Nashville, Tenn.--After my time at Auburn then a stop at Duke for my MBA I ended up in Nashville in 1991 and have called it home ever since. Nashville has changed greatly since the early 90's all for the good. As you my fellow Auburn friends and alumni pull into Nashville I feel compelled to give you a local's user's guide to my city.
First, you may hear the city referred to as NashVegas or Cashville, which is just for the locals who are tired of saying Nashville or want to try to be cool. It is a great vibrant town with lots to do. The city has two main thoroughfares that run parallel then eventually merge downtown.
These same roads also change names as they go! So starting from downtown Broadway is the main road. As you head south out of town it splits into Broadway (to the left fork) and West End Avenue (to the right fork) with Vanderbilt campus in-between. Keep heading out on Broadway and it turns into 21st Avenue by the Vandy campus. Once 21st goes over Interstate 440 heading out of town it turns into Hillsboro Road where the Green Hills Mall is. West End continues out of town and eventually turns into Harding Road. Whew…it can be very confusing-same roads, different names!
Your first stop should be the new Country Music Hall of Fame downtown. Whether you are a country fan or not it is a first class history lesson on the greats of the music industry. If you are seeking something more refined the Frist Art Museum is a new venue also downtown that has attracted much interest and is a show piece for the town.
A weekend in Nashville isn't complete without going to the Bluebird Café on Friday night. It is where many country stars got their start and it is a small listening room so book your table early. If you want to throw on your boots for a big time Friday night or Saturday after the game head downtown to Broadway Street and country bars with excellent live music stretch for four blocks. My favorites are The Stage, Paradise Park and Tootsie's.
Above Paradise Park is a very popular dueling piano bar named Big Bang. If you want a more refined/hip bar scene check out Virago, Lime, Agave, Lot 7, and Bar 23. Most young adults in their 20's end up at the Tin Roof, Red Door and Looser's by midnight.
Tailgating is all over campus, but it is a lot smaller version than we do it on the Plains. Vandy does rent out tents all season long that line Natchez Trace Road that which runs into the stadium. Also if you don't want to shell out $100 or more a ticket for the game (an all time record I believe at Vandy!) then you can watch the game at Sam's in Hillsboro Village (across from Pancake Pantry) or go to my favorite, The Corner Pub Midtown. Both are within walking distance of campus.
The food in town is varied and good. Check out Watermark, Germantown Café, Margot's and Sunset Grille if money is not an issue. Also Sambucca, Lime and Bricktop (which is right across the street from Vandy) are reasonable/good restaurants.
My week is never complete in Nashville without having breakfast at Pancake Pantry. Get there early or else the line will wrap around the building. Tell David, the owner, I sent you! If Pancake Pantry is too crowded head a half block up to Fido's and try out their breakfast Bubba burrito or oatmeal with fruit. If you are really adventurous head way out on West End/Harding to HWY 100 to Loveless Café for a great southern breakfast.
If you want to exercise then a jog around the outer part of Vandy on the streets which is about 3.5 miles. Alternatively head to Belle Meade Blvd to the end and park and run Percy Warner Park's six mile hilly loop in the morning. It is very beautiful back there and the course is challenging. Many people bike and run/walk back in there on the weekends.
If you want to see where the stars and rich people live go to Belle Meade Blvd and roads off it are full of multi-million dollar homes. Also put Snead Road on to your GPS and go outside of Nashville 10 minutes to see the beautiful horse farms on rolling hills owned by the likes of Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and many others.
So if you were coming into town and staying with me for the game we would start Friday afternoon off with tacos on SATCO porch across the street from Vandy, head to GameDay set-up and check out the action, go get cleaned up and have dinner at Germantown Café, get a table for the later show at Blue Bird Café and then put on our boots and check out Tootsie's and then call it a night.
The next morning we'd wake up early and run Percy Warner Park, followed by a big stack of blueberry pancakes at the Pancake Pantry, then swing down to the Country Music Hall of Fame and check it out, then have a late lunch at Brick Tops and leave our car there and walk over to the tailgates on Vandy Campus. After a decisive victory against the Dores, we'd head over to Lime and see all the cool people before heading home to crash!
Rob Shuler played on four Auburn bowl teams, including the 1983 SEC champions.
Sunday morning we'd be up and go to church, preferably at Midtown Fellowship that meets in Rocket Town youth center downtown or West End Community Church on White Bridge Road. Both services start at 10:30 a.m. Afterwards we'd go have brunch at Margot's (the best brunch I've ever had) and then I would send you back home hopefully tired yet satisfied from a full weekend of Auburn football and fun Rob Shuler style in Nashville.
Editor's Note: Rob Shuler lives in Nashville where he runs All-American Holdings, a private equity fund that buys troubled American and European companies. Shuler is a regular on the AUTigers.com Tiger Ticket message board.