Posted on May 17, 2019
Nashville is the perfect place for any country music lover. From the Grand Ole Opry to The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, you’ll be singing country songs all day long.
For country-music fans, singers and songwriters from all over the world, Nashville is the ultimate destination. But Nashville isn’t just country music, it is a lively city, breaking out with new businesses, a dynamic food and cocktail scene, and bright lights!
Nashville is full of unique boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants, like Bluebird Cafe where you can sit and enjoy live music from rising stars. For a run by heading over to the full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon. You can go jogging on the beautiful paths in this cherry blossom-filled park right across the street from Vanderbilt University. Roam the streets and enjoy the sweet southern hospitality the city has to offer. Everyone is sincerely so kind and helpful! Not one day went by that someone didn’t offer directions when seeing us struggle with our google maps on a street corner. If you’re lucky you might even run into Taylor Swift. Or Reese Witherspoon. Or Luke Bryan. Or Kristen Cavallari. Such a neat town.
We stayed at The Hermitage Hotel! Outstanding service, food and accommodations. The Hermitage Hotel is located right in the heart of the Music City, and has been a landmark for more than a century.
Decorated in with a blend of Beaux-Arts and Renaissance features, its phenomenal architecture stands out among the historic buildings on the East Coast. My FAVORITE breakfasts and dinner also came from the restaurant located underneath the lobby of this hotel: Capitol Grille & Oak Bar — This restaurant is a MUST. If you are celebrating anything GO HERE. It’s menu was incredible and our plates were phenomenal. We shared a few bottles of wine (Cakebread Cellars, my favorite) and let me just say, THE GRITS!!!! Never have I ever raved about grits in my life. These were out of this world. I dream about those. Each morning we just walked right downstairs for our exceptional breakfast/brunch- with a side of grits of course.
The Hermitage’s longtime status as a local magnet has even inspired the timeless slogan, “Meet me at the Hermitage.” You honestly won’t regret booking a night or two, or three or four here (We stayed Tuesday through Saturday morning)—each room was designed for maximum luxury and comfort. They were filming a few movie scenes a couple of the days we stayed there. Fun fact: Apparently the 1910 award-winning men’s bathroom off the lobby. Once you enter the Hermitage Hotel, turn to the right and go down the stairs to the ever-so swanky Capital Grill and Oak Bar.
There is also a JW Marriott and Westin. The Westin boasts the city’s tallest rooftop bar popular L27 rooftop bar with a pool lounge, tasty drinks, and a stunning view of the skyline.
FORBES: One thing is certain when you make plans to visit the newly opened JW Marriott Nashville you won’t need directions. All 33 floors of this $285 million dollar addition to Music City’s luxury hotel scene rise in glorious, glass-encased curvaceous splendor over the city. The commanding views define this property and its compelling elliptical shape (designed by renowned architecture firm Arquitectonica) has transformed the downtown skyline. Even legendary Chef Michael Mina, whose restaurant Bourbon Steak dominates the hotel’s 33rd floor, is pretty excited about his Nashville debut.
If you’re like me, you love The Marriott International W brand and guess what, W Hotel in the Gulch plans fall 2020 opening! So if you’re planning a Bachelorette Party, Birthday, weekend trip, Etc. Keep this in mind, it’s sure to be amazing. It’s one in a barrage of new hotels in the works in response to booming tourism. About 120 hotels are being built in the greater Nashville Metro area, including the 33-story, 533-room JW Marriott. The W will include two restaurants by Chef Andrew Carmellini of NoHo Hospitality Group: The Dutch Nashville and an Italian chophouse.The lobby will feature the W’s “Living Room” style, with a full bar, DJ booth and local artwork. A 9,700-square-foot “WET Deck” pool area will have luxury cabanas, a yoga area, grill and bar. A rooftop bar with a fireplace will be surrounded by landscaping.
“Based upon our own experience with developing upscale hotels in other US markets, offering hotel guests unique and exciting amenities beyond those typically found in similar hotels greatly enhances their stay and truly sets the brand apart from our competitors,” said David Carlins, president of Magellan Development Group, which will oversee construction. “The amenities and services planned for W Nashville will most certainly accomplish this while setting a new standard of excellence in Nashville’s hospitality market.”
There are about 50 W Hotels around the world, and there will be 75 by 2020, according to Marriott.
There are SO many boroughs and neighborhoods you can explore for a different feel and experience. I asked a few close friends who are from Nashville and this is their *must-see* list:
This is a pretty large tourist spot now, but if you go all the way there, you need to go!
The Gulch is quite popular. This area I found to be so cute and trendy! I had to make a few walks from our hotel down there to go see in person Uncommon James (a jewelry boutique owned by Kristen Cavallari, anyone else watch E!’s show Very Cavallari… or more importantly her start on MTV’s Laguna Beach in high school?) I also had to go see Kittenish (the adorable mother of 3 and wife to Eric Decker, Jesse James Decker’s clothing boutique)
We had reservations at Sambuca which is American food, live music, and offers a rooftop bar. We had a bottle of FAB rosé there.. and the live music played all my favorite 90’s songs! Can’t forget to stop at the wall with the “wings” for a quick pic. Milk & Honey also looked amazing- I didn’t have time to stop in but the menu looked pretty cool. Biscuit Love is right around the corner and SAME thing. Looked GREAT.
No visit to Nashville is complete without a trip to Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. To get the most out of your visit, be sure to book a group tour, which includes a recording session and line dancing at the world-famous Wildhorse Saloon. At Wildhorse Saloon, they have line dancing and there are some great restaurants there, too. The walking bridge downtown is super cute and you can see all of downtown Nashville and the Nissan Stadium from there. Bridgestone Arena is downtown, where the Nashville Predators NHL team plays. It is a super fun atmosphere so if they have a game, you should try and go! ALSO stop for praline samples on Broadway. SO GOOD. We ventured back to the Gulch that night to a sushi restaurant on M Street called Virago! M Street is so cool because it’s one destination and 6 restaurants all owned by the same person! M Street Entertainment offers an eclectic portfolio that includes Virago, Moto Cucina + Enoteca, Kayne Prime, Whiskey Kitchen, Saint Añejo and Tavern. It’s an awesome atmostphere all around with twinkle hanging lights and exposed brick. So whatever you’re in the mood for, chances are- they probably have it. I’d describe it as a chic scene!
Each restaurant is distinct in both its cuisine and atmosphere, with the M Street Signature Style firmly branded in each concept. This signature is synonymous with exceptional quality, consistency, hospitality and innovation.
Category: feature, travel, Uncategorized Tagged: 12 south, 55 south, arrington vineyards, art, bartaco, boutiques, capital grille & oak bar, country music hall of fame, country music hall of fame and museum, dierks bentley, doing things, downtown franklin, downtown nashville, draper james, flower truck, franklin tennessee, george strait, hermitage hotel, infamous men's restroom, Iveycake, Jeni's ice cream, juice bars, jw marriott, kayne, kelsey montague art, kittenish, lifestyle, live music, luxury hotel, m street nashville, madewell, me, nashville, nashville gulch, outdoor voices, photos, Pinewood Social, reese witherspoon, rooftop bars, rooftop pools, rooftops, sambuca, steakhouse, the gulch, the hermitage hotel, The Perch, the westin, travel, uncommon james, very cavallari, virago, what lifts you, wildhorse saloon
Posted on August 16, 2018
February is a wise month to fly to Europe! Tickets are lower since it is the off-season to travel there. You won’t find the crowds that you may during summer. But it can get pretty chilly, so pack accordingly! HA. (Well- to be honest, just for people like me who have poor circulation to begin with, so gloves, boots, scarves and coats are totally necessary!)
This was my second time in Italy, and I love it more each time! We spent our week right in ROME! Flights were nearly $470 RT which was a good deal- we flew directly via AirFrance from JFK to FCO, and just like that woke up in Rome.
Rome is so charming because the local bakeries and coffee shops and neighborhood restaurants are so sweet. If you’re anything like me, you NEED an American breakfast to start your day— which consists of some kind of substantial protein like eggs or yogurt to go with my amazingly flakey, Italian croissants and cute little cappuccinos!
I love that Italians take time to have their little pastries and espresso while standing or sitting in these cafes throughout the day. They sit inside and enjoy them. They’re not like us Americans who get it to go- always on the run- never time to enjoy life! They sit and appreciate the taste, the smell, and the people alongside them who they may just have met that day!
Navigating through Rome, I only have one thing to say, and that is thank goodness we had an international wifi package on our phones, because I’m not sure how we could’ve managed to adventure through the little, winding streets without it! We used Google Maps for everything! Rome is huge. We walked approx. 8 miles daily!! I had my apple watch on and it calculated every single step haha! That means you’ll need to stop plenty for Nutella treats and cappuccinos to not only fuel your journey, but to warm you up when temps were low!
Our Airbnb was situated in a quaint, and seemingly affluent neighborhood north of most of the walking we did. We mostly wandered the cool, Roman streets, smelling of pastas and breads. Our first night we actually stumbled upon the top of the Spanish Steps. Where we made our way down and through the shop-lined streets towards the Trevi Fountain! Lizzie McGuire moment! I loved it at night! The fountain all lit up was amazing, and we even stopped for some gelato right next door, and walked into a few open churches to take in the breathtaking sculptures and painted ceilings.
Because this was our first night in Rome, we realized our appetites were a little off so decided to go to a friend’s recommendation on a cozy little spot that had the GREATEST meat and cheese platters!!! We were so thrilled with our selection, and even went back a second time. The meat and cheese platters are amazing in Italy and I highly recommend ordering a few! My favorite two were: La Prosciutteria Roma + Antica Salumeria
Just to give you an idea- below is a photo that will leave you feeling hungrier than before.
While we are on the subject of food.. I would have to say that the wine was also exceptional.. our go-to seemed to be the Chianti – which is a red wine (served at about 60 degrees) from the Tuscan region. And, boy was it a good choice. We even found bottles to stock up our Airbnb at the local grocery store for only $2.99!!! That is $2.99/ bottle. For high quality. That’s Italy for you! We brought some bottles home for each of our families.
Pictured below is our favorite that we found our our local market for no more than $3.
I truly loved the architecture. I just found so much beauty walking down the Roman streets. I would constantly stop and say “OH I MUST TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS!” Haha, but really, the buildings are colorful and interestingly textured. It’s amazing how they’ve held up all these years. I especially appreciated how beautiful the churches were and the doors! I loved the floral arrangements as well. So picture-perfect.
Below you can see a little bit of what I mean.
I lived for finding rooftops!! Because it was a colder month for Rome, unfortunately, many of the famous rooftop bars and lounges were closed for that season. We still found some great vantage points. The first photo below is taken from Campo Marzio. The second was a secret rooftop cafe on top of the Capitoline Museum. This location was sure tough to track down! If you do make it to Capitoline Museums make sure you follow the correct signage leading you to the Cafe/Restaurant Rooftop Level! There you will find such a magnificent view of the city.
FACT: There are more than 900 churches in Rome!! Not kidding. Just about one adorning every corner, all with their own story, holding some of the most beautiful frescoes, paintings, and sculptures that this world’s ever seen! Love this history and that is preserved in this ancient city! I could spot quite a few from this museums’s balcony!
As far as tours go, we only really booked a few. One was at the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. I highly recommend doing so, and my art history course knowledge from college was brought to life! These tours were inside the Vatican so I would suggest maybe ubering over to it because the entrance is on the complete other side of the Basilica entrance (where you can walk in from the street) Upon exiting your tours, you leave via St. Peter’s Square, and from there you can pass the Castel Sant’Angelo, and cross the bridge back into the usual areas of Rome!
The artwork around the Vatican Gardens and inside was exquisite! Spectacular tour guide we had from Italy, she had such a good sense of humor but so much knowledge and well spoken. She took us to the most significant pieces and told their stories. We would’ve been otherwise lost in there by ourselves. I wouldn’t have wanted to experience it any other way. The tour was worth booking. We booked ours the same day.
Mission to see the Pope: Wednesday morning (7am) we cabbed over to the Vatican in hopes to attend the Papal Audience! We requested tickets after our Vatican tour from the Swedish Guards who stand guard outside of St. Peter’s Basilica a few days prior. Having a ticket though, doesn’t ensure you have entry to the audience, for there may be great numbers who want to attend and in this case, it was raining so an even smaller amount of people could attend inside.
YES, we did make it in!! It was the most amazing experience witnessing the love that all people had for our Pope as he processed down the aisle of the room holding thousands. He was blessing people, stopping to pray with them, to comfort, to kiss the head’s of children. It was absolutely incredible. It was would I would imagine it was like seeing the people flock to Jesus, a feeling of pure love. It was my absolute favorite part of my trip. The Pope finally made his way to the alter where he prayed for all the countries in attendance. There were also representative bishops who translated the homily in several languages for everyone to understand.
We exited through St. Peter’s Square. I made a [horse] friend. 🙂 Oh yeah, wear comfortable walking shoes throughout your trip. Comfort is key!
We also booked a tour at the Colosseum!! So much Roman Empire history over there, I guess you can’t leave Rome without at least exploring the Forums and Colosseum!
I don’t even think we planned to match this day! I just had to prepare for the colder weather, so layering up was key!! I thought these tours were interesting and enjoyed our tour guide from London. It was cool- we were the only Americans within our group!
We spent my bf’s birthday dinner at a Michelin-Star restaurant called AROMA, which sat on the rooftop level of a boutique hotel. The service, the food, the ambiance, the views: UH-MAZING. We could not have said enough wonderful things about the incredibly kind staff (who sung and brought out an entire sampler platter) for his birthday, but also were extremely attentive, and served us a wonderful 5 course meal! ALL with a lovely and casual view of a very beautiful and lit Colosseum at night.
Category: feature, travel Tagged: a week in rome, art, cheese, chianti, churches, colosseum, gelato, italian roads, italy, lizzie mcguire movie, papal audience, pope, rome, rome in february, rome trip, rome views, romeviews, rooftopbar, St. Peter's Basilica, swedish guards, travel, travel for less, travel tips, trevi fountain, tuscan region, vatican, views, wine
Posted on June 5, 2018
In case you were ever looking to visit Cuba, NOW is the time to go! We flew out of Miami, FL via Delta Airlines — it was a piece of cake, not to mention, affordable. (Speaking of cake, a passenger on board lost an arguing battle between himself and the flight attendants about a whole box of CAKE he had on his lap, while seated in an emergency exit row. Beyond random, and better question would be, how in the world did he get a cake through TSA security? I guess we will never know. After 45 minutes in the air, we had arrived to our destination of Havana, Cuba, our home for the weekend.
Category: feature, travel Tagged: amazon, art, ballet, beach day, bodeguita de medio, cigars, classic car ride, cuba, cuban beaches, dress, el cocinera, express, fabrica de arte, fashion, finds, grand theater tour, havana, hotel nacional, jewelry, malecon, mustard, old town havana, ootd, outfitoftheday, plaza vieja restaurants, style, travel, trofeo, visa