Driving between Nashville and Memphis is the only practical way to see both cities. Interstate 40 connects the two.
Because Nashville and its many attractions are quite spread out, the best way to get around is by car. It's surprisingly easy to find your way around the city and to find parking, even downtown. But bring plenty of cash. Parking can cost a few coins in the meter or upwards of $15 during special events. Some self-service lots also accept credit cards. For helpful downtown-parking information, check out www.parkitdowntown.com. The only time driving is a problem is during morning and evening rush hours. At these times, streets leading south and west out of downtown can get quite congested.
Rental Cars -- All the major rental-car companies and several independent ones have offices in Nashville. Fortunately, most of the companies have desks conveniently located on the lower level at the Nashville International Airport. Major car-rental companies in Nashville include Alamo Rent-A-Car, at the airport (tel. 800/327-9633 or 615/340-6546; www.alamo.com); Avis Rent-A-Car, at the airport (tel. 800/831-2847 or 615/361-1212; www.avis.com); Budget Rent-A-Car, at 1816 Church St., 1525 N. Gallatin Pike, and the airport (tel. 800/763-2999 or 615/366-0822; www.budget.com); Dollar Rent-A-Car, at the airport (tel. 800/800-4000 or 615/367-0503; www.dollar.com); Enterprise Rent-a-Car, at the airport (tel. 800/325-8007 or 615/275-0011; www.enterprise.com); Hertz, at the airport (tel. 800/654-3131 or 615/361-3131; www.hertz.com); National Car Rental, at the airport (tel. 800/227-7368 or 615/361-7467; www.nationalcar.com); and Thrifty Car Rental, 1201 Briley Pkwy., at Vultee Boulevard, and at the airport (tel. 800/367-2277 or 615/361-6050; www.thrifty.com).
Parking -- In downtown Nashville, there are a variety of parking lots, ranging from $6 to more than $10 per day. Drop your money into the self-service machine at the end of the parking lot. Downtown parking is also available in other municipal and private lots and parking garages.
When parking on the street, be sure to check the time limit on parking meters. Also be sure to check whether you can park in a parking space during rush hour (4-5:30pm), or your car may be ticketed and towed. On-street parking meters are free after 6pm on weekdays, after noon on Saturday, and all day Sunday. For more downtown-parking information, check out the new website www.parkitdowntown.com.
Driving Rules -- A right turn at a red light is permitted after coming to a full stop, unless posted otherwise, but drivers must first yield to vehicles that have a green light or pedestrians in the walkway. Children under 4 years of age must be in children's car seats or other approved restraints when in the car.
Tennessee has a very strict DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) law, and has a law that states a person driving under the influence with a child under 12 years of age in the vehicle may be charged with a felony.
Although Nashville is served by the extensive and efficient Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) bus system, it is generally not practical for tourists to get around this way. Call the Customer Service Center (tel. 615/862-5950), which is open Monday to Friday 6:30am until 6pm. The MTA information center and ticket booth, located at 400 Charlotte Ave., is open Monday to Friday 6:30am to 6:30pm and on Saturday 8am to 1pm. MTA bus stops are marked with blue-and-white signs; in the downtown area, signs include names and numbers of all the routes using that stop. All express buses are marked with an X following the route number.
Adult bus fares are $1.60 ($2.10 for express buses); children under 4 ride free. Exact change is required. You can purchase a weekly pass, good for unlimited local rides from Sunday to Saturday, for $22 per adult or $10 for ages 19 and under; a picture ID is required. Seniors and riders with disabilities qualify for an 80¢ fare with an MTA Golden Age, Medicare, TenneSenior, or Special Service card. Call tel. 615/862-5950 to register for this discount. For more information, visit www.nashvillemta.org.
For a quick way to get around downtown during weekdays, look for the LunchLINE shuttles. As a convenience to downtown workers, the Central Business Improvement District and Nashville Downtown Partnership offer a free trolley that loops through the heart of downtown, weekdays from 11am to 1:30pm. Riders may hop on or off at any of the nine stops. A shuttle picks up at each stop every 10 minutes. No tickets are required. Just look for the yellow LunchLINE signs.
The downtown route passes by many points of interest in downtown Nashville and is a good way to get acquainted with the city. For more information and downloadable maps, log on to www.nashvilledowntown.com.
For quick cab service, call Music City Taxi (tel. 615/262-0451), Checker Cab (tel. 615/256-7000), United Cab (tel. 615/228-6969), or Yellow Cab (tel. 615/256-0101). The flag-drop rate is $3; after that it's $2 per mile, plus $1 for each additional passenger. There is a flat-fare triangle between the airport, downtown, and Opryland. Between any two points in the triangle, the fare is set at $25 for up to four passengers.
With the exception of the quaint, strollable Germantown neighborhood just north of downtown, the heart of downtown Nashville is the only area where you're likely to do much walking around. In this area, especially around lower Broadway, you can visit attractions, do some shopping, have a good meal, and even go to a club, all without having to get in your car. The suburban strips can't make that claim.
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.