Walking through Belmont Mansion's Victorian-era plantation is like exploring an alternate history. The stories presented by the 2,000 artifacts that fill the 18 rooms are all true, but in place of the 19th-century South's traditionally male-dominated household, tour takers witness evidence of a plantation controlled, enlivened, and energized by a woman. After inheriting a fortune from her first husband, Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham oversaw the construction of the mansion with her second husband, basing the style off an Italian villa and completing the project's first phase in 1853. Over the years it would change appearances as dramatically as a caterpillar on Halloween—sometimes by her hand and sometimes not. She commissioned a Prussian-born architect to expand and embellish the house six years after completion, and fled as the Civil War's Battle of Nashville destroyed most of the plantation's outbuildings, including the greenhouse, bear house, and zoo. After Adelicia sold her home in 1887, it transformed into a girl's school, then a girl's academy and junior college, and, in 1952, became part of the Belmont University campus.
Today, Belmont Mansion is the largest house museum in Tennessee, inviting visitors to wander past cast-iron neoclassical statues in the gardens, to cross the fountain courtyard, and to study the original water tower and few remaining gazebos. Stoic marble busts, decorative boxes, and a four-post bed fill the interior's 10,000 square feet, alongside more than 120 works of art. During a themed art tour, which is not included with this Groupon, expert docent Mancil Ezell introduces visitors to these masterpieces, including two 400-year-old Flemish paintings. And for those bright-eyed visitors captivated by the surroundings, the staff also coordinates weddings, building on a tradition established when Adelicia married her third husband on the grounds in 1867.
A captain licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Jim Steele’s more than 25 years of boating⎯including time spent at the helm of Opryland’s water taxis⎯comes in handy as he coaxes The Blue Heron, a specially built 40-foot pontoon, about the Cheatham Wildlife Management Area on daily tours. Out on the water amid soothing birdsongs and the burbles of river critters, Captain Jim can be found behind the wheel of the craft, exercising his chops as an entertainer as he regales his passengers with chuckle-inducing anecdotes and factoids about local flora and fauna. With the comfort and safety of his guests always in mind, Captain Jim equipped the Heron with a restroom and keeps the vessel stocked with a comprehensive library of life jackets to fit adults, children, and pet iguanas of all ages and sizes. Hitting an average cruising speed of 5 to 10 miles per hour, the Heron affords its passengers leisurely looks at area wildlife as it embarks upon all manner of tours, from gold-tinged sunset cruises to kids' adventures punctuated by the gleeful laughter of curious youngsters.
Featured on NewsChannel5 for its conspicuously old-fashioned appearance, Nashville Pedal Tavern takes pub crawlers on its 16-seat bicycle-powered trolley, which allows them to drink as they pedal. With this deal, you’ll be a part of a two-hour foot-powered stroll along an adult-beverage-populated route. With speeds of about 5 mph, the pedal tavern goes slightly faster than a normal pub crawl. Ample snack storage space allows you to load up on pork rinds between stops, and bumpin’ iPod speakers pump up the jam for you and nearby dancing Thomas Jefferson impersonators. Crawlers can continue whetting their whistles at one of several establishments along the mobile pub’s route, including Whiskey Kitchen and Tootsies Orchid Lounge, ideal stops for crawlers wanting to stretch their legs and having another brewsky.
Much more interesting than the Sewer Drains of Nashville Tour, but no-less educational, the Homes of the Stars tour includes a cruise past downtown, historic Second Avenue, the State Capitol, Fort Nashborough, and Ryman Auditorium. The 180-minute tour lasts about three hours, and you will be able to see the homes of stars such as Alan Jackson, Ronnie Milsap, Dolly Parton, the late Hank Williams, Lorianne Crook, Little Jimmy Dickens, and several others¬—with the exception of Roger Moore, who lives in a station wagon floating in the river.
Nashville Venue is a collective made up of four of the most distinct event spaces in Nashville. Though all four venues can accommodate weddings and other lavish parties, the similarities end there. Wooden beams and exposed brick line the wide-open space at Houston Station, a historical 19th-century warehouse upgraded with modern amenities. Located in West Nashville, OZ is Houston Station's polar opposite. This ultra-modern space features five separate areas marked by glass doors and contemporary art, in addition to a walk-in humidor, a spacious patio, and a zen garden. The main attraction at The Bridge Building is its sweeping views of Downtown and the Cumberland River, which partygoers can enjoy through a full wall of windows. The multilevel, indoor-outdoor space hosts up to 1,000 guests. Last but not least is Ruby, another historical structure in Hillsboro Village. In addition to its wood floors and ceilings, it also boasts an outdoor space enveloped by the greenery of Dragon Park.