Get Outside Nashville!
Top Five Outdoor Adventure Spots in the Area
While Nashville is known for its music scene, hot chicken, honkey-tonks, and bachelorette parties, I love it for its access to outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a Nashville local or an excited visitor, there is so much to explore (literally) outside of Broadway. Nashville has some of the best greenways, easy and nearby hiking trails, wooded lake, botanical garden, and water activities. Here are a few of our favorite spots. Go enjoy some of the best activities Nashville has to offer!
Beaman Park is one of Nashville’s lesser-known gems. Located 20 minutes away from downtown Nashville, it offers an escape from the busy city scenery and envelopes you in its dense woods. It’s a beautiful place to visit all year long, but it’s especially magical in the fall. The foliage reminds you of why you love Nashville and helps you forget the unforgiving heat of the past summer.
We’ve hiked each trail at Beaman, but my favorite is the Henry Hollow Loop. In the summer, we park at the Creekside Trailhead and hike this loop counterclockwise, so we finish along the creek. Henry Creek is a perfect spot for kids to splash around and do their best to catch the ever-elusive crawdads and fish. You can access a trail map here.
Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
For the nature lovers who would prefer to leave their hiking boots at home, Cheekwood is a perfect place to spend a day wandering. There are over ten unique gardens and seasonally changing exhibits. Some of our favorite exhibits are Cheekwood Harvest in the Fall, Cheekwood Lights in the winter, and Cheekwood in Bloom in the Spring.
While taking your children to a botanical garden may not be at the top of your to-do list, it should be. They specifically have designed areas for kids, with interactive play structures, activities, and learning opportunities. Be sure to explore the Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden and the TRAINS! exhibit. We always visit TRAINS! last because my son would stay and watch the trains the entire time if we let him. Reserve tickets and learn more here.
Did you know Nashville has nearly 100 miles of paved greenways and over 75 miles of unpaved trails? While we haven’t explored them all, we’ve done our fair share of biking, running, scootering, and pushing a stroller down many of these miles. Pre-babies, my husband and I would bike from the Germantown neighborhood to the Percy Priest Dam, which covered over 30 miles and used the Cumberland River Greenway, Shelby Bottoms Greenway, and the Stones River Greenway.
Although our kids have literally slowed our roll, we still love using the greenways. You can also rent bicycles at one of the B-Cycle bike-sharing stations, located off of the Shelby Bottoms Greenway, Richland Creek Greenway, Cumberland River Greenway, Gulch Greenway, Rolling Mill Hill Greenway, and MetroCenter Levee Greenway, and the Stones River Greenway. You can access the greenway map here for more information.
Narrows of the Harpeth
Pull out your hiking boots, bathing suit, or both, and go explore the Narrows of the Harpeth State Park. This is a popular spot to bring (or rent) a kayak, canoe, or tube and leisurely paddle down the river. At this park, the Harpeth River creates an isthmus and you can easily access both the north and south arm of the river where the river narrows- thus the name, “Narrows of the Harpeth.”
If you’d prefer to stay dry, there are two short trails at the park, the Bluff Overlook Trail, which takes you up a cliff to panoramic views of the river and countryside and the Tunnel Trail, which leads you to the historic Montgomery Bell Tunnel. To learn more about this state park, visit the Tennesse State Park’s website.
Percy Priest Lake
Boating, kayaking, camping, hiking, and lounging are at the top of my summer life list. With kids, we’ve been sticking to lounging and hiking, but I longingly watch the boaters whiz by from my towel on the shoreline. What’s unique about Percy Priest Lake is that it’s surrounded by woods - there are no residence or commercial buildings along the shoreline, apart from the marinas. It makes for a beautiful view!
We especially love playing at Anderson Road Beach and Cook Day Use Beach, hiking in Long Hunter State Park, camping at Anderson Road Campground, and kayaking at Hamilton Creek Recreation Area. You can rent boats at Elm Hill Marina and stand up paddleboards at Hamilton Creek Recreation Area. Explore more of Percy Priest Lake here.
These are just a few of our favorite spots, so as you can see, Nashville bursts at the seams with options for outdoor fun. Enjoy music city and all its liveliness, but don’t forget to find a little quiet and stillness as you appreciate the natural beauty of our beloved city.
For more inspiration, check out another recently featured activities, Plan a Picnic, make time for Family Bike Rides or bring out your inner camper and Find a Campsite near you! For a fun activity at home, check out our list of fun Chalk Games. Looking for something different? Enter the rapidly growing world of Stand Up Paddleboarding.
Enjoying our content? Please download the free happyly app, the country’s only mobile-first family activity planning app, for fast access to all of our frequent blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.