I want to give all of Middle Tennessee a great big hug today because it feels like everyone who lives here is in mourning that our tough-as-nails Predators didn’t bring home the Stanley Cup last night. I’m not going to jump on the “let’s blame the refs” bandwagon, though I will say that even though I don’t play hockey – heck, I don’t even ice skate! – there were some pretty questionable calls throughout that series. But, chin up, Nashvillians!! We live in one of the best places in the entire world and I think it’s my civic duty to remind you of just some of the reasons why Music City and Middle Tennessee are just plain awesome!
- Y’all… THE FOOD! I was born and raised here, so I didn’t even know how special Tennessee cookin’ was until I got a little older and armed myself with my passport and suitcase. I’ve been blessed to have been able to travel pretty far and wide and I’m telling you… you won’t find better cuisine anywhere in the world. We have five star chefs at every corner, but it’s the home-cooking that really keeps people coming back for more and if you haven’t had hot chicken with a side of banana pudding, then I don’t want to know you. Just kidding. I do and I want to take you to Hattie B’s right this very second for some hot chicken. Because taste buds.
- THE TUNES! There’s a famous line that musicians like to bandy about regarding our fair city: “I thought I was a guitar player until I moved to Nashville.” This town is called music city for a reason. It’s a mecca for musicians and they come in all shapes and styles here. If you’re looking for boot-stompin’ honky tonkin’ dance music, 2nd Avenue will be your favorite place in all the world. We also have a renowned symphony where you’re just as likely to find James Taylor in concert with Bonnie Raitt as you are to find a full symphonic orchestra. Our town has something for every musical soul! And a lot of those musical souls have chosen to make Middle Tennessee their home. Keith and Nicole? Brad and Kimberly? Vince and Amy? Sheryl? Carrie and her cute-as-a-button hockey player, Mike. The list goes on and on… my point is that we’re so awesome even the stars know it!
- THAT FAMOUS SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY. Again, it’s not until you leave here that you start to appreciate just how amazing (and rare!) this genuine friendliness is. Whether it’s the Bible Belt influence or because Southern children typically have manners drilled into them from birth, people with drawls tend to be more genteel. And so it is with Nashvillians. Our hospitality—being nice—is infectious. After a short time here, you start wondering why the rest of the world can’t be this pleasant all the dang time. See? Even when I get my dander up, I do it with a side of sweetness. Bless your hearts, y’all.
- THE CULTURE. I’m not talking about the southern culture, I’m talking real-life, pinkies-in-the-air culture. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. The Parthenon. The previously mentioned Schermerhorn. East Nashville’s Art Stumble. The Nashville Orchestra. The City Winery. Arrington Vineyard. The Franklin Theatre. Hatch Show Prints. The Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Sounds. Music City is a diverse, ethnically rich and vibrant city with more “culture” than you’ll know what to do with. But promise me you’ll try. Try real hard to do it all.
- THE SHOPPING. This was the varsity sport I lettered in in high school. I know a thing or two about shopping and you won’t find better shopping than in our neck of the woods. The hip, urban-chic vibe in the Gulch means you’ll be dressed better than anyone on the Parisian catwalk. Opry Mills Mall has deals for days and is way better than a day-trip to the outlet mall. Looking for antiques instead of togs? Head on down to Franklin where there’s an antique’s dealer on every corner and some of the coolest, cutest stuff to add a little southern flair to your home.
- THE HISTORY. Again, Franklin. In my humble opinion, the entire town should be listed on the National Historic Register. Walking down Franklin’s Main Street feels like stepping back in time. The pace of life is just a bit slower and the tea is just a bit sweeter. The entire town is steeped in Civil War history and it’s not unusual to find a docent or twelve leading a pack of tourists on a walking tour of this sweet and charming town. From Carnton Plantation to The Carter House, your inner historian will be well served in Middle Tennessee.
- EVERYTHING ELSE. Okay, okay. Clearly, this blog post could turn into the next great American novel if I don’t stop typing. But, it’s so hard because our towns are so wonderful and I want everyone to know it! So, I’ll just leave the rest of it right here… great schools (thirteen colleges and universities and counting!), pro sports, and a vibrant business sector that spans healthcare, insurance, the financial and publishing industries, tech jobs, tourism and auto manufacturing. Then there’s the stable and reasonable real estate market where you can actually afford a pretty nice house and be certain it will appreciate. Lastly, the weather and natural beauty that surrounds Middle Tennessee…except for those few icky-hot dog-days in July, this place is a climate utopia and that means that we get to experience every glorious inch of it year-round.
There… feel better Preds fans? There’s a whole lot more to love about our town than just what’s happening on the ice. I suggest a nice long hockey sabbatical filled with all the things I listed above. And then next year… IT’S ON. #WEWANTTHECUP.