We’ve compiled a quick list of some lovely and “uniquely Nashville” gifts and experiences that will surely bring a smile to any lucky person on the receiving end. And hey, maybe get something nice for yourself too? You deserve it.
Attention River Queens! We have an exciting update in the saga of Nashville Kayaks vs the NFL Draft. Check out this write up in the Nashville Scene to get the full scoop!
via the Nashville Scene…
Add riverine tours of the city to the victims list for this week's National Football League Player Selection Meeting.
During the draft (April 25-27 in downtown Nashville), holders of commercial outfitter permits — in other words, companies that provide kayak and canoe tours of the Cumberland River — are shut out from the downtown stretch of the river, which isn't terribly unusual. Though the oldest extant laws on Tennessee's books relate to free access and navigation of waterways — a cursory review of the TCA finds applicable laws on the matter dating back to the 1830s — the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard restrict waterside access during major events. That's presumably under the aegis of the PATRIOT Act, which as we all know trumps every constitutional amendment, regulation and statute passed since Hammurabi first took stylus to clay.
For example, for a week or so around the CMA Fest and the Fourth of July, the outfitters are barred from river usage. For the draft, though, they've been dry-docked since April 15 and won't be allowed back in the river until May 7, a whopping 22-day stretch. Given that the outfitters only operate for six months out of the year, three commerceless weeks (plus the aforementioned time off for the recurring downtown events) is no small matter.
Metro Parks issues kayak and canoe permits because they control the put-in and take-out points. The department also allows the companies to use the Stones River when the Cumberland River is blocked off, but as River Queen Voyages' Annie Klaver tells the Scene, customers are looking for that downtown experience ... and Instagrammable shot.
"The ... shot everyone wants is being in a kayak with the famous Nashville skyline in the background, so we have had a lot of disappointed potential customers the past few weeks," Klaver says. "People who are staying downtown don't want to travel to the Stones River — part of the appeal of our service is being able to get that great Instagram photo and then walk downtown right after your paddle."
But just like the cherry tree debacle was about more than the cherry trees, the kayak situation has an angle that's more philosophical than financial.
"If we have all these TV cameras and coverage in Nashville and no river activity, then the entire RQV raison d'être — to make Nashville a river town by being a place where you can be active outdoors — is erased from how locals, visitors and potential visitors see us," Klaver says. "I care about the lost revenue and exposure of course, but the philosophical piece disappoints me the most."
After some social media attention on the matter, Vice Mayor Jim Shulman connected Klaver with Convention and Visitors' Corporation CEO and room nights enthusiast Butch Spyridon. Metro-watchers in awe of his power may be surprised to learn that Spyridon does not have the ability to line-item veto provisions of the PATRIOT Act, but he nonetheless did what he could to make it right, apologizing personally and reimbursing RQV for its lost revenue and providing a gratis year membership in the CVC for the company.
And that's great for the outfitters' bottom line, as presumably they'd have been up to their gunwales in business otherwise. But once again, Nashvillians must ask themselves at what price fame.
Klaver and others like her have a vision of Nashville as a river town, or at least one that could be experienced by river (for various reasons, Nashville wasn't ever really a "river town" in the sense that, say, Memphis or Cincinnati or even Paducah, Ky., was). It's a noble — and potentially lucrative — idea and provides both residents and tourists a wholly different experience from pedal taverns, or (for the less cynical) sightseeing by foot or bike or car. It's the kind of idea Nashville's tourist leviathan should embrace and encourage if it hopes to build a robust industry that will survive the bursting of the bachelorette bubble (which will come!).
So kudos to Spyridon for doing what he could, but let's hope it provides an opportunity to see tourism opportunities beyond encouraging Lower Broadway debauchery and trying to draw giveaway-riddled high-profile events.
The Scene awarded River Queen, as it happens, with a Best of Nashville award for "Best View of the City" back in 2015.
Update, 5:14 p.m.: Spyridon offered the Scene the following statement:
Until the Vice Mayor brought this to my attention this morning, we were unaware of this circumstance. We reached out immediately, and I believe that, working with the NFL, we have come to a satisfactory resolution. She's been great to work with, and we want to do everything in the future to help her grow. The Cumberland River needs more activity like this, and we will look for ways to work with River Queen Voyage.
We’re one of many Nashville small businesses being put out by the NFL Draft. But we might’ve found a way to stay afloat. Help us?
You did it. You found the woman of your dreams. Congratulations! You get to spend the rest of your life with someone awesome. And JUST as exciting, you get to have a blowout weekend with the dudes in your life that got you here. There’s no place better to celebrate your dudes than Nashville Tennessee - land of whiskey, live music & beautiful nature. Here at River Queen Voyages Kayak Outfitters we want to make sure the kings that have found their queens get to celebrate properly in Music City with the ideal Guys Getaway Guide.
Are you a dude? Do you wanna make sure people know that you’re a dude? What better way is there to express your dudeness than throwing an axe in front of your friends. BATL brings outdoor axe throwing into Urban environments - including Nashville. They take weekend walk-ins, or you can reserve a lane for your party ahead of time. Drink a beer as you throw an axe, and have some Castrillo’s Pizza to compensate your hard work.
Get picked up in Downtown Nashville and travel to three Tennessee Whiskey Distilleries and taste your way through Tennessee for the rest of the afternoon. You can book a group tour that’s preplanned, or a private tour and customize which three distilleries to hit. Distilleries include - GEORGE DICKEL, SHORT MOUNTAIN, CORSAIR DISTILLERY and more! You can drink your whiskey on the bus if you feel inspired to make a purchase, and are back downtown before dinner to carb up on BBQ and hit Broadway by 10.
Top Golf is great for many reasons. There’s food, there’s booze, there’s golf, AND you get to choose how you and your friends compete (or not so compete). You can play a came of Quick 9 for speed and accuracy, Top Shot for target practice, Top Drive to see who can hit furthest or choose from many other games appropriate for all golfers from beginners to experts.
Nashville Pedal Tavern is literally a traveling bar, driven by you and your friends. Bring whatever booze you want and Pedal through Downtown or Music Row while taking breaks for shots, flip cup, & hanging on the Cumberland. The drivers are entertaining, the energy is endless, & the ride always feels over too soon.
Let’s cut to the chase. You’re here to have a time you will likely forget. Midtown is the perfect strip to make and destroy those Bachelor Party memories! I find midtown great for Bachelor Parties because of the plethora of activities you can do while you get slossed. You can catch classic Nashville Country music at Winners Bar and Losers Bar - both with fantastic beer and shots specials. You can play massive Jenga, Connect 4, or ski ball next door at Kung Fu Saloon. You can just chill and watch the game at dive-Chicago-Style bar, Red Door Saloon. Or, have the perfect drunk snack at Two Boots Pizza, where they serve pizza by the slice until 3am.
Nashville is known for the live music and the partying, but something truly special about this city is the phenomenal nature found right within the city. River Queen Voyages is a great way to get some distance from downtown and enjoy the scenic views while kayaking down the Cumberland River. The great news is, you can start your journey in the woodsy Shelby Bottoms, and end your journey back downtown and pick up where you left off!
We’re so glad you chose Nashville for your Bachelor Party destination.
Eat well, party hard, and come back soon!
Congratulations! You’ve chosen the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. And just as exciting, you’ve chosen Nashville as your destination to celebrate that with the other loves of your life - your girlfriends! I know you didn’t just come here for the music. You came here to celebrate the queens in your life. Here at River Queen Voyages Kayaking Outfitters, we want to make sure you accomplish that with the ultimate Girls Getaway Guide.
12th Ave South (known by the locals as “12 south”) is a strip of local Nashville coffee shops, boutiques, and BBQ. Reese Witherspoon’s boutique, Draper James, is “steeped in Southern charm, designed for real life, and unapologetically pretty.” Portland Brew brings coffee of the PNW to the South and frequently has creative locals working there all day. Edley’s BBQ is a local favorite with phenomenal BBQ sauces as well as a plethora of satisfying sides.
Wanna get smashed with your friends but still make sure you fit into your custom made wedding/bridesmaid dress? This is the perfect experience for you! Nashville Pedal Tavern combines drinking games, gorgeous downtown views & exercise (kind of)! You and your friends drink as you pedal down Broadway or historic Music Row while taking breaks for a round of flip cup, or pictures on the Cumberland to commemorate the ride you’ll never remember!
Nashville is a great place to catch some amazing performers. But this weekend is about YOU and your friends, so you deserve the stage! Lonnie’s is a great place to take that stage with songs you’ve always loved to hate like Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Smash Mouth and basically anything you remember grinding to in high school. The place is always filled with patrons excited to scream along, making you feel like the celebrity you truly are.
Are strippers cool? Sure. But what about strippers with tasteful music and custom made boas? Skull’s Rainbow Room is the premiere speakeasy-style bar with late night Burlesque shows several nights a week, to bring some culture and class to your Bachelorette Party classics. Along with a phenomenal show, they have some of the best craft cocktails in the city.
Do you need a break from drinking and want to remember what fresh, alcohol-free air smells like? You can kayak the toxins out of you with River Queen Voyages, Nashville’s local kayaking outfitter. River Queen is a fantastic way to see the nature that Nashville has to offer and take a break to really connect with your friends. You can paddle down the Cumberland River from the woodsy and tranquil Shelby Bottoms, all the way to the scenic Downtown strip. It’s a great way to burn off that Hot Chicken so that you can eat some more.
We’re so happy you decided to bring your Bachelorette Party to Nashville.
Eat well, stay safe, and come back soon!