Start your first days of "forever" in the dynamic city of Nashville, Tennessee. Here, the music never stops, and the world-class live entertainment is legendary. While Nashville has long been the "capitol" of country music, it is now famous for music of all genres. You will find historic Nashville intact—waiting for you to explore, while your contemporary honeymoon fantasies begin with an upscale hotel and romantic restaurants.
The moment we entered the Hutton Hotel, my husband and I knew we had found the perfect hotel for romance. Located in Nashville's vibrant Midtown, Hutton Hotel is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and a recipient of Forbes Four-Star award. The Forbes Travel Guide has selected the hotel as one of the "Top Green Hotels," featuring LED lighting, recycling programs and sustainable bamboo flooring. While drawing discerning visitors from around the world, It seems the Hollywood set has claimed Hutton Hotel as Nashville's "it" hotel. In fact, Gwyneth Paltrow gave Hutton Hotel rave reviews on her blog "goop," while lodging at the hotel when filming "Country Strong."
Our room rocked with a chic interior design, accented by splashes of black, red and natural colors. The luxurious mattress and plush bed linens were opulent. Fling open the drapes and Nashville is in full view. You will appreciate the modern bath with granite flooring, glass vanity, and rain shower head for relaxation. If you want to kick it up a notch, Hutton Hotel has two luxury Presidential Suites—complete with balconies, and fit for royalty. From here, the stunning night vistas and faint sounds of Nashville's music scene are enough to draw you from your relaxing perch to experience the sounds of the city.
Before you chase the night music, make sure you visit the concierge desk where Laura will help you navigate Nashville. The staff is the best we have ever experienced, leaving us to wonder, "Where did they find this group of people?" The staff and service is impeccable including Eric, McCaughna, who helped us on several occasions. Try the hotel's award-winning 1808 Grille where you can relax and feast on seasonal menus. Each morning we started our day on the restaurant's pancakes —simply the best we have ever eaten. Did I mention they are addictive?
If you have dreamed of a Nashville destination wedding, Hutton Hotel's 7,000-square-foot Ballroom, with 14 foot windows and streaming natural light, is perfect for nuptials. Executive chef Jake Strang will serve up his global flavors to impress. With 247 rooms, including 52 suites to choose from, your guests are taken care of in style. The good news...couples receive a complimentary honeymoon suite when booking a wedding reception. One of my favorite hotel amenities (for all guests) is the courtesy vehicle, a Tesla Model S currently, that will whisk you to Music City venues within a three-mile radius of the hotel.
Tradition, class and cuisine intertwine to make for a romantic night to remember at the Capitol Grille. Located in Hermitage Hotel—Nashville's elite landmark since 1910, we found a banquette beneath a vaulted ceiling resting on massive columns. The only component that could upstage the atmosphere was the food. Here, "farm fresh" is not just a cliché, since Double H Farms is a sustainable farming project with the restaurant--along with Glen Leven, a historic farm located only 5 miles away. For starters, we both found the freshest salads we have ever eaten only to be slightly upstaged by the Sweet Onion Bisque—amazing! The Painted Hills Ribeye was my favorite while the hubby raved about the Mahi Mahi. Chef Tyler Browns' Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes are worth the trip. Whether Brown's guests are music celebrities or newlyweds, guests feel welcome and well-fed. Don't forget dessert—the chocolate cake was our favorite, and the service was spot-on. After we exited the Capitol Grill, we walked up a few steps to the lobby and ballroom of The Hermitage. Here, we spent some quiet time admiring the magnificent painted glass skylight, Italian marble and ornate chandeliers from days gone by.
Another Nashville favorite is the Midtown Café located across the street from Hutton Hotel. The Seared Dayboat Sea Scallops are famous and the Blackened Shrimp & Grits...my personal favorite. The Lamb Dijonnaise is served with truffle potato hash. Yum! The dish you will text home about is Lobster "mac and cheese." Try the Homemade Bread Pudding Du jour topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Our waiter was awesome! A popular perk of Midtown Café is their complimentary shuttle service (make reservations) to venues such as the Ryman and Bridgestone Arena performances.
From the beginning, Nashville's foundation was all about the music. Musicians haven't just played music in Nashville—they have created it here. Simply walk down Broadway starting around 11:00 a.m., and performers with a variety of melodies will pour out of famous venues. Listen for the "one" who speaks to your style, pull up a stool, have lunch and perhaps stay all day...and even into the night.
We started our day with a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum—known as the "Smithsonian" of country music. Visitors can enjoy tracing country music through the decades where more than two million artifacts are on display. Where else can you find Elvis' Cadillac and piano? The museum is home to recordings, photographs, stage costumes, and musical instruments from the past to today's current stars, including Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban.
The museum's Taylor Swift Educational Center is a must-see exhibit here where you can board a replica of Swift's bus that holds recording studios—allowing visitors to cut their own record. The Platinum Package includes tickets to the Museum, historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print. After we were mesmerized by the exhibits of country music, we boarded a Grey Line of Tennessee tour bus to view the stars' mansions and estates.
So, you don't want drama on your honeymoon? No worries. Hollywood has taken care of that! Hollywood producers were so intrigued by Nashville, they left California stage lots to film ABC-TV's hit series "Nashville." Trace the steps of Rayna, Juliette, Deacon, Scarlett, and Gunnar by visiting location spots in the city. Visit http://www.visitmusiccity.com/visitors/nashvilleabc/nashvilleabc_selfguidedtour for a list.
The Bluebird Café has gotten a lot of press since the show, but you will need to make reservations in advance. Bluebird Café showcases up-and-coming songwriters as well as established writer's with number 1 hits—performing in an intimate "in-the-round" setting. Another perk was listening to the artists' stories and inspirations behind their popular songs.
Nashville has a variety of venues to suit everyone's taste, including, Motown Mondays at the Five Spot. Check who is playing at Party Fowl and Flipside host a Friday night dance party. Sunsets are best experienced along the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge where benches are nicely lit and couples linger to watch the river swirl with the silhouette of the Nashville Skyline in the distance.
The Ryman Auditorium plays host to concerts from all genres throughout the year and we were impressed with the self-guided tour of the icon. The Ryman first opened its doors as a church in 1892 and was home to the Grand Ole Opry show from 1943-1974. After the Opry was moved to its current location, the Ryman fell in disrepair, but it has once again re-established its place in the world of premium concert venues.
The Grand Ole Opry, the world's longest-running radio show, is also the hottest "live-stage" venue in town. Since it is a variety show, you will find an incredible mix of talent. Each show includes a dozen performances ranging from the biggest names in country music to those making their Opry debut. Previously, we saw a "show-stopping" performance by Keith Urban. On this trip, we were wowed by the season 7 winner of the "The Voice," Craig Wayne Boyd, the duo Striking Matches, as well as the legendary Vince Gill. We walked in the footsteps of country music's superstars while learning what happens behind the scenes at the Grand Ole Opry Backstage Tour. Here, we toured dressing rooms and learned interesting tidbits from our guide, Mary. We stepped onto the stage's "wooden circle" that was transported from the Ryman. Mary granted permission to anyone in our group to sing on the famous spot. We declined, but it gave me chills to think of the stars that had stood in that very place. We should have belted out a love song because Vince Gill was lingering backstage—perhaps missing our opportunity to be discovered. Vince politely thanked everyone for attending as he exited the building. You never know which stars you may encounter on the Backstage Tour.
Fast Facts: For tourist information call 1-800-657-6910 or visit, www.Visitmusiccity.com. For Hutton Hotel reservations, call 615-340-9333 or visit, www.Huttonhotel.com. A free Nashville Live Music App (visitmusiccity.com/nashvillemusicapp) is available and locates live music venues throughout the city and informs you who's on stage.