Navigating Nashville with a Wheelchair

›Attending the CMA Country Music Festival? Here’s help and information.

Conquering Nashville via wheelchair? Take advantage of pre-trip scouting accomplished by friends, agencies and myself.

Let’s talk topography.

Take heart, if you use a wheelchair. Although Nashville is known for its hills, there’s a sweet spot of flat land that encompasses many downtown attractions. On Broadway (aka as Lower Broad) are the Honky Tonk District, Bridgestone Arena and Riverfront Park. A block or two south of Broadway are the Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, Patsy Cline Museum, Music City Center and Schermerhorn Symphony Hall. Heading north are the Ryman Auditorium and George Jones Museum.

Information resources.

Access Music City. Want to know about access to local attractions and restaurants around town? The staff and volunteers of Empower TN have done some fantastic scouting for you and even rate popular destinations for accessibility.

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder. Operated through Vanderbilt University, it’s another all-inclusive hub worth investigating.

Nashville Visitors Centers. Operated by the Nashville Tourist and Visitors Corporation, these offices are a wealth of knowledge about all things Nashville.

Tennessee Disability Information Office (615) 862-6492) may be able to answer general questions but is not visitor-focused.

Tennessee Disabilities Coalition. Although the organization is not geared toward tourists, they may be able to answer your questions.

NOTE: Many areas of downtown are construction zones these days. Beware that sidewalks may stop abruptly with no curb cuts accessible.

Attractions and destinations

The Nashville City Vacation Guide, available online and by mail-order, answers all kinds of questions about accessibility of restaurants, hotels, attractions, shops, and nightlife around Nashville.

Wheelmap. The link will take you to a wide view of Nashville but this is very much a work-in-progress with a lot of destinations yet to be rated. By the way, it appears in German so hit the “Translate” button–unless, of course, you speak German.

Accessible trails. Traillink.com gives you the location and description of wheelchair-friendly trails across the state. Zoom in on Nashville to explore which are near you.

Specifics on various attractions

Nashville Zoo Wheelchair rental is $10; ECVs can be rented for $30.

Grand Ole Opry. Accessible seating is available on both the main floor and balcony. Those seated in a wheelchair-accessible area are allowed to have one guest sit with them; other members of the party will be seated in close proximity unless additional seats in the accessibility area are available. With a valid ID, wheelchairs are available for “loan” from Customer Service during the performance. A staff member will facilitate getting the individual to and from the appropriate section but will not remain with him/her during the show. Speak with Customer Service if you inadvertently purchased tickets in an area that is not wheelchair-accessible.

Nashville Children’s Theatre. A courtesy wheelchair is available for use. Several forms of audio technology are available. They also offer sensory-friendly performance and a comfort room for those who react to light and sound.

Transportation

Nashville Airport. Click for what you want to know about accessible restrooms, parking, paging, service animals and more. You can also contact the onsite Information Center at 615-275-1675.

Megabus can accommodate two mobility vehicles per bus. Go to the homepage and click on the “Special Needs” button. My trip from Atlanta was $5 with advance planning.

MTA buses. (Note: MTA is in the process of changing its name to WeGo.) Most city buses have ramps and “kneel” to accommodate those using wheelchairs. There’s even a webpage devoted to visitors who meet ADA qualifications. Local residents can apply to take advantage of AccessRide.

Our MTA buses as well as several tour bus companies make stops through the area known as Lower Broad.

Accessible taxi vans. It takes some digging to find cab companies whose fleets include ramp vans. According to the Nashville Transportation Licensing Commission, these companies have accessible vans:

Unfortunately, if you check online reviews, you will find far more negative than positive comments. I hope it’s because satisfied customers tend not to post.

Parking

Metered parking is FREE everywhere for anyone who has a handicap placard or license plate. The downtown library’s parking garage is also free–just give them your permit number. Check this map for ADA-compliant parking at the Music City Center.

Pay parking lots. A coalition of downtown businesses host our easiest and most detailed resource with the unfortunate headline: Downtown Nashville Disabled Parking. The Best Parking website identifies lots but doesn’t provide details about provisions for those with disabilities.

Medical rentals and supplies

These are among the more highly rated providers according to YELP.

  • Williams Medical Supply has been our go-to for years because they provide a broad spectrum of equipment and supplies. Their stock ranges from C-PAP machines and motorized chairs to adult diapers and wound care dressings. They also offer wheelchair repair. Our personal interactions for a variety of needs have always been positive. Call (615) 327-4931 or visit their website.
  • All-Star Medical, with locations in Hermitage and Franklin, stocks a variety of wheelchairs and other mobility devices. They also operate a repair shop. It has a five-star rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Playgrounds

Lily’s Garden, in Fannie Mae Dees Park (aka Dragon Park), incorporated wheelchair-friendly ramps to make way for all to enjoy the multi-level playscape. It’s a fun, imaginative place for a mini-outing. Maybe even bring a picnic. You’ll find it across the street from Vanderbilt University’s southern border. Officially, it’s on Blakemore Avenue between 24th and 26th Avenue S. There’s a small parking lot including a handicapped parking spot behind the event venue Ruby.

Need basic info concerning accessibility or accommodations? Resources for Nashville Visitors with Disabilities.

Sensory overload or just need a respite for peace and quiet? Discover Outdoor Getaways in Downtown Nashville.

Concerns about finding what you need to meet your dietary needs? Help with Food Allergies and Dietary Concerns in Nashville.

Just want to know your options for traveling to Nashville? Read these roadway and runway tips.

 

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