Make no mistake, the students at Vanderbilt University work hard. Still, they like to play hard too, and the Midtown/Vanderbilt neighborhood comes to life in the evenings!
College bars, great pubs, and upscale restaurants provide plenty of entertainment for those who live in the gorgeous condos, restored Victorian homes and uber-trendy apartment homes in the area. Local markets and shops can be found up and down Midtown’s main thoroughfare, rounding out the experience for those who choose to call Midtown home.
Where is Midtown/Vanderbilt?
Vanderbilt University and Medical Center are literally at the center of the neighborhood (hence the Midtown/Vanderbilt name), so the daytime sidewalks are usually bustling with loads of students, academics, doctors, nurses, executives and more.
A combination of academia, industry and walkability to Downtown, Hillsboro Village, West End and Music Row, has drawn many hotels and green spaces for residents and guests to enjoy.
Most of the history in Midtown surrounds the University, which was founded in 1873 but a lot has changed since then.
You’ll see more high-rise cranes per square mile in Midtown than anywhere else in the city (even Downtown) right now. This is because it’s experiencing an unprecedented explosion of growth and commerce.
Shopping plazas, hotels and residential towers make up the majority of the growth, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon!
The mood in Midtown is a lot less tourist-driven than the crowds in Downtown on Broadway. This is where the locals come to party – one of many places around the city. But that doesn’t mean they’re not welcoming and friendly to out-of-towners. You’ll find all kinds of folks mingling with the locals!
Although it might not be the preferred choice of many families, you’ll see some young families walking the sidewalks and enjoying the area.
What to Do
Will all that activity and commerce, you bet there’s a lot to do in Midtown. From great outdoor spaces, fine dining, streets with epic barhopping – you’ll find plenty to do in Midtown.
Midtown loves its physical fitness and yoga studios, and there’s no shortage of great places to go to work up a sweat and find your Zen. The Lotus Room and Shakti Power Yoga are two examples of great Nashville yoga institutions you’ll find in Midtown. If you like your workouts a little more intense, check out Title Boxing Club or FitFactory to raise that heart rate!
Walking, jogging and lounging in Fannie Mae Dees Park are just a few of the outdoor activities available in the neighborhood. The Midtown/Vanderbilt area has no shortage of beautiful green spaces for people to enjoy.
The Vanderbilt campus was designated as a national arboretum by the Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta. It’s home to around 190 different species of trees and shrubs – the most famous is the Bicentennial Oak. Carrying the distinguished honor of being the oldest living thing on campus, the oak tree is determined to have lived during the American Revolution.
A few short blocks from the center of Midtown lies Centennial Park. In this Nashville landmark, the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition were held. The most complete full-scale replica of the Parthenon, complete with a gold-plated 42-foot statue of the Goddess Athena inside.
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Centennial Park is also the site of plenty of festivals and concerts year-round, including a huge Earth Day festival, International Festivals, Food Truck Festivals, Art Festivals, LGBTQ Festivals and more. There’s a pavilion inside the park that hosts Big Band swing dancing every Saturday night, free and open to the public – and yes, there’s a big band playing live.
Where to Eat & Drink
If you’re looking for high end, two places are on the lips of Nashvillians all over the city: The Catbird Seat and Patterson House. The Patterson House is an old-school, prohibition-style speakeasy serving up some of the best craft cocktails ever. There’s no sign out front to announce its whereabouts, and you’ll have to wait to get in, but boy, is it worth it.
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Head right upstairs, and you’ll sit down to a truly unique dining experience. Internationally trained chefs serve a 10-12 course pre-fixe tasting menu and accompanying wines/spirits tailored to each dish. Parties of more than four aren’t accepted, and you usually have to get your prepaid reservations in a couple of months out to get a seat. These folks aren’t messing around.
With more happy hour deals than we could possibly list here, Midtown is a fantastic place to knock off work a touch early and meet up with friends for cocktails. Places like Rebar, Hopsmith Tavern, Henley and Kung-Fu Saloon are just a few of many, many more to mention.
Incidentally, most of the bars in Midtown are within blocks of each other and are open late, so if you can sleep in tomorrow morning, you could be in it for the long haul.
Moving to Midtown
Real Estate Snapshot
The average rent for Midtown apartments is $1,893, about 25% more than the Nashville average. To be fair, though, there are some stunning, upscale apartment homes in the neighborhood that are well worth the slight bump in cost.
Its accessibility to so many other areas is one of the many features that draw people to put down roots there, too. There’s no better place to live in for anyone working in the hub of the city.
The Metro Bus line runs right through Midtown, with stops on every block from one end of the city to the other. You can get to pretty much anywhere around the borders of the city within 30 minutes.
Schools & Employment
While a few schools are zoned for the Midtown/Vanderbilt area, most local to the neighborhood are specialty schools for science and engineering or the arts. Most employment centers around the University, hospitals and many companies with corporate headquarters are located downtown.