Ultimate Southern Road Trip: Loews Vanderbilt Hotel

Sometimes, a girl really needs a vacation. Sometimes, a staycation is even better. Filling a weekend with activities in your own backyard is only complete with a stay at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. Two nights and three days filled with luxury accommodations and local enjoyment is a perfect combination to relax and reset without ever leaving town.

STAY: Just a short drive from downtown Nashville is a haven of luxury and relaxation. Loews Vanderbilt Hotel offers the ultimate upscale travel experience. The rooms are beautifully eccentric, decorated with inspired nods to Music City’s rich history. Minutes from the city’s most renowned attractions, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel houses elegant lounges, a fitness center, outdoor patio, and much more, all with Southern charm and sophistication. After completing a recent $17 million dollar renovation, this epic hideaway is absolutely refined. Suite views of the blooming Vanderbilt University campus or downtown skyline complete the effortless feel of this Nashville oasis. Even better? Loews Vanderbilt Hotel is pet-friendly, too!

FRIDAY NIGHT: Located in the lobby, Mason’s is the perfect location for the weekend’s first dinner. Showcasing Southern cuisine, every item on the menu is filling, rich and delicious. I recommend opening with a refreshing cocktail and the larder board’s mix of sweetgrass dairy brie, Alabama goat cheese, fig jam and more. For entrees, don’t miss the diver scallops with lady pea succotash, pork belly and corn milk soubise. Yum! To finish, make sure you devour one of the speciality desserts. You can never go wrong with a light, fluffy crepe with fresh blackberries.

Use the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel complimentary car service - a shiny new Mercedes GL450 SUV - to head downtown for a nightcap. Start at Acme Feed & Seed and soak up the view of Lower Broadway before the line gets too long. If the line is around the block, head to Rock Bottom next door for an equally-wonderful view with a slightly smaller crowd. Wander up and down Printer’s Alley, people-watching and bar-hopping between Bourbon Street, Kelli’s and Fleet Street. Meet your taxi at the end of Broadway, taking your time to stop in a few historic honky-tonk joints before closing out the evening.

SATURDAY MORNING: Roll out of bed and head right downstairs to the in-hotel fitness center, open 24 hours. You’ll work off your dinner from the night before without ever leaving the premises. Freshen up and start the day at Mason's with a breakfast cocktail and Persian frittata with shaved asparagus, dried cherries and chick pea smash. You’ll be awake and ready to fill your afternoon with local activities.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON: One of Nashville’s most celebrated locations for a sunny afternoon is the Cheekwood Art Museum & Botanical Gardens. This particular weekend housed two exhibits on the grounds: Steve Tobin’s Southern Roots sculpture showcase and Cheekwood In Bloom!, the remarkable display of thousands of tulips across the entire garden. What a sight!

With so many craft breweries popping up in town, a stop at Jackalope Brewing Company for a private tour and tasting is absolutely necessary. You’ll quench your thirst from the garden walk and learn the story of this local brewery. You’ll taste seasonal and year-round small batch beers, and you’ll never forget the anecdote behind this company’s name. Worth a laugh!

In need of something to nibble, head straight to Olive & Sinclair in East Nashville. The final tour of the day is welcomed when you smell the scent of freshly baked chocolate upon entry. As Tennessee’s first and only bean-to-bar chocolate company, you’ll learn the history and importance of Southern artisan chocolate-making. Yes, there’s plenty of chocolate to taste throughout the tour. If you haven’t spent part of your afternoon in their location, an old grocery store built in 1890, you’re missing out.

SATURDAY NIGHT: Once again, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel houses a wonderful location for evening entertainment. After stopping by the room, order one of the many delicious craft cocktails available at Mason Bar. Located in the hotel lobby, Mason Bar is a traditional Southern “Public House.” Every cocktail is a modern twist of pre-prohibition favorites, and the bar has become a new Nashville neighborhood watering hole.

Hopefully you’re hungry. Nashville’s restaurant community is ever-changing and growing at a very rapid rate. Le Sel is a New French cuisine restaurant, one block off the busy streets of the Midtown neighborhood. Offering a raw bar and robust cocktail and wine list, you’ll munch on traditional French fare in a playful, casual atmosphere. Start with the onion soup and steak tartare. For the main dish, I recommend the halibut with sauce vert, spring lettuces and pickled mustard. With a cocktail and conversation, you’ll be feeling full and satisfied.

SUNDAY MORNING: You might wake up feeling a little exhausted from a fun-filled weekend. Loews Vanderbilt Hotel brings the workout to your room. Call down to the concierge for equipment hand-picked by Nashville-based fitness expert and trainer-to-the-stars Erin Oprea. Her new fitness program, Balance with Erin Oprea, is a full workout you can do in the comfort of your room. She’s also the influence on athlete-inspired dishes at Mason’s and guilt-free, healthier cocktails during happy hour.

Brunch in Nashville is a serious matter. Your choices are endless, but sometimes, the exciting approach is the way to go. Chauhan Ale & Masala House is new to town, but it packs a punch you’ll never forget. Start your meal with the Wild Nothing cocktail. It’s simple with earl grey vodka, cranberry cordial and bubbles, but you’ll need the minimalistic drink to balance the upcoming courses. Do not miss the masala daba and tandoori bread. The freshly baked naan is exceptional, and the ever-changing lineup of chutneys and flavored butters will leave you wondering if you should have just ordered this dish as your meal. Try the completely addictive bacon chicken deviled eggs, and for your main plate, sink your teeth into the breakfast parantha taco with vindaloo sausage, scrambled eggs, malaysian parantha, provel cheese, kachumber and mango mint chutney. Oh. My. Brunch.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON: With a few hours of daylight left, don’t ignore the city’s local calendar. There are always free events at the local parks, complete with music, food trucks, vendors and more. This particular weekend was Project 615’s Nash Spring Bash at Centennial Park. With a live broadcast from Nashville’s independent radio station, Lightning 100, the day delivered an impressive musical lineup, popular local food trucks and over 30 local business vendors showcasing jewelry, screen-printing, pottery and more.

After a sunny walk around the park, the weekend came to a relaxing end at Adagio. After a glass of champagne and a 1-hour Swedish massage from Adagio’s very sweet staff, you’ll head home feeling refreshed and reset, and you never even had to leave town.

Be sure to follow along as the Ultimate Southern Road Trip continues tomorrow with Caroline Eubanks of Caroline in the City as she explores the must-sees in one of the South’s fastest growing cities – Atlanta! On June 20, you can also enter to win your own Ultimate Southern Road Trip with Loews Hotels & Resorts or book your own stay at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

John Branam Photography

Clothing provided by Castilleja Nashville

Shoes provided by Freebird by Steven

Bags provided by Ceri Hoover

Activewear provided by Neighborhood Barre