Well deserving of its Music City title, Nashville has nearly 20 distinct neighborhoods. Downtown quickly merges into South of Broadway, or SoBro. East Nashville's restaurants, shops and Shelby Park lie between downtown and Music City Valley.
Northwest of downtown, Victorian Germantown is a city arboretum and home to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Immediately west of downtown lies the Gulch, and spreading from there are the West End and its Centennial Park, the Midtown Vanderbilt area, Music Row, Belmont's Hillsboro Village and 12South's Sevier Park.
Beyond those are northern Sylvan Park and southern Green Hills. Due south of downtown, the 8th Avenue South antiquing area leads to Berry Hill.
Grasp Nashville's neighborhoods, and you'll find your bargains.
Booking round-trip Wednesday flights about 6 weeks out, we started with Los Angeles' LAX.
Our cheapest fare was $280 on American. It had 2 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. departures, but a Dallas-Fort Worth stop made it nearly 7 hours. Similar flights cost up to $471, yet a flexible economy ticket was $338.
Nonstop flights on American began at $411, so we looked at Southwest. A nonstop deal was bare bones at $338 but had us to Nashville in 3 hours and 55 minutes; the flexible version, however, was $1,194.
From Seattle, United had flights as low as $233, but they lasted 8 or 9 hours, with many $300 or $400 each way and flexible tickets averaging $608. Southwest had a $202 fare but 9½-hour flights.
We did, however, like Southwest's 1:15 p.m. and 9:55 a.m. departure times, flight times well under 5 hours and $248 price; similar flights cost as much as $550, and an anytime ticket totaled $1,118. From Portland, the situation was similar.
Southwest's best economy price was slightly higher than United's – $386 versus $359; however, Southwest's flight was 2 hours shorter, and both had flexible tickets for $560 each way, totaling $1,120.
Since Nashville is a hub for Southwest, and since Southwest was advertising $69 flights, we decided to check destinations; you might want to, too. From Chicago, Wednesday flights were just $59 each way, the anytime fare normally $328 each. For $69 each way, you could fly in and out of Denver International on flights normally $443 each.
The one-way deals went on: $109 from Dallas, normally $365; $114 from Detroit, normally $297; $121 from Jacksonville, normally $315; $189 from Las Vegas, normally $609; and $121 from New York's LaGuardia, normally $376. We even beat our earlier LAX flight with fares just $132 each way, totaling $264 for flights that normally start at $569 each.
If Nashville is more than a stones throw from your state, using the miles you've earned with airline credit cards to cover your trip may well be worth it.
Read our full guide to finding cheap flights here.
We wanted more than a 1 or 2 star hotel. Nevertheless, 3-stars started at nearly $200 a night downtown. Near Vanderbilt, Home2 Suites by Hilton started at $189; Hilton Honors™ members could reserve the single queen for $183, but parking was $24 daily. Look into whether you can get Hilton stays using your credit card rewards.
Nearby, Residence Inn by Marriott was $199; the king-plus-sofa-bed room came with a kitchen, hot breakfast and Wi-Fi, but parking was $25 daily.
A number of loyalty programs let you transfer points to Marriotts loyalty program, including United MileagePlus (1-to-1 transfer of United MileagePlus miles to Marriott Rewards points) and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
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Our best deal near Opryland was Gaylord's The Inn at Opryland. A $139 extended-stay average reserved 2 double beds, no breakfast and a $7 surcharge on high-speed Wi-Fi; parking was free, but the airport shuttle was $30. For short stays, the room was $164 a night, normally $200. With taxes, our $139 figure came to $1,161.70. Any other Opryland hotel's deals started around $200 a night.
Near the airport, prices ranged from $100 a night to $200. We did find a 3-star Alexis Inn & Suites offering for $85 a night through Expedia. The king room came with free breakfast, Wi-Fi, parking and shuttle.
A one-full, one-queen room was $89 a night while a king room with sofa bed was $126 – normally $172. Club Hotel Nashville Inn & Suites had a king suite with free breakfast, Wi-Fi and parking for $118 – $952.72 total for the week.
We always check out Airbnb. The only bed available downtown was at a female hostel; you got one bed in a bunk for $84 a night, $661 for a week.
In the 12South area, a one-bedroom, one-bath home's whole lower level was $104 a night (just over $800 total a week). It had all the essentials and was near 12South's trendy areas.
For a family of 4, we found a neat-as-a-pin 2-bedroom, one-bath home beautifully furnished with hardwood floors for $128 a night ($983 for the week) "3 minutes from Opryland."
Riverfront luxury homes were priced at $250 and up.
Applying for a hotel credit card with a decent bonus offer may be your key to getting a more relaxed experience.
Downtown, for classic Southern meat and 3 for under $9 plus banana pudding or pie for $2.75, try award-winning Arnold's Country Kitchen on 8th Avenue South. Hermitage Café on Hermitage Avenue has old-school Southern diner corned beef hash, flapjacks, or biscuits and gravy.
Steamed or char-grilled, Hot Diggity Dogs on Ewing Avenue serves all-beef originals, sausages, serious cheese fries and even veggie dogs. In the Arcade Building, Manny's House of Pizza has New York-style pizza, calzones, rolls, subs and pasta for about $6.
For burgers, beer and honkytonk, Robert's Western World on Broad is constantly live. For healthy and priced right, you'll want Rae's Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe on Union Street: seven different salads plus hot and cold sandwiches (from shrimp po' boys to "Rae's Hot Browns") and a daily soup, too.
Other noteworthies include Germantown's Steadfast Coffee on Taylor Street – craft coffee, a beer menu, and hip sandwiches and salads. East Nashville has Mas Tacos Por Favor or, more upscale, The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden, both on McFerrin Avenue.
Mitchell Delicatessen on McGavock Pike serves turkey-avocado-and-bacons, Italians and more. A bit further out on Old Lebanon Road, Greek Deli has an all-you-can-eat $9 lunch buffet as well as pocket sandwiches, salads and other specialties.
South of downtown, check out Gabby's Burgers and Fries on Humphreys Street for grass-fed beef burgers and hand-cut fries. On 4th Avenue South, Clawson's Pub & Deli specializes in "homemade-to-order deli sandwiches" for $6 to $10 and a "vast" variety of beers.
Wherever you are, don't get tuned off by a short wait; if there's a line, something delicious waits inside.
Music City Total Access Pass
For $75, the pass provides admission to 4 attractions from a list of 22, free Parthenon and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame admission, 25 percent off the Music City Trolley Tour and 10 percent off of Shop Music City purchases at the visitor's center.
Check to ensure that you'll have access to all portions of your attraction. Then, double-check standard website admissions and other available discounts online; for example, through May 2016, hotel key cards provide free admission to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts on Broadway.
Enjoying For Free
Everyone hits Broadway and Honkytonk Row, but don't neglect freebies like the Tennessee State Museum and Capitol, War Memorial Auditorium, Public Square Park's Live on the Green Music Festival series, Riverfront Park, Music City Walk of Fame Park or even Downtown Presbyterian Church.
The Customs House has free Second Saturdays. If you want to splurge, the Johnny Cash Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium are all AAA-rated Gems. In addition to beautiful historic architecture, Germantown also has Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and the Farmer's Market.
The park's hardscapes include a 200-foot-wide granite map; 31 fountains; a 2,000-seat amphitheater; numerous memorials; and the 51-column, 95-carillon Court of Three Stars, where the top of every hour washes the park in Tennessee-themed music. The market offers fresh produce daily as well as restaurants within the Market House. Weekends add additional vendors to the mix.
The West End's Centennial Park is the setting for the Parthenon and close to Midtown's Vanderbilt University. The park has walking trails, Lake Watauga, sunken gardens and recreational facilities. It's a fantastic place to decompress and take pics.
By the way, Vanderbilt University is also worthy of a stroll, and its Dyer Observatory hosts free First Tuesdays. Check the website for tickets on other days in advance, as most run only $6 but are available only online.
For more beautiful spaces, try the Edwin and Percy Warner Parks southwest of Nashville for hiking and biking trails, a nature center, golf course and dog park.
Slightly east of that is Radnor Lake State Natural Area, with extensive trails both around the lake and through the surrounding forested hillsides. It also has the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary Education Center, a free aviary with raised boardwalks.
Also slightly south of Nashville on Hogan Road, you'll find the Tennessee Agricultural Museum. It has wide-open spaces and a museum full of artifacts, a simple (and free) alternative to Nashville's complexity.
On the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America credit or debit card holders get free access to Andrew Jackson's Hermitage at 4580 Rachel's Lane, and the First Center for the Visual Arts on Broadway.
Other Things To DoBy Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15953038
Owned by Cooter himself, Cooter's Place Museum on McGavock Pike is a salute to The Dukes of Hazard, with free admission, a General Lee, and other memorable props and vehicles; it also has a shop full of tees, memorabilia and fees to sit in a Hazard vehicle for photos. A must for Dukes of Hazard fans, but may not mean much to those who've never watched the series or the more recent movie.
At the fairgrounds, the Nashville Flea Market takes place the fourth weekend of the month (the third weekend in December). It's become a popular event, with tons of merchandise and food vendors; public parking is $5 daily but $35 overnight. A good place to pick up handicrafts, antiques and Tennessee artifacts, but before you buy your white elephant, consider shipping costs and make sure to stick to a budget.