Pedal Tavern, Free Bikes Among Many Ways to Explore Downtown Nashville
We’re going on a road trip and I hope you’ll join me. How many different ways can you explore Music City? Until I set out on this mission, I didn’t realize all the fun ways you can get out and enjoy the sights, sounds, excitement and history of this sweet spot in the heart of Middle Tennessee.
Forget planes, trains and automobiles. Think instead green bikes, red bikes, buses, trolleys, horse and carriage – and, most unique of all, pedal taverns. The bell’s ringing, so hop on board and let’s go!
Hop a Trolley
Parked out front of the Hard Rock Café on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Broadway, the red trolley awaits as passengers board for the hop on/off tour of downtown Nashville. Seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. -4 p.m., the Music City Trolley Hop tour follows a set route past the city’s major landmarks. No parking hassles if you hop off to visit any sights along the way.
The driver relates fascinating stories enroute and you’ll learn more than the history books ever tell you. Tour the Ryman and stop at Tootsie’s for a drink, walk the Bicentennial Mall or shop at the Farmer’s Market. Trolley stops include Marathon Village, the Parthenon, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. What a great way to make new friends while touring in comfort! On a hot day, you may even like to join the kids splashing in the Bicentennial Mall fountain.
If physical exercise is more your style, think green. Nashville GreenBikes are offered free of charge by Metro Parks at 11 locations around town. I’m all into healthy and active, so we decided to explore Shelby Bottoms, an 820 acre greenway on the Cumberland River floodplain. The GreenBikes website also shows in real time how many bikes are available at each location.
We picked up our bikes at the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and joined many other Saturday morning enthusiasts out cycling or walking the trails flanked with wild blackberries free for the picking. As an added bonus, the General Jackson cruised past right when we rode across the bridge over the Cumberland. GreenBikes has got to be one of Nashville’s best deals for free, healthy sightseeing.
B-cycle bike sharing stations are scattered in 21 locations around Nashville with a quite different concept. Rent a bike from a B-station and return it to an empty dock at any other B-station around town. The perfect way to get from A to B and keep on going! The distinctive red bikes can be found in long racks at solar-powered automated kiosks that handle bike rental via credit or debit cards. Save money on taxicabs and parking while getting some good cardio exercise. The bikes even track mileage and calories burned. The first hour is free, and each additional 30 minutes is $1.50.
A Romantic Ride
Looking for a little romance? A horse and carriage is just right for you! Stroll along Broadway any evening and you can take your pick of several operators waiting curbside to take you on a figure-eight city tour of downtown Nashville’s main attractions. Sara Beth Williams, owner of Cumberland Carriages, has been taking horse and carriage tours for the past 10 years. Her black and white matched pair of gentle Percheron/Quarterhorse crosses stand patiently, unperturbed by the late night crowds jostling down Broadway or the loud music drifting from overflowing honky tonks. Ringo Jack, her Border Collie, rides shotgun. Climb aboard for a short 20-minute ride, or settle in for a one-hour amble to the melodic clip clopping of hooves.
Pedal Tavern: Biking at a Bar
A noisy crowd weaves down the road past us, pedaling their tavern on wheels. If you’re going to imbibe, this is the way to travel. No tickets issued, just another drink served on the Nashville Pedal Tavern. Popular for bachelorette parties or group outings, this is also the perfect pub crawl to jump on and make new friends. The caboose-sized Pedal Tavern has fixed bar stools for 16, half of them equipped with pedals to propel this mobile bar through the streets of Nashville.
I had to try it out, of course. A few nights later Nancie and I joined a couple from Scotland and a group of girls visiting from Washington D.C. For $30/person, all you have to bring is your own supply of refreshments – and no, it doesn’t have to be alcohol. We discovered first hand that you do have to work a little for your entertainment, but the rewards keep on flowing. Several stops are included on the 2½ hour ride to try out some local hotspots for live music and drink specials. How you get home afterwards is up to you!
Tired from all this excitement and activity? The big green Music City Circuit bus is a free and convenient way to get around downtown and the Gulch. The buses operate weekdays from 6:30 a.m. – 11p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., making frequent stops.
Music City is ripe for exploring and now you have no excuse about parking!
Your turn now. What’s your favorite way to explore Nashville?