Summer has always conjured excitement for the beach, biking and boozing. Also, for me personally – a good music festival. Some might have a misconstrued view of music festivals. As if it’s just this huge drug-binge orgy, overpacked with sweaty hula hoopers who don’t shave their armpits and neon fur space boots. Which at some festivals is 100% the case, but not Electric Forest.
I’ve met some amazing strangers who are still friends to this day. Strangers randomly parked next to my campsite in a sea of 40,000-70,000 people, and fate parked them next to me.. or rather the volunteers did. The type of volunteers who turn a blind eye when you bring a shitload of glass champagne bottles in to the campground, because they’re getting a free ticket out of this not because they have a passion for enforcing campground laws. Shoutout to all of those guys who allowed me to drink mimosas with my eggs the morning after a long night in the woods. Because bitches love brunch.
I’ve been to large festivals like Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN to the tiny festivals like Big & Hearty in Gainesville, FL to Electric Daisy in Puerto Rico. My favorite lies in the mid-size festival of Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan. A place where EVERYONE is accepted. It’s not fashion centered like Coachella and isn’t as dirty and rugged as Camp Bisco. It’s a place where you can take a walk in the woods, past a group of geishas on your right and an outdoor library on your left with plush leather couches and antique carpets. Where cubes of light pulse to the energy of the forest while you walk through an Olde Town Bizarre full of contortionists. I live for shit like this.
Electric Forest is straight magic, yo. I can sit here and tell you all the reasons why but it is absolutely something you have to experience yourself. It’s gaining so much popularity that this year they have two different dates. And the purpose of this post is to tell you how I got there from Florida. I hope that you can use it to map your own road trip and realize that it’s not a daunting drive at all, if you do it right.
Jacksonville to Atlanta: 5.5 hours
I got there on a Tuesday and what do you do in Atlanta during the middle of the week? Go to The Highlander for All-You-Can-Eat Crab Legs. The tables are sticky, the music is hardcore, the beers are cold and the crab legs flow for ~$20. A few facts to keep in mind: They are a 21 and up establishment, they don’t allow smoking indoors or outdoors and were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. If you are looking to drink late into the night they offer pool tables, darts and arcade games upstairs until 3am.
If hole-in-the-walls aren’t your thing, head to the Virginia Highlands/Inman Park area. Walk, bike or run on the Atlanta beltline which connects Atlanta’s in-town neighborhoods for 22 miles. I’m not a fan of Altanta’s downtown area so the Highlands, Ponce and Midtown is perfect for me. You’ll find art projects all along the beltline, parks, beautiful homes as well as endless restaurants and bars.
If you’re looking for a convenient place to both shop and eat, head to Ponce City Market. You can find markets like this speckled around Atlanta, old buildings gentrified as mini malls, keeping the old brick structure while decorating with modern FFE.
After a few shots of tequila head to the Clermont Lounge. This is a famous Atlanta strip club, arguably world-famous. I once met two middle-aged Colombian men on a plane in Bogota who had been. It’s famous not for it’s delicious steaks or beautiful dancers but for quite literally, the exact opposite. These might be the oldest strippers that exist. You’ll see some strange shit, like can-crushing grandma legs or 6 month pregnant dancers. Not that I’m encouraging anyone to expose their fetus to Def Leppard but I assume she’s making a killing while doing it.
Atlanta to Nashville, TN: 3.5 hours
Check out Pinewood Social, these type of restaurant/game/bars seem to be popping up all over the US but this is the first one I went to four years ago. It has a hipster vibe with its craft cocktails and unique spin on everyday foods. Grab a drink from any of the bartenders with the hard-etched line shaved into their heads, go bowl a game or jump in the pool on a sunny day.
At night head down to the popular main street of Broadway, I’d love to tell you which bars to go to but to me every one of them is the same damn country bar. Just mosey on down the street now, ya hear!?
For a good quality coffee shop and quick breakfast, stop at the Frothy Monkey on your way to the next city!
Nashville, TN to Lousiville, KY: 2.5 hours
Eat at Wild Eggs for breakfast off Floyd St. then walk down Market Street. Along this road offers kitschy shops and eclectic restaurants. Against the Grain brewery is attached to the stadium, their taps are always changing and their spin on BBQ is good AF. Sapporo’s Grill and Sushi has phenomenal sushi! They will bring it to your table wrapped in foil and blast it with a blow torch in front of you. Once the flame has died down it’s ready to eat!
Head downtown for more restaurants and shops. For a unique experience go to the Galt House Hotel to visit their upstairs aquarium bar and drink like a fish!
There are plenty of whiskey distilleries to tour in Kentucky. I did both Angel’s Envy downtown overlooking the Louisville Slugger Stadium and Jim Beam in Clermont, KY on my way in to town. Both completely different experiences and equally as fun.
Explore The Highland area, Restaurant Row, and Baxter Avenue. There is a strip of bars that stay open until 4am, you can just bar hop from there. One of the bars has a claw machine where you can try your luck at winning porno tapes and anal beads.
Louisville, KY to Indianapolis, IN: 2 hours
I stayed at this adorable B&B twice, Stone Soup Inn, it’s close to downtown for as little as $99/night. Planning on heading out early in the morning didn’t leave us with a whole lot of time in Indianapolis but I’m not totally sure if that’s a bad thing. Black Acre Brewing is a good stop for food and brews. That’s all I got.
We also made a detour on the way back from Michigan and went to Chicago. I’ll save Chicago for another post since there’s so much to recommend there but just so you know, it’s an option to drive there instead of Indianapolis – also way more fun than the corn fields of Indiana.
Indianpolis to Electric Forest: 4.5 hours
Download the Waze App to keep an eye on cops looking to pull festival goers over. Be safe, have fun, be open-minded!