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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Verdict: Go and go at night if you can. It’s truly fun and inspired!
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.
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).
After another cocktail or two downtown, Alex and I headed over to the Hutton Hotel for the after-party where this happened:
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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*).
The next day, Alex and I took our time meandering back to Tennessee yesterday for her evening flight.
We stopped at Woodford Reserve, and we made some unexpected friends along the way.
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.