Living in Donelson: Guide to Food, Entertainment, & Real Estate

Where Is Donelson Located?

Bordering the Cumberland River, Donelson is located approximately 10 miles east of downtown Nashville and is situated adjacent to interstate I-40. Residents also have convenient access to the Nashville International Airport, located only 4 miles south of the area.

How’s The Vibe In Donelson?

With an atmosphere falling somewhere between urban and suburban, Donelson has become one of Nashville’s fastest-growing areas. Ranked #15 on’s 20 Hottest Residential Zip Codes, Donelson’s ease of access to downtown Nashville and fairly inexpensive cost of living have made this area increasingly popular with families and young professionals on a budget. With brand-new neighborhoods continuing to be developed, potential residents should expect Donelson to continually grow and refine its neighborhoods.

What’s The Food + Nightlife Scene Like In Donelson?

Residents of Donelson have easy access to a variety of Nashville’s most popular restaurants and nightlife.

Party Fowl is one of the best spots to experience Nashville’s iconic hot chicken. The popular dive bar Phat Bites was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and hosts a variety of up-and-coming bands on a nightly basis. Those looking for a more upscale experience will appreciate Darfons Restaurant and Lounge, a more formal restaurant featuring several delicious steak and pasta dishes. Fans of Italian food will want to head to Mirko Pasta, while brunch lovers and coffee enthusiasts should stop by Nectar: Urban Cantina and Caliber Coffee Co. For additional international food options, head to Habanero Grill to sample some of Nashville’s best Mexican food. Grab some delicious sushi at Dear Sushi, or savor the authentic Indian cuisine of Sindoore.

On weekends, McNamara’s Irish Pub and Wine Down Nashville are both popular spots to have a drink with friends. Donelson Pub additionally offers nightly live music, as well as billiards, shuffleboard, and darts. Another popular bar and grill is The Nashville Palace, a honky-tonk-style establishment that offers weekly line dancing and showcases a variety of country musicians. Nashville Nightlife, located only 5 miles away from Donelson, is Nashville’s most popular dinner theatre show, often featuring celebrity performers.

Opryland, just 10 miles away from Donelson, is one of Nashville’s biggest attractions and tourist draws. A bustling area in both the daytime and nighttime, Opryland is home to the largest mall in Tennessee, as well as the historical music venue, The Grand Ole Opry. With an interior designed to resemble a luscious tropical environment, a plethora of unique shops and restaurants to explore, an indoor waterpark, and plenty of activities for all ages, living near Opryland is a huge benefit for Donelson residents.

What Are The Top Things To Do In Donelson?

Its location along a bend of the Cumberland River makes it a nature lover’s paradise, with multiple parks and greenways located within easy driving distance from anywhere in the community. Lebanon Pike, which runs right through the neighborhood’s heart, is dotted with hip, eclectic dining spots, while iconic cultural institutions, like the Grand Ole Opry, call the community home. If that’s not convenient enough, the Nashville International Airport is just to the south (but not so close that you’ll feel like you’re living on the runway).

How’s The Real Estate Market In Donelson?

Donelson may have begun as a classic post-WWII suburb, but it has become the magnet for the latest generation of Nashville homebuyers. In fact, it’s rated one of the top neighborhoods for new homeowners in Tennessee, and it’s not difficult to see why. Along with resting less than 15 minutes away from Downtown Nashville, the community offers numerous features geared toward today’s buyers. Quaint, conveniently-located, affordable properties make great starter homes, especially since they’ve shown a constant rate of appreciation over the last twenty years.

A short commute (don’t forget the train when you just can’t brave the highway), affordable homes, and a couple of impressive restaurant districts are already enough to justify living here. Throw in a few unbelievable parks nestled right on the winding Cumberland river, and a couple of quality golf courses, and you have a truly uncommon residential experience that simultaneously caters to both families and the professional crowd.

With so much going for it, how does Donelson remain accessible to younger homebuyers? The short answer is that the homes tend to be quite old and small for a real estate market as fresh as Nashville. Hardly any of them were built after the turn of the 21st century, and the vast majority arrived on the scene well before 1970. This means that the neighborhood is full of sturdy, well-built bungalows and ranch-style homes with two to three bedrooms. While the more expansive homes featuring 4+ bedrooms, and those outfitted with modern updates, often sell for around $600,000, the median sales price for a single-family home in Donelson is a modest $425,000.

Ironically enough, this level of financial accessibility does not necessarily extend to the rental market, where renters spend an average of over $1,600 per month on their living situation. Although opportunities to rent aren’t exactly extensive, home seekers are keen to insert themselves into a convenient community where there’s so much to do. Especially around Donelson Station, a stop on the Music City Rail’s commuter route, apartments, and other rental properties are beginning to find a foothold in the established neighborhood. Some of these relatively new complexes, like Sheffield Heights and Creekstone, serve as modern foils to Donelson’s more old-fashioned housing market. Unfortunately, the pairing of updated residential space with Donelson’s high quality of life makes for elevated rent prices.

Just stay ready to jump on properties as soon as they’re listed because these homes don’t stay on the market for long. We guarantee you’re not the only one looking for that Donelson lifestyle.

PRO TIP: See homes for sale in Donelson

How’s The Cost Of Living In Donelson?

Donelson’s cost of living is less expensive than most metro Nashville areas. This location’s overall cost of living is 4% below the nation’s average. Rent averages from $1,950-$3,000 while housing prices usually range between $350,000 - $700,000. Potential residents seeking affordable housing close to Nashville should certainly consider residing in Donelson.

How Is Transportation In Donelson?

The Nashville MTA does make a stop at Donelson Station. However, other than the typical Lyft and Uber services, potential residents will need to own their own vehicles to travel around Donelson and the surrounding areas. Nashville is not well-known for its public transportation, and Donelson is no exception.

What Are The Top Schools in Donelson?

When considering public schools, McGavock High School is the most popular choice for older grades, while Hickman, McGavock, and Pennington Elementary are solid schools for younger grades. Schools for middle grades are not Donelson’s strength, so families with children this age may want to search elsewhere.

Other than the Nashville School of the Arts, which can be the perfect option for artistically-focused youth, Donelson is not particularly well-known for its private schools.

What Are The Best Parks in Donelson?

A major perk of living in Donelson is its 4-mile proximity to Percy Priest Lake, a premier spot in Tennessee for hiking, boating, swimming, and camping. The popular waterpark Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort is also located on Percy Priest.

Located in the center of Donelson, the spacious 374 acres of Two Rivers Park provides activities for all ages. This park includes Wave Country, Two Rivers Golf Course, and access to the historic Two Rivers Mansion.

For nature enthusiasts, Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and Greenway features over 1,200 acres to explore, additionally offering educational and recreational programs. Another popular spot for hikers is Stones River Greenway, a trail running from Percy Priest all the way to the Cumberland River.

As Donelson continues to develop, expect more green areas to be established. Ravenwood Park began construction in 2020 adjacent to Stones River Greenway and will include a large playground with sandbox area, picnic and events spaces, hilltop lawn, and multiple sports courts.

Is Donelson A Safe Place To Live?

While Donelson is a safe area to reside with a crime rate 20% lower than Tennessee’s national average, some residents have complained of rising crime in the past few years due to the neighborhood’s growing popularity. However, it is relatively simple to avoid rougher neighborhoods as these areas are separated from Donelson’s safe sections.

Pros To Living In Donelson

  • Donelson offers both ease of access to downtown Nashville and an inexpensive cost of living, making this area one of Nashville’s most affordable locations.
  • Locals are unlikely to become bored with the variety of activities in this area. There is truly something to please everyone – from outdoor enthusiasts to nightlife lovers.
  • Most homes in Donelson are older but they are well-built and many have been updated to include today’s modern luxuries.

Cons To Living In Donelson

  • While Donelson is not an unsafe area, it does not feature the extra suburban security of districts such as Franklin, Brentwood, or Green Hills.
  • Potential residents seeking a more unified theme, picturesque atmosphere, or upscale experience will probably want to look elsewhere around Nashville.
  • Schools, especially private schools, are not Donelson’s particular strong suit, so families may want to investigate other areas first.

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