd & Lindsley and the Rutledge. Those are some of my favorite venues, but there are a bunch more around town. Check out the Bluebird Cafe as well - it's a different vibe there, because they enforce a "no chatting while people are playing" rule. If you're into the music, it's great. If you're there more for socializing, I'd pick somewhere else.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 04:19 AM
  #4  
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We're staying in Mt Juliet because I was able to use hotel points and save some money that way. We love music. As far as food, we like cheaper local flare. Not picky on the type of food, we could find something anywhere. Definitely prepared to have to drive a bit to get to Nashville. Couldn't pass up a free hotel though.
nightxsky is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:32 AM
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Here are a couple earlier threads on Nashville eats with lots of good suggestions:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...e-downtown.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-for-music.cfm
bachslunch is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:56 AM
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If you are using I-81 through PA, think about visiting the
"Sweetest" place which is Hershey. Even if you don't visit the chocolate factory, check out Hershey Park.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 09:02 AM
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You are driving from Nashville to Baltimore in a day? Yes, I suppose it "can be done". But oh boy. Depending on your route I'd make it a 12 hour drive, and not in a non-traffic part of the world.
I guess I also wonder about Virginia Beach when you could be heading more westward to get to nashville.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 10:46 AM
  #8  
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Yes, we realize it's going to be a long day. Driving long distances doesn't bother me in the slightest. We could have gone with a more direct route, but we wanted to see more the coast. I'm accustomed to long road travel as my Dad is an over-the-road truck driver and I've taken many a trip with him.

Thanks everyone for the suggesstions!
nightxsky is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 01:32 PM
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Oh, I LOVE to drive, and drive long distances from time to time and think that is fine. But not to spend a day in a town 800 miles away.
I will tell you that the drive from Nashville (perhaps your route on the return) to I81 may be the deadliest dull stretch of road in the entire country!! And you'll be doing it going to Nashville.
What are you going to have time to see "along the coast"? And the drive TO Nashville may even be longer? I'm not trying to rain on any parade, but truthfully, you are going to be in your car getting TO your destination of Nashville the entire time--partying late into the night will impact the next day, although I know you have two drivers. I might suggest you just strike out for Nashville, spend your time there, and see "the east coast" on the way back, IF it can be worked in.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:43 PM
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Have you checked mileage and time on mapquest or freetrip.com?

Boston-Va Beach 573 miles 10:27

VA Beach-Mt Juliet 701 miles 10:43

Mt Juliet- Baltimore 682 miles 10:26 per freetrip.com

add lunch time to that and it makes for a long day with sightseeing along the way
ronkala is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:44 PM
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*** without sightseeing
ronkala is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 04:35 AM
  #12  
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We aren't party girls so late nights won't have an impact on us starting the next leg of our journey in the early morning. We are bringing food with us so stopping for lunch isn't an issue. I've done all the research on driving times and have spoken with my Dad, who has driven through every single state in the continental US.
nightxsky is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 07:41 AM
  #13  
 
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Well, maybe not partying, per se, but you do mention good food and good music as activities.
Now I'm wondering what you want us to tell you, outside of Nashville where you have one day and more than enough suggestions above for that length of time.
You're bringing food, so if we suggested places from Diners Driveins and Dives, or jane and Michael Stern' Road Food wouldn't be useful to you.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 07:51 AM
  #14  
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We're bringing some food for the road, but we'll be eating out for dinner and possobly lunch, so restaurant suggestions would be helpful! I love DDD places
nightxsky is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 07:52 AM
  #15  
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And we have three drivers now which makes the driving distance a cake walk.
nightxsky is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:18 AM
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Where are you leaving I-81 on your way to Baltimore? If you are not going through D.C, Harper's Ferry is interesting.
ronkala is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 02:08 PM
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I will only gently suggest again consolidating the "target" part of your trip--Nashville--by heading westward at the beginning. You'll pass by Hershey PA if you do which could be fun.
mapquest has it as a 20 hour drive (1100miles). And I happen to think that is a "number" you can believe because the traffic will not be so unpredictable as it is on the east coast corridor. You could probably get close to Knoxville if you pushed with your 3 drivers. Then a short day to Nashville the next day but you could spend a day and a half at the least--BUT you will have two nights for the music and enjoying Nashville.
Head back and do your Baltimore thing if you want. And there you have your east coast "fix".
I suggest further you choose your route finally, mark your miles and time to "such and such" , and then look at DDD or Road Food, and see what is nearby for your foodie likes.
While I am glad you have an additional driver, the distance and time remains the same which you of course know!! ;o)
To really get your bang for the buck from this type of trip, I think you need to be more pro-active--head for diner en route, enjoy Nashville, ditch Virginia Beach for a motel stop and little more.
It can be a sort of cute trip, but as you have first suggested it, it just looks like out of car windows touring to me.
Have fun.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2012, 07:05 AM
  #18  
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I'm fine with out of car windows touring. That's the fun of it for us. The hotels have been booked for months, so even though you think we should head westward initially, we cannot change our current reservations. We looked at a myriad of places to stop on the way and we decided to pick Virginia Beach and Baltimore for numerous reasons. I've done Hershey PA just last year, so it's not that appealing to me at this point. I'm okay with spending little time in each location and more time en route.
nightxsky is offline  
Mar 30th, 2012, 07:38 AM
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A lot of shows around town don't start till 9 or 9:30pm (and "start" at many venues is a very loose term), so depending on what sort of music you want to see, you could be out late. 3rd & Lindsley, the Ryman, the Bluebird all start on time. Exit/In, Mercy, Cannery, and basically any other standing room venue could start quite a bit later than the listed time (or could not). Just so you're aware, since you'll be getting up early the next day. If you just go down to the honky-tonks to hear live music, they go all the time so you don't worry about a start time.

You'll really only have a couple of meals in Nashville, since I'm assuming you'll stick to food on the road or close to your hotel on Thursday and Saturday. Hillsboro Village, near Vanderbilt, is a fun area to walk around and shop and has several good and pretty inexpensive restaurants - Pancake Pantry is legendary, but may have a long line. Fido is a restaurant/coffee shop down the street that I really like. Monell's is a Southern-style restaurant near downtown mentioned on one of the other threads above. Demos' is right downtown - not top-tier cuisine, but it's good food, not expensive and is a Nashville institution. City House and Germantown Cafe are also downtown but a little pricier. I usually tell people to look at nashvilleoriginals.com - restaurants of all price ranges all over town.
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