Did you know that the Nashville crime rate is higher than the national average? Is this a cause for concern if you are planning to visit?
The city leaders are very aware that the reputation of Nashville is souring due to the amount of traffic, noise, and drunk-and-disorderly infractions. Yet, Nashville is exploding, so something has to be done. The good news is that Nashville is stepping up. They will be assigning dozens more officers to the lower Broadway area during peak hours.
You may have heard of a few incidences in Nashville that give you pause. In this post, I'm going to show you why Downtown Nashville is abundantly safe. In fact, Nashville is a delightful city to walk in.
When I worked downtown, I would spend my evenings walking on the West End and through Centennial Park. Most of the year it's comfortable to walk along the river, through parks, and up and down the famous Broadway strip. Just follow some simple guidelines that would apply to any major city.
Is it Safe to Walk Around Nashville?
It is safe to walk in Nashville if you follow some simple guidelines. The rise in crime in the Nashville area is due to specific Nashville suburbs that tourists are unlikely to visit. Downtown Nashville is a busy, well-lit location with a visible police presence. Despite the occasional incident, tourists can feel safe walking Downtown or in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Nashville Metro Area encompasses many suburbs that not only include Downtown Nashville but also a 15-mile radius of Nashville suburbs around it. You have about a 1 in 100 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime within a 500-mile area.
HOWEVER! -> Most of the violent crime in Nashville comes from 10 suburbs in the surrounding Nashville area. Stay away from these areas, and the risk of any crime drops significantly. Those suburbs are Bordeaux, Buena Vista, Capital View, McKissack Park, Elizabeth Park, Osage-North Fisk, Cleveland Park, College Heights, Buena Vista Heights, and Shepherd Hills.
If you are visiting Nashville to see the sights and attractions of the Downtown area and staying away from these suburbs, the chances of a crime against you are so slim that it's almost not worth mentioning.
Where are You Planning to Walk?
If you are planning on spending your time walking around Downtown Nashville, based on my experience as a local, you will feel safe. Nashville welcomes over 14 million visitors to Downtown every year. The area from Lower Broadway all the way up to The Gulch is a very busy, bustling place that is active with, at times, huge crowds. The busiest period in Nashville is the Spring and Summer when temperatures warm up and outdoor eating and drinking become really popular.
What you'll find when walking around is a solid police presence all day and night. You may occasionally have a beggar approach for money, but they tend to be courteous as they have quality shelter in Nashville and receive some money for selling The Contributor, a newspaper to initiate a conversation about homelessness and poverty. Nashville doesn't have a large homeless or drug problem on the streets.
Have you Heard?
In 2021 and 2022, there have been three recent shootings that got media attention. The first was a shooting at a hotdog stand on 3rd and Broadway. This occurred at 3 a.m. It left one man wounded. There was another fatal shooting outside a Bar Louie in the Gulch that left one man dead. As of writing this, no one knows who or why they did it. There was another shooting in a parking lot at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night over a fight about a parking ticket. As you can tell, these are odd events that have no recognizable pattern.
Business owners and city leaders call these “random occurrences.” You rarely hear about assaults on tourists; in fact, in the ten years I've been living here, I've never heard of any assaults. It's my opinion that Nashville is safe.
Where to Walk Around Nashville?
It is safe to walk in Downtown Nashville at all hours of the day and night. Statistically, you are at a very low risk of any violent crime. Nashville is a town that is awake all the time. It is also safe to walk in the Gulch, West End, Hillsboro Village, and Music Valley. These are popular tourist attractions, and we wholeheartedly recommend enjoying a walk in these areas. For hotel recommendations within walking distance of Broadway, click here.
Don't be misled by the reports you see that say things like “Nashville is Dangerous! It's not. The Nashville area is large, with about 20 suburbs. Approximately 10 of those suburbs are low-income, high-crime areas. But I'm guessing you won't be visiting those areas.
Downtown Nashville just has so much to offer on foot. Stroll up and down Lower Broadway, where you can visit honk-tonk highway. Take a tour of The Ryman Auditorium or visit the most famous bar in Nashville.
There's also a great hop-on hop-off trolley that will take you all over town.
The Gulch is safe neighborhood located south of Downtown, about a 6-10 minute drive. Parking is ample, easy, and cheap. It's a very walkable area. You'll find an array of trendy shopping and restaurants with easy access to the West End.
Hillsboro/Vanderbilt Area/West End
This area is simply a joy to walk in. I've spent many hours walking up and down 21st Avenue with my wife and kids. There are all sorts of trendy and hipster coffee shops, book shops, cooking shops, and restaurants and bars. You'll also find the famous Pancake Pantry, which oftentimes has crowds wrapped around the block to get into.
At West End, you'll find access to Centennial Park. When I used to work downtown, I would spend my afternoons and evenings walking by the park where families were feeding ducks and groups of men and women exercised. It's a wonderful place to walk.
What Precautions Should You Take in Nashville?
This advice is common advice for navigating a city.
- Car theft. The most common type of crime in Nashville is car break-ins and theft, by far. So, lock your car and keep valuables out of site.
- Be alert. Always be aware of your surroundings and others around you.
- Plan ahead. Tell someone where you are going, and make sure someone else knows where you are staying. If you are planning to drink a lot, make a plan for your transportation home i.e., Uber or designated driver.
- If you feel uncomfortable, leave the area or seek help. Avoid unnecessary eye contact, don't carry large sums of money, and avoid wearing headphones.
- Hide valuables and conceal expensive accessories.
- If someone tries to rob you, don't fight.