Nashville is more than just the country music capital of the world
The tone of each of Nashville's neighborhoods is distinct, which is not a surprise for one of the most unique cities in the U.S.
Nashville is full of interesting facts, and we rounded up five of the most compelling for 10 of the city's popular neighborhoods
Everyone knows Nashville as the country music capital of the world, but nestled within the city's distinct neighborhoods are unexpected factoids, hot spots and info about life in general that add a new dimension to the beloved city.
There's so much to know about Nashville that it practically seems like a living, breathing thing all its own. We dug into the local lore to find out 50 truly surprising facts about the Music City's individual neighborhoods.
Quirky meets walkable in this eclectic neighborhood just south of downtown. 12 South is the perfect place for people who prefer small, local businesses over big-box retailers, thanks to its bevy of boutiques, eateries and other establishments created and run by the locals.
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Small in size, but big in personality, 12 South gets its name because its length runs about a half-mile along 12th Avenue South.
Five fun facts about 12 South
If you've been to Nashville you've probably taken a pic with the “I Believe in Nashville" mural, a popular photo op located in 12 South
Stop by Draper James, a women's clothing boutique in 12 South for a chance to run into Reese Witherspoon, who owns the store. Hank Williams' granddaughter also owns nearby White's Mercantile, which is a pricier, but beloved local clothing and housewares shop.
12 South's Sevier Park has more than just swing sets, a creek and lots of green space. Sunnyside, a historic antebellum mansion, circa 1852, sits smack in the middle, adding lots of historic charm and beauty to the popular spot. The site is lucky to still be standing, as it once literally sat between Confederate and Union forces during the 1864 Battle of Nashville.
New and used bicycle shop Halcyon Bike Shop sells a lot more than just cycle-related items, plus it also hosts musical artists from time to time
12 South struggled during the mid-19th century because so many residents left for the suburbs.
Bellevue doesn't let the fact that it's a little farther from downtown than some of the other neighborhoods keep it down. In fact, it's one of the most happening suburban neighborhoods in Nashville proper.
Located about 13 miles southwest of downtown, Bellevue is a straight shot down I-40 from the city, making it ideal for commuters who work in the city, but appreciate the quieter pace of suburban life.
Five fun facts about Bellevue
The Harpeth River makes its way through Bellevue, and is frequented by kayakers and other water enthusiasts
An enviable trail system also winds its way around the river area, for those outdoorsy types who prefer to stay on dry land
Then there's the 2,000-acre gem that is Percy Warner Park, a lush nature sanctuary that's also sprinkled with pre-Civil War cemeteries
Percy Warner golf course was originally a World War I army training site, known as Camp Andrew Jackson. There's a memorial in honor of the camp just across from the course.
Locals don't have to go far for a view of the Nashville skyline. Luke Lea's Summit in Bellevue sits at an elevation of greater than 900 feet.
Donelson Hills is an interesting mix of urban convenience and natural beauty. It's surrounded on what seems like all sides by various nature preserves and parkland, but is also wickedly convenient to the Nashville International Airport, downtown and even the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Five fun facts about Donelson Hills
The Donelson neighborhoods are named for John Donelson — one of the two men most acknowledged with settling Nashville
John Donelson had a very famous son-in-law, Andrew Jackson. You know, the 7th president of the United States.
Donelson Hills is situated right on the banks of the beloved Cumberland River
Don't confuse Donelson Hills with Donelson. Those are two separate neighborhoods.
Just across the river is Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway, which features thousands of acres of trails, park space and good old-fashioned outdoor fun. You can even “rent" bikes for free!
Downtown Nashville is everything a person could want and then some. It's a hub of all things entertainment, business and generally lifestyle-related.
Five fun facts about Downtown
The Music City Walk of Fame holds actual induction ceremonies, and includes spots for all types of musical influencers, from Kings of Leon to the King himself, Elvis Presley
Nashville continues to embrace the arts via the Nashville Repertory Theatre, a beloved regional theatre that has put on shows since 1985
1779 saw the establishment of Fort Nashborough (so named for General Francis Nash). The moniker was amended to Nashville in 1784.
Federal troops occupied downtown Nashville for three years during the Civil War
Downtown owes much of its growth to the Cumberland River, which made it a port in prime location
Germantown set the stage for diversity way back in the 1850s when Historic Germantown was founded as the city's first suburb. Located slightly northwest of the downtown area, Germantown's importance is so well understood that it's actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic community.
That's not to say that it hasn't needed a little TLC over the years. The 1970s saw a major revitalization effort, starting with the overhaul of historic churches. Even today preservationists strive to maintain the neighborhood's historic appeal while also welcoming many new shops, entertainment and hip dining options.
Five fun facts about Germantown
Germantown is a designated city arboretum, per the Nashville Tree Foundation. This is thanks to the fact that the neighborhood is home to upwards of 100 species of trees.
The Nashville Farmer's Market is a major draw to Germantown. It includes a 24,000-square-foot garden center, a microgreens farm and an international food hall with dozens of shops and eateries.
Locals and visitors love a slow stroll around Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, built to commemorate the Tennessee Bicentennial Celebration (which took place in 1996). Included in the 19-acre park is the 2,000-seat, terraced lawn amphitheater, which was inspired by the Greek theater at Epidaurus.
Germantown non-profit Strings for Hope helps women who've survived human trafficking, addiction and domestic violence by providing them with employment during the difficult transition period. These women use broken musical instrument strings to turn out beautiful, meaningful pieces of jewelry.
If upscale homes, shopping and dining is your game, Green Hills should probably be your place. Home to many of Nashville's elite, the neighborhood is perhaps best known for the swank Mall at Green Hills, which features tenants like Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Jimmy Choo, to name-drop a few.
Five fun facts about Green Hills
The world-famous Bluebird Cafe is located in an unassuming strip mall in Green Hills. The singer/songwriter “listening room" hosts newbies to the music industry, as well as some more seasoned performers from time to time. Taylor Swift arguably was “discovered" there.
Dozens of shops in the Mall at Green Hills can only be found there (in the state of Tennessee, anyway)
Lipscomb University, a private, Christian higher education opportunity, is located in Green Hills. Nearly 6,000 students attend at any given time.
The crime rate in Green Hills is about 38 percent lower than the national average
The high school graduation rate is a whopping 98 percent
The Basement and the Sutler Saloon are popular spots for live music and tons of Nashville-esque ambiance
Then there's Douglas Corner Cafe, which holds Open Mic Writer's Night on Tuesdays, as well as a full lineup of musical genius the other nights of the week. Names like Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood have performed there in the past.
This neighborhood's name is totally accurate, as Midtown is smack in the middle of everything going on in Nashville, including Music Row and downtown. It's also just next door to Vanderbilt University, where high-performing college kids go to get some of the best private education out there.
As an urban neighborhood, Midtown residents enjoy a walkable lifestyle, which is fortunate because they're surrounded on all sides by yummy restaurants, top-tier entertainment and shopping galore.
Five fun facts about Midtown
Hit up Sarratt Cinema for lesser-seen films from the classic, independent and foreign genres
It's the norm to see a line wrapped around the site of the Pancake Pantry, a tourist and local destination that serves 23 varieties of made-from-scratch pancakes, as well as other breakfast fare
Cornelius Vanderbilt endowed $1 million back in 1873 to start Vandy, even though he lived nowhere near the area. Students at the school are known as “Commodores" because that was his nickname.
Stop by the Upper Room Chapel to lay eyes on a life-sized carving of The Last Supper and a 9,000-piece stained glass window depicting the Pentecost, among other works of art
The epicenter of Midtown is where Broadway turns off to Division Street, continuing down Demonbreun
Editorial credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com
SoBro is where here meets now in Nashville. Just south of Broadway, this neighborhood has enjoyed a major facelift over the past decade or two. Today, it has everything a local could possibly want, including swank hotels for out-of-town guests, plenty of live music and restaurants galore.
The Country Music Hall of Fame has a collection of more than two million items. It's so esteemed that it's accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. For perspective, only about 1,000 of the more than 17,500 museums in the U.S. are accredited.
SoBro wasn't always so picturesque. In the late 1800s, it was actually known for streets flooded with nasty water mixed with black mud, earning it the name “Black Bottom."
During the same time frame, the area was full of brothels and saloons and generally was used as a big outdoor bathroom. Fortunately, things have turned around.
10. West End
The West End neighborhood of Nashville is close to literally everything, including downtown, midtown and Vanderbilt University, making it primo for people who hate sitting in interstate traffic.
At the southern portion of West End is Belle Meade, a well-known, high-end community, which includes Cheekwood Estate & Gardens and Belle Meade Plantation. But don't be scared off by potential snobbery just yet. Elliston Place in West End is home to legendary rock clubs, even a microneighborhood known as Elliston Place Rock Block.
Five fun facts about West End
The crown jewel of West End is hands down Centennial Park, which is the city's largest urban park. In addition to the usual park offerings, Centennial Park puts on free music events with an average annual attendance of 75,000 people, as well as art exhibits and architecture tours of the Parthenon.
Yes, you read that right. West End has its very own full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, complete with Athena Parthenos, which at nearly 42 feet tall is the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world.
Love wine and giving to charity? You'll feel right at home in West End, thanks to the Nashville Wine Auction, the longest running charity wine auction in the country. Since 1980, it has raised upwards of $26 million for cancer organizations.
The historic West End United Methodist Church features stained glass window art by D'Ascenzo Studio glass artists
In 1891, The Old Women's Home was established, created to support Civil War women who'd been widowed and left financially wiped out by the war as they aged
A freelance writer based out of the Atlanta area, Alia has penned articles during her decade+ career for such sites as HowStuffWorks, TLC, Animal Planet, Zillow and many more. Her favorite things to write about include fitness, nutrition, travel, healthcare and general lifestyle topics. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Alia’s an avid Dawg, but she also loves reading, sewing, eating all things chocolate and playing sports with her husband, three boys and beloved border collie, Flash.
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