Tomorrow we fly to Atlanta to begin our Southern Road Trip. We’re visiting states neither of us have been to. Our planned route:
We’re driving the Natchez Trace from Natchez to Nashville. In Tennessee, we’re visiting intentional communities old (Rugby) and new (The Farm).
And we plan on eating lots of great food.
Suggestions for these areas are welcome in the comments!
Two words: Southern Tamales.
The new Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta (http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/) is pretty awesome.
I happen to be from the Farm and I now live in Nashville, so I know the area pretty well. 🙂
IMO, two of the most important parts of visiting the Farm are getting some soft-serve Ice Bean (Ice cream made with soy milk) and taking a swim in the swimming hole (cold but not freezing, and insanely refreshing).
It’s also worth taking a walk down Swan Creek, which the Farm has been working hard to preserve from logging by building a trust (http://swantrust.org/) to buy and maintain the land. The creek is beautiful and is just the right depth (1-3 ft) for walking in, and has a nice limestone bottom for most of it. Great flood plains and bluffs, land like I’ve rarely seen around the rest of Tennessee in 20 years of hiking and canoing the south.
As for Nashville, I’m vegetarian (not surprising, I guess), so I can’t recommend much in the way of Southern food. Hillsboro Village (at 21st/Hillsboro Rd and Wedgewood) has been the most vibrant part of the city for 20 years, including one of the city’s best coffee shops (Fido, in an old pet store — they also have a good brunch). A newly-growing and relatively fancy area is the Gulch, just outside of downtown and just off of Music Row.
For food, I’d recommend Marchet for brunch in East Nashville (only on weekends, I think), lunch at Fido, dinner at PM on Belmont (great Thai fusion in an awesome location and only a 20 min walk from my house). PM is only a block from the other great coffee shop in the city, Bongo Java, where you’ll find people hanging out on the patio talking and playing chess all hours of the day. Other good choices are Woodlands, a vegetarian Indian restaurant; Da Vinci’s, the best pizza I’ve ever had; Margot and Zola, spectacular dinner spots; Yazoo, a local brewery in an old (1920 or so) car factory only open a couple of days a week from 4-8 with snacks (e.g., a great cheese plate) and beer; Rumours wine bar, on 12 South, great wine, food, and patio; and plenty more if these don’t suit you — just email me.
I think all the guide books say you have to go to the Pancake Pantry for breakfast, but their pancakes are mediocre and the lines are always 10x longer than the food deserves. Since you’re coming up the Trace anyway, you’ll be passing within minutes of the Loveless Cafe, famous for all kinds of reasons including its biscuits. If you’re there around brunch, you should stop by.
Other than food, we’ve got a great book store, Davis Kidd (disconcertingly attached to the poshest mall in the city); a great city park, Centennial Park, with a full-size (concrete) replica of the Parthenon, now with a gold-plated statue of Athena just like the original (and even some controversy around the statue, just like the original!). I wouldn’t plan on spending much time downtown, but it’s worth wandering the honky-tonks (mostly on 2nd between Broadway and Church, or on Broadway between 2nd and 6th). Step into the Wildhorse and see a whole different world.
The Bluebird Cafe and Station Inn consistently have great music, usually tilted far away from the standard pop-country, stuff like Old Crow Medicine Show or Gillian Welch.
If you’re a walking type, Percy Warner Park (one of the largest parks inside a city limits) is something like 8k acres, with lots of walking and biking trails. Just about my favorite 10mi bike loop in the world sits here.
I’ll be back in town by the time you’re there, so I’d be stoked to meet up over a meal or give more advice.
If you like pure acoustic music such as Bluegrass and Folk, you have to check out The Station in on 12th.
If you pass through or by Jackson, Tennessee (where I’m from) you must stop at The Old Country Store… Southern buffet food (like a heart attack waiting to happen, but oh-so-good-stuff)… and lots of touristy things like jams and cookbooks and trinkets…
It doesn’t seem that you’ll be going through Knoxville or Pigeon Forge (now how can you resist Pigeon Forge?), but if you do, you must go to Dollywood (yep, Parton) where my little sister Connie Prince works — she’s the “Chicken Lady” in the park — her phone number is 615/585-7721.
It’s all at the foot of the Smoky Mountains and is a joy to behold, nature-wise.
[If you don’t care about Elvis, you can easily forego Graceland in Memphis]
I second the Blue Bird in Nashville.
If you pass through Birmingham, give me a call and we can get lunch.
Chez Fon Fon is the casual side to Highlands Bar and Grille (Google it, or the chef Frank Stitt) – it’s next door to my office.
There is plenty of good bar-b-que and soul food in town. Niki’s West is just off I-65, and there is Dreamland, or even better Full Moon for que… office 205 458 8040 or mobile 205 222 7774
Seriously, call me, I would love to meet you and that place called the Farm sounds interesting. It think one of our friends had her baby there. And if you want me to round up some studio archetype alumni, there are a couple here.
If you stop off at either of the Carolinas, please consider sending a submission to my blog carnival. Go to http://www.thejunkyswife.com, and there’s a link on the sidebar.