The longer we stayed in one place, the more likely we were to spend money. But when you’re visiting 48 states, staying long isn’t the best option.
With Music City close, it was important to visit Nashville since music is the reason my road trip buddy, Mely, and I met, bonding over bands and travel. And here we stood in the center of Broadway Street, Nashville: guitar-themed bars, smoking barbecue, shopping, and record stores. After a quick stop in Ole Miss, we dashed for Nashville for only three hours, with just enough time to make it to Atlanta that night.
We glimpsed at William Faulkner’s house and alleged Eli Manning’s house in Ole Miss in southern downpour weather. We rocked in Jack White’s record store in Nashville. And we ate like presidents in drizzly Atlanta.
With only a few available hours in windy, brisk Nashville deciding where to go can be tricky, but start on Broadway in the district called, appropriately, “The District.”
First- and only-day tourists can follow down Broadway to find souvenir shops that love to match bling with country: rhinestone studded belts and buckles line the walls of all the stores. An entire section dedicated to cowboy hats and boots lives everywhere else. And music blankets all of it: Guitar pick earrings hang next to glittered guitar necklaces, next to two aisles worth of country-star bobble heads and Elvis mugs.
After enough of that touristy fix, browse Earthbound Trading Company to find tie-dye tapestries, crystal necklaces, and world-map posters. And check out Tatyana, a retro, 1940s and ‘50s-themed vintage clothing store, stocked with nautical circle dresses, polka-dotted shorts, and cat-eared sunglasses. (Though if you’re on a budget, it’s best to only look—prices average around $100 per dress.)
Sweet teeth should indulge in two candy shops: Savannah’s Candy Kitchen and Rocket Fizz. Nashville boasts one of five locations of the Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, which carries creamy, mouth-watering gelato, including flavors like banana pudding, praline, and caramel apples. This delectable shop has endless options of truffles, cakes, and even homemade popcorn—try the pecan caramel corn. But Savannah’s pralines are the best (sorry, New Orleans). Rocket Fizz, on Second Avenue, is a candy shop that specializes in nostalgia. It’s home to candies with old school packaging, or candies that are hard to come by, like Abba Zabba, or 90 flavors of salt water taffy.
To end the daytrip, stop at Jack White’s record shop, Third Man Records, tucked in a warehouse-like building on 7th Avenue. For the everyday joe, the shop also has a mini studio booth for two, where you can create a personal record for $15. Although the record selection is a small portion of the store, it’s dedicated to selling only its pertained artists, staying true to its underground promotion goals.
First stop for the college student is Little Five Points. Atlanta’s artsy counter culture lives in the tiny, free-spirited village filled with restaurants, thrift stores, record stores, and bars. Its charm is what keeps young adults hanging in the streets, eating pizza or tacos from Savage Pizza and Tijuana Garage. Then cheap thrift stores to shop or sell all on the main drag: Rag-O-Rama for essentials like hats, sunglasses, boots, dresses; Clothing Warehouse for vintage and late-era clothing; and Psycho Sisters for bright vintage sparkled clothes and costume-like needs, such as wigs and cheap 1970s accessories. At night, make The Vortex a priority: the bar and grill is unmissable by its large skull-faced entrance with red, crazy spiral eyes, where the door lies inside the skull’s jaw.
But what’s Atlanta without visiting the World of Coca-Cola. The $16 tour takes visitors through Coke’s history and old advertisements. Soda stations are separated by each continent that Coca Cola serves in each country around the globe. Conveniently, across the street and in the area are several other must-see tours. With the options of the large and popular Georgia Aquarium, the Center for Civil Rights and Humans, and the giant CNN studio tour, Atlanta proves its tourist worth. The large CNN tour shows behind-the-scenes production amid breaking news—and spotting a familiar, celebrity newscaster or your go-to morning weatherman is entirely possible.
After a long day playing tourist, kick back for dinner at a local favorite, an “old man” bar & grill called Manuel’s (or Manny’s)—once voted by Esquire as one of the best bars in the U.S. The long menu, large portions, rooftop chicken coop, and craft cider—plus its historically famous repertoire of president visits—makes this stop a famously good time.