By Bonnie and Bill Neely
We wanted to celebrate two special birthdays in our immediate family: my husband’s and our daughter’s. We live across country from each other and getting all together is very rare and wonderful. Bill perused the United States map and travel ease with airlines and decided Nashville BNA airport had easy, non-stop air travel from each of our locations. For many of us, this was the first trip since COVID-19 started, so we wanted to take special precautions. At first we chose hotels in walking distance of the main tourist areas. Bill and I knew from previous visits to Nashville that it is a great place to visit for any age, any budget. Music City is fun for EVERYONE!
Then we found an excellent Air B&B house we could have all to ourselves and gather to visit and play games or do some cooking whenever we chose, and we decided this was better for our COVID precautions and fun. The chosen location was at 123 Elmhurst Ave. in Nashville, and we loved it, a new house on a hillside. The large furnished kitchen/living room, four bedrooms and four baths on three floors were perfect. We had a private garage and a rooftop lovely seating area with a firepit and great views of the city. Thank goodness we were all able to climb stairs because there were MANY!
We were only about twenty minutes from the airport or from center of tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants. https://ryman.com/Ryman Auditorium original home of the Grand Ole Opry, museums, art galleries, and Broadway, famous for its non-stop music, live bands, honky-tonks, bars, and Country Music Walk of Stars. We had thought New York City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles were the cities that never sleep, but Nashville, better known as Music City, is TRULY in that famous category. And we never tired of walking the famous streets and going in and out of the countless open venues which featured drinks and live bands seemingly non-stop around the clock. People watching was also fun from rooftop bars, where we could see the many pedal trolley bars as the many young people partied aboard and twerked to the music as they pedaled along having a blast! The fun, laughter, and happiness were contagious, even to those of us who do not drink alcohol.
Since we only had enough days to visit one museum, we all chose Country Music Hall of Fame in the beautiful architecture featuring a huge keyboard. As we toured through the building we enjoyed learning the history of Country Music and many of the top performers through the years. Each of us enjoyed reminiscing our school years as we saw the showcase and heard the music of our happy youth and could sing along with them and watch the videos. Their famous instruments and best remembered costumes were showcased and carefully preserved in glass cases along with interesting facts and stories. The CMA awards are presented to top performers annually and forever immortalized here in the Hall of Fame. This venue should be first on your list of attractions in Nashville. Although we were not able to attend the Grand Ole Opry on this visit, we each remembered fondly when we had enjoyed it on previous visits and on the radio now on Saturday Evenings.
We carefully selected acclaimed restaurants for our very special birthday celebrations at dinnertimes. Because so many people have special needs in foods these days, including and especially gluten free and vegan/vegetarian, we chose dining places that can accommodate any preference in delicious ways. Etch is a lovely restaurant for eclectic tastes. The beverages, meals, and ambiance were perfect and made a great memory for our daughter’s birthday celebration. We selected Drusie and Darr Restaurant at The Hermitage Hotel for Bill’s birthday. The beautiful, quiet setting and the eloquent meal will be long remembered, as well as the delectable hors d’oeuvres which the chef sent complementary for the 80th birthday congratulations. Our other favorite splurge was a lovely brunch in the White Limozeen Restaurant at The Graduate Hotel. The lovely pink rooftop bar and pool and the restaurant’s extravagant hot pink decor reminded us of upscale Victorian elegance and was fun for photos and served lovely, delicious fare.
Bill led us on a short trip to see Neely’s Bend in the Cumberland River, where his great, great, great, great grandfather, the first William Neely, was one of the founders of Nashborough, and the Bend is named for him because he was massacred there by Indians who then kidnapped his daughter. It was like a scavenger hunt of laughter to find the marker that tells the history of Bill’s ancestors experience there on the river. We finally found it and returned to the city to see the replica of Fort Nashborough in Riverfront Park downtown Nashville. We were all touched to read the markers and even the signatures of the founding fathers and realize the extreme sacrifices our forebears made.
We found many more delightful places to include in our Reunion Celebration, which we will save for another article. We are so glad we chose Music City for our perfect family vacation.
IF YOU GO: