Nashville is a city known to be alive with culture. Its famous honkytonks and venues are common attractions for locals and tourists alike. This state capital and music mecca is a popular destination for a reason and we think it’s worth a visit. You shouldn’t dive in blindly, though. Especially for first-time visitors, it’s important to do a bit of a research into your trip before you arrive.
Any city is going to have its ups and downs, especially a state capital. Nashville has a pretty high crime ratings. It has received an unofficial F by some standards. Condensed metropolitan areas are going to have crime. There is also gang activity in certain areas. This doesn’t mean that you’re going into the lion’s den, though. There are plenty of tourists visiting the city every year whose worst experience is the price in the gift shops. We think the pros outweigh the cons as long as you’re wise about it.
Crime Statistics In Nashville
- The unofficial F score has come from the fact that Nashville has a crime rate 105% higher than that of the national average.
- Generally, crime is broken down between violent crimes and property crimes. Violent crime entails physical offenses such as assault, rape, and murder. Property crime covers material offenses of burglary, robbery, and car theft.
- Nashville’s violent crime rate is 183% higher than the national average.
- Its property crime rate is 92% higher than the national average.
- These statistics make the odds 1 in 20 of a person being a victim of a crime.
The Most Common Crimes In Nashville
The most common crimes reported as of 2020 by the Metropolitan Police in Nashville were as follows for every 100,000 people:
- Theft – 21,977 incidents
- Assault – 4,986 incidents
- Vehicle theft – 3,153 incidents
- Robbery – 1,994 incidents
- Rape – 482 Incidents
- Homicides – 114 Incidents
In 2018, Nashville had an approximate population of 692,587 people. The Health Department estimated that in 2020 (as we don’t have the census results back yet), the population would be well over 700,000. This means that if you multiply each of the common crimes listed by 7, that would be a rough estimate of the amount of thefts, assaults, vehicle thefts, and robberies that occur each year in Nashville.
Neighborhoods to avoid
What’s the best way to avoid being a victim of wanton crime? Don’t go where it’s more likely to happen. As with all cities, there are certain neighborhoods in Nashville that would be best to avoid. They are:
- Talbot’s Corner/Capitol View
- Elizabeth Park
- McKissack Park
- Cleveland Park
- College Heights/Clifton
- Buena Vista and Osage-North Fisk
- Shepherd Hills is arguably one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Nashville. It’s on the further outskirts of the city, so it’s unlikely that a tourist would come across it, though. That’s the good thing about all these neighborhoods: if you’re going for the full tourist experience, it’s highly unlikely you’d end up in one of these places as most attractions are in other neighborhoods. These are places to keep in mind if you’re booking accommodation – or even if your small vacation inspires you to move to Nashville!
While the dangerous neighborhoods are mostly west of the city center, the safest neighborhoods seem to be more central and towards the south. Within the center itself,
The “best” neighborhoods in Nashville include:
- Downtown and Sobro
- The Gulch
- Berry Hill
- Hillsboro Village
- Many of the top-rated neighborhoods tend to be a bit further out. Places like Poplar Creek Estates, Edmondson-Cloverland, Hermitage Hills, and West Mease Park are all highly rated, safe neighborhoods. Mostly for Nashville residents, though. Within the city center, central is safest as you’re around the most activity; the hustle and bustle of urbanites and tourists keep things open late and well-lit. If in doubt, resources like crimemapping.com can give you insight into where crimes have recently happened. Double check it before booking a hotel to know you’ll be staying in a peaceful area.
Is Nashville safe at night?
It’s recommended to avoid walking alone at night in the inner city. Always keep your wits about you. Don’t let the handful of Bushwackers you had convince you to take a shortcut. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, take well-lit, busy routes back to your accommodation. Another option is to plan ahead to be off the streets before it gets too late, but we do realize that cuts out half the fun Nashville has to offer. If you’re indulging in its late night scene, just be aware of your surroundings!
Is it safe for a solo traveler?
It’s always best, when exploring a new city, to do so with a friend. In any scenario you should be wary of strangers approaching you with questionable motives. Be sure to be smart about alcohol consumption so it doesn’t lead you astray at night. While making new friends is fun, be wary about people you meet in bars who want to take you somewhere else or try to come back to your place.
Because Nashville is so spread out, it’s likely you’ll rely on taxis or public transportation to get you around. While modern-day ride-hailing services record your trips through the app, allowing for a modicum of safety, taking a bus on a route you’re not familiar with can be dicey if you end up riding it into the wrong neighborhood. There’s safety in numbers and it also helps to have more than one person double checking directions to get you where you need to go.
Is it safe for women?
The unfortunate truth of being a woman is taking extra care in planning ahead, especially if you’re travelling alone and/or at night. The best bet is to travel along popular and well-lit areas; generally, the more touristy areas tend to be lively at all hours of the day. The more people around, the less likely it is that something alarming will happen.
While it’s true that the one steadily rising crime in Nashville is rape, one explanation for this rise is increased awareness and decreased stigmatization. The amount of offenses isn’t necessarily going up, but the amount of reports certainly are. Its possible that in the past, victims didn’t report such a crime, so the statistics don’t accurately reflect actual crimes committed. In Tennessee, mace is legal to carry. If you have to be travelling alone, it could provide that extra added protection that puts you at ease.
Tips to stay safe in Nashville
Don’t be stupid! Warnings from the Nashville Police Department’s Safety Information highlight the usual common sense advice for travellers:\
- Stay with friends and travel in well-lit areas after dark;
- Try not to carry valuables on your person;
- Always lock your accommodation and car doors;
- If you find yourself in an unsafe situation, try to get to the nearest police station, fire station, hospital, or 24h business where other people can help.
- If anything, the biggest advice others give to tourists coming to Nashville is about the sun! Heatstroke and sun poisoning is serious. If you’re travelling, especially from colder climates, check the weather in advance to dress appropriately and bring lots of suntan lotion, remembering to reapply throughout the day. Plus, be sure to hydrated! Safety is about self-care, too.
While it’s not ruled by anarchy and debauchery, Nashville can have a naughty reputation. Being known for good music and good bars can lead some visitors astray. As long as you remember that it isn’t Disney World, you can still have fun while staying safe. For the most part, statistics suggest that crime in Nashville is linked to residents. As a tourist you should have less to worry about over your short stay as long as you follow the basic safety tips of visiting a new city.
No one should have to travel with fear, and we’re not here to talk you out of making a trip. Any city in the world will have its ups and downs. If you’re travelling to Nashville and are unfamiliar with it, that’s okay! The beauty of travel is exploring new places. We just recommend caution before doing so. We only want to hear good things about your travels!
Related: Is Memphis Safe To Visit?
Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit.
She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.