Area Codes: The telephone area code in Nashville is 615.
Automobile Organizations: Motor clubs will supply maps, suggested routes, insurance, and emergency road service. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is the major auto club in the United States. If you belong to a motor club in your home country, inquire about AAA reciprocity. You may be able to join AAA even if you’re not a member of a reciprocal club; to inquire, call AAA at 800/222-4357, which is also their emergency road service number, or visit www.aaa.com.
Business Hours: Banks are generally open Monday to Friday 9am to 5 or 6pm and Saturday morning. Office hours are usually Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Most stores are open daily from 9 or 10am to 5 or 6pm.
Drinking Laws: The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcohol is 21, and establishments are legally required to ask for ID. Most will, so bring it when you go out. Bars are allowed to stay open until 3am. Beer and wine can be purchased at convenience, grocery, or package stores while liquor is sold through package stores only. On Sundays, you can buy wine and liquor at package stores, but you cannot buy wine in grocery stores; beer can be purchased either place. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in any public area that isn’t zoned for alcohol consumption. The police can fine you, though many will let you off with a warning.
Electricity: Like Canada, the United States uses 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220 to 240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Downward converters that change 220 to 240 volts to 110 to 120 volts can be difficult to find in the United States, so bring one with you.
Emergencies: Dial 911 for fire, police, emergency, or ambulance.
Holidays: Banks, government offices, post offices, and many stores, restaurants, and museums are closed on the following legal national holidays: January 1 (New Year’s Day), the third Monday in January (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), the third Monday in February (Presidents’ Day), the last Monday in May (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), the first Monday in September (Labor Day), the second Monday in October (Columbus Day), November 11 (Veterans Day/Armistice Day), the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving Day), and December 25 (Christmas). The Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Election Day, a federal government holiday in presidential-election years (held every 4 years).
Legal Aid: If you are stopped for a minor traffic infraction (such as speeding), never attempt to pay the fine directly to a police officer; this could be construed as bribery, a much more serious crime. Pay fines by mail, or directly to the court clerk. If accused of a more serious offense, say and do nothing before consulting a lawyer. The burden is on the state to prove a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and everyone has the right to remain silent, whether he or she is suspected of a crime or arrested. Once arrested, a person can make one telephone call to a party of his or her choice. International visitors should call their embassy or consulate.
Newspapers & Magazines: The Tennessean is Nashville’s morning daily and Sunday newspaper. The alternative weekly is the Nashville Scene.
Smoking: Smoking is banned from most workplaces and restaurants (outdoor patios are an exception), but smoking is allowed in over-21 venues including bars, and in the rare hotel or motel room.
Telephones: Many convenience groceries and packaging services sell prepaid calling cards, but most people will want to invest in data plans that allow usage and calls overseas. Most pay phones at airports now accept credit cards. Most long-distance and international calls can be dialed directly from any phone. For calls within the U.S. and to Canada, dial 1 followed by the area code and the seven-digit number. For other international calls, dial 011 followed by the country code, the city code, and the number you are calling. You can also use www.skype.com to place pre-paid calls overseas.
Time: Nashville observes Central Standard Time (CST) or Central Daylight Time (CDT), depending on the time of year. Both are 2 hours ahead of the West Coast and 1 hour behind the East Coast. Daylight saving time is in effect from 2am on the second Sunday in March to 2am on the first Sunday in November. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
Toilets: You won’t find public toilets or “restrooms” on the streets, but they can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, railway and bus stations, and service stations. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bet for clean facilities. If need be, you can always buy a water or cup of coffee to use restrooms reserved for patrons.
Visitor Information: The Nashville airport is currently constructing a new International Arrivals Facility (IAF), and the current building will serve as an interim international passenger processing center during construction. As such, if you’re traveling internationally, it’s probably best to get through the airport quickly, get to your hotel, and then visit the visitor’s center downtown. The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitors Center is located at 150 4th Ave. N., Ste. G-250 (tel. 800/657-6910 or 615/780-9401) and is the main source of information on the city and surrounding areas. The information center, located at the base of the radio tower of the Bridgestone Arena, is open daily during daylight hours and offers free Wi-Fi.
For information on the state of Tennessee, contact the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, P.O. Box 23170, Nashville, TN 37202 (tel. 615/741-2158).
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.