Life Lately #4: A Journey to see the Total Eclipse!

In today’s Life Lately I’m sharing about our multi-city journey from Philly to Nashville to see the total eclipse, with a quick update on Philly life. 

[James totally loving the fountains at City Hall in Philadelphia]

Everyone has been asking me the same question lately, which is, “How are you settling into Philly and the new house?”

It’s a question that feels hard to answer.

In some ways, we are settling in great. We feel very comfortable in this house, we live in a great suburban neighborhood, and day-to-day life has a feel of ease to it (even though we still feel very overwhelmed and busy, if that makes sense).

In other ways, our house doesn’t quite feel like a home yet. I think our expectations about how long it would take to look for and buy furniture and such were a bit off.

Pete’s dad recently said that it will take a good year to get settled (which shocked me), so maybe that’s a little more reasonable.

[The art museum in Philly and surrounding area are beautiful]

We’ve been traveling quite a bit since we moved in, and took a big trip to Nashville last week to see the total eclipse.

I have to say, there are things you know about someone when you get married, but plenty more that you find out afterward.

Like the fact that my husband is a total astronomy nerd. Definitely didn’t know that 10 years ago.

When Pete found out about the eclipse last year, he started making plans.

One look at the totality map of the US, and we decided we would travel to Nashville.

Pete and I have been meaning to visit our friends Lindsay & Taylor (the bloggers of Love & Olive Oil), and this was the perfect excuse to go down.

Pittsburgh > Columbus > Louisville > Nashville

For the drive, Pete and I decided we’d stop overnight in Pittsburgh PA, Columbus OH, and Louisville KY on our way to Nashville.

We knew the full drive would be about 13 hours, and stopping in those cities would break the trip into nice little chunks.

…in other words, keep toddler James from going too crazy.

This proved to be a wise decision.

Pittsburgh

Pete and I have been to Pittsburgh a handful of times, and we always like this city a little more each time we visit.

In the past we’ve gone to meet up with Pete’s family, who loves going to Pittsburgh to watch the Cubs play. I’ve explored various neighborhoods of Pittsburgh and eaten at a few restaurants, but on this trip we spent our time at the Andy Warhol Museum.

Like Andy Warhol, the art is a bit kooky and the exhibits are entertaining, to say the least. I definitely recommend it.

We left town a little too early in the day to go, but I really wanted to go back to Tako and get their thrice fried wings. If you’re near Pittsburgh and haven’t had them, you totally need to.

After our brief overnight stop, we left town and continued three hours to…

Columbus

DANG do I like Columbus.

If I made myself pick a favorite city from this trip, it would take me approximately ½ a second to pick this foodie-centric Ohioan city.

I have heard my fair share of jokes about Ohio in my life, but I can say that having been to Columbus three times now, it is one of my favorite ever cities.

It has incredible food and some really walkable and buzzing neighborhoods. There’s an energy to it where you just feel cheerful walking around.

[If you go to Columbus, always go to Jeni’s ice cream. Life rule #837]

Funny enough, I’m headed back to Columbus this week for a blogger retreat and press trip, and I can’t wait to check out and share more. In the meantime, here are some suggestions from our quick stop.

Pete, James, and I stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Columbus – Downtown, and I truly don’t think we could have had a more perfect hotel for our visit.

We were only stopping in town for a total of 20 hours, so being at the center of everything was perfect.

To start, it’s a 2-minute walk from the legendary North Market:

These types of public markets that have dozens of different vendors are my favorite places. Pete and I love tasting little bites of food here and there until we’re stuffed and satisfied with all the different flavors.

[Creatively prepared vegetables from Little Eater at the North Market]

The hotel is also a 10-minute walk from the Short North neighborhood, which has cute boutique shops, restaurants, and eateries. I’m kind of in love with the Short North and will share more after my trip this week.

We were also glad to have Goodale Park just a few minutes walk from the hotel, because James needs time every day to run around. The park is absolutely beautiful and has a few playgrounds that James loved.

[A beautiful pond at Goodale park]

All of the hotels we stayed at on this trip were last-minute bookings that we bought with the idea in mind that we weren’t staying very long, except for the Hampton Inn in Columbus. It reminded me how nice it can be to have a comfortable room and lots of amenities, in a great spot. (And for disclosure, we did a press stay at this hotel in connection with the retreat I’m going on this week).

The rooms are clean, stylish, and SO big. Pictured below is the sleep area, but there’s also a kitchen area and a sitting area as well.

Because we bring homemade food for James (he still has a few dietary intolerances), it was nice to be able to microwave and prepare this food for him in our room.

I also don’t remember the last time I was greeted by such a friendly staff at a hotel, and it was honestly refreshing. Sometimes I feel like many hotels are missing the hospitality component, and it’s nice when you really feel welcomed and taken care of. And it’s clear I’m not the only one who felt this way about the Hampton Inn Columbus, because their concierge Clifford recently got featured in the NYTimes for basically being so awesome. I can’t wait to go back!

Louisville

Our stay in Louisville was the shortest of all, and I feel inclined to return to the city when it’s a bit busier, such as during the Derby. It was eerily quiet when we visited and because we were there on a Sunday, most of the businesses were closed. Sadly, I don’t have a lot to say about Louisville. They do have a lovely waterfront though!

Nashville!

There was a lot of anticipation in going to Nashville.

I’ve heard SO much about this city, and I was excited to check it out.

Lucky for me, I had dear friends Lindsay & Taylor to host and take us around everywhere, and it definitely helps when you know someone who actually lives there.

We walked downtown and saw all the bars and music venues, we went to the river, we saw the Parthenon, and of course….

WE ATE ALL THE FOOD!

[The bonuts — or biscuit donuts — from Biscuit Love]

One of my biggest agenda items in Nashville was to try the hot chicken. I’ve had hot chicken many times before, as the Nashville classic has spread across the country, and each time I was disappointed and didn’t understand the hype.

But per Lindsay and Taylor’s recommendation, we went to Hattie B’s, and OH MY GOSH. Outrageously good hot fried chicken.

A part of me was relieved to know that there was a reason other cities were trying to recreate this Nashville hot chicken thing.

(Though, they need to do it better. I know, meow).

[Eye protection is for winners!]

As far as the eclipse went, the weather worked in our favor and we got to see the total eclipse in Nashville.

And it was INCREDIBLE.

I had heard people say, why travel to see it in totality? What difference does it make versus 90%?

Well, you could only take your glasses off if you were in the totality zone. And it only truly gets dark in the totality zone too.

Having seen the total eclipse in person, I 100% agree that being in the totality zone makes a huge difference. I’m glad we went.

[The clams from Nicky’s Coal Fired]

Overall, we had a blast in Nashville and I would definitely go again, even without the eclipse 😉

Knoxville

We only stopped in Knoxville for an hour on our drive home, mostly to get out of the car and walk around at the Ijams nature center, but then we got doughnuts.

When I visit a city, I must have their doughnuts (if they’re good) and we stopped at Status Dough.

We shared their Strawberry Old Fashioned Doughnut and it was everything I want in an old-fashioned. It’s just a few minutes off the highway if you happen to be driving in the area.

That’s it for this travel-focused Life Lately! Have you gone on any trips lately? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Catch up on previous Life Lately’s:

Life Lately #1

Life Lately #2

Life Lately #3