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Where to Go, What to Know

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Two weeks ago, Travel staffer Cindy Loose hopped on a nonstop flight to Nashville for a country music getaway. Her reporter's notebook:

FLYING TIME

1 hour 40 minutes from BWI

GETTING THERE

Southwest flies nonstop from BWI, with fares usually starting at $200, and occasional sales as low as $140. United flies nonstop from Dulles and American from Reagan, starting at about $275. Connecting service from all three airports starts at about $200.

GETTING AROUND

If you're staying downtown, you can easily walk to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the honky-tonks, the state capitol, and the football and hockey stadiums.

You'll need to take a bus tour or rent a car to get to the Grand Ole Opry, Belle Meade Plantation, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Art Museum, the Hermitage (home of Andrew Jackson), the Adventure Science Center and the Bluebird Cafe. Tours include those that focus on black heritage, and tours by boat or Segway.

WHERE TO STAY

· The Renaissance (611 Commerce St., 615-255-8400, http://www.renaissancehotels.com) offers upscale lodging and chic, modern decor in central downtown. Double rooms start at about $200.

· Holiday Inn Express (888-465-4329, http://www.ichotelsgroup.com) is also in a convenient downtown location; doubles start at about $135.

· Doubles at the massive, 2,881-room Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center (2800 Opryland Dr., 866-972-6779, http://www.gaylordhotels.com) begin at about $200. The resort is at least a 15-minute drive from downtown and about five minutes from the airport.

WHERE TO EAT

· Swett's (2725 Clifton Ave.) features soul food, cafeteria-style. Dinners start at $8.

· For barbecue, try the carryout at Hog Heaven (115 27th Ave. N. ), or sit down at Sout h Street (907 20th Ave. S.). Most dinner entrees range from $9.95 to $21. Get a down-home country meal starting at less than $10 at the Loveless Cafe (8400 Highway 100).

· Good upscale choices include Radius 10 (1103 McGavock St.), a Southern fusion restaurant where dinner entrees range from $20 to $30, and Merchants (401 Broadway), where American food is served in a landmark building. Dinner entrees range from $19 to $39.

· Scout out other places loved, and owned, by locals at http://www.nashvilleoriginals.com.

INFO

Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-657-6910, http://www.visitmusiccity.com.

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