Three days in Nashville - with your mom

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE - By Anne D’In­no­cen­zio

I’ve al­ways wanted to have a mini-re­u­nion in Nashville with my col­lege girl­friends. I imag­ined hang­ing out at honky-tonk bars like the fa­mous Toot­sie’s Or­chard Lounge, lis­ten­ing to coun­try mu­sic and me­an­der­ing along Mu­sic Row. In­stead, I found my­self in Ten­nessee’s cap­i­tal city with my 90-year-old mom and my sis­ter. Was it a drag? Far from it. The three nights we spent here turned out to be lots of fun as we ex­pe­ri­enced the dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties of this South­ern city, from its eclec­tic foodie cul­ture to its rich his­tory. My mom is very mo­bile and has the spunk of a 65year-old. Still, I took plenty of pre­cau­tions, did some pre-plan­ning and focused on a few ma­jor sites. We needed to pace our­selves - and leave time for naps and cof­fee breaks.

We stayed at a ho­tel close to some key at­trac­tions but away from noisy down­town bars. And we tried to avoid noisy restau­rants as my mom is hear­ing-im­paired. We also found a friendly cab­driver who took us from place to place. Bet­ter to have my mom use her energy vis­it­ing tourist spots rather than tir­ing her­self out get­ting around. We also chose fall for a visit rather than sum­mer so we didn’t have to deal with swel­ter­ing heat. And we went dur­ing the week, not a week­end, to avoid bachelorette par­ties - which have be­come a huge trend in Nashville - and other cel­e­bra­tions. Here are some high­lights.

Lodg­ing

I wanted to stay within walk­ing dis­tance to places like the Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame and Mu­seum and the his­toric Ry­man Au­di­to­rium. I also wanted a ho­tel with lots of ameni­ties for my mom. So I booked a room at The Her­mitage, a five-star, cen­tury-old ho­tel in down­town Nashville. The Her­mitage staff was ex­tremely gra­cious, went out of their way to book dinner reser­va­tions and even got us great seats at the Grand Ole Opry.

Food

I wanted us to try dif­fer­ent types of restau­rants. Our first meal in Nashville was lunch at Puck­ett’s, a few blocks from our ho­tel. It had a quaint general-store feel and of­fered tasty tra­di­tional South­ern food like pulled meat and mac­a­roni and cheese - and it was cheap, $40 for the three of us. But the high­light of our culi­nary ad­ven­tures was The Stan­dard at The Smith House, a town­house built in the 1840s. The restau­rant serves more up­scale South­ern fare - I had black­ened sea bass with mashed pota­toes and caramelized corn. And we shared an or­der of grits.

Mu­sic

You can find mu­sic in Nashville any­where, any­time. But I didn’t want to tire out my mom. So we focused on get­ting tick­ets to an evening con­cert at the Grand Ole Opry, at the Gay­lord Opry­land Re­sort. It was de­light­ful, fea­tur­ing a lineup of per­form­ers like Mont­gomery Gen­try and Old Do­min­ion. But make sure to ar­range for a cab or a car ser­vice to pick you up af­ter if you are not driv­ing. The line for a cab is long. For the win­ter sea­son be­gin­ning Nov. 1, Opry con­certs are held at the Ry­man Au­di­to­rium, which some fans think is an even bet­ter venue.

His­tory

From coun­try mu­sic to the Civil War, Nashville has a lot of his­tory. But we had to be se­lec­tive. A must-see: the Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame, which fea­tures a vast col­lec­tion of video clips, in­stru­ments and cos­tumes from stars across the decades. From Roy Rogers, who started his ca­reer as an old-timey yo­del­ing cow­boy, to Tay­lor Swift, a Nashville dar­ling be­fore she be­came a pop megas­tar, the mu­seum takes you from its folk roots to its con­tem­po­rary glitz.

An­other hot at­trac­tion: the back­stage tour of the Ry­man Au­di­to­rium, nick­named “the mother church of coun­try mu­sic” be­cause of its ori­gins as a church and as the orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion for the Grand Ole Opry ra­dio broad­cast and show. We vis­ited dress­ing rooms ded­i­cated to stars like Min­nie Pearl and spent time in the wooden pews.

Then there’s the Her­mitage plan­ta­tion, a 25-minute drive from down­town. Pres­i­dent An­drew Jack­son owned the prop­erty from 1804 un­til his death there in 1845. Carve out a half day as you’ll need time to tour the stun­ning main house and walk the grounds. A horse-and-wagon ride al­lowed my mom to ac­tu­ally see all of the grounds with­out walk­ing too far. On our final day, we vis­ited the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Pub­lic Li­brary, which fea­tures videos, pho­to­graphs and var­i­ous dis­plays of high­lights of the civil rights move­ment in the 1950s and 1960s.

Of course, it would have been great to visit the his­toric Belle Meade plan­ta­tion too, and honky-tonk bars like Toot­sie’s. But I’m sav­ing that for an­other trip. I want to go with my girl­friends, but my mom wants to go back too. —AP

This file photo shows the lobby of the Her­mitage Ho­tel in Nashville, Tenn. — AP

This file photo shows peo­ple walk by the Her­mitage Ho­tel in Nashville, Tenn.

Peo­ple look at ex­hibits at the Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame and Mu­seum in Nashville, Tenn.

Peo­ple visit the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn.

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