Friday 6/12/2009 at 4:02 p.m. – I get an email from my best friend, an intern at Birmingham's stunning Museum of Art. What on earth were we going to do over the weekend? The following is our conversation:
Ashlyn: Cabin fever. BAD. i'm about to say lets jet off to ATL or nashville
Sloan: really?? can we please? i just said those exact same words to my mother i am DYING to get outta this town. (I should add at this point that, despite a Braves game, we have been kicking it in the fabulous 'Ham for approximately 5 consecutive months.)
Ashlyn: you think we could swing it? you know i'm in if you are.
Sloan: well. we'd have to decide where first.
Ashlyn: ha. okay, hm. can we go to n'ville?
Bingo. 1.5 hours later, with Vera Bradley bags packed and Dave's new album blaring, my counterpart and
I hit the road: I-65 northbound to Nash-town.
With Sloan at the wheel, my fingers were text messaging (90-to-nothing, a relatively common activity) to our Nashville friends: Where should we eat? What's fun at night? Where do we shop?
Here's my Top 15 Reasons to Spontaneously Jump in a Car for a Weekend to Nashville:
(in order of 6/12-14/2009 weekend appearance)
1. Because only in the south can you feel normal about sticking gardenias in the air conditioning vent
on your roadtrip.
2. SATCO – Guided to dinner at San Antonio Taco Company by our Nashville-dwelling friends, we were
instant fans. Twinkle lights in trees and classic rock piped out onto the porch were perfect additions to
the al fresco Mexican dinner. Spotted: Fajitas, guacemole, cheese dip, chips, cheap beer, college boys
3. Greenhouse Bar – The monicker is true–I legitimately felt like I had intruded into a gardener's territory at this eclectic, off-beat bar. Spotted: Gravel underfoot, wooden benches, and they say Nicole Kidman likes the adjacent Food Company.
2211 Bandywood Drive, (615) 385-3357
4. Love Circle – Perched high atop a hill, this spot offers a magnificent view of the night lights of Nashville. You'll probably understand why it earned its romantic name. Vandy track trots up the hill; bring your running shoes and take the challenge. (Ask a local and drive slow–it gets a little windy near the top.)
5. Because on Broadway between 5th and 1st, I felt oddly like I was in a warped Times Square, where everyone wore cowboy hats. Granted, this was right after the CMA's had let out for the evening.
6. The Big Bang Bar – Who doesn't love a good dueling piano bar?
411 Broadway # 2, (615) 747-5851
7. Hillsboro Village shopping – Beneath this polo-wearing, headband-owning guise, you'll find the slight traces of a hippie, which meant stumbling into Pangea was a pretty wonderful experience. (1721 21st Ave S,  269-9665) Social Graces (1704 21st Ave S,  383-1911) was an obvious choice for Sloanie and me, as was the stock of dresses at FireFinch (1818 21st Ave S,  385-5090). And the simply charming BookMan/BookWoman (1713 21st Ave S,  383-6555) is consistently voted best used bookstore.
8. Zumi – Brand new sushi spot recommended to us by local store owners in the Hillsboro Village. Spectacularly well-priced (and tasting) sushi accompanied with great customer service. Spotted: Edamame, recommendations of Pacific Queen rolls and Black and Gold rolls, pristine white square plates, a yuppie-ish crowd, a patio with a shaded option.
2119 Belcourt Ave, (615) 383-5770
9. Because driving to neighboring Franklin, TN from Nashville is a delightful straight shot down smooth Hillsboro Road, lined in graceful oaks and big ole houses.
10. Historic Franklin – Let's be honest, Sloan and I can shop with the best of 'em. This quaint street with century old store fronts was a slice of heaven for us. Headbands galore and a treasure trove of jewelry exist at What's In Store (407 Main St,  794-7560) where Taylor Swift is a fan. Wood floor and chandeliers deck Philanthropy, a shop loaded with apparel. Ten percent of the store's proceeds go to charitable foundations. (434 Main St,  791-1125) In Lulu, girly, polka-dotted, striped, shiney, sophisticated home decor delights they eye. It's like being inside a day-dream ( 794-3345).
11. Because there is a Billy Reid at the Mall at Green Hills. The Alabama designer has been featured in all the heavyweight glossy fashion magazines for his perfectly preppy Gatsby-esque creations. Hear that, Taylor?
12. Pancake Pantry – Trust me and dozens of other fans: the good ole fashioned breakfast is worth the time you'll clock in the waiting line. Spotted: chocolate chip pancakes, grits, big booths, wood paneled walls, polite southern waitstaff.
1796 21st Ave S, (615) 383-9333
15. Because on the return journey, Nashville may put you in the mood to belt out the following: Garth, Taylor, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, and Dierks Bentley. Not that I'd know from experience or anything…
13. It's fun to be starstruck. "The Kings of Leon are from Nashville. I am in Nashville. The Kings of Leon are from Nashville…"
14. Because Vanderbilt's beautiful shaded campus is a great place to walk off your Pancake Pantry meal–a walk around the whole campus can take you about 45 minutes if you hit the right stride.
What'd I miss on this trip? I fell in love and will definitely give Nashville another visit very soon!