One of the questions I get asked most by fans is, “What’s your favorite city to visit on the road?” It’s not an easy one to answer because I like several cities for different reasons. By far one of the biggest perks of this job is getting a chance to travel to places I wouldn’t normally visit. You have already heard all about that in the Western Canada pieces from a few weeks ago. But really, I’m very lucky with the US travel we do as well. People are a big part of what makes a city great to visit.
I grew up moving almost every two years my entire life. When people ask where I’m from, I usually have to pause a second before answering. Yes, I was born in Syracuse, NY, but I lived for a combined seven years in Michigan (three in high school and four working for Fox Sports Detroit). In total, I have lived in more cities than I can count on both hands. I have lived in nine states and two different countries.
Sometimes when I go through the whole thing with a new friend or if someone who wants the story, I feel like those elementary school children singing the state song. New York, Connecticut, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Virginia, Missouri, Texas, California, Michigan (again), Long Island (come on, it’s different than the rest of the state) and NYC!
I also get really excited when I hear the Irish song “Galway Girl” because I spent five glorious months studying abroad in Galway, Ireland.
OK, so now that you have the background, you will understand why Howie Rose and Butch Goring often joke on the broadcast about how I have friends in every city. The truth is, I kind of do.
When you have lived in so many places and you’re in the TV business, your social net is wide. It’s been so much fun getting a chance to see cousins I haven’t spent time with in years in Philly and Raleigh. I love catching up with former coworkers in California. Some of my dearest friends live in Denver and always make an effort to be free when the Islanders are in town once a year.
But by far the best is when I get to see my family. I get a little choked up even thinking about it now. My parents are really the best. You know how I get really excited whenever Johnny Boychuk’s parents show up on road trips? Double that and you will understand what it feels like when your own parents drop everything to come see you while the Isles are on the road. They know I’m working most of the time, but the few hours we can spend together trumps all the travel and hassle to get there.
This past week, my parents did it again. They came down to Nashville from Michigan to help me celebrate my birthday. Last year was a big birthday (21 wink, wink) so I was not too surprised when they came to Chicago for the Isles game to help make my birthday special. But this year, they made me feel like the most loved and special girl in the world. My grandmother and aunt also drove several hours up from Atlanta. The two days we had together were perfect (minus the Isles loss).
Nashville hosted the All-Star game this year and almost everyone raved about the event. I was not surprised because it’s a real gem of a city. Isles fans, when the schedule comes out this summer, make an effort to book a trip to Nashville.
Here are some Hogan’s Highlights from Nashville to help get the most our of your road trip adventure.
1. Book your hotel ASAP. Nashville is a hot spot for conventions, concerts, sporting events and bachelorette parties. Hotels fill up quickly and can get pricey. There are a ton of options near Bridgestone Arena. Try to book one of those close to the arena which is also close to Broadway.
2. Go to the Grand Ole Opry. I took a tour last year with my Gram and Aunt Sue. We did the backstage tour and loved it. This year, my family went to see the taping of the radio show, which happens every week at the Grand Ole Opry. They bought tickets online and said the show was so great, they would go every time they came to Nashville. Different performers play each week, so it’s a good mix of up and coming talent and some country artists you already know.
3. Wander from place-to-place on Broadway. There are dozens of bars and restaurants lining Broadway, which is very close to the arena. Music spills out onto the streets from noon until 3 AM. If you don’t like country music, there is plenty of rock & roll to dance too. Also, it’s a nice mix of all age groups. Everyone from 21-year-old college students to my very cool grandma, were singing and dancing together.
4. Don’t worry about where you are sitting at Bridgestone Arena. I really like this arena. Last year, my grandma and aunt sat in the lower bowl in some fabulous seats. This year, the family sat in the upper deck and still said it was a great place to watch the game. So if you don’t want to drop a lot of money on tickets, don’t worry, you can still enjoy the game. Also, Predators fans are nice.
5. Go to lunch at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken (112 19th Ave S. Nashville, TN). This is really a tip inside of my tip. You are going to wait in line, so don’t show up starving. They open at 11 AM and we arrived at 11:30 AM with a line wrapped around the front of the restaurant. We waited for 45 minutes and had a good time chatting with other people in line. It’s worth the wait. When you order, you have an option of how spicy you want the chicken. Listen very carefully … this is not like Taco Bell spicy. This is real southern chicken hot. So maybe downgrade it from how hot you think you want it. I ordered it medium and it was delicious, but I was in a sweat. If you don’t like hot chicken, they can make it without any spice. You just have to ask.
While writing this blog, I think I’ve answered the question I mentioned at the very start. “What’s your favorite city to visit on the road?” Nashville is always in the Top-3. But if my family is there it goes straight to No. 1!