To celebrate the end of the 2010s, my friends and I decided to dust off our cowboy boots for a couple good ol' country nights out in one of our favorite cities: Nashville, Tenn.
I've hung out on multiple famous "party" streets throughout the United States: Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the Las Vegas Strip, 6th Street in Austin, West Hollywood/Santa Monica in Los Angeles, Ocean Drive in Miami, etc. However, nothing compares to Nashville's Broadway Street.
Home to the bachelorette capital of the USA, Broadway Street has more than 32 bars and almost all of them have rooftop patios with live music playing every single night. These aren’t your average dive-bar musicians either. They’re fun, lively and beyond talented. Did I mention there is no cover charge to get into these bars like there are in places like Las Vegas? Makes bar hopping more fun and easy (and cheap) in order to see everything this famous street has to offer.
Many legendary country musicians got their start in Nashville and spent many nights hopping bars along Broadway. After these artists made it to the big leagues, a lot of them wanted to give back to the city that gave them everything, so they would create their own bar on the street. Alan Jackson was one of the first celebrities to purchase and remake a bar downtown and other artists such as Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, John Rich, Jason Aldean, Jimmy Buffett and Blake Shelton followed his lead. Shelton is known to visit his bar Ole Red often, and a lot of up-and-coming country musicians perform there daily.
I have "see a celebrity" on my bucket list, so I asked my friends to hang out and have a drink for a little bit with me while I stalked the door hoping Mr. Shelton would walk in. Spoiler: He never showed up. Thinking about it now, he probably doesn't use the front door of his own place. I'm sure walking on Broadway as Mr. Shelton is a little more difficult than it is to be Miss Holland, so I guess I understand.
While every bar has its own special touch, our favorite was Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row. Located in the center of Broadway, Whiskey Row is a three-story building with the tallest rooftop bar and patio. Each floor is a different vibe: the first floor has a restaurant with live music, the second has a DJ and a club-like feel and the third is more casual with background music. We spent most of our time here, mainly because my friend, Taylor, was having the time of her life singing to the live band and trading hats with random people (this was before the pandemic), but none of us were complaining about dancing the night away with a room filled with good music and great people.
Fun fact: One of Alan Jackson's bars, AJ's Good Time Bar, is the oldest building on Broadway, and it used to be a Civil War hospital. Alan Jackson did an interview with Rolling Stone when the bar opened and said, "As soon as I walked in there, I just loved it. It was plywood floors, simple and just like the places I played earlier in my life in other cities — just a real bar and honky-tonk." And boy-howdy let me tell you it is one of the best honky-tonks east of the Mississippi. Jackson transformed the building into a must-see three-story bar with a rooftop that sells iconic alcoholic Capri Sun-like drinks (which were dangerously tasty). Brought me back to growing up in the 90s, playing outside with my friends in the summer heat and needing a refreshing drink from my momma (I'm sure my mom didn't mix in the vodka element when I was 6, but they are both equally as good).
About 5 miles south of Broadway is a dive bar called Santa's Pub. It's a cash-only karaoke bar owned by Elmer Denzel "Santa" Irwin. Santa's Pub isn't known to a lot of tourists, but the word on the street is that Santa himself is as jolly as can be and strolls around the trailer drinking canned beers he sells from his fridge (when it’s not Christmas Eve). Kid Rock loves to stop by for a night of drinks and karaoke every now and then (no big deal), so you might catch him while you're there!
My favorite spot in the city of Nashville though is located just north of Broadway, Yee-Haw Brewing Co. I think the real name might be 6th & Peabody, but it's way more fun to call it Yee-Haw. Yee-Haw is the beer brand they sell there (which is pretty dang good), but the place is also partnered with Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine. Moonshine and whiskey are pretty much the only hard-alcohols you can get there, making their Bloody Marys, Moscow mules and margaritas all have a Tennessee-flare.
I'm not really a fan of Moonshine, but when you walk in and there is an entire wall of bottled-up Moonshine in every color and flavor imaginable, you're pretty tempted to try it. If you're feeling risky, they offer a moonshine tasting where you get to pick seven to eight different flavors and the bartender gives you the background on each one before you try it. My friend, Taylor, and I made friends with the bartender and ended up only trying two before we found our favorite, a pretty blue colored one. He then gave free shots to us and all of our friends. Moral of that story: Make friends with the bartender because they're nice and will give you free drinks.
Aside from the moonshine, this place is every sport lover's dream. I couldn't imagine a better place to watch college football on a Saturday. They have a distillery, brewery, bars, tasting areas, beer and bottle shops, big screen TVs, yard games and live entertainment. What more could you need? Some food? No worries. They have a food truck of Prince's Famous Hot Chicken in the beer garden. The line is extremely long but definitely worth the wait, although we made the guys stand in line for us while we played games.
Friendly tip: They are serious when they say HOT chicken. I took one bite of the mild chicken fingers and immediately started crying. Those who know me know I am a baby when it comes to anything spicy (I used to hate salsa with chips because it was too hot). If I didn't try it, though, everyone would’ve given me crap for going to Nashville and not trying the hot chicken. However, trust me when I say Prince's chicken is HOT hot! It wasn’t just me. Pretty much everyone in our group cried hot tears after trying it. Really good chicken, just extremely hot.
There's a lot to do here, so if you are feeling tired feel free to take a nap. Lauren slept on these orange beanbags for an hour or so. Like I mentioned earlier, there is something for everyone no matter what mood they are in!
Twas' the night before the new decade, and our group decided to finish off 2019 in the streets. What better way to say goodbye to the decade than on a massive 15-seater party bike? I'm sure you've seen these bikes throughout your city, a lot of people rent them for birthdays and other fun events. After searching for the perfect bike company, we came across one called Sprocket Rocket.
If this picture doesn't say "time of our lives," I'm not sure what does. We had the best driver and bartender in the history of party bikes. Dustin played all the jams and drove us around the city while Val poured all our drinks and danced throughout the streets with us. Before we got on the bike, we had to do that boring part where Dustin went over all the bike rules, but surprisingly these weren't too shabby.
We were given five rules
1. Yell 'PAPARAZZI' at people who took pictures of us riding the bike throughout Broadway (it caught people off guard and made them feel awkward and put away their phones-super funny).
2. Yell 'SCOOT SCOOOOT' at anyone riding one of those Lime Scooters or Bird Scooters.
3. Yell 'MAN BUNNNN' at any guy on the side of the road who had his hair tied up in a bun on his head.
4. If you dropped anything on the street to yell our bartender's name, Val.
5. A ten-finger-woo every time we stopped at a red light.
The original rule when you stop at a red light is to cheers everyone around you and take a sip of your drink, but our friend, Kelli, teaches first-graders and makes her class give her a ten-finger-woo every time they did something good. And drinking on New Years Eve was good. So when we got caught at a red light, we would ten-finger-woo (as seen in the photo above), cheers everyone around us and take a sip.
We only had to yell VAL one time because my friend Lauren dropped her brand new phone on the street (things like this happen often to her), but no worries because Val jumped off the bike like Super Woman and saved the day.
Friendly tip: You will not move if you do not pedal the bike. I went into it thinking the pedals were just for looks and you can pedal whenever you want, no. Not the case whatsoever. And it's really hard. I was a college athlete and not to be dramatic, but I would compare it to running your conditioning test. So, my suggestion is to let everyone else in your party get on the bikes and somehow end up on the back where there are no pedals. There's three lucky people who get to sit back, yell at people, drink, and enjoy the view. Be that person and thank me later.
On our last day in the city, we drove out to see Music City’s most recognizable icon, Ryman Auditorium, formerly known as The Grand Ole Opry House. You can take a guided backstage tour through the "Soul of Nashville," or you can be like me and my friends, forget to buy tickets ahead of time and get told they are sold out for the day when you get there.
Country music legends such as Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and even Elvis Presley graced the stage, and I wish I could sit here today and act like we did too. There is a really cool gift shop on the side of the building that you don't need a ticket for, so we spent a little time in there and bought a couple postcards to send to our families. I will say though that the outside and gift shop of this iconic building were stunning. I imagine the inside looks the same. Maybe one day I'll see it for myself.
There are some pretty iconic cities full of personality, good people and fun bars around the United States, but Nashville sits at the top of that list. As you can tell, my friends and I had a blast exploring the party city and found it a perfect place to ring in the new decade. Almost anyone you meet who’s been there will give it high praise and tell you the same thing as well. For country-music fans, foodies, historians, singers, songwriters and anyone just looking for a good time, Nashville is the ultimate destination!
Nevada Sports Net creative sports producer Jenna Holland is a former college softball player and avid traveler. She will publish her Holland Holidays feature every Monday on NSN. You can contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @JennaHolland4.