First, you should know, I hate country music. Three chords and the truth is what they say, but since the lyrics annoy me so much I’ve never really noticed. Nevertheless, country music is America’s most favorite genre, according to a CBS News poll, and it seems like a country singer is picked, by America, almost every year on NBC’s The Voice, a show I watch religiously even though my favorite never wins.
So when my sister, an avid runner and talented singer, suggested a trip to Nashville this year for the Rock and Roll Marathon, I thought, sure, but I’ll have to approach this trip as something other than a celebration of country music in order to enjoy myself. It would be my sister, her fiance, me and my partner Roni for the weekend.
Roni and I had been to Nashville in 2016, visited the honkey tonks and toured the area, and for the most part, what I remember is that it was LOUD. We enjoyed ourselves, but of course, I’m going to say I prefer Italy, Ireland or Greece to an extended weekend in loud bars.
Still, I thought it would be fun, and since this was probably the first vacation I’ve taken with my sister since the 1970s, I agreed. So I set off to find us a place to stay and started thinking about our itinerary.
Nashville, Tennessee Airbnb
Airbnb has been around awhile but this was the first time it made sense for me to use one, so I searched online, instant messaged my sister back and forth and settled on an adorable Airbnb house in East Nashville where all four of us could stay comfortably and away from the craziness of the crowds, especially with an extra 60,000 people or so we thought, participating in the marathon.
The minute I walked in I was glad I had selected it. Not only was it super adorable, but the Airbnb app made it easy to communicate with our host Candace. The entire reservation, check-in, and reminder system was outstanding. I was able to read ratings of the house beforehand and leave a rating myself after we checked out. Hint: Hosts rate the guests too, so if you aren’t a good guest beware, it might be difficult to rent another Airbnb the next time after your host leaves a bad rating.
Did I mention the NFL Draft was going on this same weekend? We discovered this fact about three days before heading there. So instead of the 60k extra people we expected, there were a record-breaking 600k, and, on our first evening in Nashville, they were all on Broadway Street.
Crazy. Still if we got away from the main street, even a couple of blocks, we were able to enjoy the area, find seats in the bars and even have dinner at local restaurants.
And we ended up having a blast! We visited the famed Ryman Auditorium, where my sister and I naturally became instant music legends, the County Music Hall of Fame and just walked around the city. We also tried, for the first time, Airbnb Experiences.
Besides family time, part of what made the trip memorable for me were some of the unique things we did through Airbnb Experiences. Open to anyone and provided by local professionals, Airbnb Experiences can include anything from history tours to cooking classes to spa treatments to professional photo shoots and more. For our experiences, we chose a Photo Walk/Shoot in the City and a Studio Show with NBC’s The Voice Runner Up, Meghan Linsey. More than just tourist attractions, these experiences allow you to see your destination through the eyes of a local and experience a behind-the-scenes look at the area. In this case, they added a ton of interest and value to our trip.
Photo Walk/Shoot in Nashville
We booked this experience directly through the app and received confirmation and the exact address of where to meet, what to bring and what to expect. The day before we received a reminder, through the app, personalized by Susan our guide and photographer. We met Susan downtown and she took us on a personal tour of the area that included many of the murals for which Nashville is also famous. Susan was friendly and fun to work with, and we learned about each mural before having our photos taken. Within a day or so we were sent a link to all our photos. If you enjoy photography and want a great memory of your visit, I’d recommend this experience. For $50 a person we received over 75 professional photos. Here are some of my favorites.
Studio Show with NBCs The Voice Runner Up – Meghan Linsay
After touring Nashville on our own and participating in the marathon we ended our weekend with another Airbnb Experience, a studio show with a seriously talented singer and her producer in a small recording studio in Nashville. Meghan Linsey, 2015 The Voice runner up and her producer and accompanist, Tyler, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the music scene in Nashville. The building was located in what looked like a run-down residential area, but as we entered it occurred to me that these small homes are now probably independent recording studios! Now I get it! This is Nashville. This is what all these singers, songwriters and musicians come here to do. To make music. Not just country music either. Jazz, blues, rock, and R&B. As we left this incredible event we could hear a heavy metal grunge band rehearsing nearby. And they were GOOD. The evening’s blend of soul, blues and a bit of country left me speechless.
Including those experiences, here’s everything we did in three days in Nashville, Tennessee:
Our Nashville, TN Itinerary Included
- Toured Broadway Street, exploring the bars and restaurants. Hint: we brought earplugs, which made it much more enjoyable inside the bars.
- Visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- Roni, my sister, and her fiance ran in the Rock and Roll Marathon
- Visited the Hermitage – the home of President Andrew Jackson
- Toured Ryman Auditorium
- Photo Shoot by a professional photographer of the downtown murals
- Attended a studio recording session with the 2015 The Voice runner up Meghan Linsay
Travel and The Sharing Economy
All in all, this was a great long weekend trip, and it really highlights for me how far we’ve come in the sharing economy with travel. From Airbnb to Uber (which we used to get around all weekend and met some incredible people) to Airbnb Experiences we used technology to connect us to local people who shared local experiences. Even my sister’s Uber driver to the airport was the social media manager for last year’s NBC The Voice winner, and our driver to the Rock and Roll Marathon, which benefited St. Jude’s hospital, credited St. Jude’s for saving his daughter’s life from a brain tumor.
We met great people, enjoyed local talent, stayed in a beautiful home and, most of all, spent quality sister time together for the first time in over 40 years.
That could be a country song, couldn’t it?
See you on the next trip!