Six miles east of downtown, 3 miles from Nashville international airport, cradled by the Stones River, the Cumberland River, and I-40, Donelson (or as the locals call it, Hip Donelson) is a neighborhood on the rise. The longstanding, unassuming and self-reliant brand of hip that defines Nashville gives little concern for the status quo, but instead embraces the unaffected experience of enjoying life. In the heart of Donelson is a growing community that embodies that sense of Nashville Hip.
Named for John Donelson, father-in-law of the 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson, and co-founder of Nashville, Donelson began as a Tennessee Pacific railroad station in the 1800s. Donelson's modern development began before and shortly after WWII. Donelson was still a rural area in 1929 when Bransford Realty Company, the company responsible for Bell Meade Links, began developing Donelson's first and oldest subdivision, Bluefield. By 1938 between fifty and sixty homes were completed. Sanford Realty took charge and continued development through the 1970s. Bluefield has more than 200 homes and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today Donelson is an example of an early post-war suburb with red brick homes that start at around $365,000. Many Donelson houses are 1950s ranch homes; however, it's not uncommon to find a new construction home. Donelson is located conveniently close to Nashville International Airport, Downtown, East Nashville, Opry Mills, Percy Priest Lake, and so much more. What makes Donelson unique is not its prime location or still affordable homes. It is the intentional community that has blossomed in recent years. In 2009 Donelson residents Frank Trew, Andrew Bradley, and Jeff Syracuse founded Hip Donelson, a group designed to foster community engagement. Hip Donelson turned to Facebook to grow their community, and currently, they have 37,000 followers. From the Facebook page came a nonprofit community group that, with the help of their 150 volunteers, engages the community with one another on various levels. Hip Donelson's mission has been so successful that the nickname has stuck.
Every Friday from May through October, on the grounds of the Two Rivers Mansion, the volunteers at Hip Donelson host The Hip Donelson Community Farmers Market. The market, which is the largest farmer's market in the area, sees an excess of 60,000 visitors per year. The Hip Donelson Community Farmers Market vendors travel from within 150 miles of Donelson to sell their goods in a hyper-local venue.
Hip Donelson volunteers also operate Hip Eats, a nonprofit that helps address food instability within the community. Hip Eats gives food boxes, market coins, and meal vouchers to families in need. Hip Donelson also runs Donelson Neighborhood Watch, and Hip Donelson Lost and Found Pets as a community engagement organization. Hip Donelson assists law enforcement and reunites local lost pets and owners.
Hip Donelson Outdoors connects Donelson locals who want to get outdoors and enjoy Donelson's beautiful green spaces together. Using Hip Donelson Outdoors’s private Facebook group, members can find like-minded individuals to take greenway trips, paddleboard, hang out at the dog park, join in holiday decoration contests, and so much more.
Donelson residents have a great deal of green space to get out in nature. The Two Rivers Park is a 347-acre park with a wave action swimming pool, the Two Rivers Golf Course, picnic shelters, a skate park, and a disc golf course. The Stones River Greenway has 10 miles of paved trails running from Shelby Bottoms to Percy Priest Lake, the Donelson YMCA, and the Two Rivers Park.
YMCA facilities in middle Tennessee are exceptional. The Donelson-Hermitage YMCA offers group fitness, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, childcare, family locker rooms, an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a sauna, and a steam room. Many Donelson residents begin or end their day at the YMCA.
Donelson Bowl is Nashville's oldest bowling alley. The vintage lanes and game room have been offering family fun to Donelson residents since 1960. Those seeking a challenge can participate in the bowling leagues at Donelson Bowl.
Donelson is home to the Opry Mills Mall, a 200+ store outlet mall with an expansive roster of designer stores. Opry Mills Mall is also home to Dave and Busters, Regal Cinema, a music venue, a downtown aquarium restaurant, and Madam Tussauds' Wax Museum. The Grand Ole Opry House is also housed in the Opry Mills Complex, a 4,372-seat capacity music venue initially built as a home for the Grand Ole Opry show. Visitors can catch international acts gracing the stage regularly.
Across from the Opry Mills Mall is the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. The atriums of this sprawling complex house 19 restaurants, 9 acres of indoor gardens, 750,000 square feet of event space, a water park, and an 18-hole golf course. The resort hosts various events during the winter holidays and decorates the gardens in the atriums. Locals will often stroll through the atriums and grab dinner inside the festively lit gardens.
Away from Opry Mills and in the heart of Donelson, there is a wealth of small businesses to shop at, including some fantastic home décor, self-care, and vintage clothing shops. Treasure's Consignment's 800 square foot shop houses an eclectic mix of antiques, furniture, glassware, china, collectibles, and décor. This Donelson consignment shop goes one step further by keeping a customer wish list. Customers can sign the wish list and leave their contact information along with a request for the item they're looking for. The owner of treasures will hunt down the item and contact the collector when they have it available. Mill Creek Mercantile, named for the creek that runs behind the owner's family farm, is a one-of-a-kind décor and design shop that sells vintage and vintage-inspired treasures. Southern Honey Workshop sells one-of-a-kind paint, artwork, and décor. This vintage shop has beautifully refinished furniture and artwork with a one-of-a-kind, post-modern, Southern, Bohemian flare.
Stillhouse Herbals Apothecary and Holistic Boutique brings holistic and plant-based remedies to the residents of Donelson. Along with selling teas, tinctures, and artisanal goods, Stillhouse Apothecary offers reiki and Bio-Mat therapies. Astrid & Aura is a local handmade self-care shop. They offer natural, vegan, cruelty-free soaps, lotions, oils, fragrances, candles, and teas.
Donelson is home to a wealth of dining options. While the Opry Mills area has a plethora of chain restaurants, there is a variety of independently owned restaurants in the heart of Donelson. Residents looking for their caffeine fix will love Caliber Coffee, a local family-owned coffee shop that serves micro-roasted espresso, specialty coffees, and baked goods. This local community-focused business allows customers to pay it forward by buying a cup of coffee and addressing it to a first responder, police officer, mother, or any other person they imagine. When people come in, they can select the free cup written for them.
Sunflower bakehouse is both a gluten-free bakery and a vegan restaurant. Sal's Pizza serves New York-style pizza, Stromboli, and subs. Rock & Roll Sushi serves American-style big, bold, and loud sushi. Phat Bites Deli & Bar serves American food with a side of music. Homegrown Taproom & Kitchen offers locally sourced American comfort food in a taproom setting. Tennfold Brewing serves a pizza-forward globally inspired menu accompanying their beer and cocktails. Urban Nectar Cantina serves up cantina-style eats, healthy juices, and bowls. Habanero Grill is a family-owned Mexican restaurant that serves traditional Mexican food emphasizing the Habanero chili. McNamara's Irish Pub serves traditional Gaelic tavern food, and hosts live music. No matter your palate, Donelson is sure to have a restaurant for you.
Donelson is also home to one of the 6 Music City Star stops. The Music City Star commuter train connects Donelson residents to downtown, offering commuters an easy traffic-free ride.
Are you looking for a hip, connected community full of small businesses, entertaining attractions, beautiful green spaces, and easy access to downtown? Donelson may be the perfect community for you. Contact Erin Gillespie today for help finding your perfect Donelson home or your perfect music city nest.