My son loves country music and I, well, don’t, said Phil Vettel in the Chicago Tribune. Could we really find enough in common to both enjoy a trip to Nashville? “Piece of cake. Make that a piece of pecan pie.” While I tagged along on my son’s visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, I also found time to seek out some of the city’s “colorful” honky-tonks, diners, and offbeat shops. Downtown, on the stretch of Broadway “known as the lower Broad,” I stumbled across the “venerable Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a purple palace of country-music hopefuls.” At Hatch Show Print, you can buy reproductions of the gaudily colored letterpress posters the shop is famous for, while Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop carries “a jaw-dropping array” of recordings old and new. One day, we grabbed lunch at Arnold’s, “one of Nashville’s legendary meat-and-threes,” ridiculously cheap restaurants that serve only meat with three sides. I washed mine down with sweet tea—a taste of the real Nashville. Best of all, “we didn’t go near the Grand Ole Opry.” Contact: Visitmusiccity.com
“The old Hawaii” can sometimes be hard to find amid the tourist mecca of Maui, said Jocelyn Fujii in The New York Times. But now’s a good time to look. Airfares have gotten lower and travel to the state’s second largest island has ebbed ever so slightly. A stay on Maui should be all about being laid-back, “whether it’s lazing on warm sugary sand or snorkeling with humpback whales.” The 700-acre Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge provides fantastic birding and “a glimpse of Maui’s remarkable biodiversity.” Hawaiian stilts, night herons, and migrating birds all nest there. Another “hidden jewel” is Keawakapu beach, where plantation-style homes line a mile and a half of white, “talcum-soft sands.” As you swim, you can hear the “groans and squeaks” of humpbacks. The bar at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel bar—all “tikis and plumeria trees”—seems like something straight out of the 1940s. “The lilting Hawaiian music is genuine, and the outdoor setting under the stars is hard to beat.” Contact: Gohawaii.com
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