Ah, Nashville. The gift of a city that keeps on giving. This Tennessee hotspot is known for its’ lively Country Music scene, eclectic fine dining and – most recently – epic bachelorette parties, but the city has so much more to offer. Venture just outside downtown and you’ll find yourself surrounded by nature in all its’ glory. Biking, hiking, horseback riding…the alfresco fun options are endless. Outdoor enthusiasts, this one’s for you. We’ve rounded up the ultimate guide to great outdoors of Tennessee so you can choose your own Nashville adventure.
Take a Hike
Just minutes outside the city lines are some of the most breathtaking hiking trails east of the Mississippi, complete with sweeping forests, stunning rock formations and waterfalls that literally take your breath away. For a leisurely stroll head out about 26 miles to the Narrows of Harpeth trail. This 1.1-mile hike is suitable for all experience levels – it’s a family favorite for a good reason – and is filled with rock formations, breathtaking valley views and even a natural waterfall that flows through the rocks. Take your step count up a notch at Radnor Lake Loop, another easy hike, that doubles down on distance. Located just 20 minutes outside of Downtown Nashville, this 2.4-mile hike offers waterfront views and picturesque wooden bridges that are just begging to be photographed.
More experienced hikers can lace up their boots and hit The Montgomery Bell Trail, 45 minutes outside of Nashville’s city limits. Yes, this 10.4-mile trek is an all-day adventure, but it’s well worth it. You’ll see everything from a historic log cabin and mining relics to waterfalls and streams on these trails and the terrain is just challenging enough to test your limits.
Feel like chasing waterfalls? Take a little drive over to Fall Creek Falls Trail where the waterfalls deliver year-round. The trail is only 2.4 miles but you’ll be surrounded by lush forests and views of the Fall Creek Falls. In the spring and summer – high water flow months – you’ll be mesmerized by the cascades flowing from the vertical cliffs. The winter doesn’t disappoint either – the near-frozen falls give you that perfect winter-wonderland feeling that feels like another world.
The Splash Zone
If water’s more your calling Nashville’s got plenty to offer. Fifteen minutes from downtown is Percy Priest, Nashville’s largest lake. With 265 miles of shoreline there’s no shortage of aquatic activities. Spend the day boating, swimming, fishing or lounging on the 14,400 square acres of land. The marinas are also filled with floating restaurants and snack bars if you feel like leaving your picnic basket at home. Locals and tourists alike flock to Harpeth River from March to October to float, swim and paddle through the gorgeous greenery. You’ll need to bring your own tube but you can rent a canoe and gear on Highway 70 near Kingston Springs – they’ll even shuttle you to and from your car.
A Walk in The Park
Or parks, to be more specific. Edwin and Percy Warner Parks, aka “The Warner Parks”, make up Tennessee’s largest municipal park with over 2,500 acres of pristine parkland. Start your day at the Warner Park Nature Center to get the lay of the land and sign up for one of the park’s public nature programs and then get ready to roam. There’s hiking trails and wildlife for those who wander and trails and roads made for riding – either by horse or by bike – and there’s even two full golf courses. From May through October make sure to check out one of the monthly “Full Moon Pickin’ Parties,” a favorite local fundraiser where local bluegrass bands play under the full moon.
Centennial Park is another favorite that’s a little closer to home. The park also boasts beautiful, scenic views, local wildlife and even a lake but the real draw is the Parthenon. Built in 1987, this full-scale replica of the Green Parthenon is almost a carbon-copy, complete with a 42-foot statue of Athena. Visiting in the summer? Centennial has a full program of festivals, concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performances so make sure to check out the local schedule. In the winter pack a picnic and bundle up to enjoy a laid-back park day you’ll be sure to remember.
Along for The Ride
Tennessee’s long, winding roads are made for long rides of any kind. Cyclists worldwide love The Natchez Trace and visit this 444-mile straight stretch of road year-round. The entire parkway is a designated bike path with strict regulations for vehicles and no stop signs, lights or cross streets so cyclists can ride in peace and take in the dramatic landscapes all around. If you’re more into the equine vibe then the Cedars of Lebanon State Park should be at the top of your list. These stables are equipped with gentle horses so you can relax and take in the scenery on the 2.5-mile ride through the state park.
SIP & Scene
If you’re looking for an outdoor activity that’s a little more nature-adjacent than actual nature then look no further than Arrington Vineyards. The adventure starts on the 30-minute drive where you’ll see nothing but gorgeous landscapes from your car window, and there’s even more at the vineyard itself. Start your day with a complimentary tasting then pick up a couple of your favorite bottles and spend the afternoon sipping and lounging on the lush grounds. The gift shop has everything from corkscrews to a selection of local cheeses to get ready to build your own charcuterie board and pair like a pro.