The Best Neighborhoods in Nashville to Spend the Weekend
These Nashville neighborhoods are the best places to stay if you want to make the most of Music city.
Even as Nashville real estate developers attempt to invent new neighborhood names like a Chat GPT-generated list of marketing tools (North Gulch? Sylvan Summit? Gulch View?), Nashville really is about neighborhoods. Distinct areas of town still represent different communities of cultures and people, and while the lines between them are getting a little blurrier, you can still recognize what makes each neighborhood special. Whether you’re looking to stay for a night or a week or do a little neighborhood-hopping as part of a visit to Nashville, here’s a handy guide to where to go, where to stay, and what to do.
Not too long ago, this West Nashville neighborhood (where the streets are curiously named after states, not countries) wasn’t on many tourists’ itineraries as a place to visit during their trips to Music City. A decade of development has turned the area around into a magnet for locals and visitors alike who are seeking out fun bars, great food and maybe even a little beer and spirits tasting.
Where to stay: Short-term rental housing is the way to go in this still largely residential neighborhood, as the closest hotels are on the other side of the interstate and not very interesting. Instead, check out your options like a dream home that comfortably sleeps 10 or this tres chic Paris-inspired apartment with a killer rooftop deck.
Things to do: When the weather is nice, the expansive outdoor space at Bringle’s Smoking Oasis is the place to hang in the Nations. In addition to great Texas-style barbecue and boozy drinks, there’s plenty of space in the pet-friendly and kid-friendly turf backyard to stretch out in the plentiful seating options or play some yard games while watching sports on outdoor televisions with screens you can probably see from space. Visitors can sample beers at four breweries, a lot for a small neighborhood. Fat Bottom, Southern Grist, Harding House and Czanns are all unique in their own way, but similar in that they make great craft beers. Pennington Distilling Co. also welcomes visitors for tours and tastings of their excellent vodka and whiskey offerings.
Restaurants to hit: Nicky’s Coal Fired was one of the first restaurants to mark the Nations as a dining destination with its coal-powered pizza oven pumping out pie after pie along with house-made pastas and classic cocktails. Daddy’s Dogs doesn’t boast a long menu, but those are some damned good dogs. L by Lauter is the new dining concept affiliated with the Southern Grist taproom, but it’s much more than just a place to find some bar snacks to enjoy with a pint. Sure, it’s that too, but the globally inspired cuisine like a koji-marinated fried chicken crunch wrap or pork belly burnt ends under a tamarind glaze rises way above your typical pub grub.
Bars & nightlife: Streetcar Taps & Garden is a new tavern with an old history. Named after the century-old building’s former use as the last stop on the Charlotte Ave. streetcar line before it hung a right to head out to the state prison, Streetcar is quickly turning into a popular neighborhood gathering spot. A convivial beer garden behind the tavern is perfumed by the aromas coming off a smoker that provides a lot of the food for the hybrid German/Southern menu, an idea so crazy that it works. Nations Bar & Grill is another spot to sit stool-by-stool with locals who know where to find the coldest beer and best burger in the Nations.
The heart and soul of Nashville’s more bohemian side of the river in East Nashville, Five Points is an easily walkable neighborhood filled with bars, restaurants, shops, and galleries. For live music that stretches beyond the twang of downtown, the clubs surrounding Five Points are the places to hang.
Where to stay: Outside of AirBNBs, the lodging options of Five Points are limited, but those that exist are excellent. Van Dyke Bed & Beverage is conveniently crawling distance from the heart of the neighborhood, and this boutique hotel is more of an extension of those bars anyway. The ten rooms are beverage-themed from whiskey to wine to tequila with appropriate decor to match. You’ll be checked in by your bartender who will keep you sufficiently lubricated for the extent of your stay. Waymore’s Guest House and Casual Club is an easy walk from Five Points, and the boho boutique hotel offers guest rooms, suites and bunkrooms to handle almost any size party.
Things to do: The Five Points neighborhood is often late to rouse, so take an afternoon stroll around and admire the varied architecture of the houses lining the residential streets. Check out the Five Points Alley Shops for a collection of eclectic galleries and shops or drop into The Hip Zipper, a favorite destination for the best in vintage clothing, because nobody would be caught dead walking around Five Points wearing new jeans. The Shoppes on Fatherland are tiny but packed with crafts, clothing, antiques, and specialty food items.
Restaurants to hit: Chef Margot McCormack could run for mayor of East Nashville if such an office existed, and her two Five Points restaurants represent the soul of the community. Margot Cafe & Bar is the prime nighttime stop for French-inspired dishes artfully crafted using fresh seasonal local ingredients. Five Points Pizza has saved many a partier’s life thanks to their walk-up slice window that serves up much-needed sustenance until late at night. To see where the locals gather, visit Lockeland Table during their “Community Hour” when proceeds from the special menu of drinks and snacks go to benefit neighborhood charities.
Bars & nightlife: Treehouse is where industry folks like to meet up after their cooking/serving/bartending shifts are over, so you know they know what’s up. Butcher & Bee has three bars, two for drinking and one for eating that offers a view into the kitchen with the talented chefs at work whipping up small plates of Mediterranean-inspired food. Any one of those three bars is a solid choice. For crafty cocktails, knock on the door at Attaboy and hope you gain admission to sit across from their mixologists that will read your mind and give you the drink you didn’t know you needed. Jane’s Hideaway is new to the neighborhood, but not new to local tipplers after a recent move from downtown to the Five Points area. Industry veteran John Peet brought his creative cocktail menu and commitment to live music with him across the river, and the neighborhood is better because of it.
This formerly industrial neighborhood has become a hotbed of art, culture, food, drink, fun and games, but without losing its slightly gritty character.
Where to stay: Bento Chestnut Hill features apartment-style rooms as part of an urban lodging experiment to maximize amenities within a minimized footprint. They even feature an automated parking garage that stacks cars in a huge rack system to take advantage of the limited space.
Things to do: Geodis Park is the home of the Nashville SC soccer club, and a game there is an experience that is not to be missed! Come ready to cheer, dance and sing all game long. Or you can go on a gallery crawl to the more than a dozen retail art studios that are within an easy walk of the neighborhood. Let WeHo Arts be your guide. If a different kind of crawl is your idea of a good time, sample the beer, wine and spirits at Jackalope Brewing Co., Fait la Force Brewing, Diskin Cider, Corsair Artisan Distilling and Nashville Craft Distillery.
Restaurants to hit: Wedgewood-Houston is blessed with some really great restaurants ranging from the innovative small plate dining at Bastion to the artisan wood-fired pizzas at Il Forno and the slightly-less fancy pub-style pizzas at Dicey’s. Gabby’s has long been revered for serving some of the best burgers in town, but you’ll have to go at lunch, because they’re only open until 2:30. Dozen Bakery is the spot for sweet treats and sandwiches.
Bars & nightlife: In addition to great cocktails, Earnest Bar & Hideaway also serves a fun menu of international cuisine that Papa Hemingway would appreciate. The exposed stone walls make it feel like a subterranean lair, but it’s actually at street level. Flamingo is a hip cocktail bar that flips from a coffee shop to a bar when the party people come out to play. pH Cocktails is another elevated craft cocktail bar, and their mixologists definitely know their way around a shaker tin. But we’re especially partial to Never Never, an elevated dive bar that looks like a welding shop, because it once was and they haven’t done much to change the decor. With great drinks at affordable prices plus plenty of outdoor space to stretch your legs while you bend an elbow, we’re not gonna complain about a little rust.
This former warehouse district wouldn’t have drawn any visitor’s attention twenty years ago unless they were looking to store some hardware products or needed some repair work done on their lawnmower. But once the Bridgestone Arena was constructed, followed by the gigantic convention center and accompanying hotels and restaurants, SoBro property was too valuable to support single-story buildings anymore. Take a visit to Nashville’s urban forest.
Where to stay: SoBro is now the site of some massive hotel construction with national chains growing new properties out of the ground like steel stalagmites reaching for the sky. You can earn or use your hotel points at multiple Marriott, Hilton, Omni, Hyatt Centric, and Westin locations or party with the Parrotheads at the Margaritaville Hotel. 1 Hotel Nashville positions itself as the city’s most sustainable property, right down to their fleet of all-electric courtesy vehicles, ivy-covered living wall face on the front of the building and wooden room keys. Even more importantly for most visitors, 1 Hotel also positions itself right in the middle of the action steps from the attractions of SoBro and Lower Broad.
Things to do: Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, the Country Music Hall of Fame is a mandatory destination if you really want to understand what makes the city tick. With displays ranging from the birth of mountain music to modern stars (there’s a Taylor Swift wing), the museum explains how integral the story of country and Americana is to the fabric of the U.S. Just around the corner are two smaller museums honoring icons of country, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Patsy Cline Museum, upstairs from the shrine to the Man in Black. The Cash Museum is filled with artifacts that come directly from his family, so you know they’re legit.
Restaurants to hit: Two fantastic restaurants are located right next door to each other on the ground floor of the Encore condo building, the first residential complex in SoBro that made it cool to live downtown. Etch was the first restaurant to move into the Encore, and chef Deb Paquette is beloved by local diners for her deeply layered and flavorful international cuisine. Her roasted cauliflower with pea puree and feta crema is a must-order appetizer. Next door to Etch is The Farm House, an amiable farm-to-table restaurant serving creative Southern food with the occasional Italianate influence. Tony and Cathy Mantuano earned Michelin stars for their work at Chicago’s Spiaggia and have brought their talents to the remarkable Yolan Italian ristorante at the luxe SoBro hotel property, The Joseph.
Bars & nightlife: Even most locals don’t know about Bar Sovereign, a quirky little cocktail spot marked only by a tiny sign by the front door of the building in an unremarkable industrial strip. Once you find it, you’ll be amused by the playful drinks and riotous decor featuring mod art and what appear to be parts from an exploded piano hanging on the wall behind the bar. For a more traditional drinking experience, the massive 6th & Peabody complex is home to sister companies Ole Smoky Mountain and Yee Haw Brewing. Both entities actually have manufacturing facilities on-site and offer the opportunity to taste through their product lines. Or you can just grab a beer or some food from White Duck Taco Shop or the Daddy’s Dogs food truck and watch sports on huge screens while enjoying a game of cornhole in the festive outdoor beer garden.
When Nashville became the state capitol in 1843, laborers were immediately needed to construct the new government buildings that came along with that designation. Many of the builders were German immigrants imported from the area around Cincinnati, and they immediately started building their own houses in this first suburb of Nashville, just a short walk north of downtown. Some of the original cottages are still there alongside larger brick buildings that were the homes of the city’s first suburban elites.
Where to stay: Germantown has managed to maintain its residential character with walkable sidewalks connecting commercial strips of restaurants, boutiques and salons. For an authentic experience, short-term rentals are the way to go, whether you choose a stylish loft or an apartment with a sweeping view of the city’s ever-changing skyline from the rooftop deck. The Germantown Inn offers slightly more conventional lodging options with ten suites in a boutique hotel created from a renovated historic antebellum Federal-style home.
Things to do: Tennessee boasts a rich variety of produce, and walking the stalls of the Nashville Farmers’ Market is a great way to discover what’s in season so you can order it off the menu at the restaurant you visit later. The Market Hall also features a food hall filled with impressive local eateries and vendors of arts, crafts, and other local products. Sharing a parking lot with the NFM is the Tennessee State Museum, a free attraction that tells the story of the state culturally, geologically, musically, and politically. Rotating exhibits accompany the permanent collection, so there’s always something new to learn. If the AAA minor league Nashville Sounds are playing in town, a night at their Germantown ballpark is always entertaining.
Restaurants to hit: For a neighborhood with only a couple thousand residents, Germantown boasts some of Nashville's best restaurants. From the ingenious rustic European dishes at Rolf & Daughters and City House to the sleek modern seafood emporium Henrietta Red, the dining is exceedingly fine. More casual options also draw visitors from around the city and across the country to fun spots like Butchertown Hall, Tailor Nashville, 5th & Taylor, Zeppelin, and Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen. For some authentic soulful breakfast and lunch food, check out hidden gems Big Al’s Deli or Silver Sands Cafe.
Bars & nightlife: Geist is a cozy restaurant and bar located in a former blacksmith shop where now something other than horseshoes get hammered. Mother’s Ruin managed to weather the difficulties of opening just a few months before a tornado, pandemic and Christmas Day bombing turned 2020 into Nashville’s annus horribilis, and this outpost of the popular NYC bar has quickly become a favorite late-night destination thanks to their delicious menu of upscale bar food and bartenders who still free-pour their drinks with a minimum of “shaker show” pretentiousness.
Tucked between two universities, Vanderbilt and Belmont, this primarily residential enclave grew up around the old streetcar line that spoked out from downtown in the first half of the 20th century. The Hillsboro Village strip of shops and restaurants has seen many changes through the years, but it still exhibits much of the character of the past along with a few more modern and flashier restaurants and boutiques. For a cheap and quick ride downtown, hop the #7 bus for just $2. Nashville’s public transit doesn’t run very late at night, so you might need to arrange alternate transportation home.
Where to stay: Historic zoning regulations limit new construction in Belmont/Hillsboro, so AirBNBs are a popular choice to feel like you’re really in the heart of the neighborhood. Whether you need your own treehouse apartment or just a well-appointed apartment above a garage, there are a myriad of private options. Or you can book a room at a more traditional B&B for the more personal service. The Moxy Nashville Vanderbilt at Hillsboro Village adds some stylish honest-to-goodness hotel rooms to the neighborhood, including 200 parking spots that are at a premium elsewhere. The inviting lobby at this boutique features a check-in desk/bar where each guest is welcomed with a signature cocktail, a pool table, board games, and plenty of comfy spots with USB ports to do a little work. Cleverly designed rooms are minimalist in the Moxy style, but with all the amenities guests need for a comfortable stay. You can even order a bedtime story from the phone in the room, with content ranging from sweet to slightly salacious.
Things to do: The campuses at Belmont and Vandy are both excellent locales for a stroll through the green spaces and attractive academic buildings. Known worldwide for its excellent music business program, Belmont features a small gallery of iconic guitars, appropriately named The GIG, and Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Student Center houses a small art gallery with rotating exhibits. The main strip through Hillsboro Village offers fun shopping at stores like Posh, The Impeccable Pig and UAL.
Restaurants to hit: For coffee or a delicious meal, check out Fido, a neighborhood hang in the location of a former pet store. Popular breakfast options include Biscuit Love, a slightly less crowded outpost of the famous biscuit sandwich joint in the Gulch, Pancake Pantry where there’s usually a line out the door to scarf down some flapjacks and the New Orleans-inspired Ruby Sunshine, where day drinking is always encouraged. Double Dogs is a casual sports bar with a dizzying array of televisions, and Hopdoddy is a mod burger joint.
Bars & nightlife: E3 Chophouse is best known for the grass-fed beef that they raise on their own ranch, but the top floor bar is also worth a visit thanks to inventive cocktails and a rooftop aerie with firepits and comfy couches for lounging. The Villager Tavern remains unchanged from decades ago with walls covered with old photos of patrons plus dart boards and foosball. On your birthday they’ll “let” you drink your beer out of a dog bowl. Happy birthday, indeed. Frosé fans flock to The Co-op for boozy frozen treats.
This commercial district along the northern edge of Vanderbilt’s campus is often overlooked by tourists, but its proximity to downtown and multitude of lodging and entertainment options make it worth considering.
Where to stay: Loews Vanderbilt has been a neighborhood mainstay for decades, but it still feels modern and updated with high-end amenities and a real focus on local products in its drinking and dining options. The happy hour at Mason Bar features local craft beers and cocktails made using spirits from Nashville distilleries, and it runs every night of the week, so that’s a real bonus. Loews is an extremely pet-friendly hotel and even offers a special room service menu for your pooch. The Graduate Hotel is intentionally quirky with decor meant to be reminiscent of a Southern grandma’s house and a crazy karaoke bar complete with an animatronic backup band called “The Cross-eyed Critters.” It’s like Chuck E. Cheese on a serious moonshine buzz. Even more popular is the Graduate’s rooftop bar, White Limozeen, a precious pink indoor/outdoor space that hosts bevies of bachelorettes every weekend.
Things to do: The large and bucolic Centennial Park is home to a full-scale model of the Parthenon, an homage to Nashville’s reputation as a center of education, hence its nickname as “The Athens of the South.” A mile-long walking trail rings the park with plenty of benches to stop and sit a spell.
Restaurants to hit: The original location of Hattie B’s is where many folks were first introduced to Nashville hot chicken. The queue to get in for fiery fowl is almost always long, but here’s a tip: order by phone or online and walk straight up to the counter for your order. We promise it tastes the same in your hotel room, and you’ll be closer to the facilities if the need arises. Of all the popular locations of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joints around town, the one in Midtown offers the best parking situation and most manageable crowds. Midtown Cafe is a smart bet for a power lunch or an intimate dinner. As a bonus, Midtown Cafe offers shuttle service to and from events at many entertainment venues downtown.
Bars & nightlife: The Hutton Hotel converted two stories of their parking garage into a fantastic hidden nightclub called Analog. They don’t feature shows every night, but when they do, the atmosphere is unmatched anywhere else in Midtown. The small bar at Henley is sneaky-good, serving up some of the most creative cocktails in town and featuring as good of a mixology staff as you’ll find anywhere.
This mile-long strip of restaurants, bars, and shops has become ground zero for daytime field trips away from downtown for hordes of bubbly bachelorettes and tippling tourists, but that’s fine. They’re generally better behaved outside of the debaucherous downtown. Stroll the sidewalks and enjoy this compact entertainment and shopping district.
Where to stay: Outside of the actual 12th Avenue corridor, 12 South is almost entirely residential, so AirBNB is the way to go if you want to stay here. Available accommodations range from lovely guesthouses to attractive little lofts to entire houses. Just remember to be kind to the neighbors living next door and watch that you don’t block their driveways with your car.
Things to do: Sevier Park represents the border of 12 South furthest from downtown and offers a community center with a small gym to sweat off last night’s sins. Or just walk the trails around the small park and admire the babbling brook that flows through the center. For retail therapy, 12 South has a dense collection of fun boutiques. Nashville native Reese Witherspoon opened her Draper James Southern lifestyle store in 2015, and it’s been the site of thousands of selfies since then. White’s Mercantile is a fun little upscale general store filled with health and beauty items, clothing, home goods, and gift ideas.
Restaurants to hit: The finest dining in 12 South is at Josephine, where Chef Andy Little creates a menu of seasonal food inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch sensibilities, Southern soul, and French cooking techniques. Trust us, it works. Epice brings Mediterranean flair to the neighborhood with an exotic menu of Lebanese cuisine served in an attractive bistro setting. Urban Grub serves a wide variety of cuisine from Tex-Mex to seafood to steaks, and it does them all well. Casual drinking and dining options include Frothy Monkey, and the typographically challenged bartaco and MAFIAoZA’s Pizzeria. Named the nation’s best restaurant for 2022 by Food & Wine magazine, Locust serves some of the best elevated dumplings you’ll taste outside of Canton. Edley’s Bar-B-Q and Burger Up serve more-than-respectable barbecue and burgers, respectively.
Bars & nightlife: Embers Ski Lodge is an unexpected treat in Nashville, where you wouldn’t ordinarily discover an après-ski ambiance in this town where the mercury frequently tops a hundred in the summer. But there it is, complete with its woodsy decor and roaring fire plus fantastic cocktails. 12 South Taproom was an early neighborhood pioneer and locals still gather there for craft beer and great sandwiches.