Tag Archives: tourism

Nashville, Tennessee

Destination Nashville: Why Music City has Something for Everyone

Nashville, TennesseeBlogger and Nashvillian Brittany Cooper unpacks the local haunts that make Nashville, Tenn. a great vacation spot for people of all tastes — yes, even those who can’t stomach country music.

What do you think of when you hear the word “Nashville”? One, two, three … go. It’s almost humorous, right? Of course you think of country music, and who wouldn’t? Growing up in Indiana, I always envisioned Nashville as the land of honky-tonks and rhinestone cowboys, but after a few years in Music City, I’m a diehard fan of this place that has proven to be a large small town full of rich local culture, musical diversity and hospitable people.

Now when friends tell me they’re coming to Nashville for a visit, I point them toward the local restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques that make this city so unique. And I have to admit I cringe a little when I get the occasional phone call from a friend who’s already made his or her way to Broadway–the one strip in this town where honky-tonks and rhinestone cowboys still reign supreme. But even that touristy strip adds to Nashville’s charm.

If you’re thinking of making the jaunt to Music City, here are some of the can’t-miss threads that make up the fabric of this remarkable place:

Please Your Palate:

Silly Goose Food

Enjoy delicious sandwiches, couscous and more at The Silly Goose. (Photo courtesy of The Silly Goose).

The Silly Goose: Fresh and delicious sandwiches, couscous, salads and more made right in the heart of East Nashville.

The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden: Artisan burgers and beer with sweet potato fries and milk shakes to die for. Enjoy your food inside or relax with the whole family in the beautiful beer garden out back.

Pancake Pantry: You’ll have to wait in line, but that’s all part of the experience at this Nashville mainstay. And, believe me, the pancakes are well worth it!

Loveless Cafe: For a more historic, down-home spot, Loveless Cafe offers a homecooked country meal fit for the heartiest appetite. Don’t miss out on the biscuits.

Marché Artisan Foods: You’ll feel like you’re stepping into the French countryside when you enjoy any one of Marche’s innovative culinary creations. After your meal, buy fresh local bread, bacon, eggs, chocolates and more in the little market.

Satisfy that Sweet Tooth:

Dulce Desserts Cupcakes

Pop into Dulce Desserts for any number of scrumptious cupcake flavors. (Photo courtesy of Dulce Desserts).

Dulce Desserts: Even if you’re not ordering one of their custom cakes, you can stop by Dulce for succulent cupcakes, cookies and more.

Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles: Fresh fruit popsicles made in flavors ranging from lime to hibiscus.

Sweet 16th: East Nashville’s local bakery that offers up some of the most incredible breakfast sandwiches and scones imaginable. Get there early for the best selection.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Though technically a chain, Jeni’s is ice cream on an entirely new scale. Test any number of their gourmet flavors before landing on the perfect pick.

Fox’s Donut Den: With its iconic sign hanging out front of the Green Hills shop, Fox’s Donut Den is a Nashville mainstay with confections that have kept people coming back for decades.

Curb Your Caffeine Cravings:

Crema Coffee

For to-die-for espresso drinks and lovely latte art, try Crema, Nashville's coffee "brewtique." (Photo courtesy of Crema)

Crema: A coffee “brewtique,” Crema roasts and brews an incredible cup of coffee. Try one of their perfectly crafted espresso drinks and you won’t ever want to return to a certain mega-chain coffee shop (which will remain unnamed) again.

Ugly Mugs: Essentially the family room of East Nashville, Ugly Mugs is the place to take the whole family for a latte or a cup of unforgettable tea. (Oh, and my friend recently stood in line behind Robert Plant here. Need I say more?)

Fido/Bongo Java: Both under the same ownership, Fido and Bongo Java offer great coffee as well as fresh, tasty food.

Frothy Monkey: A favorite of people from all parts of Nashville, Frothy Monkey is a great spot to get some work done, catch up with friends and enjoy the laid-back vibe while getting your caffeine fix. Their food is quite impressive as well.

Edgehill Cafe: Nestled in the heart of the quaint Edgehill Village, Edgehill Cafe makes you feel like you’re sipping coffee in West Elm. The decor and ambiance alone are worth the trip.

The Barista Parlor: If you have ever referred to yourself as a coffee snob, you will love the Barista Parlor. The purest of the pure, the Barista Parlor serves up espresso made by the cup in a variety of brewing methods. (And don’t worry, they’re friendly).

Don’t Miss the Music:

The Bluebird Cafe

Nashville's iconic Bluebird Cafe is the best place to hear Nashville's songwriters perform their hits.

The Bluebird Cafe: The place where songwriters perform and artists are discovered, The Bluebird offers an intimate, in-the-round live music setting you won’t find anywhere else.

Bridgestone Arena: For the biggest bills, Bridgestone Arena is Nashville’s largest concert venue where you can catch a show from any number of touring bands and performers.

Mercy Lounge/The Cannery Ballroom: These two venues, located at the same place, constantly bring in great talent and showcase some of Nashville’s best emerging acts while also serving as a tour stop for others.

3rd and Lindsley: This recently remodeled venue is a great place to catch a live show and enjoy a comfortable setting.

The Ryman Auditorium: One of the most historic sites in Nashville, The Ryman stage, which was constructed in 1901, has played host to the most prolific stars of the past century.

Top off your Trip:

Nashville Farmer's Market

Nashville Farmers' Market offers a wide variety of produce from local growers.

Nashville Farmers’ Market: Take an afternoon to walk through the vast selection of produce from local growers and grab lunch at any one of the many restaurants in the indoor food court.

Gaylord Opryland Hotel: If you get the chance to stay here on your trip, definitely take it. If not, it’s still worth a visit to walk through the seemingly endless expanse of lush gardens, rivers and restaurants within the walls of this massive hotel.

Centennial Park: On a nice day, walk Centennial Park downtown Nashville, where you can also take a peek at Nashville’s Parthenon. The structure is a full-scale representation of the original Parthenon in Athens, complete with a 42-foot statue of Athena.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: If you enjoy country music, you can’t go wrong at the Hall of Fame, which also features a museum full of historic relics from country greats.

Grand Ole Opry: A fun night out for the entire family, the Grand Ole Opry will keep your attention with a steady rotation of talent and a down-home country feel. And you don’t have to be a fan of twangy country music to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

For even more visuals or to create a travel board for your trip to Nashville, check out our latest Pinterest board featuring Brittany’s picks!

Boat sailing into Edenton Harbor_featured

Escape to Edenton, N.C.: Must-See Sights in One of America’s Prettiest Small Towns

A boat sails into Edenton Harbor.

Guest blogger and frequent visitor Emily McMackin reveals what makes Edenton one of America’s prettiest small towns, along with its can’t-miss sights, shopping and cuisine.

Everyone needs a hideaway. A place you discover all on your own and find yourself wanting to return to as often as possible. For me, that place is Edenton, N.C.

I first came to Edenton on a work trip. My job as a magazine editor often takes me places I would have never visited otherwise — and that’s what brought me to this town of 5,000 near North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

A few weeks before my visit, Edenton was named one of “America’s Prettiest Small Towns” by Forbes magazine — and it was obvious why. The first time I turned down North Broad Street, the town’s main thoroughfare, I felt like I was crossing into another time.

Lush oaks, elms, sycamores and magnolias towered above the road like a canopy, draping columned homes in curtains of green. Crepe myrtles colored yards in rainbows of pink and filled the air with fragrance.

Nearly every house had a spacious front porch with a swing and an American flag fluttering in the breeze. I was tempted to trespass just so I could sit on one for a little while.

Right away, I was captivated by Edenton’s storybook beauty, but I soon discovered more about this town that I loved. Here are three reasons I keep coming back and why you are sure to fall in love with it, too.

Steeped in Stories

Grand historic homes line North Broad Street, Edenton's main thoroughfare.

Edenton folks are natural-born storytellers, but perhaps that’s because they live in a place so rich in history. Established in 1712, this waterfront town is the second oldest in North Carolina and served as its first Colonial capital until 1743.

Almost every street has a historical marker, including two for National Historic Landmarks. Downtown is full of restored homes spanning two centuries and showcasing a range of architecture, including Jacobean, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian styles.

For a small place, Edenton has played a big role in shaping American history. History buffs won’t want to miss:

Chowan County Courthouse: Built in 1787 with funds raised by Declaration of Independence signer Joseph Hewes, this Colonial courthouse is the most intact one left.

Cupola House: Constructed in 1758 for one of the royal governor’s agents, the home is known for its gardens, modeled after their original 1769 layout.

Barker House: This mansion was home to Penelope Barker, leader of the Edenton Tea Party, America’s earliest group of female political activists (a teacup-themed memorial to the ladies can be viewed nearby). From rockers on the back porch, tourists can admire watercolor reflections of historic homes across Edenton Bay.

Edenton Harbor: Part of the Maritime Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Trail, Edenton’s Harbor on the Albemarle Sound has a deep history. Visitors can walk the docks where Edenton native Harriet Jacobs, whose Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl memoir documented her harsh treatment as a slave, secretly boarded a boat bound for Philadelphia and sailed to freedom in 1842.

Haven for Hospitality

Spend the evening at The Pack House Inn and enjoy a breakfast of blueberry pancakes the next morning.

If you love bed and breakfasts, Edenton is for you. Innkeepers are famous for their attentiveness. One of my hosts got up before sunrise to brew coffee and put out sweet bread for me when I left early one morning to catch a flight.

Some of them, like bed and breakfast owners and New England transplants David and Dora Drohen, moved to Edenton after falling in love with it themselves. For a memorable stay, book a room at:

Granville Queen Inn Bed and Breakfast: Guest chambers in this turn-of-the-century Victorian house come with antiques, crystal chandeliers, fireplaces and private balconies. Don’t miss rocking on the grand front porch or breakfast in the plantation room, where delicacies like poached pears, crepes, sausage puffs and frozen amaretto cream baskets of mixed berries are served.

The Pack House Inn: Given the best innkeepers award by Bed and Breakfast Directory, this 1915 tobacco packing house includes period furnishings, canopy beds, fluffy bathrobes and a kitchen stocked with an endless supply of homemade treats. Guests receive a chilled bottle of Chardonnay upon arrival and can choose between blueberry pancakes or egg souffle for breakfast, with sides of home fries, grits, sausage links and fruit cocktail.

Turn back time with a visit to the Downtown Cafe & Soda Shoppe and order a milkshake, sundae or float.

Delectable Dining, Specialty Shopping

A downtown stroll is mandatory to the Edenton experience. Holly trees line brick sidewalks, where locals stop to shoot the breeze. The marquee of restored 1925 art deco Twin Taylor Cinema lights up each evening as it did 80-plus years ago, and 19th-century commercial buildings house some of best restaurants and antique stores. Foodies should try:

Waterman’s Grill: Savor the finest Carolina cuisine — crab cakes, seasoned shrimp, stewed tomatoes and corn pudding — in a candlelit yet casual setting. Have a glass of muscadine wine and save room for pineapple upside-down cake!

Downtown Cafe & Soda Shoppe: Scoot a red patent leather stool up to this old-fashioned soda fountain and enjoy a sundae, milkshake or float in this former pharmacy-turned-cafe.

Edenton Coffeehouse Bakery & Cafe: Linger over a used book and a latte, smoothie or frappuccino at this coffee bar and its adjoining bookstore (appropriately named The Garden of Good Readin’). The cafe bakes its own biscotti and has daily soup and sandwich specials. My recommendation? Try the apple chicken salad.

Love souvenir shopping? Don’t leave town without stopping by:

Edenton Bay Trading Company: This bayside shop sells everything from sea salt truffles and Carolina wines to coffee-table books, handmade jewelry and beachy collectibles. I bought my souvenir there — a shell box with red velvet lining. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of Edenton and all its hidden gems.

Visit for yourself to see what treasures you can uncover in one of America’s prettiest small towns!

For even more visuals or to create a travel board for your trip to Edenton, check out our latest Pinterest board featuring Emily’s picks!