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Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

“On average, 100 people move to Nashville a day.” When a local Nashvillian told me this statistic, I believed him. About a week ago, I spent a beautiful long weekend exploring the city most tourists visit for its country roots and southern charm. But within minutes of walking through the city, it was clear to me. Nashville is so much more than country music.

Between the brand new high rises pop up everywhere the eye can see, tons of new restaurants, bars and boutique hotels… Nashville is one of America’s fastest growing cities. Pretty amazing!

The long weekend I spent exploring the Music City revealed so many gems! I have no doubt more travelers will want to visit Nashville for themselves. In between delicious eateries, picturesque sights, a music scene that’s unlike any other city and so much more, Nashville is a playground for travelers with an open long weekend ahead. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite spots we explored!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Areas Of Note

Before landing in the Music City, I spent a good amount of time looking into the different areas of Nashville. It’s always so helpful to know what each neighborhood has to offer and what not to miss! P.S. I loved researching all about what Nashville has to offer through these videos. Check them out! Here are some of my favorite areas in Nashville we explored over our long weekend.

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Downtown Nashville

Downtown Nashville is the classic area we all think of when we imagine the city – a country music heaven, filled with bright lights and music blaring from every corner of the every building. If this is what you’re aiming for, don’t miss Broadway, where you’ll find all of the world famous honky tonk bars Nashville has become known for.

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

East Nashville

Known as “The Brooklyn of Nashville” – East Nashville is effortlessly cool and has major hipster vibes. Lots of goodies can be found here!

The Gulch

The Gulch is the newer modern / more posh part of town, where you’ll find locals hanging out in the bars and restaurants. The Gulch is definitely quieter and more reserved… but it’s nice to know that you’re only a 15 minute walk or 5 minute cab ride away from the liveliness of Downtown Nashville. You’ll also find bits of Nashville’s famed spots like street art murals “What Lifts You” and popular breakfast spot, Biscuit Love here!

Where We Stayed

During our long weekend trip to the Music City, I used Hotel Tonight to book our stay in some of the cutest, aesthetically pleasing boutique hotels in Nashville. Our accommodations were beyond chic and perfectly located, allowing us the flexibility to explore the most of the city while also giving us a place to relax!

One thing I’d definitely recommend is planning a girl’s trip to Nashville! It’s the perfect size to explore and is totally walkable. I stayed with my dear friend for a Galentine’s trip, but could totally see Nashville as the ultimate destination in the US for a girls weekend! If this sounds up your alley, I’d also recommend using Hotel Tonight’s multi room booking service. It’s an easy way to book up to four rooms in a single booking… making group travel with friends seamless and stress free! Don’t forget, you can use the code nyakoub to get $25 off your stay!

Thompson Nashville

We absolutely loved the Thompson Nashville located in the Gulch area, with its stunning rooftop and impeccably designed decor. So chic!

It’s also home to the popular rooftop lounge, LA Jackson – which serves up the most delicious cocktails, as well as the Marsh House – a Southern Seafood restaurant.

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Noelle 

Located on Boutique Row, Noelle is a seriously charming hotel with architectural details that left us swooning. It’s a tranquil place to rest your head, while also being able to take in some of the best views of Nashville! We loved the stylish flair our room had, from its detailed ceiling and gorgeous natural light, to its art selection and coziness. It’s truly a hidden gem of a hotel in Music City!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Other Recommended Places To Stay: Boutique Hotels

Being the hotel geek that I am, when I heard that Nashville now has what is referred to as  “Boutique Row” on 4th Avenue, my heart delighted with joy. (link to Hotel Tonight in “Boutique Row” and talk about Hotel Tonight’s great choice in boutique hotels.

Hotels On Boutique Row:

  • Dream Nashville – Located on Printers Alley, this art deco inspired hotel boasts high ceilings and sleek details in each of its rooms.
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
  • The Bobby – Far enough away from the noise of downtown, but close enough to what’s going on, The Bobby is a vibrant, chic hotel with some stunning windows and creative atmosphere.
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
  • Fairlane Hotel –  This luxe hotel has some serious vintage 60’s/70’s vibes and a retro look. I felt like I was on the set of Mad Men.
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Other Hotels I’d Recommend Not On Boutique Row (Also available on Hotel Tonight): 

  • 21c Museum Hotel Nashville – This space is so special! 21c Musuem Hotel re-imaged a historic building into a contemporary art museum turned hotel turned restaurant and bar. It’s got amazing exhibitions, cultural programming and culinary offerings to boost. A great choice for art lovers!
  • Union Station Hotel, Autograph Collection – Another hotel that pays homage to its building history, The Union Station Hotel is a former train station turned into a hotel. It nods to its past with its original commissioned art depicting Nashville and barrel-vaulted stained glass ceiling. A stunner!
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Instagrammable Spots

Nashville is bursting with picturesque spots, so get your camera ready! Filled with charming southern flair, urban murals and adorable boutiques, you won’t leave Nashville without a ton of cute photos. Here are some of my discoveries!

White’s Mercantile

Get your wallet (and camera) ready, because this place is trouble! White’s Mercantile is the perfect place to find eclectic gifts and unique finds… while also feasting your eyes. There are so many cute items and filled with adorable items and is creatively housed in a former gas station and school bus. Be sure not to miss its iconic Amelia’s Flower Truck!

Ryman Auditorium

Considered to be one of the most famous concert halls in all of country music’s history, The Ryman Auditorium hosts live music events for anyone looking for some entertainment during their stay. But, what we loved the most (besides learning about its history!) is its colorful stained glass facade. So beautiful!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Parnassus Books

This book store is seriously amazing! It’s sheer bliss for book lovers and anyone who loves the quaintness and coziness of a bookshop. The lighting in here is to die for and they even have a whole section of signed/autographed books!

Printer’s Alley

This small alley is stacked with some of Nashville’s best bars and restaurants. And isn’t it so charming?

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Five Daughters Bakery

Best donuts in Nashville! Count us in? Five Daughters has a serious following of donut-lovers, and we consider ourselves to be a part of that group now. Its cronut is amazing, as is its orange cinnamon rolls and vanilla cream 100 layer donut!

John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

This pedestrian village has the best view of the Nashville skyline. Be sure to come around sunset to take in the glow!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Draper James

Owned by Reese Witherspoon, Draper James has made a splash in Nashville since its opening. We loved its friendliness (we were welcomed by having sweet tea) and loved perusing its classic, timeless clothing. It screams southern, modern charm.

Le Sel

This fancy little date spot is a feast for the senses. Come for the cooking (like its famous avocado toast, beignets, and eggs benedict)… stay for the fun decor!

Cafe Roze

This cozy spot for breakfast, coffee and tea comes highly recommended by locals and guides, and for good reason. It’s the perfect little brunch spot with good food, a young crowd filled with unique characters and the coolest vibe. We loved their relaxed vibe and lattes!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

What Lifts You Mural

Located in the Gulch, this famously inspiring mural is a must for a traveler who loves murals and urban art. Read its inspiring message and you’ll find yourself feeling lifted.

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Where To Eat 

Nashville’s eating scene is unreal! So many culinary treats to try. Between classic southern cooking and young, up and coming eateries with multicultural flair, you really can have any kind of meal you could dream of here. Here are some of the restaurants we were drooling over!

Bar Otaku

We were swooning over Bar Otaku’s small plates menu. This modern twist on a traditional Japanese izakaya serves up the perfect after-work dishes and drinks with an atmosphere that is truly unlike anywhere else in Nashville! Its Japanese soul food is the star, combining tried and true Japense dishes with southern classics. Plus, we loved its fun, communal feel. Chef Sarah Gavigan pays homage to Japan/Nashville latitudinal connection (which blew our minds!) by incorporating ingredients that both destinations have in common. Don’t miss this spot!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Biscuit Love

Delicious! Biscuit Love has quite a following of fans, and we totally get why. Come here too late and you’ll find a long line outside the door… so come early! We loved its hidden menu items and Southern Benny’s and Bonuts!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Liberty Common

Try not to fall in love with this restaurant! Liberty Common has a great, vibrant atmosphere, decked out with vintage lights and European-esque furniture, and a French-Southern blended menu. Biscuits, pastries, steak frites, croque madame, burgers, coffee, cocktails and more. Don’t miss this one when in Nashville!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

The Loveless Cafe

A classic! In 1951, The Loveless Cafe lit its iconic neon sign for the first time… and since then, it’s served over half a million guests a year. The Loveless Cafe has been featured in many a television shows and country songs, and also draws foodies, celebrities and locals. But it truly stands on its own when it comes to its menu too! Homemade dishes and down-home cooking. Don’t miss this place!

Urban Cowboy Public House

Urban Cowboy Public House is the perfectly southern, rustic bar with a casual outdoor area. It’s a cozy, patio style of eatery that offers classic bar foods and delicious drinks as well. It’s friendliness and warm staff will make you feel like part of the family!

Butchertown Hall

This bustling restaurant has a great menu filled with serious drool-inducing BBQ, including brisket, smoked chicken, smoked pork, wings, ribs and more.


The Mockingbird

A modern diner, but with a global lens. The Mockingbird offers classic comfort foods, but always with a global twist. It’s a cool concept with even better food!

Geist

Geist is set in what used to be a 1900 blacksmith shop, one of Nashville’s oldest buildings. The restaurant has an unfussy, friendly feel to it and features pieces from local artisans in every nook and cranny. So beautiful!

Folk

East Nashville’s cool vibe is so welcoming, and so is its crown jewel Folk. The food is excellent and has a farm to table feel, fresh flavors and an impressive menu!

BOURBON STEAK Nashville

Steak with a view! What’s not to love? With 360-degree views of Music City’s skyline, BOURBON STEAK is a modern American steakhouse with a great wine list as well.

Husk

If you’re looking for a modern twist on southern cooking, look no further than Husk. The property is stunning and their cocktail list is also outstanding!

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Hattie B’s hot chicken is world famous. And we’ll admit… it’s totally understandable why. Don’t let the line out the door dismay you from committing to getting your hot chicken on! Juicy, spicy, hot and totally delicious. Fear not travelers, if you’re not into spicy dishes, Hattie B has options that aren’t going to leave you feeling the burn. Their side dishes and amazing selection of spices are outstanding. Don’t miss this place!

Pinewood Social

An eatery with bowling lanes? Count us in. Pinewood Social is a great date spot for you and your girls! Don’t discount its restaurant… there are some seriously delicious options here.

Emmy Squared – Nashville

Emmy Squared, located in the Gulch, specializes in deep-dish pizzas drowning in toppings… similar to a Detroit-style but cut into squares, burgers and all American foods that will have you drooling! The only other place you’ll find Emmy Squared is in NYC’s West Village… so don’t miss out when in Nashville.

Drinks

When exploring Nashville, you’ll find lots of honky tonk bars! Enjoy the southern charm all your favorite country songs sing about. If you’re looking for a cocktail, here are some of our discoveries!

L27 Rooftop Bar

We loved the view from L27’s Rooftop Bar! A great, laid back place to kick up your feet and soak in the beauty of Nashville as the sun sets!

Acme Feed & Seed

Locals love this place, and we see why! This classic bar on Broadway is not to be missed. Insider tip: on the third floor, check out their sushi bar… which some say is some of the best sushi in town. We tried it and we concur! Fresh sushi, friendly service and a fun atmosphere.

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Live Music

Don’t miss the thriving music scene when visiting Nashville! Here are some of the live music venues that we checked out!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

The Bluebird Cafe

The Bluebird is one of the world’s most famous “listening rooms” – and you need to make this top of your list of places to check out! This venue has showcased some of the biggest songwriters performing their songs before they become huge hits (often recorded by other artists). Check out this unassuming 90 seat venue (be sure to book ahead!), located in a strip mall outside of downtown and feel like you’re part of the blooming music scene going on in Nashville!

The Valentine

This unassuming music venue is located right on the main strip of Downtown Nashville spotlights non-stop live music. Pop in for a band or songwriter and a cold beer.

Station Inn

One of the best spots for live music! This concert venue features the greatest bluegrass, blues, roots and country music in the world right in the Gulch area. It’s an all American feel, sure to make you fall in love with Nashville’s commitment to great music.

Legends Corner

The entertainers here are so fun! Legends Corner came highly recommended for its feature band, and we fell in love with their energy and insane ability to take any and all music requests!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Coffee Shops

If you’re looking for a caffeine fix, look no further. Nashville has quite a cafe scene, so you’ll have a lot of beautiful choices to select from. Here are some of our top choices!

Crema

A great, quaint coffee shop that we loved! Smooth coffee, unique flavors available… what’s not to love?

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Killebrew

A charming coffee house with some great pastries! This is the perfect spot to grab a light bite and head on the road!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Three Brothers Coffee

A great atmosphere, welcoming staff and industrial look at the same time.

dose. [Coffee & Tea]

A friendly espresso and tea bar that also has some great breakfast choices as well!

What To Do / See

Nashville is stacked with historic sights. From museums, hall of fames, symphony centers, southern plantations, art exhibits and botanical gardens… it truly houses some incredible experiences to be had!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Belle Meade Plantation

This history plantation will make you swoon! Belle Meade is known for being the greatest thoroughbred horse farm, and once home to the Iroquois (the first Epsom Derby winner and the foundation of many other descendant racers including Secretariat). This restored plantation will give you a slice of life of what it must have been like to live in Nashville before it became known as a music capital of America!

The Johnny Cash Museum

Explore the world’s largest collection of Johnny Cash’s artifacts and memorabilia. You’ll leave the museum understanding more than just his life story, but with a great appreciation for his genius and music.

The Parthenon

If you would have told me that this is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens located right in the heart of Nashville, I wouldn’t have believed you. Seeing this sight first-hand is stunning! It’s truly a cultural escape that left us floored.

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip
Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Vanderbilt University

We loved exploring Vanderbilt’s gothic and charming campus. It’s a refreshing trip to walk the grounds and soak in the academic environment.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

When in Nashville, don’t miss out on a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame! Even if you’re not the biggest country music fan, there is so much to learn about its history in American culture. We loved exporing its many floors of interesting artifacts from gold, silver and platinum records and original items owned by country kings and queens.

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

This symphony center is the home of the Grammy award winning Nashville Symphony and is simply gorgeous! Come here for an evening of masterful classics as well as exciting new musicians. And don’t miss out on a tour of the building. The history is outstanding!

Why Nashville Should Be Your Next Long Weekend Trip

Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art

Explore the 55-acre estate (built by the family who owned the Maxwell House Coffee company), especially if you love gardens and greenery! The stunning landscapes and gardens of the outdoor area had us swooning. Inside, the museum features some incredible paintings, sculptures and works of art. It’s a refreshing and historical experience!


Perfect for a long weekend getaway, I truly found Nashville to be not only charming, but warm and inviting for travelers. Hope to visit again soon, Music City!

Stay sponsored by Hotel Tonight.
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Food Hotels Insider Tips North America Road Trippin

Southern USA Road Trip

When I think about discovering new places and experiencing new cultures I tend to automatically picture traveling outside of the United States. I think of long haul flights to far off destinations. Yet recently, I came to the realization that those experiences and places exist in my own country. As a result, I made a goal of exploring more of my own country. When it came to deciding where to go, I couldn’t think of anything better than a Southern USA road trip.

Talk about new experiences and cultures! The South is known for its mouthwatering cuisine, its exciting live music, and its charming people. My trip through the South quickly taught me that you don’t always have to take a long flight to discover new places and to experience new things.

The Route:

Start: Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville to Memphis: 3hr. 14min

Memphis to Natchez, Mississippi: 4hr. 37min

Natchez to New Orleans, Louisiana: 3hr. 5min

Nashville, Tennessee
To start our Southern road trip we flew into Nashville, Tennessee (aka Music City) for three nights. Where attending shows at The Grand Ole Opry House, Honky Tonkin’ to country music on Broadway Street, and mouth watering fried chicken is a way of life!

Top things to Do & See in Nashville

  • Explore the award winning Johnny Cash Museum.
  • Take a stroll along the Cumberland River.
  • Visit the Goo Goo Shop – home to the first combination candy bar ever!
  • Take a backstage tour of the famous Grand Ole Opry.
  • Honky Tonk your heart out on Broadway Street in Downtown Nashville at famous bars like Honky Tonk Central or Tootsie’s

Where to eat: 

  •  Try Hattie B’s famous Hot Chicken. The restaurant allows you to pick a level of heat that best fits your taste buds.
  • Indulge in a Southern breakfast on your way from Nashville to Memphis at The Loveless Café.  Where they live by the motto: “Home is where the biscuits are.”

Memphis, Tennessee
For our next stop on our road trip, we headed to the largest city on the Mississippi River, Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis is home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Top things to Do & See in Memphis

  • Visit the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.
  • Take a self-guided journey through Elvis Presley’s famous residence, Graceland.
  • Take a tour of Sun Studio Records, considered by many to be the most famous recording studio in the world.
  • Stroll along Beale Street in downtown Memphis.

Where to Stay:
Stay in the heart of downtown Memphis at The Peabody Memphis. Make sure to catch the famous Peabody ducks marching from the roof of the hotel to the lobby fountain for their daily visit.

Natchez, Mississippi
While on our way to New Orleans, we made a quick stop for the day in Natchez, Mississippi, the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River. Its history and charm make it a great place to stop, stretch your legs, explore and get a bite to eat.

Top things to Do & See in Natchez

  • Walk or bike the Natchez Trails to explore the city. Check out the visitor’s center for more information.
  • Stanton Hall and explore an antebellum home.

Where to eat:
For one of the best views of the mighty Mississippi river try a Po’ Boy Sandwich or Burger at Magnolia Grill.

New Orleans, Louisiana
Our Southern road trip concluded in New Orleans, Louisiana. Everyday in New Orleans is an excuse to celebrate life making the city a top destination in the USA to visit. With its live music from just about every genre, its charming architecture, and some of the most outrageous food, let’s just say our road trip ended with a huge bang!

Top things to Do & See in New Orleans

  •  Wander the streets of the French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in the city.
  • On the weekends, check out art from local artisans at Frenchman Art Market.
  • Party like a local on Frenchman Street and enjoy many styles of bars and various genres of music.
  • Try a famous Hurricane drink on Bourbon Street.
  • Explore the beauty of the Garden District with its antebellum mansions, lush gardens, and Southern charm.
  • Spot alligators on a Swamp Tour.
  • Enjoy traditional Jazz music at Preservation Hall

Top 4 places to eat and drink in New Orleans

  • Best Coffee: Morning Call. Try a famous café au lait, you will not be disappointed!
  • Best Beignet: Café Du Monde.
    Tip: If you don’t want to wait in an enormous line go later on in the day. Café du Monde is open 24 hours a day in the French Market.
  • Best Brunch: Commanders Palace. Brunching’ in New Orleans is a three course meal, so make sure to go hungry! Tip: Make sure to make reservations in advance.
  • Favorite Gumbo Spot: Court of two sisters in the French Quarter. Go for a seat on their outside patio to enjoy the charming atmosphere and mouth watering gumbo!

Have you ever been on a Southern USA road trip? If so, let me know in the comments below some of your favorite stops!

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Diversity Interviews

Black is Beautiful: Interview with Dame Traveler Sophia of Sostyles Escapades

Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet?

My name is Sophia, founder of Sostyles Escapades – a platform I created to curate customized trips for groups of people who are inspired by my adventures. I am a Travel Digital Content Creator who aims to educate and inspire through social media. I have been to almost 30 countries and lived in 3. As a nomad at heart, I make it a priority to immerse into foreign cultures as a way to not only raise my sense of self awareness, but also to tap into my empathy for locals from an open minded stance. Travel truly depicts how interlaced we are. It makes me appreciate the commonalities as well as the differences. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What change would you like to see change or happen in the travel and photography industries? What advice would you like to give to brands?

As a Black female creator, I would love to see more inclusivity, fairness, and diversity in the travel and photography industries. And this also includes leaders and decision makers for said company or brand. Take a look at the stats. Black people spend approximately $65 BILLION on travel annually. We contribute a great deal yet are still underrepresented. It does not add up.

Also, brands should invest in long term partnerships as opposed to only reaching out to Black creators right before Black History Month as a means to cover face and ‘amplify black voices’. Black people are not just a token to tick a box. We need systemic change that is non-performative, supportive, and effective. Representation matters, and this is why I strive to partner with brands who share the same values.

What are some challenges or issues you have faced as a Black female traveler?

First off, thank you for capitalizing the B in Black. White male dominated societies have definitely played a big role here. Especially where they have less focus on gender equality. Mostly via the internet, I have had middle-aged to older white men offer payment in return for sexual pleasures. It is usually referred to as being a ‘Sugar baby’ and sometimes they turn out to be people who have a whole family, which makes it even sicker. Makes me think- is the entire family in on this? This only goes to show that Black women are constantly hyper sexualized in the media and in return deemed gold diggers.

On one of my recent trips, I experienced a taxi driver (happened more than once) who would not let me get into his car. Even after I offered to pay double for something that was going to be maybe a 5 minute drive. I cannot make this up. I could have walked, but I was running late for an important early morning appointment, and I wore heels.

What piece of advice would you give to new Black female travelers?

Know your worth and trust your gut. Research is key. Get some credible reviews from experienced travelers. Learn how to be comfortable with uncertainty and change. Comfort zone? Never heard of her. Keep an open mind and get excited to be filled with everlasting jaw dropping knowledge. Be open to failure and chances of not always getting it right. Be prepared for some glares, but remember that the obstacles are only a set up for bigger and brighter future opportunities. I would add that it also helps to be street smart. Never appear flashy, trust me – you already stand out as is. Be curious and ask as many questions as you find necessary. Have the time of your life and journal your experience to its entirety.

Piece of advice to give non-black travelers?

Research is key. Keeping an open mind is paramount. Drop the stereotypes society has made you to believe. Seek to understand how to treat others who do not look like you without placing them in a specific category simply because of their race. You just may find that you are more alike than you are different.

What are some myths and misconceptions about traveling as a black female solo travel that you’ve found to be untrue?

‘You must be rich for all the travel that you do.’
NO. Please kill this idea that you must have tons of money to travel the world. Do your googles, there are countless blogs on how you can travel for dirt cheap. On average my flight tickets usually range in the $200s-300s (yes, international destinations included!). Personally, the most I have paid for a RT ticket was right around $600 and that is only because I waited longer than I should have since I had not quite made up my mind yet. This has only happened once.

‘Traveling alone is dangerous.’
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this, from my peers and even family. While I understand for the most part, this comes from a caring place, I wish people who often said this spoke from first hand experience. This is a horrible misconception because where are you ever really safe? If anything, living in America has taught me to exercise maximum caution anywhere I go. Plus, I hate that this idea can discourage aspiring solo travelers.

The notion that because you are Black, you are unable to do ‘white people sports/activities’. Swimming is a typical example of this. I have heard people say swimming is not a ‘Black person’s strongest suit’. As well as playing the violin, golf, snowboarding and so many others! I am not sure where this originated from but I can only speak for myself when I tell you I have checked off so many bucket list experiences in my lifetime, and there will be plenty more to come! From rappelling a 200 ft waterfall in Costa Rica, Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to Skydiving just to name a few. I have and will always be a thrill seeker, and will continue to incorporate this in my travels so I can continue to share what IS possible to do these things regardless of your color, race or background.

What are some states or countries that have been kind to you?

Thailand, Switzerland, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama. There are so many! And this just reminds me of the fact that as many bad experiences I encounter along the road, the good experiences always outweigh the bad.

What are some states or countries that haven’t been so kind?

Spain was surprisingly not so kind. I only visited the Southern part of Spain, so I am open to giving it another try in the future. Sadly the USA, where I call home, is at the top of the list. It TRUMPS all! See what I did there?

Once again, while some of my not so kind experiences have placed a bit of damper on my travels, they certainly do not define them. For every bad experience I encounter, the universe rewards me with 50 x more treasurable moments.

Tell us what you’re up to next and where we can find you

Like the whole world, I am honestly just waiting on things to get back to normal or close. I was supposed to be heading to Jamaica the beginning of August, but that does not look like it’s happening. I am eager to travel again, and I cannot wait to travel even harder!!! I can be found via my Instagram: @sostyles or @sostylesescapades. I also have a Tiktok account and YouTube channel. Additionally, the website for my business is sostylesescapades.com where I also share free travel advice, tips and hacks.

Thanks for having me! I hope everyone reading this stays positive, hopeful, and safe 😊

Guides North America Travel Planning

An Insider’s Guide to Philadelphia

Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love, “Philly,” the bird place of America, “the cradle of America.” Pennsylvania largest city is a place with many names, and now it’s a place that I hold dear to my heart.  As a New Yorker, I’ve heard great things about Philadelphia… especially in terms of its food culture, its history and its close proximity to Manhattan (thanks to the rail system). After just a few short days here on a whirlwind long weekend trip, I can honestly say I love Philadelphia. I’m excited to visit more regularly! Here are some of my absolute favorite finds in Philly!

Where to Stay

Fitler Club

When planning my rather spontaneous weekend trip to Philly, I found myself staying at the exclusive social club of dreams, Philly’s @fitlerclub. Each time you stay here earns visitors access to all of the privileges that the members have, such as 34,000 square feet of luxury co-working space, dining options curated by the geious Philly chef Marc Vetri, an incredible gym, and luxuriously stunning and sleek rooms. The Fitler Club also happens to be located right by the shimmering Schuykill River and a stone’s throw away from 30th Street station (Philly’s centrally located Amtrak train station). I loved waking up in the morning and having my breakfast right by the water. I can imagine this space is the perfect spot to grab a drink by the lounge or on their rooftop too! Such a stunning and easy location, if you ask me! Be aware there are only 14 rooms available, each of them adored with contemporary art and unique touches. It was the perfect place for a last minute getaway…  found on Hotel Tonight!

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Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia

If you’re on the hunt for a hotel that’s both centrally located right near City Hall  that also houses some stellar views of the Philadelphia skyline… the Kimpton Hotel Palomar is a great choice. What I love most about this boutique hotel is its design sense! It’s stylish, Art Deco-inspired, but with a Philadelphia scene of humor and a twist (think busts of Benjamin Franklin). It’s no wonder it’s a favorite for travelers! The Kimpton also offers their guests bikes to explore the city, as well as complimentary yoga mats in each room… nice little touches that truly make a big impact!

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Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square

Decorated beautifully around the holidays, the Warwick has one of the most chic lobby’s in the city. I loved seeing it looking merry and bright right around Christmas time. If you’re looking to stay close to Philadelphia’s favorite little park, Rittenhouse Square – this is a great spot! The Warwick Hotel is also listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places as it was originally constructed in the 1920’s – so history buffs will adore its  commitment to maintaining its age and architectural details.

What to Do

Reading Terminal Market

This was honestly one of my favorite experiences in Philly! The market has endless food choices of some of the best of the best treats in Philly… but what captured my heart the most was how vintage and old school it is. You won’t find any hipster vendors trying to hard here. What you see is what you get (such a Philadelphia mentality – and I love that!)… and what you get in Reading Terminal market is the best, because many of them have been around for years and years. Established and Philadelphian-loved market vendors know what they’re doing here! Just spend an hour or two grazing amongst its stands! Trust me, you’re going to love this place.

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Broad Street

Head to Broad Street and capture the perfect shot of City Hall with this perfect frame of view. Philadelphia’s City Hall is an architecture lovers delight.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

I absolutely loved this unique experience of exploring Phlly’s Magic Garden! This large and expansive mosaic exhibit is so charming and interesting! It’s a outdoor labyrinth of some of the coolest mirror mosaic pieces that stretches three city blocks, as well as a museum and community art space with so many unique touches and picturesque spots. You’ll find splashes of mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar all around Southern Philly too! I loved exploring the many quaint and quirky neighborhood blocks, especially Washington Square West.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia   An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

City Hall Tower & Observation Deck

The most popular observation deck in Philadelphia  is the One Liberty Observation Deck… but we decided to check out the observation deck inside the City Hall’s tower and found it to be stunningly beautiful and more of an authentic, less touristy experience. With a small space and 360 degree views all the way to Jersey, this desk is the perfect place to catch the sunset at golden hour.Bring your cameras for this one!

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Rittenhouse Square

Take a stroll around one of Philadelphia’s most beloved parks! The Rittenhouse Square area of the city is surrounded by old trees, historic architecture and… my favorite find, Anthropologie’s flagship store. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I explored the store decked out in holiday garb!

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An Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

30th Street Station

Whether you arrive in Philly via train or not, a stop to the city’s gorgeous train station is worth it, in my opinion! I’ve never seen a more elegant look to a buzzing train stop. Soak it in and observe the hustle and bustle.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Where to Eat

Suraya

These Lebanese eatery stole my heart with its refreshing and authentic dishes with a twist. It’s been voted Philadelphia’s Restaurant of the Year, and I can truly see why! It’s not only a restaurant serving up creators Nathalie Richan and Roland Kassis’s genius recipes (the restaurant is named after their grandmother), but also a market celebrating the best grab and go bites from around the world. I loved their restaurant’s menu! Each dish was classical and modern, as well as their cocktails – all named after the beautiful words of Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran!

The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar

This timelessly styled, stainless steel diner is so much more than meets the eye. You’ll find a brunch menu with trendy choices just as much as the classics, served up with some of the best martinis in town. It’s the perfect place to pop in for a drink in between exploring!

The Dandelion

I was enamored with this pub’s exteriors! Isn’t it just darling? There are so many European influences around Philadelphia… but this one took the cake. The Dandelion is a British-style pub located right in the heart of the Rittenhouse Square area.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

The Love

Owned by some of Philly’s most renown restauranteurs, The Love is a bilevel restaurant and bar with communal style country tables, serving up fresh wine, ciders and more. It’s got such an energy to it that I loved!

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Parc

A taste of France right in Philly! Parc has one of the best views of the Rittenhouse’s park area, and it’s a great place to pop in for a warm bite or a toast of champagne. The menu is all so chic, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Paris’s Forgotten Era.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Kanditori

I loved this little coffee shop! Filled with Swedish influences, Kanditori feels like a local, neighborhood coffee spot with some of the best Scandi pastries too.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia


I fell in love with Philly after just a few short days, and I hope more travelers consider a trip into America’s birth place! Philly’s attitude, its historic sights and amazing culinary scene will have me coming back for more, I’m sure!

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All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

Latin America

10 Reasons To Visit Mexico City

Mexico City has always been loud. Colonial texts imply that they could hear Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, a day’s walk away.

Miles away from the urban center, the wind carried the sound of haggling and shouting of goods that traveled considerable distances to be exchanged at that very spot. Archaeologists have found materials from far reaching places, suggesting that tribes traveled from as north as Arizona and as south as Peru just to get a taste of the action.

This was sound pollution before they had speakers. And now they do have them. Merchants no longer have to shout over everyone else with similar hustles; instead, you will see speakers strapped onto on venders hips or balanced on bikes selling tamales or asking for your used furniture. Reggaeton blasts through car speakers and mariachi bands belt in city squares. This city is bumpin’. It is sometimes feels so loud that they can wake the dead, which they honor more than the living sometimes. Modern day Mexico City hasn’t strayed away from its original vibe.

It is a mosaic of Aztec cultures integrated with colonial Spanish influences while still able to keep up with the modern world. It is in constant contradiction and harmony with itself. It is magic and modernity.

Tacos +  Street Food

Mexicans still respect the dedication it takes to makes food good. It is a culture that can take any given ingredient and make it appetizing, from crickets to corn fungus. You don’t have to go to a restaurant to eat like a queen.

The street food in Mexico City is always delicious, always indulgent, and sometimes healthy. Stands perfume the streets with aromas of fried meat, onions, and peppers.

But the stands have more than tacos. Tortes, soups, hamburgers, tamales: any shape you want corn to take, you can have it. GOOD stands will have an array of other offerings to add to your meal: guacamole, beans, red+ green salsas, cucumbers, radishes, cilantro, bowls of lime wedges, fresh and pickled onions, pickled carrots and jalapenos. This rainbow of toppings will balances all your taste buds demands. You will not find cheddar cheese or Tostitos salsa here.

You must grab a quesadilla if you stumble upon a blue corn tortilla stand. They are a nuttier version of the classic yellow corn and typically made by women whose hands are stained periwinkle from making hundreds of patties in a day.

Regardless of where you end up, all eateries have a golden rule. When you approach a stand and are about to bite into your taco, you must pause your excitement, turn to your neighbor and say “provecho.” It is their bon appetite but with more social gravity. It shows that you are courteous of those eating around you, and you open yourself for conversation with your eating companions. You will be well received by the locals.

But Mexico’s gastronomical pleasures do not end there. Several vendors are on wheels, so you must hunt them down. There are carts with peanuts spiced in every way imaginable and make your own mix bag. There are mango men who sell cups of sunshine. You can have them sprinkled with lime, chili, and hot sauce, which looks like you are swallowing a sunset. There are sweet potato men who come out only at night. You can hear them streets away by the screeching sound of their ovens releasing steam.

The food in Mexico is always an adventure.

Lucha Libre

If you want to understand Mexican entertainment, you must experience lucha libre. It is  as theatrical and staged as a Shakespearean play, but with a tele novella plot line. There are two kinds of luchadors: technos and rudos. Their fight represents the larger narrative of good vs evil, and each has their own backstory. Technos are the good guys who have moral upstanding and play by the rules. The rudos are always the bad guys who cheat. However, they are only half the show.

The audience fuels the theatrics in ways where no Broadway show could ever function. They are loud and melodramatic as the characters they are cheering for and against.  

It is a place where everyone can release tension from the week, scream and shout, and hope that good will prevail. It’s like group therapy where you can drink and is significantly cheaper.

Luchadoras, lady wrestlers, have become more accepted have been in the spotlight more. Although sometimes oversexualized, these wrestling women are working hard to have the same respect as their macho male counterparts.  

Coffee + Chocolate Culture

What is the point of going to the land that made chocolate without breaking out a few bars. The Maya’s coined cacao as “the food of the gods”, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees.

There are several places around the city that are supporting organic and fair trade bean to bar chocolate. Many of these bars have less processing and sugar than commercial counterparts. They may take some time to get used to because their taste is a bit stronger than the Western palate is used to. But, once you start understanding what real chocolate tastes like, you will never be able to eat Hershey’s again.

The real treat is the hot chocolate. There are several places that are making hot chocolate with pre-Hispanic techniques. They have wooden molinillos, which can easily be mistaken for a handheld massager, but instead make frothy hot chocolate. These hot chocolate makers are used to make the beverage foamy and creamy, using the same hand motion as warming your hands on a cold night. You can watch your barista vigorously whip up a frothy cup and get an bicep workout at the same time. It is traditionally made with water, but you can have it made with milk as well and is not rich or thick as its European counterparts ( typically made with cream). Most places offer a selection of different spices to add to your drink. I recommend getting some with cardamom or orange.

Great places to check out are the chains Tierra Garat,  El Moro, La Rifa, and Central Cacao. Most of them serve hot chocolate and bars.

If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied, you can also visit their Chocolate Museum.

Coffee, although did not originate on this side of the world, is still living its best life in Mexico and grows spectacularly here. Most places don’t serve drip coffee, so it will help you wean off your Starbucks coffee addiction and learn how to enjoy a proper espresso. Third wave coffee is booming here, focusing on locally sourced and higher quality beans. Lots of places are open late for you to relax after dinner. There is nothing like having a cake and nice espresso around midnight.

Floating Gardens

Back when the Aztecs ruled over this land, Mexico City was built on an island in the middle of a lake and was navigated by boat. Then 300 years ago, the Spanish drained the lake and the culture from the natives. However, you can still experience some of the ancient Ubers today in the neighborhood of Xochimilco in southern Mexico City. The name translates from Nahuatl to where flowers grow and is still an agricultural center.

Today, you can glide through these human made islands on giant, colorful, wooden boats. It can be a romantic trip for two but is ideal for a large group. Whole families and friends spend their weekend afternoons here. You can often see two boats linked up together where people will drunkenly hop back and forth between the two.

To help keep the party going, there are snack and taco boats that will paddle up to you and serve you food. Gliding along side of them are mariachi boats that will impressively to belt and balance on a boat at the same time. Although the water isn’t super clear or pretty, the surrounding view is interesting and reminiscent of how the Aztecs might have navigated from temple to home and partied themselves.

Museums

Mexico City beats out New York as having the most museums in North America and is second to London for most museums in the world. From the classic to hyperniche, they honor every facet of Mexican culture and modern interest. They are everywhere: parks, peoples homes, grand theaters. Any edifice can and has been turned into a museum.

Here are some of the must hits.

Historical

  • Women’s Museum
  • Memoria y Tolerancia  
  • Museo Nacional de Antropología
  • Franz Mayer + Cloisters
  • National Palace- Diego Rivera mural
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes
  • Casa del Indio

Art

  • Dolores Olmedo
  • Frida’s House- Casa Azul
  • Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno)
  • Folk Art Museum (Museo de Arte Popular
  • Museo Jumex – contemporary art
  • Kurimanzutto

Unique

  • Museuo Del Objecto
  • Mucho Museuo De Chocolate
  • Museum of Sound- Fonoteca National/ Octavio Paz’s House

Parks

The parks in Mexico City are wild. Although they are manicured, they still have the feeling that they are untouched by modern horticultural machinery. Long vines hang off of trees, flowers popup wherever they please, and cactus will take root between pine and palm trees. Although it sounds like a horticultural contradiction, when you see them, they somehow make sense.

There are always sculptures and secrets in the parks- from paintings, colorful kiosks, clock towers, or signs that remind you to breath.

They are typically filled with vendors selling peanuts, fruits, and other snacks because the Mexicans always have their picnic game on.

Their grandest park is Chapultepec: the lungs of body of Mexico City.  Named Grasshopper Hill by the Aztecs, it’s history is anything but tiny. From pre-Hispanic empires to European colonialist, it is the space that people have fought over in order to be in control of the city. But don’t let the souls of those who died on this land prevent you from enjoying this park.

Chapultepec is so big it can fit 9 museums, a zoo, a theme park, AND a castle. It can fit two Central Parks inside of itself and still have room for tres leches. It is massive. With so much to do, it is also perfectly ok to enjoy the pleasure of doing nothing ( they have an entire section of hammock for that purpose exactly).

It’s not just their parks that are lush but their streets as well. Any empty space on a balcony ledge or front door must be covered with flowing vines or terra cotta pots. You can stop on the street and stand next to an agave plant as tall as you that fortunately no one decided was a nuisance. Or maybe they are doing to balance the rampant air pollution in the city. Nevertheless, as reflective as they are on death, this is a city that cultivates life.

Street Art

If you don’t have time or find any of the museums to be too pricey, just take a walk through the streets. They are an outdoor art exhibit on their own. In the 1920’s, artists were commissioned to paint the streets to renew national pride and identity. They are bright and bold and thought provoking. The art pulls from every facet of Mexican culture, from Aztec gods +symbols to Catholic iconography, with a flair of modernity and contemporary issues. They cover the city like rainbow sprinkles on an ice cream cone. Even locals are still finding new ones. The best neighborhoods to find street art is Roma Norte, Roma Sur, Juarez, Downtown, La Condesa, and Coyoacan.

Nightlife

If there is one thing Mexicans know how to do is throw a good fiesta. Like all the elements Mexico city has, you can jump from one mood to the next in a single night.

You can bounce from cozy bars, hop over to Reggaeton gay bars or get intimate at a salsa dance floor. If you find yourself circled by a mariachi band belting and professing their love to you at three in the morning, lean into it.

Clubs

If you are looking for a packed dance party, go no further than Patrick Miller. You might think you have walked into a temescal when you enter: it’s that steamy in there. Rico, a gay club, has three levels of dancing with different music played on each, including a rooftop. For great Reggaeton, another gay bar is Divina, which hosts great drag shows on weekend nights.

Salsa

If you are more in the mood for classic Latin dance, Mama Rumba is your go to. There are two floors with a balcony and a stage for live music, typically played on Friday + Saturday nights. They have a wider variety of music. Salón Los Ángeles is perfect if you are a beginner you want to take classes and dance after. This is a more traditional salsa center where you will find elderly couples salsa dancing and dressed to the nines.

Bars + Cantinas

If you are looking for a chiller vibe with nicer cocktails and a chance to chat, head over to El Departamento. They host downtempo DJ nights every first Wednesday of the month and have a spicy selection of mezcal cocktails.

Casa Franca is a jazz club around the corner that is so homey you might think you accidentally walked into someone’s living room. It calls back to the 1920s and has incredible live jazz music every Friday + Saturday. Bosfero, closer to downtown, is ideal if you want to get a great taste of mescal. Hidden behind a curtain ( there is no actual door), the dim lit and edgy place is perfect for philosophical conversations over garlic peanuts and the iconic Oaxacan liquor.

Nevertheless, you can’t leave Mexico city without getting serenaded by a mariachi band, and Garibaldi Square is exactly where you want to go. It is lined with canteenas that have several bands belting and boasting inside and outside. You will almost feel like you are in an old timey western.

Bookstores

Mexican literature is unique in its own. Their influences of magical realism, views on poverty, mortality, and the struggle of existence seeps through their literature like agave pouring out of a plant. But damn do they know how to make existentialism look pretty. Mexico City has some of the most beautiful bookstores, decorated with plants, local art, and wide open windows. There are as many as there are museums.

Here is a list of some you must walk through

  • El Pendulo- multiple locations through the city.
  • Under the Volcano Books- Roma Norte
  • EXIT La Librería- Cuauhtémoc.
  • Bookstore Fondo de CulturaEconomica- Hipodromo.

Regardless of which one you stumble into – you might find yourself aged significantly by the time you walk out- and still feeling like you don’t have enough time to read everything.

When you have finally made a decision on which book to buy, there is even a spot in Chapultepec where you can sit quietly and read. Audiorama is a quiet space with a mini library, and you will find people seeking some silence to read quietly in this obstreperous city.

Pyramids

One of the best day trips out of the modern metropolis is to go visit the ancient one.

About an hour drive away, the remnants of the indigenous tribes still stand as tall as the contemporary skyscrapers.

Teotihuacan was the largest pre-hispanic city in the Americas at its time with an estimated population of 125,000. It is believed to have originated as a religious center, but its origins are still unknown because it was built before the Aztecs. BEFORE. The Aztecs claimed relations to the original creators, usurped the pyramids, and created their city.

You can still walk this arid landscape. As you explore the full breadth of the area, you will probably be starved for shade, and people normally don’t take more than an hour or so to stroll around. Walk down the avenue of the dead to the Sun and Moon pyramids, which are both geometrically and symbolically impressive.

You can hike the Sun Pyramid and envision what it might have been like to rule all that you can see. If you are a morning person and have the dinero, you can splurge and do a hot air balloon over the pyramids.

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