Navigating Nashville with a Wheelchair

Navigating Nashville with a Wheelchair

Take advantage of pre-trip scouting accomplished by friends, agencies and myself to make travel less of a hassle.

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 the Fifth and Broadway megacomplex.

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, use the search engine to hone in on the information you’re seeking.

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.

VisitMusicCity website

Though not comprehensive, this guide geared toward tourists provides good information about accessibility at specific locations.

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. For nearby parks with paved pathways or trails, investigate these:

Specifics on various attractions

Nashville Zoo Wheelchair rental is $12; ECVs can be rented for $32. Advance reservations are recommended to ensure one will be available.

Adventure Science Center. Primarily an attraction for kids but adults will find some attractions interesting. Almost all activities are wheelchair-accessible.

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 performances 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 615-275-2085 and ask to speak to the ADA Coordinator.

WeGo buses. Most city buses have ramps and “kneel” to accommodate those using folding wheelchairs.

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:

  • Taxi Taxi (also known as Nashville Cab and Allied Cab) — 615-333-3333
  • Checker Cab — 615-256-7000
  • Yellow Cab — 615-256-0101

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. 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: Downtown Nashville Accessible 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. The playground has been closed for repairs. Hopefully it will be reconstructed to remain wheelchair-accessible.