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I mentioned a couple days ago that I gave two surprise trips as Christmas presents. One was a trip to Spain for my mom, daughter, and I this spring and the other was a 24 hour trip for my husband that left two days after Christmas. We don’t watch tons of TV at our house, but there are a few shows that the three of us enjoy together. One of those shows is American Pickers on the History Channel.
If you’ve never seen the show, I totally recommend it, but essentially two guys, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, travel the country (and occasionally beyond) searching through old barns, warehouses, and closed stores looking for items (aka “picks”) they can buy and then resell at their stores. However, the show is really much more than an “antiques” show, it really gives life to these older items by telling their story, and by extension the story of America.
There are two Antique Archeology stores that sell some of Mike Wolfe’s “picks”, one in LaClaire, Iowa, and one in Nashville, Tennessee. My husband had mentioned many times he would like to go to one of the stores some day and buy an item for our house. So, since I had a free night at a Hyatt Place to use by 12/31 and airline miles to burn, I thought a quick 24 hour trip to Nashville would be a perfect Christmas gift for him to make one of his inspired-by-TV dreams come true.
Of course, since I had never really spent time in Nashville, we had more on our agenda than just a stop at Antique Archeology, so here is how we used just under 24 hours on the ground in Nashville.
Lunch at Jack’s BBQ on 334 West Trinity Lane
We have pretty great BBQ in Texas, but I’m always up for trying BBQ from different spots, so after a little online research for recommend spots in Nashville, lunch at Jack’s BBQ on West Trinity seemed to be the perfect way to fuel our tummies after landing in Nashville. The West Trinity location seems to be the recommended spot over the others, and it was just a couple minutes out of the way on the way from the airport to downtown.
This was a very informal, laid back, and family friendly place. You can view their menu here, but we just asked the guys working what they like the best and they pointed us toward the three meat plate with Tennessee Pork Shoulder, St. Louis Style Pork Ribs, and Texas Beef Brisket. That also came with two sides and a bread, but those really just mostly get in the way of the meat.
I’m not a true BBQ aficionado, but I can say that while the brisket was fine, the pork shoulder was the standout, followed by the ribs. You certainly didn’t need teeth for either of those items! While true BBQ experts probably turn their noses up at sauces, I love trying the flavors of different BBQ sauces, and Jack’s had some good ones to pick from. The Tennessee Original and Texas Sweet Hot were my favorites (and they sell both if you want them for home use).
We both had way more than enough food, so if you want to save some cash you can probably share a three meat plate with two people maybe with an extra side or two unless you are both really hungry.
Visit Antique Archeology:
Since the inspiration for the trip was a visit to Antique Archeology, that was our first stop after lunch. The store itself is housed in an old Marathon Automobile factory building, but don’t let the large exterior size of the building fool you. The portion of the building devoted to Antique Archeology is relatively small and there are some other stores occupying other areas of the building.
The store had some items you would probably recognize if you regularly watch the show. There are also several motorcycles, large signs, some leather jackets, really awesome “Rustoration” lighting, and then there was the Antique Archeology merchandise. The store seemed to sell tons more coffee mugs, t-shirts, and other Antique Archeology branded merchandise than it did actual antiques.
Truthfully, there didn’t seem to be very many actual antiques for sale in the store, unless you were interested in lighting. Some of the cooler things that caught our eye were marked “Not For Sale”. Most of what was for sale wasn’t the kind of stuff that would fit on a mantel or bookcase, so outside of getting a “Kid Picker” t-shirt to take home, we left the store empty handed, as did most of the other people browsing in the store.
I’ve read that their Iowa location is pretty much the same with few items actually for sale and instead a pretty big emphasis on branded merchandise, so be aware of that before thinking about making a special trip just to visit the store. Luckily for us, Nashville had more to offer than just the Antique Archeology store…
Stay at Hyatt Place Nashville Downtown:
There are several Hyatt Place locations in Nashville, ranging from 5,000 – 12,000 points per night. We opted for the downtown location which is a Category 3 at 12,000 points per night (we were staying on a free night we won over the summer). The downtown location was walkable to many attractions, restaurants, and more such as “Honky Tonk Row”, Bridgestone Arena, Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, and even LP Field where the Titans play is under a mile away.
The hotel itself was very nice for a Hyatt Place with infused waters in the lobby, live music in the evening, and a quality indoor swimming pool on the 5th floor that I would actually get in if my kid was with me. Overnight parking there does range from about $20 – $24 per night depending if you self-park or valet, but for downtown that is probably pretty standard.
The room was a standard Hyatt Place configuration, which was totally fine and comfortable for our quick stay. I would not hesitate at all to return here on a subsequent trip to Nashville where we wanted to be in the downtown area.
Walk Around Downtown and Visit Country Music Attractions:
If you only have 24 hours in Nashville, you almost certainly want to spend a chunk of your afternoon walking around downtown and exploring country music iconic sights like Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA Studio B, the Rynman Auditorium, or just see a live show or two on Broadway (aka “Honky Tonk Highway”).
The museum has lots of videos and artifacts from The Man in Black. It was pretty crowded in some areas, but it was worth a 90 minute stop or so – a bit less if you don’t watch all the videos (though you should watch them if you are a Cash fan).
If you have a sweet tooth, right across from the Johnny Cash museum is the Goo Goo Clusters candy store, where you can try free samples of in-store made fresh candy bars! This store would easily be a big hit with kids or adults!
Eat at Etch:
Literally right next door to the Hyatt Place was what has to be one of the top restaurants in Nashville, Etch. I recommend you make reservations a couple weeks ahead of time, though they do have bar space you can eat at if you don’t get a reservation in time.
Pro Tip: Use opentable.com to make your reservation so you earn points toward free food!
Etch is a nice restaurant, but with an open kitchen concept it is not at all overly stuffy. It isn’t a kid focused restaurant, but well behaved kids could probably fit in just fine.
We read some online reviews ahead of time as we usually do (I like chowhound.com for an overview of food in various cities), and knew we had to try the roasted cauliflower appetizer, and it was indeed fantastic.
We also had the butter tasting with prosciutto truffle, smoked parmesan black pepper, ginger cashew, malt vinegar butter. They were all unique, but we liked the ginger cashew and malt vinegar the best.
They have several salads that sounded amazing, but we went for the beets & berries salad which we both enjoyed. The side of goat cheese that almost tasted like goat cheese ice cream went amazingly well with the salad. You can view a current dinner menu here.
By this point I was pretty full and should have probably passed on an entree as I got the Rutabaga La Plancha entree and barely touched it. I didn’t totally love the entree, but mostly I was just too full. My husband, however, loved the fillet entree he ordered and ate almost every bite. Most of their food, including the beef, comes from the surrounding area.
For dessert I went for a scoop of the cherry-lime sorbet, but my husband went all-in on the chocolate pretzel bar made with pretzel shortbread, dark chocolate ganache, chocolate caramel mousse, malted milk cream, caramel sauce. It was as delicious and decadent as it sounds.
During our short trip, we also drove around the Vanderbilt area and browsed at a a few unique and upscale shops on 12th Avenue South.
There is so much more to Nashville than you can squeeze in one 24 hour period, but hopefully this post gives you a few ideas if you have a quick stop to Music City on your calendar. If you want a more complete intro-to-Nashville trip, I would devote a full weekend, if possible.
Even though the Antique Archeology store itself was a bit of a let-down, the trip overall was a really fun way to spend a night over the holidays.
What are your “must visit” spots in Nashville?