Last week I was walking around Downtown Nashville on a lazy Sunday afternoon while enjoying the music flowing out of the honky-tonks and bars. As I walked out of Mikes Ice Cream shop (a local favorite) I walked up Lower Broadway, past Tootsies Orchid Lounge and The Ryman Auditorium, and into Fifth and Broadway – a fabulous new development with great shopping and restaurants. It made me realize that if you were visiting Nashville you might not know just how walkable Downtown is.
So, in this post, I’m going to answer the question…
Can You Visit Nashville Without a Car?
It’s easy to visit Nashville without a car. Nashville is not a large sprawling city and the airport is only 20 minutes from Downtown. Most attractions are focused on Downtown Nashville and Lower Broadway. Nashville neighborhoods like The Gulch, Germantown, or Hillsboro are walkable once you are there. There are rideshare, public transport, bikes, and scooters to rent.
How to Get from Nashville Airport to Downtown
The airport is only 20 minutes from Downtown Nashville during non peak hour times. If you are not going to rent a car when arriving at the Nashville Airport (BNA), there are a lot of options to get to downtown Nashville. The Nashville Airport has a “Ground Transportation Center”. It’s located on ground level. Once you’ve picked up your luggage, head right once you walk outside and follow the signs. From there you have the option of the following:
- Rideshare (Uber/Lift) – An Uber costs about $20-$30 dollars from BNA to Downtown.
- Taxis are also available from the same location and tend to be more expensive than an Uber.
- Public Transportation. These buses are called WeGo Public Transit. Follow the signs for “Shuttle/Buses”.
- Shuttles. These need to be organized ahead of time. Companies include Nashville Express Airport Shuttle and CitiValet.
What Can See in Downtown Nashville Without a Car?
Downtown Nashville is very walkable. However, you will want to make sure that you are staying within a comfortable walking distance. I recommend staying Downtown as it’s just close and convenient to everything. If you want to spread your wings to other suburbs, I’ve listed the best forms of transportation below. For a list of hotels that are within walking distance of downtown that we recommend, click here.
All of the following attractions are within easy walking distance of Downtown.
The Bridgestone Arena
The Bridgestone Arena is located across the street from Rippy’s Bar and Grill, Tootsies Orchid Lounge and The Ryman Auditorium. If you are coming to Nashville to see a show, The Bridgestone Arena is smack dab in the middle of everything. The Bridgestone hosts concerts, Nashville Predator games, and even Monster Truck rallies.
Honky-Tonk Highway (Lower Broadway)
Lower Broadway is a lot of fun. It’s a historic strip of buildings that have been turned into over 32 bars. You are literally stepping into music history on this strip that plays music (not just country music) 24/7. For a list of the best bars on Broadway, click here. To learn more about the most famous bar on Broadway, click here.
The Ryman Auditorium
The historic Ryman Auditorium used to be the home of the Grand Ole Opry from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. the venue has hosted notable stars such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, and Minnie Pearl. Today, visitors can tour the 2,362-seat auditorium, visit the museum, or catch a live show. Book a guided tour here.
On a hot summers night in August, my wife and I parked our car downtown and walked over the bridge to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at the Nissan Stadium. This venue is the home of the Tennessee Titans. It’s a very pretty and easy walk. Still, if you want to get a taxi or a bike cab, those options are available too.
Nashville Hop On Hop Off Trolley Tour
The hop on hop off tour features a 90-minute trolley tour with over 100 points of interest. You can hop on at any one of the stops. For example, if you are staying downtown, hop on at 201 Broadway on hop off at any one of the places that grab your interest. You’ll get live onboard commentary, stop a the Bicentennial Square/Farmers Market and learn about the popular Nashville sights and history. This is a great way to discover Nashville and the popular suburbs without paying for Uber or a Taxi every time. The cost is only $47. The stops include:
- Downtown Nashville
- Ryman Auditorium
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- Tennessee State Capital
- Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
- Nashville Farmers Market
- Capital View Avenue
- Marathon Village
- Centennial Park
- Belmont Mansion
- The Union Station Nashville Yards
- The Gulch
More Walkable Attractions in Downtown Nashville:
- The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Click here for a map from downtown.
- Country Music Hall of Fame
- Johnny Cash Museum
- Tennessee State Capital
When Might You Need Transportation?
If you are planning to visit and not just visiting Downtown, you’ll probably need a form of transportation to get there. For example, if you plan to see Andrew Jackson’s “The Hermitage”, The Grand Ole Opry, The Zoo, or basically any of the surrounding suburbs, you’ll need a form of transportation. Once you are within the individual areas of Nashville, walking is a breeze and preferably the best mode of transportation.
You may want to visit The Gulch, Midtown, Germantown, Music Row or East Nashville. Each of those suburbs are self contained and could warrant a day trip in and of themselves. They are only a 10 minutes drive or 30 minute walk from Downtown. This may be restrictive if you don’t have a car.
How to Get Around
Nashville has a bus station close to downtown that can take you from suburb to suburb. It’s called the WeGo Transit. Click here for the schedules and more information.
In Nashville, rideshares (Uber/Lift) and taxi’s are readily available. Like other cities, Nashville has allowed scooters. If you are so inclined, you can rent electric Bird scooters. You’ll need to app to get access. It’s not uncommon to see scooter riders in traffic. There are also public bikes available for rent.
Of course, you can walk anywhere if you have the time and are fit enough. However, if you are visiting other areas (and you should!) like The Gulch, Midtown, Hillsboro, or Germantown, you’ll probably need to hitch a ride.
If you are coming to Nashville and only plan on staying the Downtown area, you do not need a car. As mentioned above, there is so much to see and do in the heart of Nashville. Nashville is quite self contained.
If, however, you would like to branch out and visit some spots on that require a bit of a drive, you’ll need to be prepared to pay for a rideshare, taxi or bus. The good news is that even the further out areas are not a long way. For example, The Hermitage or Arrington Vineyards, two popular destinations, are only 20-30 mins from Downtown Nashville.
I hope this helps. What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment below.
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