Nashville offers breathtaking views, and some of the most spectacular sites in Music City are housed in its parks. With ornate and pristinely kept gardens, hiking trails, and unique sites, the parks are wonderful places to spend an afternoon, a morning, or the whole day. From the historically-rich Parthenon in Centennial Park to the friendly wilderness of the trails in Radnor Lake, there's something for everyone. Year-round the parks are open and prepared to tip their hat in quintessential southern hospitality. But the fall offers the expansive and breathtaking foliage of the south, spring welcomes the awakening of a variety of gorgeous flowers, and summer ushers in Shakespeare in the Park. Whatever the time of year, it's always the season for a picnic in one of Music City's beloved parks.
Sixth Avenue Skatepark
An active outing with an alternative twist, the Sixth Avenue Skatepark offers affordable rates, exciting inline stunts, skateboarding busts and BMX big shots make it the hottest destination for teen and adult skating fanatics. Safe from the elements thanks to indoor accommodations, patrons can ollie and kickflip to their hearts' content. Helmets are a must, so bring your own or peruse the on-site shop for the season's latest accessories. Check for upcoming events, as well, from lock-ins to competitions, or schedule a private party. (615-843-4006)
A host for live music, country events, and gorgeous sunsets as twilight ushers in, Riverfront is a quintessential Nashville spot. The park is also a popular place from which to view the goings-on along the Cumberland River, and take in the boats. The site of many concerts and special events, Riverfront Park offers a nice retreat without ever having to leave the city. You may want to catch a ride on one of the boats docked in the park for a trip up the river and back, or walk a block to some of Nashville's finest downtown restaurants. (615-862-8400)
Natchez Trace Parkway
Known for its beauty and true southern grace, Natchez Trace is a local favorite. Hop on your bicycle at milepost 444 and catch the north end of this winding road that runs from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. Spectacularly beautiful in the fall and spring, with very little traffic, it's a dramatic destination for biking. The bridge over Highway 96 on the parkway is a gorgeous spot to stop and catch your breath, and for overnight excursions, the nearest campsite lies at milepost 408. Just miles southeast of Nashville, and cutting through some of Tennessee's friendliest small towns, Natchez is a must-see for all nature lovers.
Hamilton Creek Park at Percy Priest Lake
Get on the water in a matter of minutes, because there's a sport for everyone at this recreation area on the western shores of Percy Priest Lake. A sandy beach for swimmers, a boat launch, a well-known mountain biking trail, and covered pavilions for picnicking all make for fun in the sun at Nashville's largest and most popular lake. Only ten miles from downtown, Hamilton Creek is ideal for a day of fun and the sun before a night out on the town. (615-862-8472, 615-889-1975)
Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park
A jewel in the heart of the city, this natural haven for wildlife and humans offers five miles of paved roads for walking, running, or biking, along with five miles of hiking trails along the Cumberland River. Its proximity to downtown and to East Nashville makes it a popular weekend destination. Come ready to stretch out your muscles and see a different side of the city, as Shelby Bottoms combines a great walking trail with mesmerizing views. (615-862-8400)
Radnor Lake Natural Area
Animal lovers take note, nestled in the heart of Davidson County, this hidden gem is home to a remarkable array of wildlife — otters, deer, snakes, beavers, turtles, wildflowers, and more than 240 species of birds. Hikers can enjoy six miles of trails that wind through the park's 1200 acres, but joggers, bikers, stroller-pushing parents, and dogwalkers typically keep to the paved road around the lake, which is closed to cars during park hours. Busy enough that you never feel alone, Radnor offers solace, peace, and an up-close glimpse into the wonderful world of wild life. (615-373-3467)
The perfect place for a scenic drive or a picturesque hike, Warner Parks offer endless opportunities. With nearly 3000 acres of forest located just nine miles from downtown Nashville, Edwin and Percy Warner Parks function together as the city's version of Central Park. The two of them offer hiking trails, equestrian trails, athletic fields, scenic overlooks, and an 11-mile winding road that's popular with cyclists. Add to that a dog park, a golf course, and a nature center, and it's a fantastic place to get lost without ever leaving the city. (615-370-8051)
A trendy and "hidden" locale, Love Circle is the site the locals refer to as Music City's lover lane. Located near Vanderbilt between Natchez Trace and West End, this residential street winds its way up a steep hill to a small park overlooking the city. A popular vantage point for Fourth of July fireworks, the park is also a preferred spot for romance, as the name implies.
Vast, expansive, and close to downtown, those seeking solace find it at Centennial Park. At its center sits the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the venerated Greek monument that is the perfect place for a family photo. Inside, visitors foster an appreciation for the antiquated as they peruse casts of ancient sculptures and works by 19th and 20th century American artists. Outside, the shores of Watauga Lake lap the verdant grounds, creating a haven for wildlife, and two dog parks attract domesticated denizens and their humans alike. There's always something happening at Centennial Park, so bring a frisky, pack a lunch, and prepare for fun for the whole family. (615-862-8431)
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
A nod to this soldiers who served for our country, The Bicentennial State Park showcases the WWII veterans' memorial. Visitors are invited to splash in the fountains, and stroll down a walkway that honors every county in TN. There's a 200-foot granite map of the state, and the aforementioned area that commemorates each of the state's major waterways — 31 vertical fountains in all. During the summer months, the amphitheatre features live performances, an ideal time to kick back, have a snack, and let the music transform your day or evening. If you just want to relax, listen to music, and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Bicentennial State Park is the place to be. (615-741-5280)
About Paige Crutcher
Paige Crutcher is a writer, author interviewer, book reviewer, and storyteller. When her nose isn’t between the pages of a well-worn book, she’s working on articles, traveling, or researching a new place to discover.
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