Nashville is a diverse metro area that encompasses ten counties and a number of smaller cities and communities. In 1963, the City of Nashville and Davidson County merged to create Metro Nashville. The area that includes other counties, as well as central Nashville collectively, make up the Economic Market Area.
Each community within this broad area has its own unique character and style, so let's explore this popular area of Tennessee.
The Downtown Nashville Community (also called subarea 9 by city planners) is located in the heart of Nashville. It includes the richest of Nashville's history.
Its streets contain some of the cities best tourist attractions and best places for a true urban lifestyle. It offers eight distinctive neighborhoods that include the core of downtown Nashville, which is known as "The District." The neighborhoods are Gulch, Hope Gardens, North Capitol, Sobro, Rutledge Hill, and Rolling Mill Hill.
Hermitage and Donelson
This community (subarea 14) includes several areas that are steeped in Nashville history as well as country music. Beyond the neighborhoods of Hermitage and Donelson, this area encompasses Music Valley, Stewart's Ferry, Una, Old Hickory, and Dupont Area.
The North Nashville Community is one of the oldest in Nashville and located to the north-northwest of Downtown Nashville. This small area (subarea 8) covers Metro Center down to the border of Bicentennial Mall and includes a rich history of early Nashville.
Included in this area are the neighborhoods of Bordeaux, Buena Vista, Fish, Germantown, Hadley Park, Jefferson Street, Richland Park, Salemtown, and Scottsboro. It is also home to three universities, including Tennessee State University.
The East Nashville community (subarea 5) is located on the Eastern side of the Cumberland River directly across from Downtown Nashville. This community contains some of Nashville's most historic homes from the early days of Nashville.
East Nashville is known to have some of the best neighborhoods as well as some of the worst.
The revitalization of East Nashville has brought with it some very trendy restaurants, clubs, and businesses. At the heart of it, is the neighborhood of Five Points. It's filled with music venues, small bars, and boutiques for shopping.
The Midtown Nashville community (subarea 10) is located across from Downtown Nashville and I-40. It stretches south and southwest of Nashville all the way to the Williamson County line.
Within its boundaries, you will find Green Hills, Music Row, and Nashville's gay district along Church Street. It's home to four universities including Vanderbilt, one of the nation's finest.
Another somewhat rural community is that of Parkwood and Union Hill (subarea 2). Its next door neighbor, the Madison community (subarea 4), is the mirror opposite and has been populated and repopulated for decades.
Madison has some wonderful history, but it's often overlooked in the Nashville area.
The Joelton area (subarea 1) has historically been a rural community and one of the least populated of the Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County communities. However, the closer you are to Nashville, the more populated it is.
The rural communities normally begin after you leave the Bordeaux area (subarea 3) and cross over Briley Parkway into White's Creek which is also part of subarea 3.
One highlight you won't want to miss out here is the Fontanel Mansion. It was built for Barbara Mandrell and the tour sells out fast. However, the estate has other activities to keep you busy.
An older community, South Nashville (subarea 11) still has a bit of historical charm. It includes Fort Negley, Mt Olivet Cemetery, and the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
You will also find several industrial and commercial areas in South Nashville, which is bordered by the Cumberland River, Franklin Pike, Antioch, and Briley Parkway.
The neighborhoods in South Nashville include Berry Hill, Mt Olivet, Woodbine, and Woodlawn. It's also the community to find Crieve Hall, Elysian Fields, Glendale, Glencliff, and Paragon Mills.
Southeast Nashville (subarea 12) is the southernmost community in Davidson County. It includes the neighborhoods of Antioch, Cane Ridge, Elington, Oakhill,
It is primarily a bedroom community with large retail and residential areas. Here, you will find the Benajah Gray Log House and Slave Cabin, one of the county's oldest log homes.
Antioch and Priest Lake
To the east of South and Southeast Nashville and the south of Briley Parkway and Nashville International Airport, you will find Antioch-Priest Lake (subarea 13). It is home to Percy Priest Lake, the largest body of water in Nashville, which has many fun recreational activities to offer.
Beyond the two namesake neighborhoods, you'll also find Cane Ridge and Hick Hollow. Trevecca Nazarene University is in this area as well.
Interestingly enough, this community was home to the Tennessee Hospital for the Insane. From 1851 through 1995, it was located on the corner of Murfreesboro Road and Donelson Pike.
The last of the asylum's original gothic revival buildings were torn down when the Dell Corporation moved in. Yet, there are still a couple of asylum cemeteries and most graves are unmarked.
Metro Nashville communities located west of Nashville include the West Nashville and Bellvue communities.
Bellevue (subarea 6) is the westernmost point of Davidson County and it retains much of its rural charm. It includes the neighborhoods of Edwin Warner, Harpeth River, and Newsome Station.
Jeanie C. Riley's hit song "Harper Valley PTA" was written by songwriter Tom T. Hall about an elementary school in Bellevue.
The community of West Nashville lies just northeast of Bellevue and it is an old, historical neighborhood. Filled with lavish homes, the grandest of them all is the Belle Meade Mansion, otherwise known as the "Queen of Tennessee Plantations."
Directly to the west of Davidson County is Cheatham County. It was formally established in 1856 by dividing portions of Davidson, Dickson, Robertson, and Montgomery counties. This smaller county of 303 square miles was named after Edward S. Cheatham (1818 to 1878), a Tennessee state legislator.
A 30-minute drive from Downtown Nashville, Cheatham is home to a number of interesting cities. Ashland City is the county seat and where you will find the majority of the county's employers. This is a great place to get on the Cumberland River, either with your own boat or on Blue Heron Cruises.
Other cities in Cheatham include the upscale Kingston Springs and the quiet Pegram.
To the west of Cheatham is Dickson County. It was formed in 1803 from parts of Montgomery and Robertson counties and encompasses 490 square miles. The county was named in honor of William Dickson (1770 to 1816), a Nashville physician and statesman.
The city of Charlotte is the county seat and was established in 1804, the oldest in the county. Other cities in Dickson include Burns, Dickson, Slayden, Vanleer, and White Bluff.
Maury County was established in 1807 from Indian lands and portions of Williamson County. It is 613 square miles and located south of Williamson County, making it the southernmost part of Nashville's Economic Market Area.
The county was named after Abram P. Maury (1766 to 1825), a prominent surveyor, politician, state senator, and lawyer.
Home to Columbia State Community College, Maury County includes the city of Columbia. You'll also find the cities of Culleoka, Mt Pleasant, Santa Fe, Spring Hill, and Williamsport in this area.
Montgomery County was established in 1796. It was named after Colonel John Montgomery, a Revolutionary War officer, founder of Clarksville, and signer of the Cumberland Compact.
Montgomery County encompasses 539 square miles in the far northwest corner of the Nashville area. It includes the cities of Cunningham, Palmyra, Sango, Southside, and Woodlawn.
Clarksville is the county seat and home to Austin Peay State University, Dunbar Cave, and Fort Defiance. It is one of the larger cities in this area and many of its residents have some relationship with Fort Campbell, an army base just over the Kentucky border.
Robertson County was established in 1796 from parts of Tennessee (now Montgomery) and Sumner Counties. It was named after James Robertson (1742 to 1814), a state senator and one of the original founders of Nashville.
Robertson County encompasses 477 square miles and is another northern county with a Kentucky border. Springfield acts as the county seat, though Coopertown is another city of considerable size. You will also find the cities of Cedar Hill, Cross Plains, Greenbrier, Millersville, Orlinda, Portland, Ridgetop, and White House.
In the city of Adams, just miles from Kentucky, lies the famous Bell Witch Cave. The Legend of the Bell Witch likely inspired many of the other haunted attractions you can find in rural areas of Nashville and this is truly a hotspot for Halloween.
Rutherford County was established in 1803 from parts of Davidson, Williamson, and Wilson counties in the southeastern part of the metro area. It was named after Griffith Rutherford (1721 to 1805), a Revolutionary War general.
The county encompasses 619 square miles. It is home to the Stones River National Battlefield, part of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.
Nearby Murfreesboro is the county seat and where you will find Middle Tennessee State University. The cities of Eagleville and Lavergne can also be found here. The oldest major city in the county is Smyrna, which was established shortly after the Civil War in 1869.
Sumner County was formed in 1786 from parts of Davidson County and is the other northern county that borders Kentucky. It was named after Colonel Jethro Sumner (1733 to 1785), an officer of the Revolutionary War and soldier of the French and Indian Wars.
Encompassing 529 square miles, Sumner's county seat is Gallatin, home of Volunteer State Community College. Other cities include Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, Mitchelville, and Westmoreland.
The cities of Millersville, Portland, and Whitehouse are split between Sumner and Robertson counties.
Originally carved out of the south end of Davidson County, Williamson County was established in 1799. It received its name from Hugh Williamson (1735 to 1819), a North Carolina politician, surgeon general, and member of Congress.
Williamson County encompasses 582 square miles and it is a very scenic area. This is evident with a drive down the Natchez Trace Parkway, which the National Park Service describes as "A Drive Through 10,000 Years of History."
A predominantly rural county, historic cities and towns like Franklin, Leiper's Fork, and Nolensville offer quaint settings. Newer cities such as Brentwood, Fairview, and Thompson Station were incorporated between the 1950s and 90s. You will also find College Grove, Cool Springs, and Triune in Williamson County.
Wilson County was created from parts of Sumner County in 1799. It was named for Major David Wilson (1752 to 1804?), a Revolutionary War hero and a member of the North Carolina legislature.
The county totals 571 square miles and is home to the cities of Mt. Juliet and Watertown, with Lebanon acting as the county seat.
One of the destinations to note in Wilson County is Cedars of Lebanon. Part of the Tennessee State Parks system, the 900-acre park has many outdoor activities, including camping and hiking. It's also a popular spot to bring your horses for a quiet trail ride.