Meandering Around Music City; or, Three Days in Nashville: Day 1

"They say the neon lights are bright... on Broadway"

"They say the neon lights are bright... on Broadway"

I don't know why exactly, but we had it in our heads that we were going to leave town at some ungodly hour. And sure enough, there we were, packed and ready to go, backing out of the driveway just after 5 a.m. on Friday morning, Google Maps fired up and pointing us in the right direction.

Nashville was where we meant to end up eventually, but before that we had a breakfast date on the outskirts of Indianapolis. Sitting on the south side of 86th Street, about 10 or 11 miles from downtown, the place was called First Watch. It's apparently a chain of breakfast, brunch and lunch cafés across the Midwest and the South, and while the restaurant was cute and quaint and what have you, the chile chorizo omelette I had wasn't much to write home about.

Thirty years and a lot of traffic later, Nashville was in our sights — and what a beautiful sight it was. After a quick check in at our Airbnb on 4th Avenue, we set off straight away for the place I'd heard all the magic happens: Broadway. More specifically, we made our way to Acme Feed & Seed.

While Wile E. Coyote was nowhere to be seen, Acme was definitely hopping as Friday evening descended. With two floors featuring casual dining, live music, a gift shop, a lounge and bar, sushi, a photo booth and other ditties — plus a rooftop bar offering views of Broadway, the Cumberland River, Nissan Stadium (home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans), and Riverfront Park — Acme has that whole one-stop shop kind of thing going on, as far as tourists are concerned.

Having just described it as such, I do slightly regret to inform you that the Acme Burger I ordered was probably not worth even half of the $13 I paid for it. Somewhat inflated prices are really only to be expected, though, when you visit one of downtown's most popular joints. I can definitely give them some props for having a great selection of beers on tap, at least. I ordered The Rose, a Belgian style blonde ale from The Black Abbey Brewing Company, and it was nothing short of wünderbar.

Brews and views are on tap at Acme's open-air rooftop bar

Brews and views are on tap at Acme's open-air rooftop bar

A little stroll down the southern side of Broadway followed our stop at Acme. Though I had no real intention of purchasing cowboy boots, we ducked inside the Broadway Boot Company just to have a look. Pretty confident the cheapest pair I saw came in at a slick $219. So yeah, we didn't stay there very long.

Walking along, we passed by several establishments that looked rather inviting — Tequila Cowboy Bar & Grill, Honky Tonk Central, and The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar, to name a few — but, having woken up so early, nothing was going to dissuade us from heading back to the Airbnb and getting nap time in at that point.

Hours later, with fresh clothes and less-tired bodies, we headed straight back downtown to jump into the fray once more. This time, our first stop was Big Shotz, a bar on 2nd Avenue just off Broadway which professes that its shots are bigger than yours. You know what else they are? Easy on the wallet. Throw in the fact that there was no cover charge and that the live band belted out Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" within 20 minutes of our arrival, and I'd say we had a winner on our hands here.

Big Shotz served mainly as a pre-gaming spot for us, though. After maybe 40 minutes, we headed out the door, around the corner, and directly to The Valentine and its four floors of fun. There was no live music to be had, but with different DJs spinning tracks on every floor, including the rooftop, I can't really complain.

Not sure I could really pull any of these off...

Not sure I could really pull any of these off...

We hadn't really meant to stop at only two bars the first night, but I was having such a grand ole time at The Valentine that I insisted we stay until the staff or security peeps made like Semisonic and let us know it was "Closing Time." (Was that trying too hard?) Before that time came, we would spend around an hour and a half on the rooftop, blow about $50 on adult beverages, and meet some new friends back down on the first floor.

The Valentine eventually told us to scoot when they closed up shop at 2:30 a.m. In looking around on the Internets, it appeared that that was a pretty standard closing time for the bars in and around Broadway. The party might go until 3 a.m. at some places, though.

Anyway, turned out our night wasn't over just yet. A hot dog cart appeared out of thin air once we'd exited The Valentine and you know I was all over that in 10 seconds or less. Another 10 seconds or so after purchasing a gourmet wiener with all the fixings, I'd managed to spill some mustard on my burgundy pants (though this little mishap I would not become aware of until the sun came up the next morning).

We would walk and talk with a guy who said he was in Hufflepuff while I insisted Ravenclaw was better; meet a cast of characters in a back alley and chat about the state of journalism today; and I'd take a nap on the sidewalk while waiting for an Uber before we truly called it a night.

And much more would be in store for Day Two.