A Guide to Nashville’s Neighborhoods

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee

TripSavvy / Ivey Redding

The city of Nashville, known for its bustling country music scene, offers so much more than neon-lit honky-tonk bars. This Midsouth metropolis boasts a hopping downtown scene, university campuses, historic districts, and neighborhoods with a contemporary vibe. Any proper trip to Nashville requires a visit to the capital city's authentic communities, where you can sample artisanal local food, pop into luxury clothing boutiques, and enjoy culturally rich museum exhibits. Experiencing Nashville's off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods will turn what might have been a tourist-trap-filled excursion into a well-rounded encounter with this multi-faceted city.

Downtown

Most tourists head to Nashville's bustling downtown area to experience the vibrant hub of the country music scene. But downtown Nashville's tourist center is similar to that of New York's Times Square, complete with glitzy, overblown destinations. While no trip to Nashville is truly complete without experiencing what makes this city tick, a quick stop into this district is all you need to enjoy its splendor.

  • The Vibe: Nashville's downtown can be loud and touristy, as music can be heard on nearly every street corner. However, most of the city's main attractions are easily accessed on foot from this zone.
  • The Entertainment: Partiers love this area for its plethora of honky-tonks located on the famous Honky Tonk Highway, Lower Broadway, and Second Avenue. The 350,000-square-foot Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will keep lovers of this music genre occupied for hours with its artifacts, costumes, and a complete exhibit dedicated to the history of country music. You can also attend a show at Ryman Auditorium or take a daytime tour of the theater.
  • The Food & Drink: Nashville's largest rooftop eatery, Assembly Food Hall, boasts over 30 restaurants and bars, and three stages that host everything from local music acts to Sunday Night Football. Skull's Rainbow Room, a Nashville icon, combines fine dining with a bar-like atmosphere, complete with live jazz and burlesque.
  • The Stays: For a luxury stay among rare art and interactive sculptures, choose The Joseph as your downtown lodging option. The Hilton Garden Inn is a good option for those looking to hit all the hot spots, as it's a short walk to many favorites.

SoBro

Just steps from downtown sits the neighborhood of SoBro (South Broadway), with attractions like Music City Center, a sprawling convention center, and a plethora of boutique restaurants and places to stay.

  • The Vibe: While downtown (or North Broadway) is all about old-school Nashville glitz, SoBro is its nouveau little sister (although the locals won't refer to it by this name). You can still hit all the honky-tonks in downtown, and then stumble on back to your offbeat hotel, while still feeling like you're in the city's center.
  • The Entertainment: While here, pop into the Johnny Cash Museum, showcasing the world's largest collections of Johnny Cash artifacts. Or, check out The First, an art museum with rotating works from local artists.
  • The Food & Drink: The Farm Houses' farm-to-table fare is a hit with both locals and tourists, as well as a fun hang-out spot. And, at Acme, you can check out the view of the Cumberland River while enjoying local acts, and dining on from-scratch family recipes.
  • The Stay: The Omni Hotel is the downtown area's largest multi-story hotel with an expanded museum. For a more low-key, but equally as elegant, option choose the Black Swan SoBro for its "cultivated dwelling experience."

Donelson-Hermitage

The adjacent neighborhoods that make up the more residential Donelson-Hermitage borough have more of a suburban flair than downtown. This region is also steeped in Nashville's history surrounding country music.

  • The Vibe: Donelson-Hermitage houses Nashville's international airport, making it easily accessible to those who fly in. For this reason, it's also the best place to stay for budget-savvy travelers, as there are many inexpensive hotels to choose from.
  • The Entertainment: Here is where you'll find The Hermitage, the home of former President Andrew Jackson, and one of the most visited presidential museums in the country. Other attractions include the famous ​Opryland theme park and Nashville Shores, a water park on Percy Priest Lake.
  • The Food & Drink: Mikro Pasta is the place to go for authentic Italian cuisine, and the urban cantina, Nectar, boasts outside dining on fresh Mexican food and signature margaritas.
  • The Stays: Grab a bed and earn your frequent traveler points from one of the many chain hotels in this area, from Homewood Suites by Hilton at the airport to the inexpensive Holiday Inn Express.

Germantown

Located in North Nashville and one of the city's oldest German immigrant communities, Germantown includes the region that lies between the Metro Center and the Bicentennial Mall. This neighborhood is perhaps best known as the home of Tennessee State University.

  • The Vibe: The gentrification of this neighborhood preserved some of the original immigrant cottages, while livening up the space with modern lofts, great restaurants, and trendy local businesses. Here, you'll find a mix of local residents and college kids.
  • The Entertainment: To sample the culture, don't miss the Nashville Farmer's Market, open daily, year-round. You can also pop into the free Tennessee State Museum, with rotating exhibits. Or, catch a Nashville Sounds baseball game at the Germantown ballpark.
  • The Food & Drink: Eat a Detroit-style square pizza at Emmy Squared, or grab a burger and beer at Von Elrod's Beer Hall & Kitchen.
  • The Stays: The Germantown Inn offers a boutique hotel experience, but if you want to blend in with the locals, book a weekend at a residential cottage in an authentic neighborhood.

East Nashville

East of the Cumberland River is where you'll find some of Nashville's most historic homes. Although a magnificent display of old Southern architecture, this neighborhood has been avoided because of a few neglected parts, but modern revitalization has put East Nashville back on the map.

  • The Vibe: You might find the vibe in East Nashville a little quirky, but the region boasts some of the best food, art, and nightlife in the city.
  • The Entertainment: Check out the Five Points area for a unique collection of local shops and cafes—art enthusiasts will love Tomato Art Fest in August. A walk through the heavily-treed Shelby Park along the Cumberland River is a nice way to take in an urban oasis while visiting the city.
  • The Food & Drink: The French-inspired Margot Cafe in East Nashville is the place to go for French toast or duck confit, and The Treehouse in Five Points serves farm-to-table cuisine and craft cocktails.
  • The Stays: The Urban Cowboy's Victorian mansion will lend an unforgettable stay, as its bar and restaurant are a favorite local hangout. Or, check out Vandyke, a "bed and beverage" offering with a modern flair.

Midtown

Midtown Nashville is where folks go when they're looking for a scene. It's often disregarded by tourists, however, as neighboring downtown takes the spotlight. Here, you will find Vanderbilt University, as well as three other colleges. 

  • The Vibe: In Midtown, you'll find a mix of quiet residential neighborhoods and bustling streets filled with hip nightlife haunts.
  • The Entertainment: Midtown Nashville is home to charming Centennial Park, complete with a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, and plenty of open space and walking trails. You can spend a whole day here, popping into the Centennial Art Center, and then playing a game of volleyball on the sand courts afterward.
  • The Food & Drink: The home of the famous Nashville hot chicken sandwich, Hattie B's is a college-student favorite. The more upscale Midtown Cafe is perfect for those looking for steak or seafood in an intimate setting.
  • The Stays: The Graduate Hotel's kitschy style attracts those looking for a playful stay, complete with Nashville's Southern charm. You can also opt for the Hyatt House at Vanderbilt if a college event graces your itinerary.

The Gulch

The Gulch is a mixed-use, LEED-certified community located just two blocks from Music City's center. Not only is this neighborhood environmentally friendly by nature, but it's also home to exclusive hotels, high-end fashion boutiques, and trendy urban restaurants.

  • The Vibe: This area of Nashville feels almost like a planned community, and that's because it is. Once a section of the city housing abandoned warehouses and run-down buildings, this neighborhood is now the hippest place to live, and fully walkable.
  • The Entertainment: The Gulch houses the award-winning Station Inn, a bluegrass venue known far and wide to music enthusiasts. Grab yourself a pair of cowboy boots at the locally-owned Nashville Boot Company, and then head to Casa de Montecristo, a cigar lounge, for an adults' night out.
  • The Food & Drink: Treat yourself to brunch or lunch, as well as some homemade gelato, at Milk & Honey Nashville, or dine with the hipsters at Chauhan Ale & Masala House, a modern Indian gastropub.
  • The Stays: The Gulch is known for its compact amenities and high-rise hotels like Hyatt's Thomson Nashville, a boutique luxury hotel. You can also stay at the Cambria Hotel, right around the corner from Broadway's neon marquees.

Hillsboro Village

Considered one of Nashville's trendiest neighborhoods, Hillsboro Village is a hotspot for young singles and those with budding families. Full of bohemian clothing stores and cocktail bars, this urban mecca attracts hipsters and college students alike.

  • The Vibe: This is the neighborhood for the free-spirited, with Vanderbilt and Belmont University students teeming from the local shops and bars.
  • The Entertainment: Watch a screening at the nonprofit Belcourt Theater, which features independent films, documentaries, and works from local filmmakers. For unique take-home memorabilia, visit Hey Rooster General Store, housing seasonal apparel and accessories from young start-ups.
  • The Food & Drink: Fido, a converted pet store, offers an all-day menu, their own roasted coffee, and locally crafted beer. You can also check out the food truck, Biscuit Love, for breakfast, or grab dinner at Locust, a little dumpling shop.
  • The Stays: There aren't many hotels within Hillsboro Village itself, but you can enjoy a stay in and around Vanderbilt. One such accommodation is the Moxy Hotel, with 24-7 beverage service in the lobby.

Green Hills

Green Hills is the shopping and fashion center of Music City. It's a place to see and be seen, especially at the Mall at Green Hills or at Whole Foods, where you might just bump into a celebrity like Taylor Swift or Tim McGraw.

  • The Vibe: Green Hills' wooded residential streets provide a quiet reprieve from the bustle of the city's downtown. It's an affluent suburban community where visitors go to get their shop on.
  • The Entertainment: The hole-in-the-wall Bluebird Cafe tops the list for the most famous Green Hills locales, as it's a bucket-list stop for visitors hoping to bump into country music's biggest stars. The Mall at Green Hills houses luxury designer brands and is, undoubtedly, the fanciest place to shop in Nashville.
  • The Food & Drink: The hip metro vibe of Santo is also reflected on their menu, which has a slight Indian-fusion slant, and Kalamata's, a Mediterranean restaurant on Hillsboro Pike, is a good place to stop for authentic food that's reasonably priced.
  • The Stays: For the best experience, book a residential weekend rental. Or, you could grab a room at the Courtyard by Marriott Green Hills, if you crave amenities like a rooftop pool, and want to stay near the mall.

Sylvan Park

West of downtown Nashville lies Sylvan Park, an older community that still hangs onto its historical charm. This area is quiet and residential, with lots of fun things to do.

  • The Vibe: Outdoor enthusiasts will love Sylvan Park's low-key vibe (even though it's just 15 minutes from downtown), open spaces, and places to recreate.
  • The Entertainment: Enjoy a round of golf at McCabe Golf Course, a favorite place for both locals and tourists. You can also hike, walk, run, or bike on many of the trails located in the Richland Creek Greenway.
  • The Food & Drink: Pancho & Lefty's Tex-Mex fare can be enjoyed for both lunch and dinner, while its extensive cocktail menu might keep you there long after dark. Pop into dose. cafe if you want to sample their gourmet coffee drinks and bakery items, as they pride themselves on presentation.
  • The Stays: With the residential nature of Sylvan Park, you will certainly want to book a rental home or apartment for your visit, as the nearby hotel choices tend to put you closer to Nashville's center and out of this neighborhood.
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