Nashville: You’ve Still Got It

Travel Blog  •  Jenna Schnuer  •  06.23.09 | 4:30 PM ET

Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)


Just after I plucked my bag from the baggage carousel and walked out the airport doors to meet my ride, you wrapped me up in your humidity. Though that kind of welcome would, normally, put me off, I found it comforting. You were just making it clear that I was back in Nashville, that my two year for-no-good-reason exile from your borders had come to a close.

Before my visit, I told you I was nervous. One of my favorite cities, you had gone magical in my mind. When I thought about you, it was always fun fun fun, big food, history, music, blah blah blah. You were far removed from daily life. But from the minute that humidity grabbed me, I knew all would be OK. While my past visits have been anchored with purpose (reporting stories, the Tin Pan South festival, and so on), this trip was about, simply, hanging out and letting the week unfold as it might. I wanted to see what it was like just to be in Nashville, no run-around keep-yourself-busy necessary. My only requirements: eat at least one ice pop at Las Paletas and get a better understanding of the way your neighborhoods relate to each other.

You delivered.

Though I did do some traditionally touristy stuff, I got to see that a lot of what tourists love about Nashville pulls plenty of local love as well. I’m pretty sure I was one of the few out-of-towners at the Loveless Cafe the night I went gaga for its famous biscuits (and jam jam jam). And I loved that. I love it when locals celebrate their town and aren’t afraid to set foot in the places that, thanks to Food Network stardom, may have a bit of a wait. Nashvillians are, clearly, proud of their town’s creative riches yet aren’t afraid to have a good giggle now and again over its kitsch factor. And, ticks aside, there’s some fine hiking to be had nearby.

So, as I was headed home, I got a good laugh out of the conversation I had with an airline employee. Born and raised in NYC (my home) and now living in Philly, he was in Nashville “just helping out” for a little while. He asked what I was doing in town and I told him it was one of my favorite places and that, yes, I was thinking of moving there.

“What? Are you crazy? I’ve been here a week and can’t wait to get out,” he said. “How can you like it?”

His words were supercharged with a bit of spittle. (Pretty.) While I started to respond with recommendations of places to go, things to see, barbecue to tackle, I realized it wasn’t worth my time. He was never going to open up to Nashville. He was guilty of doing what far too many of my Northern neighbors do (and what many a Southerner does about the North): closing themselves off to the joys of a place because it is too different. Besides, I didn’t need him falling in love and, when the time is finally right for me to make the move, competing with me for the rentals in Sylvan Park.

See you again soon, Nashville. Seriously.


Jenna Schnuer

Freelancer Jenna Schnuer writes about travel, food, culture, books, and life's quirky bits (and bites) for publications including American Way, National Geographic Traveler, Southern Living, and many others. She also co-writes Flyover America, a site filled with quieter stories from around the U.S. Send Jenna an email or, if you're so inclined, follow her on Twitter.

6 Comments for Nashville: You’ve Still Got It

Rachel 06.23.09 | 5:17 PM ET

nice love letter

M 06.23.09 | 11:20 PM ET

Terrific article! It’s nice to see Nashville get some of the credit that it deserves. Look forward to having you here!

Jenna Schnuer 06.23.09 | 11:21 PM ET

Thanks! How I’d love another trip to Nashville’s Pied Piper ice cream RIGHT NOW. Oh, such ice cream.

Lelia Sinclair Baldassari 06.24.09 | 12:52 PM ET

Ellen Pryor said it would be nice to have you back here and I agree wholeheartedly.  I was born in DC and spent my formative in and out of DC and VA but do feel the same way you do about this place.  My darling husband just passed away in January and quite a few (natives) have asked, “Are you going to be able to stay in Nashville?”!  Until they asked, I hadn’t thought about leaving!  My Sylvan Park home and I are quite attached to each other!

Please come back.  We need peeps like you here…and I even have a beautiful 1 bedroom condo available June 30th!  Gotta get the shameless plug in!

Take care.

Jenna Schnuer 06.24.09 | 1:36 PM ET

Thanks Sinclair. I feel so lucky to know Ellen. She has such an incredibly generous spirit and has introduced me to some of the wonders of the Nashville arts scene, including, of course, the Frist. I’m so sorry you lost your husband but glad that living in Nashville offers comfort. And our beloved Sylvan Park? What a neighborhood! June 30 is a bit soon for me but, when I’m ready for a move (could be in two months, could be in a year), I’ll check in with you.

La Mexican Food Diva 07.17.09 | 1:25 PM ET

Yes, those little paletas are Mexican food genius on a stick, but have you ever thought of making your own at home? Dios mio de mi vida!

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