Twelve summers ago, I did a blog series on staycations in Nashville, my home of 30+ years. While there’s no more Pangea, Jackson’s, Las Paletas, Hermitage Cafe, or Rotier’s, sadly, we still are known for our “Music Under the Magnolias.” National Geographic named us the #1 City in the World to visit in June for the CMA festival (June 9-12), nearby Bonnaroo (June 16-19), and Full Moon Pickin’ Parties. Check out the calendar for live music at Nashville Scene.
Download my updated Nashville Guide below for staycations and vacations in my city, and read on for more ways to take a staycation in Nashville or wherever you live.
In the last 9 years, I’ve lived in six homes in three countries. Now I get up with the fishermen and my neighbor’s rooster. to see the sun rising on the Cumberland River/Old Hickory Lake. For the first time, I can see the sunrise, sunset, and moon from my outdoor space.
Summer (sing it like Andy Williams) is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Since I was five, I’ve started a new school year in August. Since I was five, I’ve been more excited about summer break. I love teaching at a university, loved teaching abroad, and have great memories of teaching in Nashville, Tennessee before that. But summer has always felt like FREEDOM because it provides TIME… to learn, to explore, to reconnect, to rest. Summer calls me to come out and play, to experience wonders at whim. I collect them …like lightening bugs in a jar…and see all that glows.
Traveling provides adventures and new perspectives. So can staying home.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust
Summer can provide a respite. With war abroad and at home, shootings, inflation, gas prices, and work/financial/health and/or relationship challenges, we need peace. Seeing your hometown in a different light (literally) can be surprising. Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time watching sunsets with locals and other travelers who gather on Florida’s western coast. Seeing the golden orb dip into the ocean, melt into the sea, and vanish from the horizon is magic to me. One day I hope to live near the ocean, but after living in Nashville 30+ years, I’ve realized over the last six weeks how beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and summer moons are here, too.
Slowing down and getting outside lowers blood pressure and heart rate. The sun provides Vitamin D for improved mood. Even 20 minutes in a green space makes us mentally happier and healthier. And bonus, it makes us more productive.
Here are 7 easy ways to slow down in Nashville or wherever you live this summer. DO try this at home.
1. Watch sunrises, sunsets, and full moons whenever, wherever possible.
In a world of so much flux, knowing the sun will rise and set daily is comforting. No two sunrises or sunsets are the same, a reminder that change in the hands of the Creator can be a beautiful thing. I’m reminded that the One who paints the heavens has got this. I pray for answers… miracles I need. Until answers come… even if they never come… I feel childlike wonder again and peace.
Other places to watch the sunrise and sunset in Nashville: Pedestrian Bridge, Acme Feed & Seed rooftop, Love Circle, Westin, Natchez Trace Bridge.
The higher the altitude, the better, but you may meet a scary bird with a a wingspan of more than 3 feet that lands on the branch of a giant oak and eyeballs you with a Meet the Parents Circle of Trust stare.
A student in my literature class,” The English Romantics and their Legacy: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Self-Discovery,”researched how walking in nature — particularly the UK’s Lake District — not only inspired the subjects and themes of William Wordsworth’s poetry but also charged his brain with the creativity needed to write it. Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and other writers at Brook Farm considered walking crucial for creativity. So did Charles Dickens. Psychology now supports the theory.
In my “Travel Tales” course I encourage writers do Photo Walks. I did my first Photo Walk in Marrakesh. With so much stimuli, it was a way to focus (literally). Walking and shooting arouses curiosity, jumpstarts creativity, and provides a way to remember details when writing later.
I checked out my new neighborhood in Old Hickory Village (below) just as I did when I moved to Marrakesh and Santo Domingo. Like always, I enjoyed finding historical homes, gorgeous gardens, and quirky yard and window decorations.
Other historic neighborhoods for a photo walk in or near Nashville: 12th South (see tea party below), East Nashville, Downtown Franklin. Best nature walks at Radnor Lake, Edwin Warner Park, Percy Warner Park.
3. Create a relaxing outdoor space (patio, porch, deck, balcony) or claim one (in a park or sidewalk cafe) for a staycation/home office.
Colorful fabric or pillows make me happy. Bird feeders invite fine feathered friends. Watching them makes me smile.
Grow something that looks, smells, and tastes good.
When the kids were little, we had three gardens and fifty roses in our yard. Apartment living meant downsizing to container gardens in Morocco, my cabin in the woods/cottage in the shire, and now. My last apartment was tucked away in a hollow in the hills, Ella and I were 5 minutes from walks at Edwin Warner Park and less than 10 minutes from Percy Warner Park and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. Deer, Canadian geese, ducks, chipmunks, and woodpeckers were regulars around our patio. But with all the trees, sun-loving plants didn’t do so well. This summer my garden has plenty of sun with a balcony facing east and north/west. So, I went a little crazy…
What to Plant
4. Invite friends over.
Whether serving burgers straight from the grill, Aperol Spritzes on a balcony while planning a trip to Italy, or cucumber sandwiches at High Tea on the terrace, making time to catch up with people who feed your soul makes life richer. Walking with friends to my favorite neighborhood restaurant works, too. Anywhere outside.
Southern hospitality comes in many forms. My friend Beth makes the best summer dishes from her backyard garden. Nora extends invitations to swim in her creek in Watertown and camp out on her farm for an anniversary throwdown.
In my summer newsletter (subscribe in popup on Home Page), I share recipes for outdoor gatherings. Carol Ashworth, Airbnb property owner (recommended in my Nashville guide), world traveler, and hostess of her much-loved Daffodil Tea Party, shares her mother’s Italian Cream cake recipe and more. Her soirées have included tributes to Queen Elizabeth who made history this year with 70 years of service. Celebrating the Platinum Jubilee, magnolia blossoms in bloom, or just the season for sitting in the shade and sipping Earl Grey, wine, or whisky from a teacup… Carol’s hosting tips are useful for all kinds of outdoor parties. I’ll also share tips on tea parties for children.
5. Make your bath a spa.
Note: There are affiliate links to Amazon products below (at no cost to the customer), and I only recommend what I’ve used and been pleased with myself.
- Soothing candle and essential oil scents for diffuser (patchouli, ylang ylang, orange blossom, jasmine, lavender are my favorites)
- Love the bath bombs made by Sprouts
- Jojoba and Almond oil for after bath
- Sounds from nature, guided meditations, or music from Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis… whatever floats your boat.
- These candles I haven’t tried, but I trust Verywell Mind.
6. Explore your city (or come explore ours).
A popular staycation post was the one below. The teacher in me still believes learning is fun. From Van Gogh to the American Artisan Festival to hanging out with old friends on the Big Screen in Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic Park Dominion, and Thor: Love and Thunder, summer can be educational and epic . I plan to do all of the above plus check out sail clubs near me for lessons.
If you have a film, see the extended June deadline to enter.
7. Il bel far niente. Discover what Italians call “the beauty of doing nothing.”
Lie beside a pool. Read or listen to a book, music, or guided meditation… nap on a porch swing, hammock, or quilt under a tree.
And if you aren’t in Nashville or are and want a private experience, you might try “Swimply.” I can’t recommend what I haven’t done myself, but this “Airbnb of pools” idea sounds interesting.