Where To Stay in Nashville the First Time

From the Author: I've lived in Nashville for 12 years, and my wife was born here. We love Nashville and know it well, having worked downtown for five years. As a tour guide at the Musicians Hall of Fame, I always speak with visitors, and I'm thrilled to give you my local advice. If you have any questions, we respond quickly to comments!

Lower Broadway, Nashville

Downtown – Most Convenient

Downtown Nashville is easily the most convenient location. All the major attractions are within walking distance.

You can walk to Broadway, all the museums, Bridgestone Arena, the Ryman Auditorium, great shopping, and more.

There are two cons to saying downtown:

  1. It can be expensive. At certain times, prices can skyrocket due to demand and constant festivals and special events. You can avoid this by staying in neighborhoods outside the downtown area. More on that below.
  2. The hustle, bustle, and noise. Downtown Nashville is a lively place. If you prefer a quiet, more laid-back atmosphere, you may want to consider the Gulch or Midtown.
The Gulch Nashville

The Gulch

The Gulch is ideal if you want to be away from the noise and crowds while being only a minute's walk from downtown. It's one of my favorite areas of town.

If you plan to visit Broadway and stumble back to your room, it's not the best choice. If you want to be in an area still considered downtown but away from crowds, the Gulch is for you!

It has an urban, progressive, and relaxed atmosphere with restaurants, bars, and live music. It's also a popular spot for bachelorette parties.

The Gulch is home to the famous Wings Mural.

Grand Ole Opry Nashville Tennessee
Grand Ole Opry Nashville

Music Valley – Best for Families

Music Valley and Opryland are about a 20-minute drive from downtown Nashville. The Opryland Hotel is huge, with a complete village and a mall next door.

Opryland has acres of pathways, waterfalls, dining, and shopping. They host many different types of events throughout the year. It is a self-contained experience, and if you are visiting to visit the Grand Ole Opry primarily, this is a great choice.

There are three main reasons visitors choose to stay in Music Valley:

  1. Visit the Grand Ole Opry. This is one of the most famous locations in Nashville, as it's the home of the legendary weekly country music stage and concert radio show.
  2. Stay at Opryland Resort. This epic indoor village features waterfalls, gardens, paths, and boat rides.
  3. Shopping at Opry Mills – a vast, family-friendly shopping mall with attractions for kids and shopping for adults.
Musica Statue – Music Row

Music Row – Best For Music History

Music Row is a historic district home to many of Nashville's major record labels and recording studios. It is a fascinating spot for music fans, industry professionals, and those interested in music history. Whether downtown or Music Row is better for you depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience during your visit to Nashville.

Music Row is a 45-minute walk or ten-minute drive from downtown Nashville.

Don't get confused between Broadway and Music Row. Music Row was a suburban Nashville street where recording studios converted homes into studios. Today, it still feels like a neighborhood street.

Top attractions include RCA Studio B, operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame. Huge stars recorded there, including Elvis.

Editors Roundup

Best for Music Row Access: Virgin Hotel (Check Availability)

Best for Price: Hilton Garden Inn (Check Availability)

Best for Amenities: Placemakr Music Row(Check Availability)

Best for Luxury: Virgin Hotel (Check Availability)

Midtown Nashville

Best Place to Stay Near Vanderbilt

Staying near Vanderbilt is ideal if visiting a friend or loved one in the hospital.

The best area to stay is the West End/Hillsboro area. It's safe and away from downtown so you won't have any problems.

The area is very easy to walk around. You won't need a car unless you want to go downtown. Plus, a well-kept secret is that parking at Vanderbilt is free.

The Country Music Hall of Fame


SoBro stands for “South of Broadway” and is just a 10-minute walk from the heart of downtown. You are still in the downtown district, not centered in the middle but within what is considered “downtown Nashville.”

Key attractions in SoBro include the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ascend Amphitheater with its beautiful riverfront views, and the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

The biggest advantage to SoBro is that you're still within easy walking distance of major Nashville attractions like Broadway, Bridgestone Arena, the Musicians Hall of Fame, etc.

Midtown – Close to Vanderbilt

Midtown is not considered downtown and is less touristy than other areas. Locals like this area as it has a terrific, walkable strip of bars and restaurants.

Midtown is a 10-minute drive Southwest of downtown. Visitors like it because it is close to Vanderbilt University, Music Row, The Parthenon, and Centennial Park.

The neighborhood also has a popular nightlight spot at Division Street, with eight bars and restaurants within walking distance.

You should stay in Midtown if:

  • You don't mind being a little further up the road from Broadway.
  • Close to Vanderbilt, Music Row, Centennial Park, and The Parthenon.
  • Want a local vibe with different places to eat and drink.

East Nashville

East Nashville

East Nashville is separated from downtown Nashville by the Cumberland River, although it's still only a short drive from downtown. I wouldn't recommend walking from East Nashville into downtown as it's a bit far, and you'd have to walk near traffic, making it a bit dangerous.

East Nashville can be thought of as more of a suburban neighborhood than a tourist draw.

One major advantage of East Nashville is the lower prices for hotels (since it's further from the action) and it's closer to Nissan Stadium. If you are in town to see a concert or game at the stadium, this is a good option.

The neighborhood has several great things to do:

  • Shelby Park. A 300-acre multi-use park just two miles from Downtown. It offers kids' playgrounds, river views, fishing, boating, picnic shelters, dog parks, golfing, and more.
  • The Basement East. A prime music venue for live music in Nashville. Known by local musicians to be one of the best places for live music.

East Nashville is also known for its hip feel and food scene. Popular restaurants include:

  • Butcher and Bee. Serving coffee, juice, sandwiches, and more.
  • The Pharmacy. Famous burger parlor and beer joint.
  • Mas Tacos Por Favor. Snug, no-frills Mexican restaurant.
  • Five Points Pizza. Perhaps the most famous and popular pizza restaurant in Nashville.

If you like going for a walk and don't mind being a little further from downtown, stay in East Nashville.

21st Avenue, Hillsboro


Hillsboro is a cool neighborhood with many boutique shops, bars, and restaurants. It's a popular place for Vanderbilt and Belmont students to hang out as it's close to the campus and West End. My wife and I have always enjoyed Fido's Coffee Shop; they always win the Best Burger in Nashville award.

Hillsboro/West End wouldn't be considered downtown. However, like most Nashville neighborhoods, it's just a short drive from downtown. Hillsboro is a self-contained area with famous restaurants like the Pancake Pantry, Belcourt Theatre, and Belmont Mansion.

If you want to stay in an area with a hip, family-friendly vibe and a more relaxed atmosphere, choose Hillsboro!

12 South

12 South is a popular Nashville neighborhood consisting mainly of single-family homes, artists, and musicians.

It features charming coffee shops and styling clothing boutiques, vintage guitars, and craft beer.

Some great restaurants include Edley's Bar-B-Que, Burger Up and Bartaco. It also has a popular farmers market during the warmer months.

Like other Nashville neighborhoods mentioned here, if you don't want to be within a short walk of major Nashville attractions but prefer a quiet, more relaxed atmosphere, 12 South might be for you while still only a short drive from downtown.

Editors Roundup

Best Location: Nashville Marriott (Check Availability)


Germantown is just 5 minutes north of downtown and really close to everything. It's just a ten-minute walk to downtown.

Why would you stay in Germantown?

If you want to avoid the downtown buzz and feel a little more at home amongst a Nashville suburb, this would be a good choice without being far from the action.

The Bicentennial State Mall Park is in Germantown, a multi-acre park with a granite map of the state. In the distance, the Tennessee State Capital is visible.

You may also want to stay in Germantown if you are in town to see a Baseball game. This area is home to the Nashville Sounds, a minor-league baseball team.

Germantown is also home to the Nashville Farmers Market.

Nashville Airport

Even at its busiest, the Nashville Airport is only about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville. That can't be said for many airports around the country!

If you have a late arrival or early departure, it's obviously a good move to stay near the airport.

Top hotel recommendations:

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