MINI PENNY: Nashville

Monday, March 10, 2014


This Saturday I decided to take a little bus trip to Nashville. I had never been there before and scored a roundtrip Megabus ticket for $2, so I figured... why not? A lot of you gave me some pretty solid suggestions on things to do and see.

I left Chicago on Friday night around 11pm and got into Nashville at 8am. I had the entire day to explore, knowing that my bus to come back to Chicago was leaving at midnight. This was a really fun way for me to go check out a new place on the cheap (like, super cheap) and get out of the Chicago snow.

I kept a pretty intense Google map with plots pointed for spots I wanted to see. I knew that I was going to arrive in Nashville before more stores and shops I wanted to explore were open — so I made myself a little list of neon and vintage signage downtown that I wanted to find. This Cotton-Eyed Joe sign was my absolute favorite! There were some really kitschy, touristy signs all over the place, which was nice to see and then get out of downtown before the weekend traffic started.

There were so many cool murals and colors tucked away into little spots downtown, too! Oh, and I found a Willie Nelson fortune teller machine. (hah!)

Before heading south, I decided to stroll around the Legislative Plaza. There really wasn't much going on here — but I did stop and talk to a State Trooper (James) for a solid 30 minutes about robot movies an Chicago and that sort of thing. I hit up Hatch Show Print, which was really cool but wasn't as eventful as everyone had made it sound. The kids working there were really rude, so I didn't have a great impression of it. Maybe I went on an off day? Or I missed something? I'm not sure. Regardless, it was a cool space with some nice prints.

Then I began heading south. Since I was so close, I decided to go to Third Man Records. It was an awesome building and had some interesting stuff inside — photo booth, recording booth, vintage monkey dancing machines, lots of White Stripes goodies. Even though I'm huge into records and whatnot, I would say that this is a really cool thing to see if you happen to be in Nashville. I'm really kicking myself for not getting some a photo booth strip! This was in what sort of seemed like an industrial part of town (?), so there were some really cool buildings around with old ghost paintings and signage on them. I really loved the Spring Service buildings. And while I was walking, I happened to pass a place called Downtown Antiques. I popped in and had a look around — lots of awesome stuff, including this Dictionary of American Slang book! I should have bought it, argh!

I walked down to 12 South, which is a rad little neighborhood with a lot going on. There were some vintage shops and other stores I wanted to check out and I'm so glad I did! My first stop was Savant Vintage. I had read a few things about this store, as it was mentioned in Vogue, etc. I must say — amazing store. I read that the prices were high, which is true, but the pieces were really great. My favorite part was the men's section, which I think is something that so many vintage shops miss. I was tempted to buy a few pieces for myself. Flannel and denim for days. The owner was so helpful and gave me some suggestions of a few other places to set.

Imogene + Willie was a nice space and had really cool product, but the staff seemed a bit too cool to talk to me, so I went on my way.

Katie K Designs, on the other hand, was a strangely laid-out vintage shop — complete with a stray cat and a dog — that I loved. There were a lot of great pieces in here (including a pair of vintage Moschino pants). It reminded me of a really big, clothing-focused Rudy's Roundup! So cute! Also, how can I resist a building that says "Ranch Dressing" on the side?!

Well, onto coffee — I followed the woman from Savant's recommendation to go to Portland Brew. It wasn't too shabby. I had to send a few emails and charge my phone a bit, so I got some coffee and chilled out. A guy sat at the table next to me and we ended up striking up a conversation, and when he discovered I was just exploring the town by myself for the day, he offered to show me around.

So my new friend's first suggestion was popsicles at Las Paletas — something that was very high on my list of Nashville food. I had been looking forward to the avocado popsicle and was not disappointed whatsoever. Seriously. So good. He proceeded to show me around some different parts of Nashville — to a few clothing stores, thrift stores, and pointed out a few music videos. Everyone is a musician in Nashville, I think. Or at least that's how it seems.

I was disappointed that the taco place I wanted to go to (Las Mas Tacos Por Favor) was closed when we got there, so we ended up getting a really good veggie wrap down the street. After hitting up another thrift store, he had to be on his way, so I had him drop me off at the main coffee shop on my list.

Okay, let me start by saying that I love my local Wormhole Coffee. Like, I love that place. The baristas are great and it's a cool space and... you know. But... I think that Barista Parlor may be one of the coolest coffee shops I have ever been to. What sparked my interest for coming here was the work that was done for them by Sideshow Sign Co.

I got to Barista Parlor a couple hours before closing, so I had (more) coffee and admired the space. I was blown away by it — four open garage doors at the front of the shop with motorcycles. This is a pretty great entrance. The build outs were mostly reclaimed with vintage feel. I definitely recommend this spot if you find yourself in Nashville.

So by the time I was ready to leave Barista Parlor, it was dark and I had a few hours to kill before I needed to go back downtown to the bus stop. I asked a barista for some bar suggestions, and he gave me a short list of nearby places.

Enter this place: No. 308. My original plan was to bar hop my way to the bus stop. But when I saw that they had a cocktail named after a Smiths song, I ended up drinking here for the rest of the evening. Honestly, I haven't been going out much in Chicago lately, so my lightweighted-ness was creepin' in. I sat and spoke with some really interesting people, oogled some taxidermy, threw back some unneeded shots with a bartender, and hitched a Lyft to my stop.

But that whiskey was perfect for that ride home, because I slept the entire way from Nashville to the Chicago skyline. Hah.

Overall, I really loved Nashville. I'm really excited to come back and visit — I want to see more of the city, more thrifting, and maybe a little cliche honky tonk action. Oh and ride on the back of a motorcycle. Anyone? Anyone?

Also, I want to point out something to people looking to travel on the cheap:
Roundtrip Megabus ticket: $2
Two coffee stops: $10
Bar tab: $25
Altogether, I spent less than $40. Even if I had paid for my meal and popsicles, I would have come in under fifty bucks. Megabus is a really amazing option if you wanna get out of dodge for a day!

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