6 Non-Music Things To Do In Nashville

7 Non-Music Things To Do In Nashville
Music City isn’t just all about the music

Nashville – the home of all things country music. In fact, just try mentioning the place without someone saying Dolly Parton or Kenny Rogers and see how far you get. It’s the Mecca of country music and for many fans, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see where the magic takes place. But for every avid country music fan visiting the Grand Ole Opry or the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, there’s a family member that’s tagging along and quite possibly bored out of their mind. 

Well, thankfully Nashville isn’t just the home of country music. It’s actually a pretty great city to visit with plenty of things to do. So forget Dolly and Kenny (yeah that’s not going to happen is it?), from checking out giraffes to playing a hand of Texas Holdem, here are 6 great non-music related things to do in Nashville.

Head To The Zoo

Yes, there’s a zoo in Nashville. Well, it’s located in Grassmere, about 6 miles from Downtown but if you have a car, then it’s pretty close. The zoo is one of the best in the area and is home to around 339 species of animals. 340 if you include the visitors. There are over 6,000 individual animals and they are all really well looked after.

What’s great about this zoo is that it’s laid out in such a way that it’s incredibly easy to get around not to mention relaxing. Did you know that it is the state of Tennessee’s most popular paid attraction? That’s a record not to be sniffed at considering that the Country Music Hall of Fame is just down the road. If animals are your thing, then this should definitely be on your itinerary. 

Hitch A Ride To A Casino

There are no casinos in Nashville so if you want to go all Kenny Rogers and play some poker like the Gambler (sorry, musical reference!) then you have to hitch a ride out of state. It’s such a popular thing to do that there are companies that organize luxury transport from Nashville directly to the poker tables of Harrah’s or Tropicana Casino. They pick you up in the morning and drop you back in the evening. You can play everything from slot machines to roulette but there’s only one game you should be playing and we all know that’s poker, right?

Now, you may think you know how to play poker and maybe you do. But for those of you that think it’s all about luck, we’ve got news for you – It ain’t! Poker is a game of strategy and you’re not going to get anywhere playing your cards close to your chest and throwing what you think is a poker stare at your opponents. Nope, if you want to hold your own at the table, then you’ll really want to have at least a basic understanding of the rules and hand values. If you want to try your luck, then stick with the slots!

Learn About Science

7 Non-Music Things To Do In Nashville
The Center is situated on a hill overlooking the city

Photo credit: Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Science rocks but you already know that. What you probably don’t know is that Nashville is home to the Adventure Science Center. This is a non-profit science museum that is actually a place for people of all ages to learn about the wonders of science. Here you can learn about beekeeping, have fun in the adventure tower, pick up some interesting facts about space and the universe, or sit outside in the Galactic Gardens. The best activity though has to be Virtual Reality. That’s so much fun and well worth a look. 

Even if science isn’t really your thing, the center is a great place to go as the views of the city are pretty spectacular. Nah, forget that, this place is amazing, so get back inside and check out the planetarium or one of the many temporary exhibits that are held throughout the year. 

Visit Andrew Jackson’s Plantation

You know Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the US? Yes, that Andrew Jackson. Well, his former plantation is called The Hermitage and is located and easy ten-mile drive from Downtown Nashville. You may be wondering why you’d want to visit what is essentially and old farm but the thing is, The Hermitage is so much more than a plantation. 

This is a chance to step back in time and learn about the inner workings of the former president’s plantation. There are guided tours that take you through the plantation and the museum, while you can also wander around a bit yourself if you’re feeling a little more adventurous. If you’re feeling tired from all that country music stuff you’ve been doing downtown, then there’s a nice wagon tour that’s highly recommended. 

Gawk At Old Cars

7 Non-Music Things To Do In Nashville
Some of the incredible cars in the Lane Motor Museum

Photo credit: Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

If you like old cars and motorbikes, then you’re going to love Lane Motor Museum. It’s a non-profit museum established by Jeff Lane in 2002. He’s a local car enthusiast who loves nothing more than finding old cars and restoring them to their former glory. 

The museum is home to over 150 cars and motorcycles and the largest collection of European cars in the United States and known as one of the top car museums in the country. You’ll find cars there from all over the world and there are even a few old prototypes that never went into production. Their claim to fame at this museum is that every car and motorcycle in the building is in perfect working order. Even for non-car enthusiasts, it’s quite an interesting way to spend an afternoon. 

The Honorable Mention

The honorable mention has to go to Madame Tussauds. Even though the Nashville location is pretty much totally musically-orientated, it’s a fine spot for some fun and photos. Yeah, I know this is supposed to be non-music stuff but where else can you get a photo of Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Katy Perry? They even have Bono, too.

So there you have it. Whether it’s a day trip to the casino for a few hands of poker, or an afternoon spent checking out the largest collection of European cars on this side of the Atlantic, there are plenty of things to do in Nashville that don’t revolve around the Grand Ole Opry. Now, there’s no excuses for being bored even if country music isn’t your thing.




6 Music Themed Restaurants In Myrtle Beach

6 Music Themed Restaurants In Myrtle Beach

On Thursday I am headed back to Myrtle Beach to go to Carolina Country Music Fest. Last year was my first time attending and I tried to keep the restaurants music related to make it a whole themed trip. Because I am cool like that. If you are like me, and I might be making your acquaintance at this year’s music festival, be sure to check out my favorite music themed restaurants in Myrtle Beach and plan your food festivities accordingly.

6 Music Themed Restaurants In Myrtle Beach

Hard Rock Cafe – If you haven’t been to Myrtle Beach in a few years, you might not know that Hard Rock Cafe changed locations. They used to be in the pyramid building but now they are at Broadway at the Beach. I asked why they moved and was told that they are trying to streamline the look of the Hard Rock Cafes, to make them more uniform, so that the focus can be more on the music. So RIP pyramid and hello brand new Hard Rock Cafe.

I always buy and/or trade souvenir pins when I go to Hard Rock Cafe and now have quite the collection. Unfortunately, I never got one at Gatlinburg before they closed down that location, so if any of you want to hook me up with one, I sure won’t be saying no. 😉

Wahlburgers – I remember when I went to Coney Island a few years ago and laid my eyes on my first Wahlburgers [a franchise co-owned by Paul, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg]. It wasn’t completed yet but I had been watching the show [still do] so I was at least familiar with the franchise. Fast forward to last year and I finally got to eat at one – in Myrtle Beach. If you are able to make it, be sure to order something with “government cheese.” Soooo good.

And for any of you who might not consider this restaurant to be “music themed” I beg to differ. Who can forget about New Kids On The Block and Marky Mark? In the restaurant, you’ll find tons of memorabilia from their music days [as well as their acting careers] hanging around for you to peruse.

House Of Blues – Some of my absolute favorite memories of Myrtle Beach include House of Blues. I remember one time, a few years ago, leaving for Myrtle Beach kind of late and being really exhausted when we finally got there. So, we headed over to House of Blues for the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater and then we hung around to listen to the Journey tribute band that was playing afterwards. It was the perfect way to relax after a 5 hour car ride.

And last year during Carolina Country Music Fest, we tried out the Sunday Gospel Brunch for the first time. I know that many of you who are attending this year’s music festival will be looking for Sunday church. Why not go to House of Blues? There you will find amazing gospel music singers and a buffet full of fantastic southern food. If you really want to immerse yourself in southern culture, be sure to try chicken and waffles. It was a first for me [even though I am from the south] and I left a fan.

Margaritaville – Anytime I travel, I make it a point to stop by Margaritaville. And, after years of promising me they would soon have them available for purchase, they finally have souvenir pins. I believe I now have pins from both the Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach locations. But I will be checking my pin collection before I head out to make sure. Otherwise I will be picking up one on this trip.

Anyway, who doesn’t love Jimmy Buffett? Even if you don’t love his music, if you are headed to a beach, you are probably down with his vibe. Seriously though, if you don’t love “Come Monday” can we even be friends?

The Bowery – I mean, come on people! How can you go to the 5th annual Carolina Country Music Fest, where Alabama will be playing Thursday night by the way, without going to The Bowery? Did I mention it’s Alabama’s 50th year and they got their start at the legendary Bowery. Plus, it’s located right next to the music festival. So, if you aren’t driving, you don’t even have to worry about paying the Uber fare. Just walk on over. Convenience. I got you. 😉

I stopped in last year and you can trust that I will stop in again this year. Who knows? Alabama might even drop by The Bowery, too!

Dave and Buster’s – I am throwing Dave and Buster’s in, too, because they have music themed games and the TVs play music videos that you can watch while eating. So, even though it might not be predominately music themed, they offer enough that I think all of you music aficionados will still really enjoy the atmosphere there. Plus, they have really good food and offer money saving deals on food and game combos. I recommend joining their email list for specials.

And did I mention cocktails? Dave and Buster’s has some super fun drinks to choose from, too, many that come with fun monsters on the side! Yes, I am an overgrown child. 😉

These are just some of the music themed restaurants that I have tried out in Myrtle Beach and, of course, I haven’t been everywhere. Do you have a favorite to suggest that I missed? I’d love to hear about it if you do!h

Still don’t have your tickets for Carolina Country Music Fest? What the heck, people? Get on it already before they run out and you are left sitting at home, watching my Instagram for updates!

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

A couple of weekends ago, I went to the inaugural Epicenter Music Festival [RIP Carolina Rebellion] in Rockingham, NC. It was my first time camping at a music festival and I really enjoyed the chance to experience it. Even though much of the festival was shut down due to severe weather, I met all kinds of cool people and also some weirdos as one typically does at any public event. It was definitely the music festival where I learned the most and I wanted to share these things below for those of you who may be venturing out to your own festivals this summer.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

I Really Dig Motionless In White – I had never heard of the band, “Motionless In White” before this festival. But they looked cool and I thought I would catch their show and see what I thought. When they started singing “Necessary Evil,” I was like what…. they totally sampled Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party.” I really enjoy when acts do that and do it well. So, when I got home, I listened to that song a few more times and have to say, I really like it. Though I didn’t get to see many acts at Epicenter Music Festival, Motionless In White was definitely my favorite.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Rob Zombie [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

It’s Better To Bring Your Own Bathroom Facilities To A Festival – Porta potties are naaaaaaasty. And they are even nastier when people have been drinking. Waking up in the middle of the night having to pee is bad enough. But how many of you can guarantee you can walk like a mile away to the nasty porta potty before you have an accident? That doesn’t seem like a game I want to play. Also, showers at Epicenter Music Festival were $10 each. Mama don’t have that kind of dough. So solutions needed to be found.

I avoided all this drama by bringing my own way to bathe and use the restroom thanks to my friends at Bass Pro Shops! I had a really cool set up with the PUP [Portable Pop Up Tent] so the bathroom facilities weren’t in my tent. It was super easy to set up – I did it all by myself in just a few minutes. I staked it down and it held up great when the storm hit [more on that in a minute], receiving no damage at all.

Inside the pop up tent, I had a Cabela’s Camp Commode Camping Toilet. It just unfolds and you hook a bag under the bottom and go. I used the WAG Bag Kit. These bags are filled with something similar to kitty litter, I imagine, that turns whatever you do into a solid. When you are done, just throw the bag in the trash and that’s that. No getting lost in the middle of the night, trying to find a porta potty.

I highly recommend getting one of these set ups from Bass Pro Shops. Check out the rest of their camping gear and please let me know of other great camping supplies that this novice camper needs to pick up for my next music festival.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Photo courtesy Darren Menius

I Should Have Left My House Earlier – Epicenter Music Festival officially started on Friday [5/10] but you could get to the camp site on the Thursday before and take part in pre-festival fun [music, etc]. I fully intended to leave bright and early Thursday morning to head to Rockingham, but my neighbor was getting a roof put on her house and the noise was driving my dogs nuts so I didn’t want to leave them like that.

I finally left my house about noon on Friday. And this was a decision I would later regret. I stopped to pick up some things on the way and ended up making it to within 5 miles of the festival at 3:15pm, where traffic came to a complete stand still. By the time I got to Will Call to pick up my media passes and then to the camp site, it was 10:30 pm that night! I could have still seen Korn, but I was just too tired to bother at that point. I still had a fun day, though, as people seemed pretty chill in the stand still traffic. Several people were just walking around, chatting it up with others still in their cars. So I wasn’t “alone” for 7 hours. But it would have been better had I made better decisions. Though I have been to music festivals in the past, this was my first time camping, and this was a learning experience in better time management and decision making.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Killswitch Engage [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

There Is No Good Way Into Epicenter Music Festival – Having said that about my poor time management skills, I want to add that there is only one road into the festival grounds. One. So, of course, it wasn’t all my fault it took so long to get into the festival. I have seen many, many people talk about how Epicenter Music Festival should have planned for this traffic. I have to say though, this festival is at Rockingham Speedway. If they never worked on building better infrastructure when the race was still there, I am doubting they will now, so this may just be what we have to work with. So, again, it comes back to me leaving the house earlier.

Female Solo Travel Is Awesome – I set up my own tent [except for the top part – a kind gentleman in the tent next to mine got that for me]. It was my first time setting it up and I was making a simple mistake so I anticipate no more problems here forward. I packed my own car. I set up my own shower tent. I drove myself to the festival and took care of myself the entire weekend. All of this I did by myself, without having to wait on anyone else who might be late, without having to worry about what someone else wants to do, without having to think about anyone else at all. I have to admit, it was one of the most fun trips that I have ever taken because I could just do whatever I wanted without worrying about someone else and their needs the entire time. I just did me.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Photo courtesy Darren Menius

Always Strap Your Tent Down – When I set my tent up Saturday morning, it was beautiful and sunny. I am not an experienced camper [yet] so I consulted one of my neighbors asking if I should stake the tent down. He said that he didn’t feel that I needed to if I had heavy things inside weighing it down. So, I had a cooler in there a few other things and I thought that would be ok. It was not.

When the storm hit later that night, I almost lost my tent. Seriously, I caught it just as it was about to fly away. I then got out of my car [all this in the middle of the storm, of course] and tied the tent to my car door. Then I had to hang my arm outside of my car for like 10 minutes holding on to one of the tent rods to make sure it didn’t go adios. I have to say, my tent, given all of my idiocy [aka learning experience] held up like a beast! It suffered no damage at all! I highly recommend the Coleman 5-Person Instant Dome Tent for any of you inexperienced campers like me. You will make mistakes. You want the tent that can take it. Trust.

Frozen Apples Are The Bomb – I packed all of my own food for Epicenter Music Festival. Trying to keep in mind that things need to stay cold to last, I decided to freeze some apple slices before packing them in the cooler. I am not a huge apple fan, but I will definitely freeze some for my camping trips in the future. They are ridiculously tasty and refreshing on a hot day. Apples are WAY better frozen. Yum.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Foo Fighters [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

There Is No Safe Place When Severe Weather Strikes – Epicenter Music Festival was evacuated on Saturday night due to incoming severe weather. I have to admit, the sky didn’t look all that threatening when the warning came over the loud speakers, cutting off Black Label Society about 2 songs in. But I did as I was told, evacuating the festival and going back to my car as instructed.

Then all hell broke loose. Some say we had a tornado nearby. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that we had one crazy thunderstorm. I spent 10 or so minutes holding onto my tent for dear life while many others weren’t so lucky. There are some people who are now blaming Epicenter Music Festival for their inability to see bands [i.e. Tool] later that night. Personally, I am not going to die to see anyone. I really, really, really wanted to see Bush, who was supposed to play in the time slot during the evacuation but that’s the way it goes. Perhaps I will get my chance some other time.

I feel like if you are at a music festival [or any huge gathering of people] you are choosing to take certain risks. That’s just the way it is. Epicenter Music Festival can’t control the weather anymore than I can. And, even if I were at home, I couldn’t guarantee my safety if a tornado struck. It’s just reality. If we can’t live with this, then perhaps a music festival isn’t the place for us.

Check out my interview with 311’s Nick Hexum here.

Check out more of Darren Menius’ pictures from Epicenter Music Festival here.

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See The Harlem Globetrotters In Winston Salem & Greensboro!

Win 1 of 2 Harlem Globetrotters Family 4 Packs!Eat Play Rock

I am on my way very soon to see the Harlem Globetrotters again and you can join me! Get your tickets and round up the family and head out to see the Harlem Globetrotters LIVE at either Winston Salem or Greensboro in March. And be sure to try your hand at WINNING some tickets below! TWO lucky Eat Play Rock readers will win a family 4 pack of Harlem Globetrotters tickets, one 4 pack each will be given away to the shows on 3/23 at LJVM Coliseum in Winston Salem and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro on 3/24. Be sure to enter on either 1 or BOTH of the rafflecopters below. Then be sure to hop over to Cheap Is The New Classy for ANOTHER chance to win! Good luck! [Read more…]

13 Things To Pack For A Music Festival

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

This post is intended for an audience of adults age 18 and older.

In my time, I have gone to hundreds of concerts. However, I have only attended the sporadic day at a couple of music festivals. I have never camped out or attended the entire festival until this year. A little over a week ago, I attended my first full music festival. I had so much fun that I will be attending at least 2 more this summer. With my first full music festival under my belt, I learned some things. So, all of you music festival newbies, today I am going to share with you what I feel you might want to pack for a music festival – starting with what type of sunscreen is allowed all the way to the Cue™ Vapor System. [Read more…]

My Experience At The Hangout Music Festival In Gulf Shores, Alabama

My Experience At The Hangout Music Festival In Gulf Shores, Alabama

A little over a week ago, I went to the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I posted on social media about it while I was there but thought I would share a recap here for those of you who might have missed it. I have been to Merlefest and the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention before but this was the first time I had attended a full on music festival of this size for the entire festival [though we didn’t make it to the pre-party]. My friends Avery, Wes and I road tripped from North Carolina [Wes and me] and Virginia [Avery] to Gulf Shores and Wes attended the music festival with me while Avery explored other parts of Gulf Shores and the surrounding areas. [Read more…]

Merlefest Day 2 Featured A Diverse Musical Lineup

Merlefest Day 2 Featured A Diverse Musical Lineup

Jamey Johnson [Photo Credit: Ryan Case]

Merlefest is in full swing right now on the campus of Wilkes Community College. This year features a really cool lineup of talented musicians including Jamey Johnson, Rodney Crowell, Brandy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Martin and many more. Here is the lowdown on what happened at the music festival on Friday. I will be there on Sunday so be sure to follow along on my social media channels! [Read more…]

Netflix’s Stranger Things Arrives At Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights #UniversalHHN

Netflix's Stranger Things Arrives At Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights #UniversalHHN

It seems like everywhere you look now, people are talking about Netflix’s Stranger Things. Well, if you are one of the show fanatics, you will be pleased to learn that Stranger Things will be part of Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror NIghts festivities this year in Hollywood, Orlando and Singapore. Read on to get all the details. [Read more…]

Hillbilly Fun At Hatfield And McCoy Dinner Feud

Hillbilly Fun At Hatfield And McCoy Dinner Feud

Saturday night, Wes and I went to the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud in Pigeon Forge, TN. It’s an all you can eat dinner show where you are immersed in the legend of the Hatfields and McCoys in a family friendly atmosphere. I had visited once before, but Wes never had, so I felt that he would really enjoy it just as I had previously. [Read more…]

Hard Rock Hotel Debuts Future Rock Star Suites At Universal Orlando Resort

Hard Rock Hotel Debuts Future Rock Star Suites At Universal Orlando Resort

I am so excited to share this news with you today. As many of you probably already know, I am all about some Hard Rock Cafes, but I haven’t gotten to stay at Hard Rock Hotel yet. I might have to make that a priority this year. Check out Hard Rock Hotel’s “Future Rock Star Suites” at Universal Orlando Resort. I gotta say, they look super cool!
[Read more…]