Thursday, June 29, 2017

CMA Fest: Tips, Tricks, and Other Tidbits

After three summers of being in Tennessee and just missing the festival for one reason or another, I finally made my way to CMA Fest in Nashville this past month. I wanted to share some tips & tricks that I found helpful in case anyone was looking to venture down!

  • Parking: If you are driving down, the cheapest parking that I found was $25, but parking ranged up to $60 per day.  $25 parking was located at the base of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge right by Nissan Stadium.  Underneath the Music City Convention Center was also $25 parking- this was where I parked every day.  Its really easy to get into and out of and it is right in the middle of everything so I could go back to my car for water, to drop stuff off, etc. whenever I needed to. Festivities don't start until 10, but I got there to park around 8 each day. I think getting there anytime after 8:30 you may struggle to get cheap parking.  That being said, there is a shuttle that transports people around Nashville, and certain hotels may have shuttles that venture downtown during the daytime hours. 
  • Food/Drinks: If you drive to downtown Nashville, you can easily bring your own food and beverage and store it in your car.  I would recommend bringing your beverages, but when in Nashville, eat like a Nashvillian! There is nothing better than Nashville food trucks. (Or I suppose you could eat on Broadway). There are a dozen food trucks with grub ranging from BBQ to tacos to ice cream to sno cones. Food prices ranged from $5 to $12, you could find bottled water from street venders for a buck, and soda for a couple dollars.  I think adult beverages were roughly 9 bucks a pop, but I stuck with water so I'm not entirely sure.


  • Fan Fair X: If you want to attend the meet and greets, see interviews with big stars at the CMA Close Up stage, or see performances at the Radio Disney Country stage, you have to get a ticket to Fan Fair X.  The most expensive ticket is $50 for all four days (Thursday-Sunday).  It gets you into the Fan Fair (located in the Music City Convention Center) each day, but also gives you early entrance to the Riverfront Stage and discounts to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium. (There may be more perks to this- I'm not an expert yet!) You can also buy daily passes to the fan fair for $10 each, or a four day pass for $25. I recommend you buy your passes plenty of time in advance so they can mail them to you! I didn't buy mine until the week up because I was going on a whim and wasn't making set plans which meant I had to wait in line at will call to pick them up AFTER the FFX opened. Lastly, the line starts at the door by about 7.  I got there after 8 one day and was quite a ways back, but got there around 7:30 another day and was maybe the 30th person in line. Bags do get checked here and you can't bring any of your own food or drink.

  • Meet and Greets: A lot of the really small artists do meet and greets in the FFX for anyone who gets in line.  The bigger artists (but not HUGE ones) you have to sign up ahead of time for.  There is a form you have to fill out around the end of May and submit it, then they will send you specific QR codes for the artists you get to meet. That being said, if you don't get a QR code for an artist you want to meet, or you're like me and don't realize you have to do this until after the deadline, they have "hopeful" lines that you can wait in and if everyone gets through the artists line before their time is up, they will bring in people from the "hopeful" line.  The bigger the artist, the earlier the line will start for them, and they will fill up QUICK! For example, Easton Corbin was signing at 11AM, I got in the hopeful line at roughly 9:50, and was probably the 25th person or so.  By 11AM there was easily 100 people in the hopeful line.  Depending on the booth, they get the lines through pretty quick, so if you have the patience to wait in line you will likely meet the artist. They're also pretty good about cutting off the hopeful line when they think its getting too long so you don't wait around for nothing.

  • Chevrolet Riverfront Stage: This stage is right down by the river across from Nissan Stadium.  The bigger artists perform here. The line starts for this stage by 8AM, but you will get in first at 9:30 if you have that $50 pass! Bags do get checked here and you can't bring any of your own food or drink. You can however bring a chair/blanket to set up to sit on.
Scotty McCreery on the Riverfront Stage
  • Chevrolet Park Stage: This stage is right across from the Country Music Hall of Fame in Music City Walk of Fame Park.  The smaller artists play here and throughout the morning and early afternoon it pretty much clears out between artists so it is easy to get to the front.

  • Other Stages: Cracker Barrel Stage is located at the Ascend Amphitheater and hosts free concerts.  Additionally, the big artists perform at Nissan Stadium each night which you will need to buy a separate ticket for.
  • CMAs: The actual Country Music Awards take place on Wednesday night and they broadcast them on screens in downtown Nashville. Additionally, they have a couple artists performing outside the venue throughout the night for the crowd to enjoy. You can see the stars come and go outside the venue before and after the ceremony! This year, Brothers Osborne and Kelsey Ballerini performed outside between the presentations of awards and Jason Aldean performed afterwards.

Tickets are already on sale for next year!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Visiting Nashville?

I've had a lot of people ask me for recommendations of things to do in Nashville, so as I move from Tennessee I wanted to compile a list of my favorite places (and other recommendations) to share with y'all!


There are a million and one AMAZING places to eat in Nash, so I've decided to organize them by meal.


  • Loveless Cafe: Loveless is not my favorite, but it is a Nashville staple.  Its an old motel turned restaurant.  There is usually a wait but there are plenty of shops to look at and outdoor seating to relax in as you wait.
  • Saint Anejo: another favorite! The brunch is amazing, but beware- the drinks are potent! Definitely plan to either have someone stay sober or take some escapades around The Gulch before you plan on driving anyway.
  • Proper Bagel: If you're looking for a light breakfast, I recommend Proper Bagel.  These have a variety of bagel sandwiches and other breakfast items. It is located near Belmont University- I learned this the hard way when I tried to go for the first time on graduation day!


  • Hot Chicken-Hattie B's is wonderful, so wonderful that there is ALWAYS a line! (The first time I went, I got there at least 15 minutes before in opened IN THE RAIN and there was a line). There are two locations in Nashville (and another in Birmingham, AL).  Prince's Hot Chicken is the original hot chicken spot in Nash, though I have yet to go there. When you order hot chicken in Nashville, make sure to get a "temperature" more mild than you would usually get, because it is HOT!
Hattie B's
  • Tacos- Mas Tacos Por Favor, located in East Nashville, is my absolute favorite.  It looks like a sketchy little roadside taco shop but it is amazing! They only take cash, so its best to be prepared by bringing some, but they do have an ATM.  There is always a line here, but its worth waiting for, even in 90 degree weather. Bar Taco is also great.  They have a ton of options and are very food-allergy friendly.  It is located in 12 South so it is very trendy.  They have outdoor seating which I highly recommend taking advantage of. (That being said, the margaritas are costly and tiny, not worth it in my opinion).  Lastly, if you're in the downtown area and are craving tacos, Bajo Sexto is located in the same building as the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The tacos are good, but nothing compares to Mas Tacos.
Mas Tacos Por Favor
  • BBQ- Martin's BBQ by far takes the cake. Martin's has two locations, one on the south side of Nashville and one just up the road from downtown Nash. The downtown location has amazing rooftop seating!

  • Burgers- Pharmacy Burger, right across the street from Mas Tacos in East Nashville, is by far my favorite burger choice.  The burgers are huge and the drinks are tasty! They have an extensive beer menu but also have a large variety of non-alchoholic beverages. Burger Up! is another good burger joint.  It is located in 12 south, near Bar Taco, and also very trendy.  Its very much a hipster burger joint, even has tofu and black bean burgers. They do have another location elsewhere in Nashville, though I've never been.
Burger Up!
  • Bluebird Cafe- I haven't been here yet, but I know it is an iconic Nashville place to visit (also on the show Nashville, I am told).  Reservation are necessary and their hours are limited!


  •  Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is located in 12 South and at the Nashville Farmers Market.  The ice cream is good, but I wouldn't say great.  Definitely worth a try at least once. Fun Fact: you can order Jeni's to be delivered to your door!
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes is also located in 12 South.  I didn't think the cupcakes were the great when I had them, but they have a cupcake ATM located out side the building, and that's something you can't pass up! P.S. While you're here, make sure to take a photo with the "I Believe in Nashville" mural right across from Draper Janes!

  • The Soda Parlor is a little ice cream shop arcade.  They host a variety of events but its great at any time!
  • Five Daughters Bakery has great 100 layer donuts! There is also a crazy variety of random flavors, I've never had the same one twice! There are two locations- one is down in Franklin, and the other is located in 12 South, near Jeni's Spendid Ice Creams and Burger Up! 


98 Degrees + O-Town + DREAM at the Ryman

  • Music City Walk of Fame - located right across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame!



  • Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge

If you're ever looking for any other specific recommendations, let me know!

You can find all travel posts from Hey Dreamer Blog here.