Nashville (airport code: BNA) is served by the following major airlines: American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300); Continental (tel. 800/525-0280); Delta (tel. 800/221-1212); Northwest-KLM (tel. 800/225-2525); Southwest (tel. 800/435-9792); United Airlines (tel. 800/241-6522); and US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322).
Southwest is the city's largest carrier, with some 87 daily flights out of the city. Most Southwest flights will depart and arrive from the airport's Concourse C. Southwest Airlines also offers air/hotel packages. For details, visit Southwest Airlines Vacations online at www.swavacations.com, or call tel. 800/423-5683.
Some large airlines offer transatlantic or transpacific passengers special discount tickets under the name Visit USA, which allows mostly one-way travel from one U.S. destination to another at very low prices. Unavailable in the U.S., these discount tickets must be purchased abroad in conjunction with your international fare. This system is the easiest, fastest, cheapest way to see the country.
Getting into Nashville from the Airport
Nashville International Airport (tel. 615/275-1600) is located about 8 miles east of downtown Nashville and is just south of I-40. It takes about 15 minutes to reach downtown Nashville from the airport. Many hotels near the airport offer a complimentary shuttle service, while others slightly farther away have their own fee shuttles; check with your hotel when you make your reservation.
The Super Shuttle International (tel. 800/258-3826 or 615/361-6034) offers transportation from the airport to Nashville and surrounding areas. Departures leave the airport every 15 minutes, and they leave downtown and West End hotels for the airport every 30 minutes. The Gray Line Airport Express (tel. 615/275-1180) operates shuttles between the airport and downtown and West End hotels. These shuttles operate from the airport every 15 to 20 minutes daily between 6:30am and 11pm; in addition to the hotels listed below, a few other hotels are on call. The downtown shuttle stops at the following hotels: Hilton, Union Station, Courtyard by Marriott (Fourth and Church), Holiday Inn Express, Renaissance Nashville Hotel, Nashville Sheraton, The Hermitage, and Doubletree Hotel Nashville. The West End shuttle stops at the following hotels: Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel, Embassy Suites-West End, Holiday Inn Select, Courtyard by Marriott, Marriott-Vanderbilt, Guest House Inn, Hampton Inn-Vanderbilt, Hampton Inn and Suites-Elliston Place, and Days Inn-Vanderbilt. Rates are $11 one-way and $17 round-trip.
Metropolitan Transit Authority buses connect the airport and downtown Nashville. Buses run 7 days a week. One-way fares are $2. All-day, unlimited-ride passes are $4.80. Buses from the airport leave at the ground-level curbside. Buses to the airport leave from the new Music City Central downtown transit station, at 400 Charlotte Ave. It's located between Fourth Avenue North and Fifth Avenue North. For current schedule information, call tel. 615/862-5950 Monday to Friday 6:30am to 6pm and Saturday 8am to 1pm.
Taxi service is another option. There is a $25 flat fare in the triangle between the airport, downtown, and Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Between any two points, the fare is $25 for up to four people. Outside this geographical triangle, the meter starts at $7. Taxis are available on the ground level of the airport terminal. For information, call the Transportation Licensing Commission (TLC) at tel. 615/862-6777.
Nashville is a hub city intersected by three interstate highways. I-65 runs north to Louisville, Kentucky, and south to Birmingham, Alabama. I-40 runs west to Memphis and east to Knoxville, Tennessee. I-24 runs northwest toward St. Louis and southeast toward Atlanta. Downtown Nashville is the center of the hub, encircled by interstates 40, 65, and 265. Briley Parkway on the east, north, and west and I-440 on the south form a larger "wheel" around this hub.
Here are some driving distances from selected cities: Atlanta, 250 miles; Chicago, 442 miles; Cincinnati, 291 miles; Memphis, 210 miles; New Orleans, 549 miles; and St. Louis, 327 miles.
If you're heading into downtown Nashville, follow the signs for I-65/24 and take either exit 84 or exit 85. If you're headed to Music Valley (Opryland Resort), take I-40 east to the Briley Parkway exit and head north. If your destination is the West End/Music Row area, take I-40 around the south side of downtown and get off at the Broadway exit.
To limit frustration, try to avoid hitting the interstates around either city at morning or afternoon rush hour. Traffic tie-ups and lengthy delays are becoming increasingly common, especially in Nashville. Ongoing freeway construction and renovation projects further congest the roadways. To find out about lane closures and other headaches, call the Tennessee Department of Transportation's construction hotline at tel. 800/858-6349. Snow and ice storms may also make road conditions hazardous. For updates, call the state's inclement weather/road closure hotline (tel. 800/342-3258; www.tdot.state.tn.us/tdotsmartway).
Memphis lies at the southwestern tip of Tennessee, bordering Mississippi and Arkansas. Interstate 40 connects Memphis with Nashville to the east and Little Rock, Arkansas, to the west. Interstate 55 connects Memphis with Mississippi to the south, and St. Louis to the north. Both interstates intersect with I-240, which loops around the city's north, east, and southern suburbs. The western edge of downtown Memphis is the Mississippi River.
If you are a member of the American Automobile Association (AAA) and your car breaks down, call tel. 800/222-4357 for 24-hour emergency road service. The local AAA office in Nashville is at 2501 21st Ave. S., Ste. 1 (tel. 615/297-7700), and is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm.
The speed limit is 70 mph for much of the stretch between Nashville and Memphis, which also offers access to clean rest stops and dozens of service stations and restaurants. For travel information at any time, dial tel. 511 on your cell phone.
If you're visiting from abroad and plan to rent a car in the United States, keep in mind that foreign driver's licenses are usually recognized in the U.S., but you should get an international one if your home license is not in English.
Check out Breezenet.com, which offers domestic car-rental discounts with some of the most competitive rates around.
There is no plane service between Nashville and Memphis. You will have to rent a car and drive the 3-hour distance between the two cities. Interstate 40, also known as "The Music Highway," has several interesting diversions along the way.
Greyhound (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) is the sole nationwide bus line. International visitors can obtain information about the Greyhound North American Discovery Pass. The pass, which offers unlimited travel and stopovers in the U.S. and Canada, can be obtained from foreign travel agents or through www.discoverypass.com.
Greyhound offers service to Nashville from around the country. These buses operate along interstate corridors or local routes. The fare between New York and Nashville is about $66 one-way and $132 round-trip; the fare between Chicago and Nashville is about $45 one-way and $90 round-trip. The Greyhound bus station is on the south side of downtown Nashville at 200 Eighth Ave. S.
Greyhound service between New York and Memphis costs about $77 one-way and $154 round-trip; the fare between Chicago and Memphis is $54 one-way and $88 round-trip. The Greyhound bus station is in downtown Memphis, at 203 Union Ave.
From Atlanta, Georgia, round-trip fares are $78 to Memphis and $56 to Nashville.
Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) serves Memphis (but not Nashville) with a route that goes from Chicago through Memphis (about 11 hours' travel time) en route to New Orleans (about 8 hours) on the City of New Orleans. If you arrive in Memphis on an Amtrak train, you'll find yourself at Central Station, 545 S. Main St. (tel. 901/526-0052), near Calhoun Street. This historic railway station has been completely renovated into a combination transportation center with public bus and Main Street Trolley connections and retail complex. However, the neighborhood around the station remains quite run-down. The area is not safe on foot, especially after dark. If arriving by train, you should take a cab or the Main Street Trolley to your hotel.
International visitors planning to visit several U.S. cities can buy a USA Rail Pass, good for 5, 15, or 30 days of unlimited travel on Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com). The pass is available online or through many overseas travel agents. Visit Amtrak's website for the cost of travel within the western, eastern, or northwestern United States. Reservations are generally required and should be made as early as possible. Regional rail passes are also available.
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.