Tips For Visitors
It is nice to have a heads up when you come visit a new place.
Nashville, appropriately named “Music City”, has live music everywhere, I’ve seen live music and singing at CeCe Yogurt and even McDonalds.
Welcome to the Third Coast, one of Nashville’s nicknames, based on the media and entertainment industry here, and the number of New York/Los Angeles transplants. There are a lot of neighborhoods in Nashville but assuming you are a tourist then Downtown, Sobro, Gulch, Demonbreun, West End, Green Hills and maybe 12th South will be your primary hangout locations.
Be careful when you drive, the interstates have lots of merging areas which can get confusing, the downtown loop is a cluster you know what during weekday rush hour. 7-9am and 3:30-6pm sometimes even 7pm. Downtown is where 3 interstates come together, I40, I24, I65. 440 is a good way to get from one side of Nashville while avoiding downtown. I24 has the worst traffic jams in my opinion. Drivers are either very slow or insanely fast with an epidemic of broken blinkers. Some transplants claim we are one of the worst drivers in the country. I don’t know about worst but we are not good. Especially in Winter. Local Drivers don’t have traditional Drivers Ed like some states have so they don’t know how to drive in snow. Add in the fact that finding a Nashville native is actually a rarity so everyone around the country brings their driving styles to Nashville and you get a lot of entertainment.
Old Hickory Blvd will confuse a newbie easily, it circles the whole city and so no matter what direction you go, you are likely to see the same street twice (once on the North side and South side of town) making you think you got turned around. Old Hickory Blvd is basically 100 miles around the area but it often changes names or ends and picks up later causing lots of confusion. Also the same address exist on opposite sides, like 2100 Old Hickory Blvd exist near Brentwood and Old Hickory, easily 45 minutes away from each other. It does happen when you go to the wrong side of town due to the GPS not knowing what side. The best tip here is knowing what zip code or side of town. Like 2100 Old Hickory Blvd on the south side will help.
Old Hickory Blvd goes through different cities, Brentwood, La Vergne, Hermitage, Old Hickory, Madison, White Creek and Nashville making you think they are different streets with the same name but no it was just a drunk civil engineer at some point.
Snow in the South is much different than the North. I’m from the North and can attest to going to school after 8 inches of snow while here school, banks, and other businesses canceled just with it being forecasted. After any snow, it is not unusual for schools to be closed for the week.
- The problem is Nashville usually gets ice / freezing rain over snow, or it snows after freezing rain first.
- We have hills here where the sun can’t get too, so the main roads might be great for days but side residential roads might be so slick your car can’t get up the hill. I’ve slid down many hills uncontrollably due to ice. There are two hills near me and it not unusual to see multicar pileups. People often go too slow up the hill and lose traction and slide back into oncoming traffic.
- Interstates get the biggest attention by road crews, residential neighborhoods often get none, so it might be fine to drive around until you get your street.
- What melts in the day turns into black ice after sunset and with sunset at 4:30-5:30pm in much of winter that means rush hour can get a little slippery.
- Nashville has gotten better at salt and snow plows over the last few years but it not near as much as the North has. One reason is cost, some winters we have gotten 1/10th of inch of snow for the entire Winter, with some years a dusting and others 1-3 inches of snow, the city doesn’t invest as much into salt and plow trucks.
- People don’t learn to drive in snow because Drivers Ed doesn’t teach it here plus with it being pretty rare most people stay home anyways. Most people have no idea you are supposed to turn into the slide.
- People either go to slow or too fast when it snows in Nashville. I’ve been behind 5-10 mph in 40mph zones and seen semi-trucks going 60-70 where they should be going 30mph. Most interstates get shut down in snow storms here because of jackknife semi-trucks.
Additional Tips for Visitors to Nashville
- Commute in Nashville is either terrible or great depending on where you are from. What is 30-40 minutes here is 60-90 minutes in LA or Boston but it would have been 10-15 minutes where I grew up in rural Ohio for the same distance. So it is all about perspective.
Many streets change their name. Harding Place will become Battery Lane, 21st Ave becomes Hillsboro and Old Hickory even has a Bell Road section, though technically the OHB goes south for a bit.
Demonbreun street (an I65 exit and street near Music Row) Tourist says: dee’-mun-broo’-in Local says: da-mun’-bree-un.
- People pronounce things differently in the South. Villes in the North is pronounced like Vul or Vol here. Nash-VOL instead of Nash-ville. There is a town in near Columbia called Santa Fe, it is pronounced FEE, not like New Mexico’s Santa FAY.
Bolivar: rhymes with Oliver
Maryville: MARE-vul or MAYR-uh-vul
Shelbyville: SHA-vul or SHELL-buh-vul
- “Bless Your Heart” is not a compliment, akin to F.U. in none Southern states.
- People in the South and Nashville especially are nice and chatty, people will speak to you if you are in an elevator or even going out to eat. I’ve had waiters and waitresses sit down with me while I ate before while we talked. If you are not used to it, to comes off scary and awkward but people mean well. You meet some neat people while in line or just doing whatever. Some Southern talk slower so a conversation can take longer.
- People here say please and thank you a lot. They also say, sir and ma’am, a lot. Some Northerns get annoyed by the southern hospitality.