Summer In Nashville Bucket List

Tom Adkinson's Book '100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die'

With hundreds of people moving to Middle Tennessee and flocks of people flying to Music City each weekend to get their fill of live music, whiskey and hot chicken, a common question asked of locals is 'Where do we go and what do we do while in Nashville?'.

Nashville native Tom Adkinson answers those questions (and more) in his book 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die. Tom witnessed Nashville as it's grown and flourished, having moved here with his family at a very young age. While many longtime Nashville residents resist the shiny and new, Tom says he has an appreciation for both. 

"I enjoyed the Nashville of my youth, and I enjoy it now. It’s certainly different.
Size, of course, is the most obvious change. When I was a child, the only–really, really the only–tall building downtown was the L&C Tower. Schools took field trips to its observation deck. Also when I was growing up, the only conspicuous ethnicities were Black and White. Nashville is much more diverse today, and that makes being here more enjoyable and entertaining. I’ve seen treasures saved (Radnor Lake and the Ryman Auditorium), attractions evolve (the Grand Ole Opry) and institutions engage in self-examination (Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage)," says Tom. 

In the new edition of Tom's curated Nashville-centric bucket list, readers learn about the world's longest-running radio show, the Grand Ole Opry, and why Nashville showcases a full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon. Tom also dives into details of the historic Hermitage Hotel (and its world-famous men's bathrooms). 

It's more than just a typical guidebook, also sharing Tom's personal preferences for dining in Music City. "My own favorite food choices include a meringue-topped pie from Miss Linda at the Elliston Place Soda Shop, a burger with grilled onions at Brown’s Diner, squash casserole at Swett’s and whatever I see first at Five Points Pizza," Tom shares excitedly. 

"My book’s suggestions steer you to memorable experiences such as family dining with strangers at Monell’s in Germantown, trying 'chili three ways' at Varallo’s (Nashville’s oldest restaurant), stepping back to the 1950s at Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, supporting a worthy nonprofit at the Cafe at Thistle Farms or easing out Highway 100 for fried chicken and fluffy biscuits at the Loveless Motel. These Nashville meals are ones you’ll talk about more than the pricey meals at the latest chef-driven restaurant."

For glitzier celebrations, Tom points to The Standard for dinner and ever-popular rooftop bars for worthy cocktails and city views alike. "Having a sunset rooftop drink is a newer Nashville experience that’s notable. Suggestions include the Westin, the W, the Bobby and the Grand Hyatt."

A Marco Polo member of the Society of American Travel Writers, and creator of CornersOfTheCountry.com, plus a travel writer for the Knoxville Daily Sun, Tom also spent time at Southern Living Magazine as the assistant travel editor, so the author is well-versed in telling engaging stories that encourage readers to go explore. 

For summer in particular, Tom says, "Although many entries on my list are year-round, some shine in the summer. Outdoor music experiences such as a Full Moon Pickin’ Party, Musicians Corner in Centennial Park and Live on the Green are fine examples. So is a production of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. A totally fun time on a hot summer day awaits you at the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains at Bicentennial Mall State Park. Let the kids splash all they want and learn some Tennessee geography at the same time. Shoot, wear some clothes you’re willing to get wet and splash with the kids. Taking in a Nashville Sounds game is another solid Nashville tradition."

If someone has 24 hours to spend in Nashville, Tom recommends: 

1. Dive into musical history at one of these four places–the Country Music Hall
of Fame and Museum, the National Museum of African American Music, the Musicians Hall of Fame and the Jefferson Street Sound Museum.

2. See how Tennessee shaped American history at the Votes for Women Room at the main

3. Pick a meat-and-three for lunch. One nominee is the Elliston Place Soda Shop, where a milkshake is as good as dessert.

4. Get a cold beer and some free live music at a Lower Broad honky-tonk.

5. Find a songwriter showcase–and really listen–or see the Opry at the Ryman.

6. Chill out with a late-night rooftop drink and rest your feet. 

"Nowhere else can you see the Opry, the Parthenon, the Hermitage, Fisk’s Van Vechten Gallery or a store celebrating Goo Goo Clusters (the world’s first combination candy bar)." ~Tom Adkinson

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