As a Midwesterner, I never really felt compelled to visit Nashville, especially during New Year’s Eve. In the past, I always visited friends and celebrated the new year in Chicago. I assumed Nashville would be “too country” or “too boring” for my taste, but boy, was I wrong! Nashville has become an increasingly attractive destination that tops several blog lists of places to celebrate the New Year in the United States. The Jack Daniel’s Broadway Bash began in 2009 and has recently had hundreds of thousands attend from all over the country. Sure, they play a lot of country music, but it is all part of the experience (I ended up knowing more country songs than I realized). My main motivation to visit the city was to see one of my favorite bands, the Kings of Leon headlining the downtown bash, but let me share my take of the Country Music Capital of the World.
Travel & Lodging
Originally, I am from Wisconsin. Three of my friends and myself decided to travel from Milwaukee, WI to Nashville, TN by car. Not only are flights expensive during the holiday season, but considering it was a mild winter with no snow on the ground, ideal temperatures, and the price of gas was at an all-time low- these were all factors in my decision to drive. I did not want to take several days off from work, thus I decided to leave the night before NYE. I left from work at approx. 5PM and our estimated time of arrival to Nashville was 3AM New Year’s Eve. I certainly had time to sleep in, but I was too excited to explore, so I was up by 8AM the following morning! I booked an Airbnb roughly three months in advance to choose an ideal location (near Broadway Street in Downtown Nashville) and pay a fair price. The price for lodging was roughly $500 for 3 nights. The price of lodging was split evenly among three people, so roughly $186/person or $62/night.
IMPORTANT TIP: Not only book your trip months in advance, but paying a premium for a closer lodging site to downtown Nashville is worth it. On Airbnb, the condo where we were staying was a 10 minute drive from downtown. Initially, this sounded appealing because it was a short cab ride away, but then I realized it was NEW YEAR’S EVE. There was an extremely limited access to a cab, when hundreds of thousands of people are trying to get home after midnight. That 10 minute drive ended up being an hour long walk back to the condo in heels-ouch! Again, I cannot stress the importance of booking a place far in advance and within walking distance.
Things to Do in Nashville, TN
On my very first day in Nashville, my friends and I decided to stop at the local Kroger Store to pick up groceries and drink mixers. We then headed to the infamous Country Music Hall of Fame at around 9:00AM. I would highly suggest arriving to an early tour, since it is filled with tourists by late morning. Tickets are ~$25.00 per adult. A little pricey for an individual for myself who hardly recognizes country artists, but my friends are huge country music fans, so they enjoyed every moment of the tour. After the Hall of Fame, we explored the downtown area, roads were beginning to shutdown in preparation for the evening festivities. We decided to return to the condo and eat lunch/dinner with the groceries that we bought and begin getting ready for the evening. If you’re a woman, you know it takes at least an hour to get dolled up for the evening. Equally as important, we began drinking champagne in the late afternoon to save on expensive drinks we will inevitably be paying NYE. The downtown scene in Nashville is so lively and filled with Southern hospitality. The people are so incredibly kind and bouncers typically announce at the bar if you are from out of state like us Wisconsinites. For some reason, we were getting attention for all of the wrong reasons, this was not long after the Steven Avery documentary, Making A Murderer was taking over social media and news outlets. We were receiving several questions about the trial as if we were on the jury. Ha! We left the condo en-route to downtown at around 7:30-8:00PM. Broadway Street was already filled with people at this point with lines circling the entrances of bars. My friends and I hopped around from bar to bar, awaiting the fireworks show at midnight. It was well worth the wait, the fireworks are amazing! There is also a giant guitar in the center of the street, resembling the ball drop in New York City. It took several minutes for the Kings of Leon band to take the stage after the fireworks show. At that point, my friends and I were extremely exhausted from bar hopping as well as standing outside in the cold in our heels. We decided to head back to the condo. Again, we walked our “10-minute drive” back, because we could not hail a cab.
IMPORTANT TIP: If you do decide to stay a distance away from the downtown area, please download the Uber app or make accommodations for someone to pick you up. As much as a taxi driver will tell you they will meet you outside, another person has already hopped in their cab and will drive away without hesitation. Here are several other cab companies in the Nashville area: Green Cab, Yellow Cab Metro, OnCabs.
New Year’s Day in Nashville, TN
The following day, my friends and I wanted to cure our hangover and shots of moonshine by visiting the Jack Daniel’s Distillery located in Lynchburg, TN. When in Rome, right?! The distillery is located an hour and 40 minutes South East of Nashville and we were willing to drive there. Unfortunately, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery is not open New Year’s Day, so we were unable to fit that in our trip. In lieu of the distillery, I was adamant in having some good ole BBQ. Due to it being New Year’s Day, several restaurants were closed and we ended up driving to 3 or 4 restaurants before we finally found one that was open. I cannot recall the name of the only restaurant that was open, but I will provide the name soon! The food was absolutely delicious, the meat was tender, and everything you would expect a BBQ meal to be. We returned to our condo to get a mid-afternoon nap, to which we headed out to Broadway street again to begin on the other end of the street to make sure we visited all of the bars Nashville had to offer.
IMPORTANT TIP: If there are places or things you plan to do in Nashville, accommodate for holiday hours. There were several establishments closed on New Year’s Day because Nashvillians don’t expect people to function the day after New Year’s Eve. 😉
Thoughts on Nashville
All-in-all, we returned to Milwaukee on January 2nd. Those short few days were plenty of time to explore what the city had to offer. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Nashville, but after experiencing New Year’s Eve there, I would highly recommend going there over Chicago any day!