This post may contain affiliate links, which means I make commission (at no cost to you!)
if you purchase through the link. Read our affiliate disclosure here.
We recently went to Nashville to see the eclipse. Hubby is a space nut and as such, he has been looking forward to the 2017 Eclipse for years. (When we first started dating I found ~several~ pairs of 3D glasses in his apartment. He did not pawn them off as his kids’ glasses, and instead proudly claimed them as his own for watching something to do with the Mars rover. So when he announced that we were going to Nashville to see the eclipse “next summer” I was not surprised. I also had no idea what he was talking about.) He planned the whole trip as far as the route we would take from Michigan, the hotel and *exactly* where we would watch the eclipse from to be in the path of totality from several different locations in the event it was raining in Nashville. Or it was cloudy. Or too crowded. Or any other possible reason Nashville didn’t work out at the last minute. He was prepared to pack up and head 2+ hours in any direction to have the best view of the eclipse.
But you know what all of the planning in the world cannot account for?
Yup. In the end I could have gone to Europe for what our “quick trip to Nashville” cost. We’ll get to that part, “The Ugly,” later. First we will reminisce about the beginning and middle of the trip, “The Good,” before Nashville practically killed me.
So as I said, we left from Michigan. It is about a 9 hour drive, doable in a day, but we stopped in Indianapolis on the way. (Indianapolis is great, btw. Lots to do and lots of fun. You can read about our 24(ish) hours in Indianapolis here.) We left our house Friday morning, stopped in Indy, got to Nashville Saturday around lunch time, and began part two of our mini-vacay. We drove my car, the fun summer car, a 2005 VW Bug convertible in light blue that is was so much fun. The radio didn’t work, the AC and heat were spotty, one of the windows no longer went down, but I love loved that car.
Ok. “The Good.”
Nashville is a fun city, regardless of whether or not you are a country fan. We are not, but the music is pouring out of every door in Nashville and it is *a lot* of fun. Due to Nashville being perfectly situated in the totality of the eclipse, Nashville was packed to the brim with people. It is estimated that 2 million people watched the eclipse from somewhere in Nashville. It was c.r.o.w.d.e.d. Thankfully hubby booked our hotel room way in advance. We spent the afternoon walking around Broadway taking in the bars and scene and stopping for a beer or three along the way. It was invigorating and not having been to Nashville before, we had a great time. After a few hours we decided to check into our hotel, freshen up, and go to dinner at The Treehouse. (You can earn rewards for making reservations at The Treehouse through OpenTable. Learn more here.)
Our reservations were for 9pm, so on our way we stopped off at Smith & Lentz Brewing Company for a drink. We love trying breweries in the cities we visit, so getting to stop at one on the way to dinner was a treat! Smith & Lentz is a frills-free brewery/bar, but we were able to get a table and the beer was great! We prefer light bodied beers, which are not always easy to find at breweries, so we were happy Smith & Lentz had a few options for us.
The Treehouse is a quirky restaurant with phenomenal small plate options prepared by a very creative chef. Hubby is not a fan of this type of dining at all, but since I am not a fan of the type of hotel he chose, we were momentarily even. 😉 Luckily they had lamb chops the night we were there, so Hungry Hubby became Happy Hubby very quickly. The restaurant (intentionally) has a “treehouse” feel and it is cozy an inviting. We sat outside, which felt like a very nice, secluded backyard. The décor is quirky, which I loved. I am so tempted to turn our mounted antelope, Andy, into Andi, and mimic the deer on wall by our table:
The music was so awesome that I ended up taking notes on which 80’s songs I needed to download when we got home. The wine menu offered a fantastic bottle of pinot noir I thoroughly enjoyed and dinner was amazing. To start, we shared the marinated tomatoes and wild shrimp toast. The tomato marinade was delicious with just a hint of lime, and the shrimp toast was very good with a little ricotta cheese and grilled corn. The handmade pasta was cooked to perfection and oh-so-flavorful and Hubby voraciously enjoyed his lamb chops. We did not partake in dessert, and headed back to the hotel.
Sunday morning we headed out early to the Nashville Farmer’s Market. It is a huge market with many, many fruit, veggie and garden options. There are over 150 merchants and farmers, and the market holds events, classes and workshops throughout the year. If we lived closer I would have been tempted to buy some plants because the prices were fantastic! In addition to food there are garden items, metal signs, flea market vendors, restaurants and so much more. We only spent about an hour there, but you could easily spend more time if you are shopping or eating.
From there we drove over to Cumberland Park and the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which spans the Cumberland River and is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. There are beautiful views of Nashville and Nissan Stadium from the bridge. If your pups are with you, the Downtown Dog Park, at the southwest end of the bridge, looks beautiful. (Our dogs did not accompany us on this trip, so we did not check it out.) The bridge also leads to Nissan Stadium home of the Tennessee Titans, so if you are in town for a game or a concert the bridge is one way to get there.
Next stop: Franklin, Tennessee, America’s Favorite Main Street! Loaded with shops, restaurants, and small town charm, Franklin is a stop you will have to squeeze into your trip if you like little shops and antique stores. Franklin is about 40 minutes south of Nashville, and with over 60 stores, restaurants and things to do, Franklin could be a weekend itself. Since this is not my Hubby’s favorite pastime, and he’d already done the farmer’s market, I made it quick and only dragged him into a few stores. The town was packed with eclipse seekers, so most of the restaurants had lengthy waits. We found a great little Irish pub, McCreary’s, and were able to cool down with a cold beer and lunch. Did I mention Nashville TN weather is HOT? OMG. SO HOT. Years ago we went to Omaha for a softball tournament and that was Hot. Omaha is the only place I’ve been that is hotter at 9pm than it was at 6pm. I don’t even know how that is possible, but Omaha is miserably hot in July, and Nashville is miserably hot in August. HOT. OMG. SO HOT. Nashville, and Franklin, would be a great spot for a Girls Weekend.
From Franklin we headed back to Nashville to the printing studio of “Hatch Show Print.” The Hatch family began printing advertising posters in the 1800’s and continues to print posters to this day. They are iconic in style, and you will probably recognize the style:
Their posters covered the signs of city buildings and country farms across the country. Their very first print was advertising an appearance by Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. While the Hatch family no longer runs or owns the operation, the subsequent owners have all kept the tradition and style alive from generation to generation. More than 100,000 people visit Hatch Show Print each year. Be sure you’re one of them on your next trip to Nashville!
From there we went to Antique Archaeology, which I thought was an antique store, but turns out it is the home of American Picker, Mike Wolfe. The store showcases his amazing finds, but it was not at all what I was looking for. The goods were *very* expensive and the souvenirs were of the TV show. If you are a fan of American Pickers it’s worth a stop. And if you are not, the Jack Daniel’s general store is next door and they have some pretty neat Jack Daniel’s goods.
The Eclipse, aka, “The Bad.”
So, Monday morning rolls around and we check out of our hotel. We are going to check out a breakfast place, The Pancake Pantry and then walk around Nashville a bit before heading to Hopkinsville, TN to see the eclipse. From there we were to head back to Michigan to pick up the dogs late Monday night and get back to work on Tuesday.
As we are driving to the Pancake Pantry, the car completely over heats and starts sputtering. It is BAD. Even Hubby thinks it is bad and he does 90% of our car repairs, so if he thinks it’s bad, it’s Bad. Not Good, and we are not to the Ugly part, either. I Google map the closest repair shops and we end up at one that was very close to where the issue began. Fortunately the mechanic thinks he knows what it is. Unfortunately the part won’t arrive until Tuesday.
At this point the eclipse will be here in about two hours and Hubby is starting to panic. In the meantime, I am looking at every nearby AirBNB and calling every freaking hotel in the Nashville area and they are all booked, or $600+ for the night because everybody and their mother is in Nashville for this glorious event. I manage to find a hotel (for $400/night, what a deal!) and summon an Uber. I pack what we will need for the night in one overnight bag, grab our laptops and the emergency blanket from the trunk, and find a nearby park so we can watch the eclipse, and call the (brand new) dog sitter to apologize profusely that we will be a day late, while Hubby talks to the mechanic. He is eventually relieved that I have circumvented the car trouble with Uber and found a park in which to watch the eclipse. He is less relieved that the hotel is $400, but that is our life.
We get to the park, which was lovely, and find a spot under a shade tree. I set up the blanket and get situated and Hubby walks over to McDonald’s to get our picnic lunch, since the Pancake Palace didn’t work out. We meet two really nice families who also drove into Nashville for the event, but they came from the south and were not staying overnight.
As we are sitting there waiting for the eclipse it is slowly getting darker. The cicadas start singing as if it is dusk. Eventually, as the eclipse advances, the street lights begin turning on, since they are solar. The birds stopped chirping. For about 5 minutes it was evening, and then night time. Kids were squealing in delight, there were collective gasps as the moon completely covered the sun. It was truly amazing and I am so glad we went and that my Hubby, who had been looking forward to this for years, was able to see it.
And then it was over. And of course we are now stuck in Nashville. We found a little bar across from the park and had beer (have I mentioned that it is HOT in Nashville in August? IDK how people live in that heat, honestly) and then headed to our very plush hotel. Which was more up my alley that the previous two night’s hotel that Hubby selected, but $400/night stung a bit. We ended up eating at the hotel restaurant because at this point we had done everything we wanted to in Nashville and we were just done. Or so I thought.
The next day we check out of the hotel, after being assured the car will be done by noon, and Uber to the repair shop. Great news! The car is NOT fixed. Turns out the part that would fix it was not the part at all and it is STILL DOING IT. I call the hotel back, and they are now booked for the night. I swoop Hubby away before he blows a gasket and we wait, again, for an Uber. We go back to downtown Nashville, where last night’s hotel graciously allows us to store our bags while we get our poop in a group, and we head out to find an air conditioned restaurant that isn’t blaring the devil’s music. At this point we are completely sick of Nashville, people, cars, fancy hotels, beer and all types of music. We find a quiet(ish) restaurant and are happily seated with ice water and menus, when the band walks in to set up. I thought I was wishing for death at this point, but it turns out I was not, because this was the calm before the storm.
We decide to rent a car and then come back to pick up our car the following weekend after it is fixed. Too bad for us, there are NO rental cars available because of the eclipse. Great. I manage to find another hotel in the $300 range, which is fantastic, and call the dog sitter to let her know we will be another day late (ca ching!) and fortunately she is cool with our dogs moving in for the week. We tool around Nashville for a couple hours in the hot, pounding sun, being assaulted by scantily clad women (who aren’t so cute to Hubby anymore) and music hanging out of bar doors inviting us in, but we decline because we’d rather just walk our woes away. Eventually we head to the hotel and go to bed. I have absolutely no memory of this hotel or if we had dinner. None at all.
Wednesday we are told the car will be done around 3:00. Since we had to check out of the hotel, we go back to downtown Nashville to walk around some more before heading back to the repair shop. We find a restaurant with the faint sounds of music coming from it and we have lunch, which consisted of hot pretzel bites for me and nothing for Hubby. At 3:00, we arrive at the repair shop and settle our bill ($1600.) The car is done and we are on our way. I text my boss that I will be back in business by mid-morning Thursday, I call the dog lady and let her know we are on our way and that I will pick the dogs up at 7am so we don’t disturb her when we arrive in MI at midnight, and WE. ARE. ON. OUR. WAY, vowing never to step foot in Nashville again because we are just done. Done!
Ten minutes later we are on the expressway. Twelve minutes later the car IS DOING IT AGAIN. Not gonna lie. I cried. Hubby exited and we looped back around to the repair shop. At this point I could not be civil to the guy, so Hubby handled it. At this point I am also starting to feel a little queasy. Hubby comes outside to where I am after talking to the Worst Mechanic Ever. By now we are both beside ourselves, thinking we are surely going to be stuck in Nashville for.ev.er. Hubby finds a diner a couple blocks away and we start walking. Have I mentioned it is hotter than ****? As I am calling the dog lady, my boss, and looking for ANOTHER hotel while walking in the heat, I am getting queasier and queasier. We finally get to the diner and walk in and it is *barely* cooler than the outside temperature. I sink into a booth and Hubby goes to find me some ice water. I pass him on my way to the bathroom saying, “I think I’m going to hurl….” Where is the bathroom? Why it’s in the hot-as-hell kitchen, of course! I burst through the door an am hit with a wave of heat. I barely made it into the bathroom where I hurled alllll over the place. Now is when I am actually wishing for death.
After I clean the already gross bathroom, I am still feeling like death, and I discover that my wonderful Hubby has called an Uber, has the driver running the AC at full blast waiting for me, and found a hotel (we’re back up to the $400 range, woot!) two blocks away. In those two blocks we only had to stop once so I could desecrate a flower planter at an apartment complex. I am also seriously considering texting my daughter’s ex-boyfriend who goes to Vanderbilt University to see if we can use his car. I decide against it because it’s a little rude: Hi! Haven’t talked to you in months, but can we use your car for 4 days?
At this point the dog lady has had it, my boss has had it, Hubby’s boss thinks the whole thing is hilarious, I am in bed DYING from food poisoning, and we are convinced we are never making it home. I am pleading with Hubby to please, please, please just go buy a new car. Puh-leeeeeeeze just go buy one. Any one. I do not care. I just need to GTFO of Nashville as soon as I stop puking. Eventually, I pass out in a puddle of tears.
I am feeling better…like death, but better. The car is fixed. Whoopdy-freaking-doo. We pick it up and are finally on the road. This time, I am not informing anyone because I have already informed people 3 times and had to change it. The dog lady calls constantly with puppy updates, and frankly I do not give a **** what the dogs are up to. Eventually our little MinPin will start peeing on everything in sight and I just. cannot. deal. with. that. today. He can only be good for so long, and my calculations tell me he is passed that point already. (We go through dog sitters like nobody’s business. We even made a grown man cry once. Our dogs are naughty.)
We get to Upton, KY and GUESS WHAT? Yup. The car starts doing it again. More crying. We limp it along to an exit, where a sheriff accompanies us off the road to let us know “there’s nothing at this exit. You gotta get to Elizabethtown.” Great. So we get back on the expressway and promptly enter a construction zone, so my Hubby’s method of giving the car gas and then coasting just hit a wall. You can guess what happens next, right? Did you guess that the car broke down in a one lane construction zone? If you did you would be right. I am wishing for death once again.
Fortunately (?) the single lane was wide enough for cars to go around us, but we were definitely those a-holes in the broken down car in the construction zone. And I was definitely that psychotic woman who got out of the car to yell at a honking trucker to “go the **** around us like everyone else is doing!!!!!” Eventually the tow truck came and took us to Home Depot in Elizabethtown, KY. Why Home Depot? Here’s why:
My husband is a smarty. Too bad he didn’t think of this three days and $42 billion ago. We drove the remaining 7 ½ hours home in relative silence, Nashville having beaten the life out of us. That trip was so God-awful that we cancelled our weekend trip in September to Traverse City, MI because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to go on another road trip.
And that, my dear readers, is our story of Nashville 2017 or Bust. I have labeled it “BUST.”
Tow truck: $100
Car trailer and truck: $600
Food: Who knows
Nashville t-shirt I threw away because I am never going to Nashville again $10
Total: I could have gone to Europe (or at least Mexico)
Of course, the eclipse itself was awesome. Too bad it’s nearly impossible to get a decent eclipse photo from an iPhone, so all we have are our memories. 🙂
Travel Tips & Tricks
- Do you need a passport? It’s kind of important! US residents can check out this article on obtaining (or renewing) a passport.
- The best travel advice I have ever received is “take half as much clothing, twice as much money.” Ain’t that the truth?! I am a chronic over-packer and adhering to this has been a challenge. I was able to pull it off on our last vacation, which was great because then I had room for all of the stuff I bought with the “twice as much money” part of this equation. <heh heh>
- The second best travel advice I have ever received is that if you are traveling with a group or another couple, build in downtime for yourself or you and your spouse. Too much “together” can take its toll. Nothing says that because you are vacationing together you have to do everything together. If you’re a foodie and your friends are not, go out to dinner with your partner. If you want to read and they want to rent wave runners, stay behind and read. This is your vacation, so make it one you have the best time possible during.
- Airlines have cracked down on luggage sizes and weights, and the fee for an overweight bag can be astronomical. If your luggage is older, consider upgrading to a set that is guaranteed to be the correct size for carryons and is also lightweight. I bought this Travelhouse 3-piece luggage set for my daughter’s recent vacation. The largest piece weighs just 9 pounds, it has spinner wheels and a TSA approved lock. It also comes in several colors, which is my third tip: If you’re purchasing new luggage, consider luggage that is a color or pattern – in other words, not black! It will be so much easier to spot your bag on the luggage carousel. This is especially handy when traveling with kids whose luggage you also need to find. No one wants to hang out at the airport checking every black bag that passes by! Is that it…no…is that it…no…I think that’s it…nope. A new luggage set can solve a lot of headaches, for a pretty reasonable price!
- TSA approved bottles for liquids are another must-have when planning a big trip. These squeezable silicone bottles are 2 and 3 ounces and can be refilled each time you travel. Yes, you can check larger sized containers, but for items you want access to throughout your flight, these bottles are perfect!
- Take comfy shoes, even if you think you won’t do a lot of walking. You never know what adventures will pop up and buying shoes you already have at home is an expense that is easy to avoid.
- Save on hotel stays by choosing hotel groups, such as Intercontinental Hotels, that regularly offer deals and discounts.
If you want to read more about our recent travel adventures, you can check out these posts:
And also some of our “travel dreaming” posts here:
Our Comprehensive Guide to Fiji: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Before You Go To Fiji
Five Amazing Waterfalls You Won’t Believe Are In Michigan
I Dream of Iceland: 10 Things to See and Do on Your Dream Vacation
Still need more inspiration? Our Wanderlust board on Pinterest has over 1,000 inspirational pins!
If you have been to Toronto or Niagara Falls I would love to hear about it in the comments!