Hey guys! So as many of you know I just competed in Nashville, Tennessee for the Volunteer State Dance Challenge. In my last post I talked to you about the competition itself but now I want to share my awesome experience of exploring the city of Nashville. I pretty much had in mind what the city would be like before I got there. A lot of guys wearing cowboy hats and girls in denim shorts belting out country tunes in bars, neon signs lighting up the streets, and a LOT of Southern accents. So I pretty much hit that conclusion dead on, but what I didn’t expect was how beautiful the city would be, or how yummy the food would taste, or how much I would like it there.

If anyone knows me at all they know that I’m the furthest thing from a country girl. I hate county music, cowgirl boots, big trucks….all of it lol. But I am ADDICTED to the show Nashville! The drama is great and some of the more bluesy music is fabulous. This was another one of the reasons that I was super excited to see the city and some of the sites from the show.

I got to stay at the beautiful Loews Vanderbilt Hotel which was super close to everything worth seeing in Nashville. The hotel itself was beautiful, clean, and modern.

IMG_3196

At the beginning of the trip I made a list of some of the top local restaurants and sites to see in the city. I actually made it to quite a few of them (to my family’s irritation). I’m one of those people that when I go somewhere, I really want to explore and get to know what it’s all about…..so I constantly stay on the go which can be exhausting to those with me lol. Here are some of the places that I went and would definitely recommend if you plan on taking a trip to Nashville soon!

  1. Mas Tacos Por Favor– I will start out by saying that I wish someone other than my parents and my brother had been there to enjoy this DELICIOUS meal with me. They do not appreciate good food in the same ways that I do. When they think Mexican food they think chips and salsa and ACP. That’s American food people! Mas Tacos is AUTHENTIC Mexican food that is absolutely fabulous. I got the Spicy Carne Molida taco which has Cuban Style Ground Beef with spicy Onions, salsa, and sour Cream. With this I ordered a side of their Sweet Plantains (Holy Cow) and Elote which is a grilled corn with cheese and spices (AMAZING). It reminded me of the Mexican food that I ate in San Miguel. Legit.

IMG_3141 IMG_3144 IMG_3153

2. Sprinkles-This place is like a dessert lover’s heaven! Not only do they have the prettiest cupcakes and the cutest atmosphere, but they use healthy ingredients and even use Organic milk in their coffee. I ordered the Red Velvet Mocha which actually had some of a red velvet cupcake crumbled in it! It was so sweet and so good. That’s not even the best part….they have a cupcake ATM guys! Just press a button, swipe your card, and a yummy little cupcake pops out. BEST. IDEA. EVER.

IMG_3235IMG_3249

3. The Pharmacy This place is right across the street from Mas Tacos, which was great because I wanted to try both. I had been craving an orange cream soda and I was so excited to see that they had a Creamsicle Soda. I was definitely not disappointed with this choice. It was super creamy, sweet, and had the perfect amount of rich orange flavor. The whole atmosphere has this awesome old-school burger joint vibe with a modern twist.

IMG_3154

4. Frothy Monkey- I am a coffee addict, so trying cute little coffee shops is one of my favorite things. Especially when they offer Organic milk and healthier pastries and food. I had been wanting to try the Frothy Monkey the whole trip, and I finally got there as we were leaving Nashville. My Dad and brother said if they heard the words “Frothy Monkey” one more time they were going to explode haha. (I may have mentioned it once or twice). I got the Turtle Latte which was super yummy and a Chocolate Chip Peach Muffin (also fab). The inside of the shop was really nice with industrial and modern decor. It was definitely worth the wait. Not to mention the latte art was pretty great.

IMG_3301 IMG_3304 IMG_3307

5. The GooGoo Shop- My Dad raved about this place and now I see why. Walking into the GooGoo shop you are overwhelmed by the most incredible smell ever! Chocolate mixed with peanut butter, caramel, nougat, marshmallow, coconut…just a sugary aroma. GooGoo candies have been around since 1912, so the shop still has the awesome characteristics of a classic candy shop. It was really hard to control myself in here. I tried the peanut butter GooGoo and it was to die for; will power is a must.

IMG_3161

6. The Stillery- I’m not usually a huge fan of baked mac-n-cheese because usually baking it dries out the noodles and soaks up all the creamy cheesiness. However, this place knows how to make a GREAT baked mac-n-cheese. It’s a typical American food joint with burgers and pizza, but how they make their mac-n-cheese is unique. They cook it in a cast iron skillet, making it super creamy on the inside with a slightly browned and crumbly bread topping. Wonderful cheesy goodness.

IMG_3167 IMG_3168

7. Cafe Coco- This cute cafe was just a few minutes walk from our hotel, which meant my Mom and I could go without having to drag the boys along complaining about how burgers and fries would be a better choice. One of the locals recommended this place and I really enjoyed it. I really liked the outdoor patio that had this secret garden feel to it. My Mom and I both enjoyed a savory bagel and an iced coffee (unfortunately I can’t remember the names) but they were both great!

IMG_3198IMG_3201

8. Opryland Hotel- This hotel is more like an exotic conservatory and indoor village than a hotel! It’s absolutely stunning with vegetation and flowers as far as you can see, restaurants and shops, and beautiful architecture. The hotel rooms on the inside actually have balconies that overlook all of this which is super cool. There are man-made waterfalls and even a river that runs through it (people were actually taking boat rides inside the hotel)! It would be super cool to stay there sometime, but walking through it is an experience in itself.

DSC_4398
I’m just so photogenic guys….

DSC_4349 IMG_3215 IMG_3217 DSC_4393 DSC_4399

9. Printers Alley- Though I only had the chance to briefly walk through this famous alley, I absolutely loved it and wish I could have explored more. Printers Alley is famous for the large printing and publishing industry of Nashville as well as introducing night clubs in the 1940’s that hosted some of the most famous country music legends. The street still has that old style flair of the 40’s, almost like you are walking through a street in Paris with the flowered windows, lights, and bricked buildings. I wanted to go into the famous Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar; it’s supposed to host some really great acts.

IMG_3169 IMG_3172 IMG_3183

10. Broadway– Even if you’re not the biggest country music fan and don’t own a single cowboy hat, I would recommend seeing Broadway at least once. It’s really neat to walk down the street and hear people in the different bars singing their hearts out to some of the greatest country hits or to their own original songs. Some of the greatest country singers were discovered doing the exact same thing. It’s cool to see so many people that have an incredible passion for something because I can really relate. There are a ton of restaurants and shops down this street as well, and it look super neat all decked out in neon at night.

IMG_3158

11. Blubird Cafe/Highway 65 Records– Both of these locations are from the show Nashville. The Bluebird Cafe is where most of the acts on the show were discovered, and they all go back and play from time to time; it’s like their home stage. I wanted to actually see a show there SO BAD, but it didn’t work out with my dance schedule plus the shows fill up super fast! I did however make my family at least take me by to see it and it just made me want to go in even more. That will definitely be at the top of my list the next time I visit Nashville. Also by accident we drove past Highway 65 Records (Rayna James’ record studio from the show) and apparently it’s a museum and movie theater, so that would also be something I would love to check out.

IMG_3294IMG_3298

  1. “I Believe in Nashville” Mural– This painting is THE legendary mural to see when visiting Nashville. I’m not really sure why, but it was super cool to see. It’s right beside Sprinkles, so you can enjoy a cupcake after you take a picture with the famous painting!

FullSizeRender

12. John Seigenthaler Bridge- This was one of my favorite things from the whole trip. When it was getting close to dark, my Mom and I went onto the bridge to watch the sunset. The bridge (open to pedestrians only) overlooks the whole city of Nashville as well as the river. Once the sun started to set and the lights of the city began to reflect on the water, it was an incredible site. Also, a large riverboat appeared on the water as the sun had almost completely set and it was like being in an old romance movie (without my guy of course). Everything was just so beautiful and peaceful away from the roaring crowds of downtown.

IMG_3257 IMG_3279

I hope you guys get the chance to explore Nashville soon and see all the wonderful things it has to offer! Nashville is a place where dreams are born. I had such a wonderful time between all the great dancing, food, and beautiful sites. Can’t wait for my next adventure!

Live out your dreams,

Ashlyn Tori <3