Welcome to part 2 of my trip to the USA! In part 1 I covered Houston, Dallas and Memphis, and you can read all about it here.
After our time in Memphis, the next stop on our journey was Nashville. We didn’t have much time to spend in Nashville so we left Memphis fairly early on the Saturday. This gave us time to leave our bags at the hotel and then do a bit of shopping. I picked up some brooches and a pair of vintage heels at the Hip Zipper, and then we strolled around the monthly market at the Fairgrounds where I hunted through boxes and bins to find 11 short beaded necklaces and 6 enamel brooches for a song! I wish we had a market back home as good as that one!
That evening we (of course) had to take a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. I had us staying at the Best Western Suites near Opryland so we were able to get a shuttle to the Opry and back from our hotel. We had no idea what to expect as we really don’t have country music in New Zealand, but it was a lot of fun and there was so much variety!
The next morning we shot a blog post at the Gaylord Opryland Resort (wayyyy out of our price range but super pretty) and then headed into town for the day. First we went to the Ryman Auditorium, which was the previous Opry until 1974. We then went round the Country Music Hall of Fame (which looks like a piano from the outside, so cool!) and the Johnny Cash museum. It worked out really well going to the Opry the night before because for all of these attractions if you present your Opry tickets or programme then you get a discount on your entry. We struggled with dinner options as nothing much was open on a Sunday but eventually ended up at Party Fowl for some fried chicken.
On Monday we were up bright and early for Dollywood! We decided we were going to do one theme park while we were in the States, and having always wanted to go to Dollywood I had to work it into our trip. While it was ‘on the way’ to our next stop of Atlanta it was still a 3.5 hour journey from Nashville, and I had also forgotten to factor in the time difference as we lost an hour travelling to Pigeon Forge! We dropped our bags in the hotel and headed over as quickly as we could. I had read that you could ‘do’ Dollywood in 6 hours so we had just enough time.
First of all, the park is beautiful! It’s up in the Smoky Mountains so there is heaps of greenery all around, and it’s set up like a not-so-little village. There’s plenty of rides but I was blown away by all the different types of food and shops there were, and each one sold something different – cinnamon buns, a diner, frozen lemonade, glass blown ornaments, leather boots, jams, the list goes on! There’s also the Chasing Rainbows museum filled with Dolly Parton memorabilia, and various live shows and movies running throughout the day.
We had enough time for the museum, a couple of shows, all of the ‘high thrill’ rides and about half of the ‘moderate thrill’ rides; I could have stayed longer but we certainly had enough time to get through everything we wanted to. It really helped as well that we went on a Monday, as there were no queues! I was especially proud of myself for going on all the fast rides as they are way scarier than we have at home. Luckily we started with the Lightning Rod (the world’s fastest wood coaster) as even though it was absolutely terrifying (seriously, I didn’t stop screaming), everything after that wasn’t quite so bad!
I had a got a package of 2 Dollywood day passes and a night in a nearby motel, and I’d chosen the Norma Dan Motel as that was the closest and had the best reviews. The next morning we went to the IHOP next door for breakfast and then drove into the neighbouring town of Gatlinburg. Here we found the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, which we’d been put onto by a guy we met at Sun Studio. And they sure did have a lot of shakers! Fruits and veges, birds and animals, celebrities, cars, superheroes – basically anything you can think of has been made into a salt and pepper shaker. Definitely worth a look if you’re passing through!
After our stop in Gatlinburg we had to drive through the Smokies to get to Atlanta. It was a lovely day with hardly a cloud in the sky, so the perfect day to see such a beautiful part of the country! We were in Atlanta by late afternoon and had to try Nancy’s Pizza for dinner. I hadn’t tried Chicago pizza before and it was amazing!
I wanted us to be really central in Atlanta, and it turned out the only central place for a reasonable price with carparking was the Downtown Motel 6. Out of all the places we stayed in this is the only one I wouldn’t recommend, but at least it was safe and convenient for the places we wanted to get to.
On Wednesday we went to the World of Coca Cola – Craig is a huge Diet Coke fan/addict but I think I was more excited for him than he was! Even though I don’t drink fizzy drinks it was really interesting; we learnt all about the history, got to see lots of memorabilia, watched heaps of Coke advertising, saw how it was bottled, and got to taste different Coke products from around the world.
In the afternoon we headed to the other side of the city to see the Center for Puppetry Arts. They had a huge Jim Henson exhibition so we got to spend the afternoon hanging out with our Muppet pals and watching old Jim Henson creations. So much fun!
That evening we went to Mary Mac’s Tea Room for an amazing (and huge) dinner! We tried some Georgia Peach Cobbler for dessert (delish) and had to buy a pack of their glorious cinnamon buns for the road!
Next stop: New Orleans! In a couple of weeks I’ll be covering the third and final part of my trip to the USA, so stay tuned!
Photo credits: a mixture of myself and @cmjsnz
Miss Hero Holliday