Visitors Guide to 11 Walkable Neighborhoods Nashville Loves

If you are like me, you love to wander on foot to explore a new city. There are lots of walkable neighborhoods Nashville loves to flaunt…some with well-known attractions every first time visitor needs to see. But once those are checked off the list, it’s time to truly explore.

My son and I did a little of both –  hit the downtown highlights, but also explored some of the quirky walkable neighborhoods in Nashville, Tennessee.  In our few days, we only scratched the surface. You’d need at least a week to really put a dent in this list (and if you have young children, read this post on Nashville with Kids).  

Here are 11 great walkable neighborhoods Nashville loves!

WALKABLE NEIGHBORHOODS NASHVILLE LOVES (BEYOND DOWNTOWN)

Visitors Guide to 11 Walkable Neighborhoods Nashville Loves

12 SOUTH NASHVILLE

  • Shopping in 12 South. This extremely walkable neighborhood Nashville is home to lots of great shops including Reese Witherspoon’s trendy Draper James, or Imogene +  Willie where you can get custom jeans. We opted for some bargain hunting at UAL, United Apparel Liquidators, where I bought my new favorite coat.
  • Nashville Murals. No matter which Nashville neighborhood you visit, search for the many murals around town created by local and internationally known artists. If you aren’t up for a hunt, or don’t plan to be in Nashville anytime soon, you can take a virtual tour of music city murals.  We found quite a few in 12 South.
  • Burger Up. There are several nice-looking restaurants in the 12 South neighborhood, but we opted for Burger Up, a kid-friendly joint with fried pickles and delicious burgers.
  • Sevier Park Community Center has a long history as a welcoming place for children and adults to gather and play in the heart of one of Nashville’s most beautiful parks.

In our opinion, the best money-saving option for exploring the city is the Nashville Sightseeing Pass. Pick Day Passes or the FLEX Pass, and then select from over 30 different attractions, big and small.

EAST NASHVILLE

This walkable neighborhood in Nashville has a hip free-spirited vibe and actually includes a couple of walkable micro-neighborhoods. Plus, for anyone who was a fan of the ABC show Nashville, you may remember this is where some of the young stars lived.

  • 5 Points Neighborhood. A guitar is essential in Nashville and you can get any variety you like at Fanny’s House of Music. Grab a hot dog from the very Instagramable I Dream of Weenie hot dog joint, which is located inside a VW microbus. The iconic 5 Spot is East Nashville’s live music venue and hangout.
  • Fatherland District. A few streets over from 5 Points is Fatherland Street. We visited in December and the houses on the street were decked out with lights and the sidewalks on either side of the street had light tunnels. Very festive! If you aren’t here during the holidays, you can still shop the 20-plus locally owned businesses here!

BELLE MEADE – WEST END

This Nashville neighborhood west of downtown was once a thriving thoroughbred breeding farm on 5,300 acres. At the turn of the century, after three generations, debt forced the family to sell and the community of Belle Meade was born. Although not a walkable neighborhood in Nashville, it offers a nice break from the music scene, and there are plenty of places to stroll within the community. Take a leisurely drive around the early planned communities with the tree-lined streets and visit the local attractions.

  • Belle Meade Plantation. Belle Meade Plantation is a mansion that offers tours to learn more about the families who lived there, and also about the enslaved people who helped build the property. You’ll find many different tours here, so you’re sure to find one you like. Enjoy guided group tours, lunch or culinary tours, a bourbon tour, or even a chef-inspired food and wine tour.

    Afterwards, grab a picnic at Belle Meade Meat and Three to enjoy on the grounds just like presidents and other dignitaries did during Belle Meade’s hey day. Tip – get the smoked meatloaf, you won’t be sorry.
  • Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. Botanical gardens are some of my favorite city attractions. Although we visited Cheekwood in December when little was blooming, we enjoyed meandering the paths and the latest exhibit of large-scale blown glass by Dale Chihuly, a favorite artist in our family.
  • Parthenon. This magnificent replica of the original Parthenon in Athens was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centenary Exposition and is located in beautiful Centennial Park. If you are a Rick Riordon fan, you might recall the Nashville Parthenon was a main stop for Percy Jackson in the book The Lightning Thief. Inside is a museum that includes a full-scale replica of the statue of Athena.

While you’re in Nashville, you might also enjoy these tours…I know I did!

  • See a show at the grand Ole Opry! Enjoy a night out watching the show that made country music famous at the Grand Ole Opry. See legendary artists on the same stage as the stars of tomorrow. 
  • Ride the Hop-on Hop-off trolley. Discover the attractions of Nashville at your own speed on this hop-on hop-off trolley bus tour. Forget about driving or parking the car: Just sit back and relax, and get off and explore at any of the 14 stops.
  • Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. Experience the riveting story of country music through interactive exhibits. View one-of-a-kind recordings, films, and instruments that tell the story of those who have helped shape country music.

NASHVILLE NEIGHBORHOODS EVERY FIRST TIMER NEEDS TO VISIT

Visitors Guide to 11 Walkable Neighborhoods Nashville Loves

DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE

Broadway is the main drag in Nashville. It’s the center of NashVegas with the neon lights of the Honky Tonks ablaze 24/7. But if you go just north or south of Broadway, you’ll find Nashville’s main tourist attractions.

There is a reason these destinations are a ‘must do’ for anyone who is making their first visit here. With more hotel rooms than homes, this is still a very walkable neighborhood in Nashville and no matter where you stay, you’ll be able to easily get to the other areas on foot if you like.

  • The National Museum of African American Music. This is the only museum in the world with a dedicated focus on all dimensions of the contributions African Americans have made to American music. The museum will house five interactive galleries dedicated to 50 genres of African American tunes, including blues, jazz, hip-hop, and rap. I hope they cover Motown too. I love Motown.

NORTH OF BROADWAY

  • The Ryman Auditorium. Go ahead and spring for the behind the scenes tour of the historic Ryman Auditorium, where you go backstage and see the dressing rooms. My favorite discovery about the Ryman? It was all managed by a woman, who booked all the legendary acts here and at the Grand Ole Opry (which is now elsewhere).
  • The Ryman Alley. One thing you’ll notice at the Ryman is its backstage is pretty small, and truth be told, that space was added at a later date, so for a period, backstage was the alley next to the Ryman. Acts would hang out outside the stage door, often passing time at Tootsies, the honky tonk across the way. Of course there is fantastic live music all over downtown Nashville, but Tootsie’s has a special reputation.
  • The Grand Ole Opry. So this is NOT in downtown Nashville. In fact, the Grand Ole Opry House is actually 30 minutes outside of downtown Nashville, but I’m including it here because most people think the Grand Ole Opry is at the Ryman Auditorium. The Grand Ole Opry SHOW was at the Ryman until it moved to its current location in 1974.

    This location is a bit out of the way, but well worth the drive. You are the audience for a radio show, just like in the old days with several musical acts. The highlight of our visit was Chris Jansen, a very energetic member of the Grand Ole Opry. 
  • Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Unlike the Country Music Hall of Fame, you probably won’t recognize many of the names at this museum. These are the stories of the session musicians engineers and producers behind the big stars. And it’s not just limited to country music.
  • Printer’s Alley. The bars in Printer’s Alley are a little less honky tonk, and a little more speakeasy.
  • Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant. Enjoy Southern favorites like slow roasted pork with homemade mac and cheese (delicious) and a side of live music at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant.

SOUTH OF BROADWAY OR SOBRO

  • Country Music Hall of Fame. On the surface, there is everything you want in a museum – guitars played by a member of your favorite band, original lyrics on yellowed line paper penned by the songwriter himself. Even flashy displays of wealth, like the 1961 Pontiac Bonneville convertible customized by Nudie Cohen, the person responsible for many of the country stars’ glittery outfits on display. But if you read the displays or listen to the videos, you’ll also learn about the gritty lives of the Country Music elite.
  • Hatch Show Print. A trip to Nashville is not complete without a visit to Hatch. Don’t know them? Well, do you see all the 11×14 show signs around town? Those are all printed at Hatch, a letterpress print shop that has been in business since 1879 and has created posters for pretty much everyone and everything in Nashville and beyond! Want to learn more? Take the tour.
  • Frist Art Museum. If you need a break from music, head to the Frist Art Museum. This cool art deco building, which was once the U. S. Post Office reminded my son and me of the Empire State Building in New York. This museum does not have a permanent collection, rather they host traveling exhibits. My son was drawn to the Albrecht Durer exhibit after learning about him during a semester in Europe.
  • The Listening Room. We loved this place so much, we stayed for the second show! Nashville has plenty of live music, but what I love most is hearing the songwriters tell the stories behind their songs. The Listening Room has three songwriters who take turns playing. This format is similar to that of the famous Bluebird Café, but The Listening Room is within walking distance of Downtown.
  • The Omni Nashville. You can’t find a more convenient location than the Omni Nashville, which is attached to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Hatch Show Print. It’s also within walking distance of the Honky Tonks, North Broadway, and the Gulch.
  • Martin’s BBQ. The smell of smoked meat wafts onto the street drawing you into Martins, who according to the concierge at our hotel, is ‘the best bbq in Nashville.’ You can wile away the day here with shuffleboard, ping pong, darts and of course, live music.

MUSIC ROW

  • RCA Tour Studio B. Not exactly SOBRO, but you get the bus to this iconic stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame. See the studio where stars like Elvis Pressley, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton and more have recorded by taking a tour of RCA’s Studio B.  This unassuming cinderblock building may smell a bit musty, but it’s the ‘home of 1000 hits.’ Stand on the X where Elvis recorded “Are You Lonely Tonight.”
  • Hattie B’s Nashville Hot Chicken. You can’t go to Nashville without trying the famous Nashville Hot Chicken, and why not try the dish at the original Hattie B’s in Midtown. We did not try the hottest version made with ghost peppers, but we did sample both the fried and grilled version. (I actually liked the grilled!)

Read More: 35 Unforgettable Things To Do in Nashville With Kids

OTHER NASHVILLE NEIGHBORHOODS ON OUR BUCKET LIST

Visitors Guide to 11 Walkable Neighborhoods Nashville Loves
Courtesy of Nashville Farmers Market

GERMANTOWN

This is tops for my next visit to Nashville. On my bucket list – stroll through the Nashville Farmer’s Market and grab a picnic to take to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park across the street. Get a bratwurst and a big stein of beer at Von Elrods followed by a cupcake from Cupcake Collection.

MARATHON VILLAGE

We didn’t make it to any of the Tennessee distilleries this time around. Next visit, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. The proprietors, brothers Andy and Charlie, resurrected the family business that was shut down during prohibition. And you can visit the American Picker’s shop – Antique Archeology too.

HILLSBORO VILLAGE

Conveniently located near Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities, Hillsboro Village is a collection of shops, boutiques, and restaurants perfect for a day’s stroll. Adjacent to Hillsboro Village is the Belmont Hillsboro area, which is home to Belmont University, a historic home, shops, and some great eating, and coffee shops. 

If unique real estate and southern-style homes interest you don’t miss your chance to tour the Belmont Mansion. Belmont Mansion’s story begins in 1853 and continues today. It is one of the most architecturally significant houses of the 19th century south.

THE GULCH NASHVILLE

Just south of SOBRO, within walking distance of Broadway is The Gulch, a trendy section of Nashville with plenty of boutiques, restaurants and hotels. A friend of ours heads to the rooftop bar at the Thompson Hotel every time he is in Nashville. In addition to tasty cocktails, it has a fantastic view of the city.

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Visitors Guide to 11 Walkable Neighborhoods Nashville Loves