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Nashville skyline
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Where to stay in Nashville

We highlight the city's best neighborhoods, tell you where to stay in Nashville, what to do, where to eat and more

By Margaret Littman

When considering where to stay in Nashville, you should do some research. And we are here to help.

There's a joke about the city's real estate listings: in other towns, expect "two bedrooms plus office." In the Tennessee capital, the bonus room is a music studio tucked behind the garage... and your favorite album was likely recorded there.

That's Music City in a nutshell: the best neighborhoods in Nashville, where you should consider booking a hotel room or Airbnb, are filled with hidden gems and surprising destinations. From out-of-this-world restaurants and bars to live-music venues and kid-friendly things to do, the city is ripe for discovery (true story: your new favorite gig spot may be tucked inside an old barn).

The following five neighborhoods are the most visitor-friendly, home to must-see attractions and unexpected finds. The best part? When staying in these areas, you won't have to rent a car (a rarity in this city of sprawl). 

Where to stay in Nashville

Downtown Nashville
Downtown Nashville

1. Downtown

Downtown is Nashville’s economic and tourism hub, as well as the geographic center of the city. This is the heart of Music City’s beat. Some say Broadway has become another New Orleans' Bourbon Street, and it’s true that Lower Broad is lined with honkytonks, belting out Western swing music al­most any hour of the day. But this area isn't just for partiers. In addition to some of the city’s biggest attrac­tions, Downtown is home to swanky hotels, restaurants and great views of the Cumberland River. This location appeals to tourists who want a walkable stay in Music City, no car needed. 

EAT: Gray & Dudley's seasonal menu satisfies the appetite while its location inside the 21c Museum Hotel feeds the soul, with its challenging, innovative (and free!) art exhibitions. 

DRINK: Downtown isn't known for neighborhood-y spots, but Black Rabbit is the exception. Grab a craft cocktail and chat with friends at the bar while listening to live music.

DO: Head to the second floor of the Nashville Public Library. That's where the Civil Rights Room details the important sit-ins and other protests that happened here and helped to desegregate the country. 

STAY: Thanks to a great location and super-fun art (including epic designs on the room closets), the Bobby Hotel offers a little mystery. Use your imagination to figure out who Bobby is and where his treasures came from.

If you do just one thing... Catch a show at the Ryman Auditorium. Seriously, it doesn't even matter who’s playing, you just want to experience the sacredness and great acoustics of the space.

Nissan Stadium
Nissan Stadium
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. East Nashville

East Nashville has a love-hate relationship with the “hip” moniker it’s earned over the years. This gentrifying (or, according to some, gentrified) neighborhood just east of Downtown is home to stylish vintage boutiques and purveyors of handcrafted goods, not to mention many of the city’s tastiest restaurants and best watering holes. Nestled on its banks is Nissan Stadium, host to NFL football game and concerts. Leafy neighboring Inglewood is not as dense, but increasingly welcomes the same offbeat collection of eateries and vintage shops. 

EAT: Wood-fired pizzas with edible flowers—that's the kind of twist on the ordinary you'll find at Folk, a seasonally focused restaurant inside of an old grocery store.

DRINK: Work your way to the basement-level space of The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club and experience a speakeasy that nods to  the vegan and vegetarian crowd.

DO: Hang with friends, have a drink and learn to throw sharp objects at BATL, East Nashville's friendly neighborhood axe-throwing hangout.

STAY: From the outside, Urban Cowboy looks like any other well-maintained B&B. From the inside, it is a hipster paradise, where design is the watchword.

If you do just one thing... Every Monday at 5 Spot, a bar featured on TV's Nashville, is the Dance Party, the best place in the city to cut a rug.

The Gulch
The Gulch
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. The Gulch

Named for the physical gulch that houses the railroad tracks that ran through this area, this is perhaps Nashville's most modern neighborhood when it comes to construction, with high rises and dense city living combined with retail space. It is walking distance to downtown, SoBro and Midtown, but chockfull of its own attractions, primarily shopping-, eating- and drinking-oriented (what else do you need?).

EAT: Celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman's local outpost, Adele's Nashville, doesn't have a celebrity feel—it is delicious and welcoming. The comfort-food menu will stick to your ribs.

DRINK: One of Nashville only watering holes with a West Coast slant, Gertie's Bar has an impressive spirits collection and a well-designed aesthetic.

DO: Shop at Two Old Hippies, a store with souvenirs, guitars, clothing and more. And, because this is Nashville, the store doubles as a live music venue (as seen on the TV show Nashville) five nights a week.

STAY: A glass tower from the outside, the Thompson Nashville is a modern hotel with lots of interesting touches, including art elements made from reclaimed wood from the surrounding neighborhood. Don't skip a trip to the rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson.

If you do just one thing... Among all these high-rises is a cinder block building, which for decades has housed the best bluegrass music in the country. The Station Inn is a must for all visitors to Nashville, not just The Gulch.


4. SoBro

The moniker means "south of Broadway" and this Downtown neighborhood has changed dramatically in recent years. It is home to the hockey arena, the symphony, the convention center and much more. Like its neighbor to the north, it's a walkable area for tourists, but with a more off beat vibe. 

EAT: It is not a trip to Tennessee without some tasty barbeque. Get your fill at Martin's Bar-B-Que. Follow the neon sign to your savory satisfaction.

DRINK: An amazing contemporary art collection (all of which is for sale, just ask to see the binder) is as good as the specialty cocktails on the menu at the hideaway called Bar Sovereign.

DO: This is the neighborhood to learn about country music. Both the Johnny Cash Museum and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum give you a deep dive into the genre's roots. Whether an avowed country music fan or not, you'll love these cultural destinations.

STAY: This all-suites hotel just south of downtown has kitchens (ask ahead of time and your fridge will be stocked), turntables and stereos and free parking, making Stay Alfred SoBro a great deal with a mid-century modern aesthetic.

If you do just one thing... See a show at the city's best outdoor music theater, Ascend Amphitheatre, on the banks of the Cumberland River.

Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Germantown

Historic Germantown is chock-full of boutiques, chef-driven restaurants and bars locals love to frequent. The adjacent Buchanan Street is in a bur­geoning district of restaurants, artists’ studios, galleries and shops. These leafy streets are perfect for a stroll, as is the practice of the many Nashvillians who call this renovated neighborhood home. 

EAT: Browse the booths filled with locally grown goods and then feast on foods made at the Nashville Farmers' Market. Wood-fired pizzas and barbeque are among the favorites.

DRINK: The patio bar at 5th and Taylor is a comfortable, clubby place to sip craft cocktails while making new friends.

DO: The city's minor-league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, plays inside a stadium with a guitar-shaped scoreboard and a mini-golf course right off Jefferson Street.

STAY: One of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood has been transformed into the Germantown Inn, a small hotel that is big on service and luxury. 

If you do just one thing... Shop! The neighborhood is dotted with cute boutiques, including Wilder, where you'll find a variety of hip home goods.

Eat like a local

Nashville hot chicken
Photograph: Shutterstock

Where to eat the best hot chicken in Nashville


If you want to try an authentic take on the stuff, expect an open-faced white bread sandwich, bone-in with a pickle on top. Traditionally, the bird is pan-fried at varying levels of spiciness: the darker the spice mix, the hotter the fare.  


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