Traveling to Nashville Whether Driving or Flying

If you’re traveling to Nashville, you have two choices:  roadway or runway.


Although our airport stays busy, for most people traveling to Nashville means driving. Three major interstates (we don’t call them freeways) —I-24, I-65, I-40–intersect here. Don’t know if it’s still true but the city used to claim that 75% of the population live within a day’s drive. If you’re coming from Abilene or Albany, that’d be one long day. With all the new construction associated with our boom-town status, you’re likely to find tie-ups no matter where you’re coming from.

TIP #1 Try to avoid arriving during morning rush hours (6:30-9:00 a.m.).

A few years ago, the Feds decided to drop describing part of the city loop as I-265.Instead they gave it three names. They westside portion of the loop of the city is I-40. Its eastside sister is I-24. Now I-65 disappears when it hits the loop and reappears on the other side. I apologize on their behalf.

TIP #2 For road and weather conditions while driving, call 511.

TIP #3 If you have a flat tire, experience a wreck or see hazardous debris on the interstate, call *847 (that’s THP for Tennessee Highway Patrol) on your cellphone. Your call will automatically be directed to the nearest state trooper dispatch. The Tennessee Department of Transportation has a fleet of bright yellow trucks labeled Highway Assistance Response Unit. In addition to wrecks and construction zones, these HELP vehicles respond to motorists experiencing problems.

Hands Free Tennessee

As of July 1, 2019, it is illegal to operate a handheld cellphone while driving.  Voice-activated devices are okay just nothing that requires you to hold it while in use. Fines can run as high as $200.

If you’re traveling to Nashville by bus, you have two choices:Greyhound and MegabusGreyhound has its own station while Megabus currently uses a vacant parking lot. Both will drop you off in SoBro (rhymes with SoHo, short for South of Broadway) within a half-mile of the Music City Center. There are a growing number of convention-oriented hotels in the area. This part of town can be a little intimidating after dark so try to arrive during daylight hours or have a ride waiting for you.


Nashville International Airport (BNA), marked with a pushpin above, is about five miles east of downtown, just off I-40. It’s not big enough for trams yet so plan to hoof it to your gate. Fortunately, navigation is pretty simple. Airlines at this writing include Southwest (by far, the most flights), American, Delta, Jet Blue, Air Canada, Frontier, United, Alaska Airlines, Vacation Express, Contour Airlines, West Jet and British Airways.

Berry Field, with its entrance on the other side of the runways, provides services for charters, private planes and military aircraft.

*TIP #1 You’ll find a pretty cool variety of local restaurants in the airport including  Swett’s (meat and three), Blue Coast Burrito, La Hacienda, Noshville DeliSwett’s and Whitt’s Barbecue. Yes, we have a Burger King and Starbucks but wouldn’t you rather go local instead. For adult beverages, try Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge or Tennessee Brew Works.

*TIP #2 Try to avoid rush hour unless you’re staying at Opryland Hotel or near the airport. Heading to the airport at 5 pm from downtown will cause ulcers.

*TIP #3 There are two security checkpoints at BNA. The one on the left (between the Southwest and American counters) is almost always more crowded that the one on the right amid the other airline counters. They lead to a common atrium so no worries about ending up on the wrong concourse.

TIP #4 Both Uber and Lyft are allowed to pick up travelers at the airport. Not true in some cities.

→What if you arrive in Nashville long before your hotel check-in time? Nashville Downtown Hostel will hold your luggage for $1 every two hours. 

Don’t get lost or confused. Check out Navigate Nashville Streets, Part I and Part II.

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