Nashville has been dubbed the nation’s new “it city” by nearly every travel list imaginable in recent years. You may also know it by other common names such as Music City or the Athens of the South. Whatever you choose to call it, Nashville is an amazing place to live and visit.
There are 20 neighborhoods that make up Nashville and each of these little neighborhood pockets have their own, distinct vibe. It’s because of this that many people say Nashville feels like the littlest big town (you may even recognize a country band by that name, Little Big Town). Each neighborhood almost feels like its own little town but you’re in a large city with access to arts and culture, history, pro Sports and of course, all the live music you can imagine. Our favorites amongst these neighborhoods include East Nashville, 8th Avenue South / Melrose, 12 South and The Gulch.
Another reason for that small town feel in a big city is in large part due to Nashvillians. If you’ve heard of Southern Hospitality, Nashville epitomizes it. Visitors comment all of the time about how nice everyone is here. We call it being “Nashville Nice.”
Nashville traditionally experiences mild climates year-round yet still has the benefit of experiencing each of the 4 seasons. During the changing of seasons, you will find locals and tourists alike are bustling about with the variety of outdoor activities, frequenting restaurant and bar patios or rooftops or attending one the city’s many events or concerts. LOCAL TIP: if you’re coming to experience the music and food scene alone, ‘off season’ (essentially the period in the middle of each season) is a great time to come and avoid as many crowds. Regardless of the time of year, there is no shortage of things to do.
Nashville’s Middle Tennessee location makes it a central and easy location to get to for most visitors whether traveling by car or plane. We find that many visitors make Nashville and Middle Tennessee their meeting point when arranging trips with family and friends from other parts of the country. With direct flights from Toronto and London, Canadian and European visitors find it just as convenient, too.
Best Known For:
Music. Nashville has rightfully earned its name as Music City. Since it’s best known for being the birthplace of country music and bluegrass, most people do not realize that Nashville is a mecca for music of all genres – pop, rock, Americana, jazz, classical, Christian, blues and soul. On any day or night of the week, you can find live music at the Honky Tonks by taking a stroll down Broadway in Downtown Nashville. The music doesn’t stop there, though. You can find live music in almost any neighborhood in town. Throughout the year there are music and songwriter festivals a plenty!
LOCAL TIP: ‘Music Row’ is where the recording studios and other music industry offices hang their hats. It’s a great place for a quiet stroll or taking a tour but you won’t actually find live music there. Head over to Broadway in Downtown Nashville for that. 🙂
Eating & Drinking. You may have seen Nashville hot chicken pop up on a menu near you. Yes, you can find it in many places here and yes, it’s a must when visiting. However, the foodie scene is thriving well beyond hot chicken in Nashville. Renowned chefs and their restaurants have made Nashville their home. The range of dining options spans from casual to among the finest. The city’s food scene has even been featured on shows like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and Diners Drive-Ins & Dives to name a few.
As with food, the drink options are plentiful. There is no shortage of rooftop bars or outdoor patios to get your drink on. Outside of that, there is also a large craft scene: craft beer, craft cocktails, craft distilleries (if that’s a thing)! You can find a plethora of cocktail lounges, dive bars, breweries, distilleries and cideries to boot.
Outdoors. The Cumberland River runs through the middle of Nashville, separating Downtown Nashville from East Nashville offering not only amazing water views from both parts of town but also water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding or day cruises.
Just 2 miles from Downtown, you’ll find the 132- acre Centennial Park that contains a life size replica of the Parthenon (hence the nickname Athens of the South). When exploring Nashville neighborhoods, you’ll find many of them, such as East Nashville or 12 South have tree lined streets that are perfect for leisurely strolls.
The rolling hills of Nashville make it ideal for hiking and biking as well. Within 15 miles of Downtown Nashville, you’ll find Radnor Lake State Park, Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway and Percy Warner Park. In total, Nashville boasts 200+ miles of trails and greenways and 15,800+ acres of open space according to Greenways for Nashville.
History. Don’t let the neon lights of Broadway distract you from the history and culture that Nashville and Middle Tennessee have to offer. For history buffs, a visit to the Tennessee State Capitol, Tennessee State Museum and or a walk through Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park would be in order. Don’t forget a visit to the Hermitage which allows you to tour the home of the 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson.
Music aficionados are also in luck with places like the Country Music Hall of Fame, National Museum of African American Music and Historic RCA Studio B which allow you to immerse yourself in the history of Nashville’s music scene.
- What to Do in Nashville, Southbound Stays favorites and top picks
- Visit Music City, our city’s tourism website
- Nashville Guru, website with a laundry list of things to do
🌆 Popular Neighborhoods:
- East Nashville
- Melrose / 8th Avenue South
- 12 South
- The Gulch
- Grand Ole Opry
- Ryman Auditorium
- Country Music Hall of Fame
- AT&T Building (aka the “Batman” building)
- Tennessee State Museum
- The Parthenon at Centennial Park
- Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
- Cheekwood Gardens and Estates
- Bluebird Cafe
- Nashville International Airport (BNA)
🗓️ Annual Events in the Area:
- Tin Pan South (March/ April)
- East Nashville Beer Festival (April)
- Rock n Roll Marathon & ½ Marathon (April)
- Tennessee Craft Fair (May)
- Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (May/ June)
- CMA Festival (June)
- Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series (June)
- Let Freedom Sing Music Festival (4th of July)
- Music City Hot Chicken Festival (July)
- Music City Brewers Festival (July)
- Tomato Art Festival (August)
- Live on the Green (September)
- Nashville Whiskey Festival (September)
- Americana Music Festival (September)
- ACM Awards (September)
- Nashville Oktoberfest (October)
- Tennessee Beer & Wine Festival (October)
- CMA Music Awards (November)
- Holidays in Nashville (November/ December)
- New Year’s Eve in Music City (December)
🏟️Sports Teams & Events:
- Tennessee Titans (NFL Football), Nissan Stadium
- Nashville Soccer Club (Pro Soccer), Geodis Park
- Nashville Predators (NHL Hockey), Bridgestone Arena
- Nashville Sounds (Minor League Baseball), First Horizon Park
- Vanderbilt Sports, Vanderbilt Stadium
- Music City Bowl Annually (December), Nissan Stadium
- SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament (March), Bridgestone Arena
🛏️ Favorites Places to Stay:
- Southbound Stays Nashville vacation rentals (great for solo travelers or up to 8 guests)
- Sister properties (great for larger groups of 8-12 guests)