CMT Awards in Nashville

From Music City to Bonnaroo to the Bluegrass State

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I’ve had a lot of visitors the past couple years, but few I was as excited about as the ones who just left. Not only were some of my favorite travelers coming for a nice, long stay but they were also arriving at my favorite time of year in Nashville—festival week!

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Alex in Wanderland arrived first last Monday, and as it was her first visit to my grand state, I felt the need to roll out the red carpet and give her a taste of what Music City is all about.

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Our week started with a little work time at Barista Parlor then lunch at Whiskey Kitchen, followed by drinks at the Symphony for a William Morris happy hour, then off to Darius Rucker’s annual Darius & Friends event benefiting St. Jude, which also featured Little Big Town, Brett Eldredge, Thousand Horses, the Brothers Osborne and a handful of other top country acts.

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

The following day, we took it easy—or easier at least—with a barre3 class in the Gulch to kick off our morning. I’ve been to a lot of barre classes across the country, and this may easily be my favorite yet: not at all pretentious, cool studio vibe and a great instructor who knew when to push and when to back off. Plus, it’s not every day you get to train with a Titans cheerleader!

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Then, it was brunch at Fido and a little shopping time in Hillsboro Village en route to Cheekwood. Nashville’s botanical garden is often on my list of visitor must-dos, but this time it was also partially due to selfish reasons: I really wanted to see the new Plensa exhibit.

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat
Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Verdict: Go and go at night if you can. It’s truly fun and inspired!

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

The male half of our four-pack arrived to town on Wednesday just in time to grab a drink and head to Bridgestone Arena with us for the annual CMT Awards, which was hosted by Erin Andrews and Brittani Snow this year. Anyone can buy tickets to the annual awards each June, but we all had media passes and I was excited to find that we were seated beside some of my favorite Nashville gal pals.

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

We had great seats and while the show itself was interesting at times, there were some great performances (Eric Church! Carrie Underwood!) and funny sketches (did you see Steven Tyler with Alan Jackson? classic).

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

After another cocktail or two downtown, Alex and I headed over to the Hutton Hotel for the after-party where this happened:

Norman Reedus at CMT Awards in Nashville
Norman Reedus at CMT Awards in Nashville

You know, just an average Wednesday night in Nashville. No, but really, after arriving and seeing Norman Reedus smoking a cigarette out on the patio and loitering forever waiting for him and Rumer Willis to stop talking (flirting?) so I could say hi, my friend Natalie and I went to the bathroom to freshen up at which point Alex pounced—or rather, he put her in a headlock—and held him hostage until we’d had time to say hi. She’s a good friend, that one.

There were tequila shots with The Walking Dead star after that and general debauchery but we had to be up early for a Biscuit Love and CMA Fest daytime festivities. You may have noticed but no visitors escapes Nashville—at least Nashville with me—without a round of bonuts!

Norman Reedus at CMT Awards in Nashville

But moving on….

We then walked from the Gulch down to the riverfront stage so as to avoid parking during the craziest week of the year when up to 250,000 visitors descend upon Nashville!

Norman Reedus at CMT Awards in Nashville

To be honest, I’m not one much for crowds, and this festival sort of stresses me out, just a wee bit. I do love me some country music but I’m not sure I’ll ever do CMA Fest again. It is so crowded and sweaty and the overall attendees are—how do I put it?—an interesting bunch. Bonnaroo is a much different beast (peace, love and hippies, yo).

Norman Reedus at CMT Awards in Nashville

CMA Fest and Bonnaroo in Tennessee
CMA Fest and Bonnaroo in Tennessee
CMA Fest and Bonnaroo in Tennessee

Previously I’d only ever been to the paid nighttime concerts at LP Field, but each year, there’s a slew of free daytime events all over the city. It’s fun, sure, but it’s also a bit stressful if you live there and are trying to get around the city in any way, shape or form.

CMA Fest in in Nashville

Alex seemed to enjoy herself, though. And, as a Nashville (the show) fan like me, she wasn’t the slightest bit upset when we passed Highway 65 HQ on the walk back to my car.

Three Days in Nashville: What to Do, See and Eat

Next up was heading down to Manchester for Bonnaroo. I’m fortunate that we live close enough to the Farm to avoid camping altogether (and shower at the end of a long, dusty day). So Alex and the boys stayed with SVV, Ella and me in the Victorian, and we had ourselves a grand old time. But more on that later.

Bonnaroo and CMA Fest

After a solid week of festival-ing it up, the four of us packed our respective cars and headed north. Destination: Kentucky. Purpose: career development.

Kentucky Road Trip from Tennessee

The boys would be doing some traveling of their own, while Alex and I were on the speaker lineup for PRSA Travel & Tourism. On top of getting to see my best girl, Jade, I also met so many other digital influencers and PR people I’ve only ever known online, so that was a treat!

Kentucky Road Trip from Tennessee

I’ve spoken at a lot of conferences, and this was one of the better run and most beneficial ones of them all for me as a media professional. I’ll definitely be back in Houston next year … if they invite me (*hint, hint*).

Kentucky Road Trip from Tennessee

The next day, Alex and I took our time meandering back to Tennessee yesterday for her evening flight.

Kentucky Road Trip from Tennessee

We stopped at Woodford Reserve, and we made some unexpected friends along the way.

Road Trip from Tennessee to Kentucky
Road Trip from Tennessee to Kentucky
Road Trip from Tennessee to Kentucky

I got home late last night just in time to wish Ella a happy fifth birthday—where has the time gone?!—and to watch the Game of Thrones finale with my husband before it was spoiled for me by social media.

I’m ready for a little relaxation, which should come when we’re on actual vacation next week, but until then, I’ll be writing, writing, writing for the magazine—our August issue isn’t going to write itself, after all. No rest for the weary. But I wouldn’t trade this past week with these people for anything.

CMT Awards and CMA Week in Tennessee

COMMENTS
  • June 18, 2015
    Briel K.

    That Plensa exhibit looks really cool!

    Love your outfit at the CMT Awards. Super cute!

    Norman Reedus! Can’t wait for the next season of TWD. 🙂

    • June 18, 2015

      Come to Nashville before it ends in November and I promise to take you there! 😉

    • June 18, 2015

      And thank you re: the outfit comment! Dress is Kate Spade surprise sale; purse is Kate Spade (my Christmas present from SVV); shoes are BP from Nordstrom (current collection and very affordable!).

  • June 18, 2015

    wow, so much going on in just a week! 🙂 Also love the shots from the Plensa exhibit!

    • June 18, 2015

      Thank you! And yes, I don’t allow my visitors much time to sleep… 😉

  • June 18, 2015

    Yep. I most definitely don’t miss the horrors of CMA Fest, a.k.a. Don’t Leave The House Week. Glad you gals (and guys) enjoyed yourselves! Where are you heading for vacation?

    • June 18, 2015

      Orlando actually! My parents have a timeshare there that we rarely use and I love me some Harry Potter action =)

      Next month, though, Alex and I are diving Bonaire and Aruba with our pal Angie, and I am definitely looking forward to that as the highlight of my summer!

      • June 18, 2015

        Hopefully you’re going to Disney World! Have a great time. =)

  • June 19, 2015

    After so many pictures of multiple chins, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for ending on a flattering one! (Insert cry-laughing emoji here.)

    • June 24, 2015

      You make multiple chins look good! 😉

  • June 20, 2015
    Kennedy

    I love the pictures because they are perfect and cute. They give an ideal impression of some of best places to enjoy and have fun in so many ways. Taking photos with your friends, getting entertained as so many perfomances are done, getting to dance to your kind of music, chilling as well as taking the drinks of your world. Its a good idea to why you need to have fun and enjoy. I love it.

    • June 24, 2015

      Thanks, Kennedy! I try to have fun in everything I do =)

  • June 23, 2015

    WOW KRISTIN & ALEX
    to gather in the right time and place
    so nice
    it’s great to see you both to gather in one post too.
    I follow both of you, good luck

    nice photos KRISTIN

    • June 24, 2015

      Thank you! Alex is definitely one of my very favorite Internet-turned-IRL friends =)

  • June 27, 2015

    I feel the need for a return visit to Music City 🙂

  • July 2, 2015

    Wow wow wow! What a fun time! i would be exhausted after all of that! Big sweaty crowds like that also weird me out. I get tied of them in about 5 minutes. i would LOVE to go to bonaroo at some point. Looks like fun, good company, and good food! Loved all of your pictures dear! xoxo

  • October 24, 2015

    Ah I just read Alex’s post and had to come over myself to prove that you met Norman Reedus. Can’t believe I missed this post!

    I’m super super obsessed with the Walking Dead! I would have been fangirling so hard.

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