The capital of Tennessee, Nashville, also known as Music City, acts as a cultural hub for the entire state and the broader region. As a result, it's no surprise that Nashville gets plenty of visitors. Whether it's country music lovers, fans of the local sports franchises, or just people who want to soak up the atmosphere of this unique town, there's plenty to bring visitors to the city.
And once you arrive in Music City, you'll want to know the best way to get around. While many of the top attractions are located right in downtown Nashville within walking distance of one another, there are other sights worth seeing that will require a little more planning. Fortunately, Nashville's public transportation network operates throughout the city, making it easy to get around and enjoy everything the city has to offer. This is especially useful if you're planning to discover the most unmissable things to do at night in Nashville, so that you don't have to drive everywhere you want to get to.
Of course, before you head out to explore, don't forget to drop off your bags at Bounce luggage storage in Nashville. You'll have a much easier time getting around Nashville if you're not carrying unneeded bags with you.
How to get around Nashville by train
Riverfront Station is Nashville's main train station, and is connected to the Music City Star regional rail network. This is a commuter rail network that connects downtown Nashville with satellite communities such as Donelson and Hamilton Springs. Although very handy for locals who want to reach downtown Nashville, most visitors are fairly unlikely to use the Music City Star network, concentrating instead on spending their time in the more central areas of the city.
It's also important to know that Nashville doesn't have an Amtrak station. Getting into Nashville by train from other major cities isn't going to happen. The nearest major Amtrak station is in Atlanta, which isn't exactly convenient for rail travel.
However, Riverfront Station is still important for tourists, since it functions as the central hub for most of Nashville's public transportation infrastructure. It's one of the main bus stops in the city, and is a stop on the Music City Circuit, an important bus network that we'll cover in more detail later.
Unlike some other cities, Nashville doesn't offer rail transit to Nashville International Airport. However, it is possible to take public transportation from the airport to the downtown core via bus line 18. Line 18 stops within two blocks of Riverfront Station, making it possible to connect with the Music City Star rail network if you need to reach an outlying area of the city. The bus stops right at 4th Avenue and Deaderick Street, close to the Tennessee State Capitol and convenient for most downtown hotels.
You can also get from Nashville airport to downtown by shuttle bus, taxi, or ridesharing. Without traffic, the drive only takes around 15 minutes, so traveling by car might be a better option if you've picked up a lot of items at baggage claim and don't want to load them onto a bus. Taxis operate on a flat rate of $30 from Nashville airport to downtown, with an extra two dollar charge per additional passenger. Ride-hailing apps can provide a cheap alternative to taxis, but beware rush hour. Getting caught in Nashville traffic is nobody's idea of a good time.
How to get around Nashville by bus
Nashville doesn't have a Metro system, so if you don't want to deal with renting a vehicle in Music City, you're going to need to get familiar with the city's bus network. Operated by Nashville MTA, also known as WeGo, Nashville's bus system transports locals and visitors alike through the city.
Navigating the bus routes of a new city can be daunting, but it's not too hard to figure out. There are apps you can download to a smartphone that will help you plan your trip from one destination to the next. Many of Nashville's major transportation hubs such as Riverside Station offer free Wi-Fi, making it easy to search online to find out where you need to go.
You can buy tickets from the driver as you board the bus. You can also buy them in advance with the Quick Ticket app, which can save you some time before getting on the bus. Plus, you won't have to mess around with change. A regular Nashville bus ticket costs two dollars for an adult and is good for two hours. An all-day pass costs four dollars, and a seven-day pass costs $20.
The Music City Circuit offers free transportation in certain areas of the city, making exploring Nashville both easy and cheap. This bus service has two routes located in the downtown area. There's the Blue Circuit, which runs between Riverfront Station and Tennessee State University. Then there's the Green Circuit, running between the Gulch and Bicentennial Mall. Between them, these two circuits visit many of the top sites in Nashville, including the Ryman Auditorium, Tennessee State Museum, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Buses are air-conditioned, which is a huge selling point in the heat of a Tennessee summer, and you can't beat the cost. As a result, the Music City Circuit is a fantastic way to get around Nashville's downtown area and see many of the major sites with a completely free bus service.
How to get around Nashville by car
Nashville is one of only a few cities in the United States where three interstates connect. Plus, thanks to its rapidly growing population, Nashville certainly gets its share of traffic. Renting a car will certainly make it easier to explore the Metro area, but you should be prepared to plan your route carefully and be patient, since running into traffic becomes almost inevitable after a while.
It's not always easy to find a place to park in Nashville either. Generally speaking, parking is in short supply, especially downtown. The lack of available parking spots can make parking downtown a frustrating ordeal, and may put you off renting vehicles altogether. If you do plan to drive in Nashville, it's good to know that there are several park and ride services that can remove some of the hassle of trying to park in the city. For instance, if you're going to a Predators game at Bridgestone Arena, you can park in lot D of Nissan Stadium and then take a free shuttle to Bridgestone.
Alternatively, ride share can be a good option for short trips in and around the downtown core. If you are intent on driving, it's easy to rent cars at the airport, and most rental agencies can provide you with maps and GPS systems to make it easy to navigate your way around Nashville.
Can I get around Nashville on foot?
Nashville is a city that was built around the car, and so if you want to visit the various neighborhoods of the city, car rental, taxis, or rideshares are the best way to do it. However, many of Nashville's top sights are located downtown and only a few blocks from one another, so you can see a lot of the city on your own two feet. For instance, it's only a five-minute walk from the Country Music Hall of Fame to the Johnny Cash Museum, and only 15 minutes to the Tennessee State Capitol. The Frist Art Museum is only another 10 minutes away, and that's enough to keep you busy for at least a couple of days, all within easy walking distance of one another. For that reason, it's important to consider where to stay in Nashville. While you'll pay more for a hotel downtown, it may be worth it so you can walk to everything you need to get to. Plus, downtown has the lion's share of the best restaurants and the best shopping in Nashville, so you'll find everything you need within a short walk.
If you don't feel like walking, or if you want to have a little more fun on your trip, you'll also find that downtown Nashville has some quirkier transit options that make getting around fun as well as easy. Foremost among these are the pedal taverns. If you've ever wanted to drink and drive legally, this is perhaps the best way to do it. These large mobile bars are powered by pedals, and are always popular with bachelor and bachelorette parties in the city. Although not the most efficient way to get around, they're definitely a fun way to see the city and get some exercise while having a good time.
You'll also find golf carts available to hail for a ride in downtown Nashville, and the service is free. Routes are limited, since legally, the golf carts can only operate in a small area of downtown. But a golf cart is a good option for taking the weight off your feet if you're sick of walking. Electric scooters also offer an affordable and convenient way to get around downtown. Multiple companies operate in the central core of the city, and you can access the scooters via an app. What makes the scooters convenient is that you can drop them off at multiple locations when you're done using them, so you don't have to return them to a central place.
Finally, you can also explore downtown Nashville by bike. B-Cycle makes it easy to pick up a bike at any one of 36 stations throughout the city and drop it off at any of the others. You will need to purchase a membership, but they offer daily as well as monthly options, and prices are set up to allow for short trips as well as full-day rentals. You can rent both regular and electric bikes, and a three-day pass with unlimited rides will cost $25.
Downtown Nashville has enough attractions to keep visitors busy for days. Depending on what you want to see and do in the city, you may find that you don't need to leave this area. In that case, traveling on foot or by any of the transportation options listed above will be more than good enough. It's only if you want to see more of the city or the surrounding area that it might be worth considering renting a car.
Getting around Nashville isn't so different from navigating any other major city. A little bit of preparation can go a long way. Plus, it's a good idea to have a firm sense of what you want to do on your trip. If it's the downtown attractions that interest you the most, it's probably better to save yourself the expense and hassle of renting a vehicle and rely instead on public transportation, ridesharing, bikes, scooters, golf carts, and walking. If, on the other hand, you want to explore the city's diverse neighborhoods and see more of Tennessee, having your own vehicle may be the only option.
But however you choose to get around Nashville, you'll enjoy your trip much more if you're not carrying more than you need to. Don't forget to drop off your unneeded luggage at a Bounce luggage storage so you can travel light. That way, you can focus on enjoying your trip instead of having to wrestle with heavy bags the whole time.