Tried and Tested – Road Trip USA (Nashville)

by Traveleads | January 22, 2019 | Latest News On The Ground Reviews

Last week we left behind the steaming streets of Memphis with the sound of live music still ringing in our ears.  Next stop on our journey – Lynchburg Tennessee, home of the famous Jack Daniel’s distillery.  It takes about four and a half hours to drive from Memphis to Lynchburg, but what a drive!  Try and avoid the highway where possible – we took a spectacular scenic route away from the main roads.  The state of Tennessee is incredibly beautiful.  Ancient forests give way to rural farms and picture postcard houses. Life in these small communities is collaborative rather than competitive, an idyllic return to simpler times, definitely worth the detour from the main I-40 interstate.

Lynchburg is located in the south-central region of Tennessee.  To give you an idea of how big (or rather how small) Lynchburg is, there is only one traffic light in the entire town!  Birthplace and home of Americas top selling whiskey, Lynchburg is actually a dry state, which means serving alcohol here is prohibited! But don’t worry, you can still enjoy a drop of the towns famous liquor during your visit because a bottle of Jack Daniels bought at the distillery is classed as a souvenir, and a measure poured in their tasting room is not a shot, it’s a sample – thereby making both completely legal.  Confused?  You’re not the only one!

Every drop of Jack Daniel’s is carefully crafted here.  Produced using the exact recipe and processes perfected by Jack Daniel himself.  Here’s an interesting fact to share with your boss:  Jack Daniel showed up to work early one morning. He needed to open the office safe but unfortunately couldn’t remember the combination.  Rather than wait for his staff to arrive he lost his temper and kicked the safe in frustration! Unfortunately this resulted in a broken toe which he left untreated.  The bone didn’t heal properly and eventually an infection spread and killed him, that’s how Jack Daniel died …moral of the story: Never show up to work early! 
There are several Jack Daniel’s tours available, we took the Angel’s Share which included an indepth introduction to the distillery, and a comprehensive look at the brewing process from start to finish.  The tour was then followed by shots (or samples, if we’re keeping it legal) of the complete range produced at Jack Daniel’s.  We started with a lead-in Green Label variety before progressing up to their premier offerings.  The tour costs just $25 per person and includes tastings served in the impressive barrel house.
You can see all of Lynchburg in half a day, making it an ideal pitt-stop to include in your itinerary.  Please drink responsibly, and don’t drink and drive!

From Lynchburg we headed north to Nashville, or Music City as it is more fondly known.  Nashville became the state capital of Tennessee following a referendum in 1843 winning by just one vote.  It was actually Queen Victoria who first referred to Nashville as Music City.  When she was introduced to musicians performing at the royal court she forgot where they had come from, rather than admitting this she simply referred to Nashville as “That music city in America” and the name stuck.

You only have to catch a glimpse of the bars and live-music venues on Broadway to see the enormity of country music in Nashville.  Broadway is more affectionately known as Music Row.  It was here back in the day that many unknowns, including Dolly Parton, Jonny Cash and Patsy Cline, came chasing dreams and future stardom.  Today all three of them, along with many more, have been immortalised in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, and in the Hollywood-style stars on the sidewalk.  Music Row over the years has become a commercialised mecca for tourists.  The small recording studios originally used by the pioneers of early country music are now museums and souvenir shops, while across town the new RCA Records building towers above its neighbours, it’s here the real business side of the music business happens in Nashville.  Other must see places for music lovers include the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole’ Opry and the famous Blue Bird Café – setting of the ABC Network and CMT television series ‘Nashville’.
Every night is a music festival on Broadway, country singers cover the hits of their idols, throwing in original material every now and then, for some this marks the start of what will become a successful recording career, for others it’s the place where would-be-stars come to fade.  Country music has always tried to capture the highs and lows of human emotions, nowhere is this more evident than down on Music Row.

In March 2012 a Gallup Poll ranked Nashville in the top five regions for job growth in the United States.  By 2017 Nashville’s economy was deemed the third fasted growing in the nation with the country’s hottest housing market.  This has made every plot of land valuable, no matter how small.  We found there was a noticeable lack of parking in the city – a crucial component in any road-trip.  Some hotels offer expensive valet parking, while street parking is available short term.  Overnight parking was difficult to find.  Existing car parks are being bought by developers who can make a far greater return on a twenty storey office block, or apartment complex, than they could ever get from a twenty space car park.  This is leading to a real parking crisis which the remaining operators are exploiting, charging $40 – $50 for overnight parking.  Get the latest parking information here to help budget for your trip.

After three days exploring all of the tourist attractions we wanted to discover Nashville from a locals perspective, away from the honky-tonk bars and the wild rooftop parties of Music Row, so we enlisted the help of Local Tastes of Nashvillewho offer various culinary tours of the city.  We had an incredible guide who began the tour by asking if anyone in the group was restricted by time, as she was happy to take as long as necessary to ensure everyone got the very most out of their experience.  Over four hours later we were still discussing the many fascinating aspects of the city, its history, and architecture – Did you know Nashville has a full sized replica of the original ancient Parthenon in Athens? It’s seriously impressive!

The tour was a wonderful introduction to the foods and flavours of the south: Grits, brisket, carbonated citrus infused coffee – look out for it coming to the UK soon, apparently it’s a thing!  Unlike many food tours where the emphasis is only on what you eat, our guide gave this tour a real sense of place.  We were introduced to trendy new cafes and restaurants, as well as some of the city’s best kept secrets.  Only in Germantown can you sit on the front porch of a small family bakery eating sweet potato cupcakes with scientifically formulated frosting to tantalise the taste buds!  Local Tastes of Nashville offers group tours, private tours and bespoke tours upon request.

Nashville was the perfect place to end our Tennessee musical road trip.  We had discovered a state rich in human history, where paddleboat steamers still trawl the rivers, and folks actually do sit on the front porch sipping sweet-tea.  We got to witness the ethereal blue smoke that rises from the Great Smokey Mountains, and realised that if ever a road-trip came with an absolutely cracking soundtrack as standard, this was it!

For those of you who only dream of adventure we will leave you with the wise words of Nashville’s most famous resident “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life” – Dolly Parton.
If you are planning a trip to the USA Traveleads has access to specially negotiated airfares and hotel discounts not available online. To check availability and to book please contact your Traveleads consultant.

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