My grandparents live in Hot Springs, Arkansas which is apparently one of the most expensive places to fly to. As much as I love my grandparents, I wasn’t about to spend 1000$ per person flying to Arkansas. I’d rather go to Paris.
But since no one I love lives in Paris I started looking for alternative, less expensive ways to get to Hot Springs other than flying into Little Rock Airport. This is when I realized that Southwest airlines has a sale on flights to Nashville, Tennessee. For only 79$ round trip per person, we could fly in and out of Nashville, a town that we have both been meaning to visit ever since our friend had moved there a year or two prior. Double bonus, Memphis was almost exactly half way between Nashville and Hot Springs. Triple bonus? Renting a car in Tennessee is stupid cheap – 14$ a day cheap. So, with travel costs down to about 300$ vs the initial 2000$ we decided to take a road trip.
We planned our trip so that we would explore Nashville last before flying home to Boston, making our first real stop Memphis, home of the King of Rock and Roll. For a mere 38$ per person (or 35$ if you’re lucky enough to still be a student), you too can tour Graceland. Normally this would be too expensive for my taste, but considering this is probably the one time I will get this opportunity, we decided this was just too much Americana to miss.
Conclusion: Totally worth it.
If you’re really a big Elvis fan, you can pay as much as 80$ a person – but at that price you get to see the inside of Elvis’s personal airplane. Worth it? Probably.
After indulging in the requisite amount of barbecue, we continued on to Hot Springs, Arkansas, which is a surprisingly nice place to spend a week. Back in its hay day this town was a booming resort destination thanks to the natural hot springs. Recently, the town has been undergoing a lot of rejuvenation, re-opening some of the old bath houses as well as converting one old bath house into a craft brewery. The Superior Bath House Brewery, which brews all it’s beer with local spring water, along with the Ohio Club and it’s speakeasy charms are making bathhouse row cool again. Also located in the area are some amazing artists, two of my favorites being Fox Pass and Dryden Pottery.
My grandparents don’t live in town, but instead built a beautiful house in the woods near town. Arkansas is under rated when it comes to natural beauty. Although well known locally as ‘The Natural State’ people from the coastal areas of our country are quick to write off Arkansas. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast like me, Arkansas has something to offer you, especially in the spring when everything is blooming.
After a week of fun family time, and some serious relaxation, we hit the road to return to Nashville and check out the more hipster parts of town with a few of our friends. But of course, we still hit a honky-tonk in Nashvegas.
After gorging ourselves for two days in some of the finer food establishments in East Nashville, where gentrification and hipsters are prevalent, I realized Kentucky was only an hour away by car. So with one day left before flying back to Boston, we drove to Kentucky and did a part of the craft bourbon trail, including Corsair and MB Roland Distilleries.
While we were driving between distilleries, we noticed there was a giant obelisk seemingly in the middle of nowhere-Kentucky. Being who we are, we drove towards it and discovered that it is a monument to Jefferson Davis. It is the tallest un-reinforced concrete structure in the world, and honors the first president of the confederacy in same fashion as the Washington Monument in D.C., except smaller because they lost.
After a long day of tasting bourbon and moonshine, we headed back to Nashville for one last night on the town with more booze than we could fit in our suitcases.
Things we didn’t expect:
- Everywhere we went had fantastic vegetarian food. I ate better in Arkansas than I do at home in Boston. Most places even had vegan options, which were also better than anything I’ve eaten so far in Boston.
- The food in general was amazing, everything was fresh, local, and cheap.
- Some of the best craft beer I’ve had in a long time was made by Supreme Bath House Brewery, in Hot Springs Arkansas.