Nashville Neighborhoods & Towns
Nashville is situated on the Cumberland River — which runs from east to west — and the city's expansion has been defined by the river's many bends. Downtown Nashville is organized on a grid with avenues running parallel and streets running perpendicular to the river, making the city fairly easy to navigate by car.
Downtown Nashville / The District
Downtown Nashville is home to the state capitol and tourist sites like the Tennessee State Museum, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame. However, this area remains primarily a business and government district and the streets are generally quiet come nightfall.
We recommend a night on the town in The District, as it has developed into a lively nightlife hotspot with plenty of trendy restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The Ryman Auditorium (which once housed the famed Grand Ole Opry), Wild Horse Saloon and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge are some of The District's most popular spots.
If you venture south of downtown Nashville, you'll find yourself in the Gulch. Once a deserted industrial area, the Gulch's abandoned warehouses have been remodeled and now house some of the city's hottest real estate, as well as upscale hotels, restaurants and clubs. Two Gulch streets that have also experienced a revival are 8th Avenue South and 12th Avenue South, both of which are now home to boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
When you see a 40-foot-tall Musica sculpture of nine bronze nudes sitting west of the District, you'll know you've hit the West End, home to Music Row. Recording studios and record labels fill the area's buildings — old, restored homes and sleek, modern structures — and as a result, the area crawls with singers and songwriters. A few blocks northwest on West End Avenue is Elliston Place, home to some of Nashville's loudest and liveliest nightlife spots, which are often frequented by students from nearby Vanderbilt University.
Located south of the West End is the suburb of Brentwood, home to the best shopping centers in town. As well as two large shopping malls, this suburban district — which offers sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville — also features a number of factory outlet centers. However, public transportation is scarce. Visiting Brentwood can be difficult unless you have your own set of wheels.
Further south of Brentwood is the picturesque suburban town of Franklin. Driving down Main Street is like driving through a painting, since Franklin has maintained its southern identity and has become renowned for its numerous antiques shops and homey cafes. Like Brentwood, Franklin does not have a reliable public transportation system, so a car is necessary.
If you're flying into the Nashville International Airport, you will be landing in the southeastern part of the city known as Opryland. Opryland is home to the new Grand Ole Opry — the original was housed in downtown Nashville's Ryman Auditorium — which experts say is still renowned for offering the best in country music entertainment. Opryland is also home to a wide selection of budget-friendly chain hotels as well as an exquisite dining scene.
Nashville's crime rate is significantly lower than Memphis'; however, visitors should still use common sense when exploring. Keep car doors locked and make sure valuables are stored in a safe place. When walking around after dark, avoid dimly lit streets, especially in inner city areas.
Nashville's steamy climate can be a little overwhelming to those who aren't used to it. Travelers should keep this in mind when preparing to visit — especially if you are planning a summer trip. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting burned. Visitors to Nashville should also take precautions against heat stroke, the most common symptoms of which include headache, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. Avoid eating overly heavy meals and drink plenty of water.