Neighborhood naming in Nashville is fully and completely out of hand. These days if someone builds two houses next to each other, they will immediately give their “new neighborhood” a name, so you should know this list is ever-expanding.
The good thing is that, with so many neighborhoods, they generally overlap, which means you can easily visit several in just a few miles. Many people are fiercely loyal to their neighborhoods (see: East Nashville) while most locals will identify themselves as coming from a particular neighborhood (Sylvan Park or The Nations) inside bigger communities (West Nashville). The necessarily arbitrary lines drawn between neighborhoods in Nashville makes gerrymandering look as neat as a checkerboard, so don’t worry about which neighborhood you’re going to; just make sure you know the name of a place or its address.
BEST FOR: Everything—music, entertainment, nightlife, dining, sports, lodging, etc.
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: The Grand Ole Opry, the Bluebird Cafe, or great shopping
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: The river on the east; I-40 on the west; Harrison or Jefferson streets to the north (downtown and Germantown overlap); Korean Veterans Boulevard to the south
On its face, downtown appears to be full mainly of frat boys and bachelorettes, and it is—but it’s also home to unique live music venues, incredible food, and elegant hotels. Even if you’re in town only to visit an art museum and catch an opera, I recommend staying down here unless you’re able to grab one of the few boutique hotels on the outskirts. Broadway is the heart of downtown, and locals will say they’re “going to Broadway” to mean any bar on 2nd Avenue or Broadway. Similarly, “going downtown” means going anywhere before the river and past I-40. (I’ve read a few sources that call it “The District,” but no local does that, and the same goes for calling Broadway “Honky-Tonk Highway.” Stop it, tourism bureau!) Within downtown you’ll hear people reference areas such as SoBro (south of Broadway), Printers Alley (between 3rd and 4th streets), and Rutledge Hill (where Husk and a few other restaurants are). Sidewalks are packed with partiers and tourists alike pretty much any time, but especially on weekends. Attractions downtown include too many to list here but a few include the Ryman Auditorium, Bridgestone Arena, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
(Re)building a Bridge
The Shelby Street Bridge dates back to 1909, when the unique, multispan truss bridge was built to connect downtown to East Nashville. Closed to vehicles in 1998, the bridge was to be demolished, but historians and architects fought for its conversion to a pedestrian bridge. Refurbished at a cost of $15 million, the bridge is now a National Historic Landmark and an iconic Nashville image.
EIGHTH AVENUE SOUTH, MELROSE & BERRY HILL
BEST FOR: Food, antiques
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Sports, lodging, museums, art, walkability
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: Corridor along 8th Avenue South that extends until it turns into Franklin Pike
Antique stores line both sides of Eighth Avenue South downtown, and it’s a great place for those looking for leisurely bargain shopping, or who are on a hunt for a one-of-a-kind antique. Eventually that gives way to bars and restaurants as you near Melrose, a residential and commercial area that’s on the rise but isn’t particularly walkable. On the far side lies Berry Hill, a quieter community with a few hidden gems for shopping and dining.
BEST FOR: Food, bars, walking, art, small-venue music
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Sports, honky-tonks, museums
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: U-shape with the Cumberland River forming the west, south, and east boundaries and the north being formed by East Trinity Lane and Gallatin Pike
Across the Cumberland River from downtown is the large, eclectic East Nashville neighborhood with a creative vibe that attracts many musicians and artists. Many homes date back to the early 1900s, and many of the city’s best restaurants are here. Smaller communities within the neighborhood include Five Points (the central hub), Lockeland Springs, McFerrin Park, and Inglewood.
A History of Violence
In the late 1800s, East Nashville’s most infamous residents were Frank and Jesse James, who became famous for robbing banks and trains across the Midwest, always evading capture. In 1876, the James brothers surfaced in Nashville, where they went by the names of B. J. Woodson (Frank) and Thomas Howard (Jesse). The two were said to have known General Harding, General Jackson, and Major John Cockrill. Frank settled down, living on Fatherland and Boscobel streets, and was said to be fond of reading and quoting Shakespeare. But Jesse remained restless. He recruited a new gang in 1879 and returned to crime, beginning a spree that would last until his death. In 1882, Jesse James was shot and killed by Robert Ford, a new recruit to the gang who’d hoped to collect a reward on James’ head.
EDGEHILL & MUSIC ROW
BEST FOR: Dining
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Sports, art, museums other than Historic RCA Studio B
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: I-65/I-40 to the east, 8th Avenue South to the south, 21st Avenue South to the north, Wedgewood to the west
The heart of Nashville's entertainment industry, Music Row is a mix of homes, recording labels, and studios, though there is little to see or do here other than tour Historic RCA Studio B (which actually departs from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum downtown and cannot be entered direct from the Row). It’s located around the corner from 16th Avenue South and Demonbreun Street, which you must pronounce properly as “De-mon-bree-un;” anyone who says “de-mum-breun” is automatically clocked as a tourist. Nearby, Edgehill is an up-and-coming neighborhood that has a small selection of nice shops and good dining and bar options.
BEST FOR: Food, bars, walking
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Live music
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: Jefferson Street to the north, Rosa Parks Boulevard on the west, Third Avenue North on the east
A few blocks northwest of downtown, Germantown is lined with beautiful Victorian buildings and homes. Named for the European immigrants who first started settling here in the mid–19th century, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated as a city arboretum with more than 100 species of trees. Germantown is known for having some of the city’s best restaurants (City House, Henrietta Red, Rolf & Daughters) as well as shops, bars, and breweries. Attractions include the Bearded Iris Brewery, TopGolf, First Tennessee Stadium where the Nashville Sounds and Nashville Soccer Club play, the Nashville Farmers’ Market, and the Tennessee State Museum. Next to Germantown are the Jefferson Street and Fisk University areas, known to have many African-American–owned businesses as well as Tennessee State University.
A Walk to Remember
Interesting architecture and the addition of the Tennessee State Museum, which opened in 2018, make Germantown perfect for an afternoon stroll. Alongside expensive condos and hip restaurants are 19th-century mansions, shotgun houses, and gems such as the Assumption Church (1227 7th Ave. N.). The cathedral was only a few years old when, in 1864, it was pillaged by soldiers during the Civil War. Beautifully restored, the Catholic church remains an active parish today.
BEST FOR: Shopping, the Bluebird Cafe, road rage
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Arts, entertainment, live music outside the Bluebird
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: I-440 on the east, Harding Place on the west, Hwy. 70 S. on the north, General Bates Road on the south
Green Hills is full of boutique shopping, an upscale mall, a lot of excellent chain food, a few local spots, and plenty of sports bars. Unless you want to go shopping here or visit the Bluebird, you probably don’t need to make the trip.
BEST FOR: Food, walking, shopping, art, music
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Sports, honky-tonks
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: Broadway on the north, I-65 on the south, I-40 on the west, and the train tracks on the east
Some people wouldn’t differentiate the Gulch from downtown, but it packs enough to have its own name and website (http://explorethegulch.com), so here we are. The Gulch is an upscale neighborhood known for chic hotels, high-end boutiques, and trendy eateries along with its fair share of chains. Attractions include the Frist Art Museum, the Station Inn, Mercy Lounge, and top-tier restaurants such as the 404 Kitchen and Otaku Ramen.
MIDTOWN, VANDERBILT & WEST END
BEST FOR: Shopping, comfortable lodging
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Walkability, art, sports, neighborhood vibe outside of Midtown proper
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: I-40 on the east, 17th Avenue South and Wedgewood on the south, 31st Avenue South on the west, Charlotte Avenue on the north
People have made fun of the idea that we need to delineate Nashville’s Midtown from downtown when the two are only separated by about a mile, and those people are not wrong. But there is a clear dividing line neighborhood-wise, and it’s mainly one of ambiance. The heart of Midtown is really where Broadway branches off to Division Street and then Demonbreun. That area is by far the most walkable and has the most neighborhood-y feeling. The other exception to Midtown’s large, drivable ethos is Elliston Place on the north side, which has several restaurants and a few notable smaller music venues. West End, on the other hand, is mainly a driving thoroughfare with national hotels, chain restaurants, and a few attractions branching off of it, the most noteworthy of which are the Parthenon and Centennial Park. The Vanderbilt area includes the school and its surroundings.
BEST FOR: Shopping, Grand Ole Opry, Opryland
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Good food, walkability, art, sports
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: Cumberland River on the west, Two Rivers Parkway to the south, and McGavock Pike and Briley Parkway to the north and east
This area on the far-northeast side of Nashville is where you’ll find the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House, the Opry Mills shopping center, and a few other country-themed tourist attractions. Some people may refer to this as “Music Valley,” and those people either work in tourism or have never been to Nashville because no one calls it that. Locals almost never go here, and there’s little reason to unless you’re seeing the Grand Old Opry, going shopping, or seeing the Christmas lights at Opryland.
12SOUTH, BELMONT & HILLSBORO
BEST FOR: Food, bars, walking, shopping
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Sports, honky-tonks, museums
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: Wedgwood on the east, Charlotte Avenue and Natchez Trace on the north, I-440 on the west, 10th Avenue on the south
On the south side of town are several neighborhoods that are great for exploring, dining, and shopping but offer little in the way of lodging. Still, they are excellent neighborhoods to walk around, and the top of that list for many groups is 12South, which is a very walkable strip of stylish shops, beautifully restored homes, charming coffee shops, and restaurants. Belmont is just one street over and includes fewer, more spread out options but remains a bustling area thanks to Belmont University. Hillsboro Village, a collection of shops, boutiques, and restaurants, doesn’t carry the cache it once did as a city hot spot, but it’s still got good dining and shopping options and is home to the Belcourt Theater.
BEST FOR: Food, art
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Sports, lodging, live music
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: Nolensville Pike on the east, Craighead and Wedgewood on the south, I-65 on the west, Chestnut Street on the north
With art galleries around every corner, Wedgewood/Houston is a neighborhood on the rise where you can find select options for great art, dining, and drinking.
BEST FOR: Dining, bars
WHAT YOU WON’T FIND: Live music, walkability between neighborhoods
NEIGHBORHOOD PARAMETERS: I-440 on the east, Hwy. 70 S. on the south, White Bridge Pike on the west, Centennial Boulevard on the north
West Nashville is, like East Nashville and Midtown, another huge area that’s defined mainly by smaller communities within it. You’ll hear people talk about Sylvan Park, Sylvan Heights, The Nations, and the White Bridge area. Where White Bridge meets West End you’ll find Belle Meade, an affluent community where many country stars and business tycoons live. Two historic mansions—Belle Meade Plantation and Cheekwood—are located in Belle Meade.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.