Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Things to Love In Virginia

Hi all, I am super excited to be here visiting on The Coastie Couple, and their Virtual Tour Across America. My name is Tara, and I am the voice behind An Aiming High Wife, where I blog about our adventures as a military family. Currently, we are stationed in Virginia and I can’t wait to tell you all about some super fun things to do in our current state! They say “Virginia is for Lovers,” and at first I didn’t quite understand that. But now that we’ve spent some time in the area I can see what they mean. Virginia has everything from mountains to beaches, as well as cities and wide open country. It really has something for everyone. There is so much to do and see it is perfect for weekend getaways and spending time with those you love. 


All The History

If you enjoy visiting somewhere from the colonial time, a location that was significant in the Civil War, a home from a past president, or locations honoring the men and women of the military, you can find it all in Virginia.  You have Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Mount Vernon. There are historic Battlefields from the Civil War, including Bull Run.  And if you are a military family you can visit the battlefields with your free Military:National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, you just have to pick one up where you pay to enter. And don't forget about Arlington National Cemetery, Norfolk and it's shipyards, and the National Museum of the Marine Corps.  Also a little side note, historical sites make for beautiful backdrops for family photos!

historical family photos

Spending Time Outdoors 

There are parks, open hiking trails, and bike trails all over Virginia and majority of it won't cost you a dime! You can explore the Blue Ridge Mountains, or spend time by the water along one of Virginia's beaches. 

The Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge is an amazing site to be seen. We stopped there one day when we noticed a sign on the other side of the highway while on our way to Florida. It was by far one of the best and most beautiful random stops we have ever made. 

 Natural Bridge

Wine Tasting  

There is just something so relaxing about spending the day outside surrounded by family and friends while your enjoying a nice glass of wine.

 NOVA winery  

In Northern Virginia you can find wineries everywhere, and they are some of the prettiest wineries I have been to outside of Napa Valley and Italy. We have fallen in love with the wines in Northern Virginia and have even become members at some of our favorite wineries!  

What is your favorite place to visit in the lovely state of Virginia?


 About the Author

Tara is an Air Force Spouse, mommy of one, and the voice behind An Aiming High Wife. She started writing in hopes of bringing military spouses and families together to become each others greatest support system. When she isn't writing she loves spending time with her family. They love to travel and really experience every adventure the military sends their way! 

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Monday, August 29, 2016

A Vermonter Recommends 11 Things to Do in Vermont

Cows, mountains, old red barns, skiing, maple syrup and so much more, these are just a few of the things that Vermont is known for. But what’s the real deal? What should you really do when you come to this little state? I won’t give you the hype, this is a look at the real Vermont, the real must see attractions for anyone coming to the Green Mountain State. Trust me, I’m a Vermonter.

#1 Drink Beer. (Or Wine or Spirits or Cider) Or Just Visit a Brewery

Do you like beer? Do you like the WORLD’S BEST BEER? Well you can find it here in Vermont. With more breweries per capita than anywhere else, there is a beer for every palate. If you aren’t into beer, there are also a ton of local wineries, distilleries, and cideries. Most breweries are open to the public and have tours (sorry Heady fans, the Alchemist isn’t one of them) or you can join an organized beer tour.

[Caption: Vermont Beer: Forbidden Fruit at Vermont Pub & Brewery. ]
Nonalcoholic Option: Not everyone drinks, and that’s totally cool. There are a lot of other locally made food & drink to be found. Visit Vermont in the fall for fresh apple cider, straight from the press right there are the orchard!

#2 Visit Burlington

Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, it’s also a college town with an eclectic vibe. It also has a ton of things to do, including shopping, dining, nightlife, events, concerts and performing arts. While in Burlington, check out the following must see attractions:
  • The Waterfront - Enjoy a sunset dinner on a lake cruise or at a lakeside restaurant, stroll along the walking path, or enjoy a local event or concert, or just hang out on the beach. Got kids? The Echo aquarium is the perfect way to spend a day!
  • The Church Street Marketplace aka Church Street - A car-free shopping street with boutiques, name brand stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. By day is the best place to shop and get a bite to eat, and by night it’s the center of Burlington’s Nightlife.
  • Breweries - Yes, it’s home to many breweries including Magic Hat, local favorite Switchback and more!
  • Seasonal Events - There are many seasonal events year round. The summer brings music festivals, food festivals, wine festivals and beer festivals, winter has the ever popular Mardi Gras parade.
  • Concerts & Performing Arts - The Flynn Center features various performers and musicians year round. The perfect space to catch a bit of culture.
[Caption: The Burlington Waterfront at Sunset.]

#3 Eat the Local Food

Vermont loves it’s local agriculture and it shows in it’s restaurants. Many Vermont restaurants, even humble bars, feature local and seasonal ingredients. Farm to table is literal here in Vermont and plays a big part in the state’s food culture. There’s a variety of food to be found from pubs to pizza to ethnic food. Some of my personal favorites are:

#4 Ski or Snowboard

Winter in Vermont is the perfect time to hit the slopes. There are ski areas in every corner of the state with terrain for every level of skier or rider. If you are just learning or a pro hit up the slopes, and you won’t be disappointed.

Coming in the summer? That’s cool too, the ski areas still offer tons of fun summertime activities. Smuggs in particular has lots of family friendly activities year round. Or you can always visit the Alpine Slide at Stowe! (Protip: DO IT! SO MUCH FUN!)

#5 Visit Ben & Jerry’s

I’ve been asked by people visiting Vermont, “Should I really visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory? Or is it just a tourist trap?” My response: DO IT. It’s really awesome. Take the tour of the factory and browse the gift shop and the flavor graveyard. Get some ice cream at the scoop shop and say hi to the friendly onsite cows. It’s well worth the trip for kids and kids at heart.

#6 Maple Syrup

March means maple syrup season. If you are visiting Vermont in March you should be able to hit up a sugar on snow party and even a maple festival or two (plus get in on some sweet spring skiing). But, no fear! Maple is available year round in Vermont and easily found at every local grocery, convenience and tourist shop you might encounter. For the real experience visit a local sugar producer, like Bragg Farm to learn more about it and try their delicious maple creemees (soft-serve ice cream).

[Caption: A maple creemee from Bragg Farm.]

#7 Leaf Peep

Fall is the perfect time to come to Vermont, the leaves turn colors and the scenery is just gorgeous. People come to Vermont from all over to see the leaves. It’s not limited to just tourists either! Driving around to look at the turning leaves was a family tradition for me growing up as well. So if you are visiting in the fall, get out there and see those leaves!

#8 Attend a Festival

There are so many festivals to choose from! What do you like to do? Eat? Drink? Music? There is a festival for everyone! The summer in Vermont is filled with exciting and fun festivals, concerts and events to do.
[Caption: August West Fest - A Grateful Dead Tribute Festival.]

#9 Eat Some Cheese

If there is something other than beer, apples, milk, and maple that Vermont is known for it’s the delicious, delicious cheese. You may be familiar with Cabot cheese, but there is more than that! There are many different local cheese makers creating wonderful cheeses of all kind. If you are a cheese lover, Vermont has you covered.

#10 Visit a Museum Or Farm (why not both!)

Learning in Vermont can be fun, especially if you hit up any of these fun and hands on museums!
  • The Shelburne Museum - Learn about Vermont’s past and see relics and artwork from times gone by. Walk through a steam powered paddle boat that once traveled Lake Champlain, visit a round barn or sample some old-fashioned rock candy.
  • Shelburne Farms - Jaw dropping Vermont beauty? Milk a cow? Hay ride? Pet some farm animals? It’s all at Shelburne Farms along with artisan agricultural products (*coughCHEESE*)
  • Echo Center - Located on the waterfront in Burlington this is my young niece's favorite place to go! There are tons of hands on activities for kids to do all while they learn about Lake Champlain and its ecosystems.
  • UVM Morgan Horse Farm - Do you like horses? Did you know Vermont’s state animal is the Morgan horse? It was also once the principal mount of the United States cavalry. The UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Middlebury is a historic farm with a proud military and agricultural history. Learn about Vermont’s state animal, see gorgeous horses at work and play, and learn about the important role these animals played in the United States military history.

#11 Visit the Statehouse & Montpelier

Montpelier is the capital of Vermont and a town full of local charm and flavor. Take a visit to the Statehouse for a tour, it’s well worth it to see the historic building where state legislation takes place. Then visit downtown Montpelier for more great food and shopping. You can find all sorts of boutiques and shops.
[Caption: Montpelier Vermont, The Statehouse.]

#12 Visit a Farmer’s Market

Agriculture is huge in Vermont. So too are farmer’s markets. There is one every day of the week in one town or another. One of the best ones to visit is the Burlington Farmer’s Market. It’s held every Saturday morning. Like the other farmer’s markets you can find tons of local produce, handmade goods and artisan crafts, food and more. It’s a wonderful way to spend the morning and grab a bite to eat.

Vermont is way more than cows and cheese (though those are two very important things). Visit the Green Mountain State any time of year and you will have an abundance of things to see, activities to do and culture to experience. In my extremely biased opinion Vermont deserves a must see status for your next family vacation. There’s something for everyone from culture to shopping to animals to all the outdoor activities you could want. Take it from me, a lifelong Vermonter, these places are must sees.

And remember, Vermont is a state. You can find us just south of Canada, west of New Hampshire, and east of upstate New York just on the other side of Lake Champlain.

Have you been to Vermont? What’s your favorite thing to see or do there?

About the Author

Kara, The Hippy Milspouse is a blogger and military spouse. She’s a native Vermonter currently living in Korea (and missing her home state). She writes about green living and military life on her blog, The Hippy Milspouse. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Friday, August 26, 2016

What I’ve Learned from 8 Years Living in NYC

Like many others, I spent my childhood dreaming of NYC. I grew up in Westchester County, the suburbs of New York City, in a small town that always felt boring and claustrophobic to me. My dream came true when I was accepted to NYU and moved into my Manhattan dorm at the ripe age of 18. I still remember how terrified I felt that first night of college. I was filled with this insane and irrational fear that I would never learn my way around the city and would forever be confused about which way was East or West. It blew my mind that people knew how to get anywhere on the subway.

It’s been almost 8 years since I moved here for college and I’ve thankfully learned my way around both above and below ground. As hard, exhausting and expensive as this city can be, I know it’s where I was meant to live. It’s where theater lives and breathes. It’s where the fitness scene is booming. It’s where I can get a Starbucks soy chai on practically every corner. Most importantly, it’s the place I dreamed about since I was a kid.

As Frank Sinatra once sang, if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, and in my 8 years living here I’ve learned a lot about myself and city dwelling.

A long walk can fix everything
One of my favorite things about NYC is that it’s a walking paradise. In theory you can walk from the northern tip of Manhattan to the southern tip with no issues… except that it might take you a few hours.

I love this about NYC because walking heals everything. In a bad mood? Go for a walk. In a great mood? Go for a walk. Feeling lonely? Go for a walk. Need to get away from people? Go for a walk.

Alone is not lonely

One of the best things I’ve learned while living in New York is how to be alone and independent. I’ve become really comfortable doing things on my own, such as checking out a new restaurant or going to see a Broadway show solo.

Knowing how to be alone and independent is such an important skill. Yes, I’m calling it a skill.

I also now know that alone does not mean lonely. I have a boyfriend. I have good friends that I grab dinner with after work. So while I know how to be alone, it’s rarely ever lonely.


You have to grow thick skin
It’s true. This city will eat you alive if you let it. In any given day I’ll see a lot of nasty things, a lot of disturbing things, ignore people that come up to me, brush off rude comments from strangers, and avoid eye contact with canvassers asking if I care about gay rights because I’m in a rush or don’t feel like talking to anyone.

While maybe this place has made me calloused and the slightest bit bitter, it has also made me a more resilient person. That part of being a New Yorker is something I’m proud of.

About the Author

Kayla Kleinman is an NYC based marketing professional and fitness fanatic. She is an NASM certified personal trainer with an intense love for boutique fitness, musical theater and flying trapeze. Check out her health and fitness blog Kayla in the City and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

More to New York than the City

When you meet a New Yorker, what do you picture? From my experience, people assume that I’m from New York City. Interestingly enough, there is a huge part of the state that isn’t city! Lol! Therefore, I am required to talk about my hometown, Olean, NY. Where I grew up, there were farms, muddy boots and hard manual labor. Olean celebrated their status of having the highest population of black squirrels in the region and delicious maple syrup and our St. Bonaventure Bonnies. If you are in the area, I highly suggest you have breakfast at Sprague’s Maple Farms! They have delicious breakfast, maple syrup to DIE for and large portions. Did I mention that we love college basketball? I grew up watching Bonnies games and ended up attending St. Bonaventure University. If you have the opportunity to see a home game, you will see the love that the community has for their team. Having lived in this area for a majority of my life, I moved to the big cities as a way of expanding and learning.

Buffalo N.Y., a place that is more widely known, was a short drive from my hometown and therefore was my first venture away from “the sticks.” A small city situated about a half hour drive from Niagara Falls, was much more diverse, introducing me to new cultures, food and ideas. My BFF and I frequently headed to local places like Towne Restaurant, a small Greek place on Elmwood, a hipster destination If I have ever seen one. Papaya, a restaurant on Chippewa and Delaware, is a delicious Asian fusion restaurant. As far as things to do with a family, I suggest a trip to SkyZone! They accommodate all ages, if your child can walk, they will adore this trampoline park adventure complete with foam pit and basketball hoops. The tourist area for Niagara Falls is also nice, however I would not choose to stay at a hotel in the area. If you plan to stay, I would opt for a hotel either on the Canadian side of the falls or take the trip to Buffalo.

Of course, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room, New York City. I lived in Manhattan and the Bronx for several years. It is a wonderful place to visit, however I chose to move to the suburbs to raise my children. There are more delectable restaurants than I can ever mention here. One thing I will talk about is hotdogs! Every person that visits Manhattan should stop at a Gray’s Papaya. Not because they are fancy, but because they are like a NYC institution lol. As far as tourist destinations, there are many. I suggest a tour on the Circle Line Cruise. They circle Manhattan and pull up close to the Statue of Liberty. You are able to get an overall idea of the city and some beautiful NYC photos. The Ground Zero memorial is also a mandatory stop, and most definitely go for a walk through Times Square at night!
I hope that you have enjoyed my description of New York and suggested places to visit! If you are from New York and can add to what I have written, please leave a comment below!

About the Author:
Silly Fun Momma is a Non-traditional New Yorker, Mom of three boys, and Disabled Combat Veteran. She writes about pregnancy, children, education and related current events. She can be found on her blog or you can follow her on Twitter , Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reasons to Make Connecticut Your Next Travel Destination

Ah, Connecticut. We may be small, but we are mighty, entertaining, and quite delicious. There might be as many reasons to love CT as there are pizza places…but here are just a few wonderful reasons why Connecticut should be your next road trip destination.

1. We are home of the world’s best pizza.
Look no further, pizza-lovers. We are home to Pepe’s pizza, where you’ll find the famous white clam pie and plenty of other innovatively delicious toppings to choose from. If thin-crust is more your style, try the Tomato Pie from Sally’s Apizza. After six years unable to eat or drink, check out how PIZZA changed my life.
2. Take a hike with breathtaking views.
According to a Native American Legend, a disturbing spirit was put to sleep, and voila, a great hiking mountain, Sleeping Giant was created. Drive north and you’ll discover a magnificent mountain to climb – a giant, natural, sleeping beauty. (This is my painting "Blushing Tree")

Nature is the most healing way rediscover yourself. Learn how to find your self in nature here

3. Bijou Theatre: 

This relic is one of the oldest buildings used as a movie house in the country. See a movie, musical, drama or comedy night and order in pizza from Two Boots next door. 


I got to perform my own musical, Gutless and Grateful, here in 2013. I’m partial to theatre – I’ve been in love with words and music for as long as I can remember, and after my own decade of trauma, I wrote a one-woman musical about my life to help others. 

4. See fine art: 

The Bruce Museum in Greenwich is a world-class institution with acclaimed art in its permanent galleries, and constantly changing, innovative traveling exhibits. 


As an artist, Connecticut is brimming with fine art, creativity and nurturing resources for anyone with a desire to be creative! Check out some of my art here. 

5. International Festival of Arts and Ideas: 

Every year for 15 days, New Haven is alive with music, lectures, entertainment, and artistic inspiration. Even better, most of the events are free!


It’s like CT’s own version of a TEDx talk! I was thrilled to give a TEDx talk last month. You can learn some of my secrets for “getting” a TEDx talk here!  

Stop by! I’m a proud to be born and bred in Connecticut. As much as I love touring the country with my speaking, mental health programs and performances, the best part is being able to come back home!

About the Author
Amy Oestreicher B&W 2006Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, survivor, award-winning actress, and playwright, sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, mixed media art, performance and inspirational speaking.
As the creator of the Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman autobiographical musical, she's toured theatres nationwide, along with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awarenes and Broadway Theatre for college campuses.
To celebrate her own “beautiful detour”, Amy created the #LoveMyDetour campaign, to help others thrive through difficulties.
As Eastern Regional Recipient of Convatec’s Great Comebacks Award, she's contributed to over 70 notable online and print publications, and her story has appeared on NBC's TODAY, CBS, Cosmopolitan, among others.
She has devised workshops for conferences nationwide, and is this year's keynote speaker for the Hawaii Pacific Rim International Conference on Diversity and Disability. Learn more: and follow her on Twitter Instagram and Facebook.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fall in Love with Pittsburgh, PA

When I signed up to do the Pennsylvania post on this virtual tour of the United States, I decided to talk about one place I think everyone should visit. A place I'm an expert and a novice on all at once. The place that makes my soul soar and my heart sing. That place is the former steel Titan of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

My family is Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh is my family. I mean that in the most honest and true way possible. My grandfather is second generation born in the US. He was born in Pittsburgh. This only happened because US Steel, his future employer, employed his grandfather. He lost his arm in an accident at work. So they paid him and he brought the rest of his family over from now-Slovakia.

We've been here since.

Every generation of my family has at least one member who works for or with US Steel. From my great-great-grandfather to my cousin who works at US Steel's Pittsburgh headquarters now. Our grandfather was on the crew that rolled the specialty steel sheets that cover the building he works in every day. This is normal here.

Photo credit: Joseph Guzy

Pittsburgh isn't a fancy place. We've been known for hard-nosed football and sandwiches covered in coleslaw and French fries for too long to pretend otherwise. No one signed the Declaration of Independence here. We were never the capital of the United States. And for decades the steel production industry left its mark on the environment in the worst way possible.

But that was then.

Now, during the year Pittsburgh is coincidentally celebrating its bicentennial, we are one of the fastest growing American cities. 

Steel plants have been converted into robotics labs by infamous Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh research programs. Google has a home in the old Nabisco factory. There is also a prototyping lab in that complex, aptly named Bakery Square, where makers can tinker for fun or profit. Our museums are growing, bursting at the seams with new visitors. We have America's most cost-friendly ballpark according to tripadvisor and baseball's best organization according to Baseball America in 2015. The cost of living is affordable, the neighbors are more than welcoming in most places as our appearances on lists like most livable and LGBTQ friendly illustrate. And most recently the food scene has exploded with Andrew Zimmer calling the Steel City one to watch for foodies.  

A city that in 2000 looked to be all but finished has turned it around. But how? Because of the people. 

I often say here in Pittsburgh we are a city that never got the memo that we are a city. People here in many places know everyone on their street. There are neighborhoods that look like they belong in the 60's complete with the old style signs outside the barbershop and glass coke bottles in their fridges. There are still corner stores where you buy assorted "penny" candy that they put in a little brown bag. They're not trying to be vintage or hipster either, that's just who they've been for so long it's part of the culture. In a time when being old or "vintage" is cool again Pittsburgh has that going for it.

The architecture of everything from the original Fort Pitt structure to the first jail and courthouse scream old while new is retrofitted on every corner by the many local college graduates who come for one of the half a dozen higher education institutions, fall in love and never leave.

 Photo credit: Joseph Guzy

We've found a way, in the past 16 years, to simultaneously honor what came before while embracing the future. That's what makes this place truly special. 

Last year, I toured an art gallery specializing in art from a particular neighborhood of Pittsburgh known as the North Side or Allegheny City. There, they used new technology to help restore and preserve photos from their neighborhood. They used this technology to put the bright, accurate colors of a neighborhood street into a black and white photo displayed prominently in their gallery.  
And just because we're not fancy doesn't mean we aren't proud. There are shirts that say City of Champions on every corner while one that reads "Is this heaven? No it's Pittsburgh" is sold on a popular local T-shirt site. 

We hold the distinction of being the only major North American city where all of our professional sports teams wear the same colors. This unity runs beyond a sport or team but to the city itself as the black and gold color scheme was chosen off of the city's official flag. There is a reason most of the bridges in my city are painted gold. And yes, that's another thing to love about this crazy city. The "City of Bridges" does, in fact, have more bridges than Venice, Italy. 

 Photo credit: Joseph Guzy

Come to Pittsburgh and you'll see it all from polka bands to food trucks selling fresh sushi. Because in this town, like our signature Primanti Brothers sandwiches, we really just love to put things together you didn't know you wanted together until they were put together. That's what Pittsburgh is too, the city you didn't know you were in love with until it was too late to stop. But don't worry, the city will love you right back.  

About the Author
Leah M. Blasko is a life long Pennsylvanian. She was born in Pittsburgh when she was named after the Donnie Iris song. She graduated in 2013 with a bachelors in Public Relations from The Pennsylvania State University. Currently, she works for Little League International, writes about Hockey and covers Pittsburgh City Life for "The Point of Pittsburgh." 

Find me on Social Media: 
@seeyaleah on Twitter 
@seeyaleah_13 on Instagram 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tips for Your Trip to Tennessee

I fell in love with Tennessee when I was in college.  My now-husband went to school at Belmont University and I made the 8-hour drive from Columbia, SC to Nashville at least once a month.

There’s just something about it.  Tennessee is beautiful.  Peaceful.  But there are also endless things to do, whether you like nature, or love nights out on the town.  So even though I’ve lived in Nashville for three years now, I still love it just as much.

And I want to share with you some of my favorite things to do and see in Tennessee.  I think you’ll come to love it as much as I do!


I live in Nashville so, I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased towards my city.  I’ve always said that it feels like a small town, but has all the benefits of a big city.  And the people that live here are amazing, full of dream and ambition.  It’s the kind of place where you run into celebrities at your favorite coffee shop, and they say ‘hello’ as they walk by.  

Here are a few of my favorite Nashville things to do:

Frothy Monkey:  If you’re looking for amazing coffee, and great local food, Frothy Monkey is the place to go!  I even attribute this little coffee shop as one of the reasons that I ended up moving to Nashville. The ingredients are all local and, in fact, many of their vegetables come from their own garden.  The lattes are to die for; try the white monkey mocha if you stop by – it’s not on the menu, but is a classic!  I’ve also run into Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman five or six times here, so keep an eye out!

The Escape Game:  The Escape Game is a really great activity for groups and families.  Similar to the Internet-based escape games, you get locked in a themed room and have to figure out a way to escape based on clues.  Your goal is to escape within an hour!  

Opryland Hotel:  Even if you don’t stay at Opryland, it’s worth a visit.  You see, Opryland isn’t just a normal hotel; it has an atrium, complete with waterfalls, a running river (with a boat tour) and a jungle – all inside the hotel!  Not convinced?  It’s also home to 17 amazing restaurants, some great shopping, and one of the best spas in town.

Broadway:  If you’re looking for local music without the expense of the Grand Ole Opry or the lines of the Bluebird CafĂ©, head down to Broadway Street.  Amazing local musicians and undiscovered talent play at the dozens of bars and restaurants lining this street.  You’re guaranteed to hear some great music!  Make sure check out Jack’s BBQ, the Goo Goo Cluster Shop, and the famous Tootsie’s!  

Percy Warner Park:  If you’re a nature lover, Percy Warner Park is a must-see!  Take your car through the road that winds through the Brentwood hills; you’ll see some deer along the way, with some gorgeous views.  There are picnic areas, horseback riding areas, and amazing running trails.  Percy Warner is also the home to the annual Iroquois Steeplechase!  And, when you come out on the other side, you’ll drive through the Belle Meade area, with some of the wealthiest homes in Nashville.

Franklin:  A short drive from downtown Nashville, the little town of Franklin is known for its festivals.  People drive hundreds of miles for “A Dickens of a Christmas”, “Main Street Fest” and “Pumpkin Fest”!  Even if you’re not around for one of these traditions, downtown Franklin is packed with local shops and restaurants.  Make sure to stop by Puckett’s for delicious Southern food!

M Street Restaurants:  M Street is a local, Nashville company with some of the best restaurants in town.  You can’t go wrong eating at one of their establishments!  At Whiskey Kitchen, try the wicked calamari, Kayne Prime burger, and blackberry Bellini.  And if you’re in the mood for fine dining, Kayne Prime has outstanding thick-cut bacon (with maple cotton candy!), Wagyu filet, and risotto tater tots.

Grimey’s:  If you’re searching for music, Grimey’s is the place to go.  You’ll get lost in the hundreds of CDs and vinyls in this historical record shop!  And make sure to go downstairs to the Basement to catch a local artist, or a passing-through celebrity!

Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish:  Nashville hot chicken has become a must-try around here.  If you’ve been looking through the guidebooks, you’ve probably seen Prince’s or Hattie B’s listed.  Well, I would recommend heading to Big Shake’s instead!  Founded by Chef Big Shake, from Shark Tank, they serve the best hot chicken around.  Choose between chicken or fish, select your level of heat, and then dive into fried deliciousness with white bread to soak up the juices!

Love Circle:  Head to Love Circle for some of the best views of downtown Nashville.  The winding, hilly road is worth the drive, I promise!  Bring a picnic blanket and settle into this beautiful park just in time for the sunrise.  The views are unbeatable.  

Other Tennessee:

Even though I’m biased towards Nashville, there are definitely plenty of other places to check out in Tennessee!  Here are a few of my favorites:

Chattanooga:  This is the perfect place for outdoor-lovers!  Make sure to check out Ruby Falls, named one of the ten most incredible cave waterfalls in the world.  Go hang gliding on Lookout Mountain, and take the famous incline railway back down the mountain.

Fall Creek Falls:  One of my favorite state parks in Tennessee, Fall Creek Falls has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Southeast.  If you can spend a few days there, book one of the cabins overlooking the lake.  Spend your time fishing from your private porch, exploring the waterfalls, and zip lining down the mountainside.

Lynchburg:  I make a trip out to Lynchburg every few months just to see the seasons change!  Home of the Jack Daniels’ Distillery, the town has a lot to offer even if you’re not a whiskey fan.   The free tour of the distillery is worth it, just to see the gorgeous Tennessee landscape!  And if you do like Jack Daniels, the whiskey tasting tour is amazing!  Then, check out little downtown Lynchburg to see the local general stores.


As you can see, Tennessee has a lot to offer, whether you love music, food, or nature!  I would really encourage you to make a trip over here if you ever have the chance.  You’ll fall in love with it, just as I did!

About the Author:
Kathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, as well as social media manager, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do.