Get to Know the Real Nashville

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It happened seemingly overnight. ABC’s television drama, “Nashville”, premiered in 2012 to 8.93 million viewers followed shortly thereafter by a New York Times piece crowning Nashville as the new “it” city. Fast forward to 2019 and the city continues its rapid growth, averaging 90 people moving to Nashville a day. This record-setting population boom has brought its share of successes and challenges. For one, Nashville has an endless array of top chef worthy restaurants with new spots opening each week. But then some of the downsides include a downtown that caters to tourists and an infrastructure struggling to hold the increased volume of traffic.

However, regardless of the challenges we locals might experience, Nashville is an exciting city to visit with lots of great dining options, fun drinking spots, and plenty to see and do. Planning a trip to Nashville? Read on to see my recommendations for truly experiencing the real Nashville, the city that exists beyond the neon lights and honky tonks of Broadway.

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Kentucky Derby Tips for First Timers

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The hats. The dresses. The horses. The roses. This what comes to mind when you think of the Kentucky Derby. But how do you prepare for actually attending the Derby? How do you know what to wear, bring, or expect? Step One – ask a veteran! This year I had the privilege of attending the 145th Kentucky Derby and, while I won’t proclaim expert status, I learned a lot in my first year’s attendance and am happy to share a few tips for first-timers.

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Visiting the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

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New York City is famous for many reasons — Lady Liberty, world-renowned chefs, Central Park, Empire State Building, Times Square, Pizza, 5th Avenue, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the list could go on and on. But perhaps, in my mind, the most important and symbolic of the resilience and sacrifice  of the people of New York is the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Created in honor of the 2,977 people killed in the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001, the memorial and museum was a must-see during my last trip to NYC.

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Navigating Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival

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Happy to be here! Hello, Epcot!

Now in its 23rd year, Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival is, in my personal opinion, the best time to visit Disney’s third oldest theme park. Beginning in 1995, the Food & Wine Festival features expertly created tasting dishes and international wines from various countries around the world.

Epcot is perfectly designed for this type of event, with its own global marketplace featuring 11 countries set up around a central lagoon inside the park. During the Festival, Epcot adds additional countries to its regular lineup with unique tasting options and drinks at each. While the weekends are often the more crowded time to visit, they also offer the most events and activities. The Festival hosts culinary demonstrations, live performances, celebrity chefs, food seminars, and special dining offerings, most of which are scheduled for weekends.

While in Orlando for a work conference, I planned a visit to Epcot to attend this year’s Festival. It’s been on my travel list for a while now and I was excited for the opportunity to attend this year. My time, though limited, was maximized by devising a plan to prioritize the Festival’s offerings. Unfortunately none of the Festivals’ unique food or beverage selections are included in your ticket to the park. The food generally ranges from $4-$8 and drinks averaged about $6 each.

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These are a few of my favorite things [Asheville Edition]

P9010632.jpgIn just two short visits, Asheville has quickly become one of my favorite places to explore. A 4.5 hour drive from Nashville, Asheville has a small town feel with all the attractions of a large city.

On our first visit, Andrew and I spent much of our time downtown eating and enjoying the many breweries Asheville has to offer. On our second trip however, we built in more variety by including hiking, neighborhood exploring, and fine dining to the itinerary.

Read on – there’s much to explore!

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How to Spend a Long Layover in Boston

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Long layovers are my favorite, or, at least the long layovers that allow you time to explore a cool destination. Enter Boston. While this wasn’t my first visit to Boston, it was easily my shortest visit. I enjoyed a 9-hour layover in this historic city with a few ideas in mind and an adventurous spirit. Here’s how I spent a perfect Saturday afternoon in one of the oldest cities in America.

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Explore New Orleans Like a Local

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I chose to live in New Orleans for six glorious years. New Orleans is real, gritty, crazy, violent, and beautiful. There really is nothing like it. The people are warm and friendly, oozing with southern hospitality and the streets are filled with vibrant colors and deep potholes. It’s a place where many people go to party and a place that anyone who has ever been holds near to their heart. It is a special place and a difficult place and that is how I will always describe it. I love this city.

In the words of the late Anthony Bourdain, “In America, there might be better gastronomic destinations than New Orleans, but there is no place more uniquely wonderful. So I would say New Orleans. With the best restaurants in New York, you’ll find something similar to it in Paris or Copenhagen or Chicago. But there is no place like New Orleans. So it’s a must see city because there’s no explaining it, no describing it. You can’t compare it to anything. So, far and away New Orleans.”

I am often asked for recommendations – where to eat and what to do – for New Orleans and I am happy to share. Rather than continuing to craft a list over and over again, I am sharing my recommendations here — How to explore New Orleans like a local.

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