5 Summer Outdoor Adventures in Nashville

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5 Ways to Enjoy the Summer Outdoors in Nashville

Today is the first day of summer and is the longest day of the year.  Which means a lot more daylight to enjoy the great outdoors.  Even though Middle Tennessee is landlocked and doesn’t have any mountains to offer, we still have plenty of adventures to be had outside.

outdoor summer adventures nashville

1.  Canoe the Harpeth River

The Harpeth is over 100 miles of a Class 1 State scenic river.  This means it’s a slow-moving river with a few mild rapids.  It’s fun to canoe down and also a great river to fish and swim in as well.  There are many gravel areas and banks to stop at along the way which means you can take this canoe trip as slowly as you wish.

There are many canoe rental companies along the Harpeth including Foggy Bottom Canoe and Kayak Rentals.

Rates: $34-$39 per canoe depending upon the length of river you want to travel.

  • Harpeth Rivers State Park – 1254 Narrows of the Harpeth Rd, Kingston Springs, TN 37082. 1.615.952.2099
  • Foggy Bottoms Rentals – 1270 Hwy 70, Kingston Springs, TN 37082. 1.615.952.4062

Harpeth River State Park - Narrows of the Harpeth

 2.  Bike the Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace, or the Trace to the locals, is a road biker’s paradise.  The Trace is 444 miles long that stretches from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee and the entire parkway is a designated bike route with prohibited commercial traffic and a speed limit maxing out at 50mph.  There are no stop signs, stop lights, or cross streets – meaning it’s basically a straight shot with no need to worry about cross traffic.

Besides the road being so bike friendly, the scenery is amazing.  While I’ve made my point that it’s a great place to visit during the fall due to the colors, it’s just as amazing during the summer.

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The parkway is dotted with forests, farmlands, civil war battlefields, small southern towns, trails, and “cycling friendly” bed and breakfasts.

  • Hwy 100 and Natchez Trace Parkway, Nashville, TN. 1.800.305.7417

Natchez Trace Parkway

 3.  Walk the Trails of Radnor Lake

Radnor Lake State Park is a 904-acre park located in the heart of Nashville – fairly unusual for such an urban area.

Offering abundant wildlife viewing, loads of hiking trails, environmental education programs and proximity to the city, Radnor Lake has it all for the outdoor enthusiast.

The seven trails are strictly hiking and widlife observation only with the Otter Creek Road Trail the only trail open to pets, jogging and bicycles.

The park is a Class II State Natural Area – day use only with no camping or picnicking allowed. Don’t worry though, you’ll be too busy hiking and seeing river otters, deer, beavers and much more to care!

  • 1160 Otter Creek Rd, Nashville, TN 37220. 1.615.373.3467



 4.  Explore the Warner Parks

Edwin and Percy Warner Parks, or “The Warner Parks,” collectively span 2,684 acres and only 9 miles from downtown Nashville.

The Warner Parks offer picnic shelters, dog parks, hiking trails, horse trails, cross country running courses, golf courses, athletic fields, scenic driveways and overlooks and a nature center.

The parks are also home to Steeplechase every spring.

  • 7311 Hwy 100, Nashville, TN 37221. 1.615.352.6299

Edwin Warner Park

5.  Get out on (or in) the water at Percy Priest Lake

Percy Priest Lake is 42 miles long and was created by the Percy Priest Dam and is located only 15 minutes from downtown.  Percy Priest Lake offers many outdoor activities including boating, wakeboarding, water-skiing, jet-skiing, camping, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, hiking, biking and much more.

  • 3737 Bell Rd, Nashville, TN 37214. 1.615.889.1975

Percy Priest Lake shoreline on a raw day

Have you visited any of these places in Nashville?  What’s your favorite summer activity?

Find campgrounds and RV parks in the Nashville area


Ashley Hubbard is a blogger and freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. She shares these experiences on her website,


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  3. Marissa

    June 21, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    So beautiful! I definitely need to get back to Nashville and take advantage of these fun activities!

  4. Corinne

    June 21, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Ashley, These are all great ideas! I wanted to visit Tennesee this summer, but I don’t think we’re going to make it…darn!

  5. anna parker

    June 22, 2014 at 2:25 AM

    Some great ideas, I don’t know the states very well but shall definitely remember these if I do get to see more. Our favourite spots in the UK are in national parks, so I think you are on to a good thing!

  6. Ryan Biddulph

    June 22, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    The Harpeth River looks awesome Ashley! I’ll add Tennessee to my list when I return to the States for a long spell. Thanks!

  7. Rachel

    June 22, 2014 at 2:48 AM

    Great post! I wish we had such activities on our doorstep, we have to travel for a few hours if we want to do most of these 🙁

  8. Mandie @ RamblingMandie

    June 22, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    I love Nashville! It’s been way too long since I’ve been there. Will definitely have to schedule a weekend once I’m back in the states!

  9. Carmen @ CarmensTravelTips

    June 22, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    We rented a cabin on Douglas Lake a few summers ago but never got a chance to visit Nashville. We’ll have to plan another trip.

  10. Sammi Wanderlustin'

    June 22, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Aww wow, this all looks great fun! 🙂

  11. Sand In My Suitcase

    June 22, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Well, we don’t know Nashville. (We just think of the country singing.) But the hiking, biking and canoeing look like a lot of fun there. Enjoy your summer!

  12. Hannah

    June 22, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Sound like some perfect summer ideas to me! Especially canoeing- I’m a total cottage life girl so I love that stuff! Btw your sunset photo under Warner parks is beautiful!

  13. Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    June 22, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    My goodness! I honestly had no idea there were so many things to see and do around Nashville! Your site is really making me want to explore the US South… I have an uncle in Tennessee, so I just might!

  14. Bianca @itsallbee

    June 22, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    I love number 2! I would love it if London hand a nice track like that. I love cycling but London can just be a bit dangerous for cyclist sometimes.

  15. Lauren

    June 22, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    These are all fantastic summer activities! Canoeing is lots of fun – very peaceful, and you get to see so much beautiful scenery. I’m also a fan of biking – Justin got me a bike for my birthday so we’ve been going on lots of bike rides by the lake around here!

  16. Elena@Elena's Travelgram

    June 23, 2014 at 6:25 AM

    Biking is my fav summer activity and Natchez Trace trace looks so cool! I wish they had smth similar around Besancon. The routes here are fun too, yet way shorter and often crisscrossing the roads.

  17. duaba

    June 23, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    I’m not an outdoorsy person but my other half is. He did a lot this past year to impress my conservative Asian parents so I promised him, on my part, I’d be a little more adventuress. Sounds like I’m heading to Nashville because these look awesome!

  18. Alli

    June 23, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    Canoeing is one of my favourite things to do in the outdoors! Nice summer summary of Nashville for ways to enjoy nature and the outdoors!

  19. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey

    June 23, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    Ohhh what a fab time of year to be in Nashville!!

  20. Jay Alano

    June 23, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    Great photos Ashley. I live in California and I really need to start traveling between states. The picture of the cave and small waterfall on the river really looks amazing. Thanks for a great post.

  21. Chris Boothman

    June 23, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Biking the Natchez Trace Parkway would definitely be at the top of my list but all of the other activities look really cool experiences also! We try to get out on our bikes as much as possible during the summer, but here in Jonesboro, Arkansas the roads and neighborhoods are really not biker friendly which is disappointing.

    I love the image of the Harpeth River with the mini-waterfall and the tunnel/cave! Looks so relaxing just staring at the picture 🙂

  22. Kristen Bor (Bearfoot Theory)

    June 23, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    I had no idea Nashville had so many cool outdoor places! Canoeing sounds super fun. And that pictures of Radnor Lake is really beautiful.

  23. Angela Travels

    June 23, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    All those sound fabulous. I really want to do the kayaking and visit Tennessee in general. It is great to know there are more things to do than just visit Memphis and Nashville 🙂

  24. tammyonthemove

    June 23, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    I never knew that Nashville was such an outdoorsy place. Looks awesome!

  25. Heather Boothman

    June 23, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    We have done different things in Nashville but these are more my style- I love the canoe trip! I would love to do that then the bike ride! Great suggestions!!

  26. Dennis Kopp

    June 24, 2014 at 2:25 AM

    Ashley, I have to admit that even if I lived in US for a couple of years, I never made it out to Nashville or Tennessee for that matter. But it looks like a surprisingly nice area for outdoor activities, especially the two lakes. Too bad that no camping or picnic is allowed at Radnor Lake, but as you mention, there is a lot of wildlife to see and you probably didn’t really want it to participate in your meal anyway…

  27. Tara Lepore

    June 24, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    Oh my gosh, I need to get my butt to Nashville. Jessi and I are big hikers, and these all look fantastic.

  28. Lucy

    June 24, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    I don’t know a lot about Nashville but this has introduced me to a whole new side to the city, one for a future US trip for sure!

  29. Rachel@safari254

    June 25, 2014 at 1:13 AM

    Looks like great fun, I would love the canoeing.

  30. Erin

    June 25, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    My husband & I have gone back & forth about visiting Nashville, not particularly being fans of anything “country”. You’ve made me see that there is more to Nashville. I love all the outdoor options available. I’m going to give it a try and bring your suggestions with me!

  31. Amy

    June 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    The Natchez Trace Parkway looks so cool! I love biking but we don’t really have any good biking trails around me and people drive like maniacs. I’d love to check that parkway out some day!

  32. Jen Seligmann

    June 26, 2014 at 3:28 AM

    They all look like such beautiful places to spend some time. I especially love the look of the first one, Harpeth River. That waterfall is so pretty.

  33. Kate

    June 26, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    I had no idea Nashville would have these things to offer. I’ve never been but Radnor Lake looks great and catching a sunset at the Warner Parks would be top of my list! Great photos and a good selection of activities 🙂

  34. Els

    June 26, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    I discover so many interesting places thanks to the blogging community! I love outdoors, so looks like this would be my kind of trip! Thanks for sharing, Ashley!

  35. Brianna

    June 26, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Canoeing would definitely be my choice,what a pretty river!

  36. Chris Boothman

    June 26, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Just wanted to also thank you for linking up with us this week for #WeekendWanderlust! These really are 5 great options for someone wanting to take a weekend break to Nashville or the surrounding area! Thanks Ashley!

  37. Siobhan

    June 26, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Love it! I never thought of Nashville is an outdoor adventure kinda place until I seen this. Thanks for the tips

  38. Joao Sa

    June 27, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Nashville looks a really nice place to visit 🙂 And Radnor lake is simply stunning, wow ! Thank you for the tips

  39. Heather @ Life of a Traveling Navy Wife

    June 27, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Great list! I love Nashville. Fun #SundayTraveler. 🙂

  40. Anu @ Country Hopping Couple

    June 28, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    These are absolutely great ideas for outdoor adventures. The more I am reading about US these days, the feet are getting more itchier to travel there.

  41. Adelina | PackMeTo

    June 28, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    You’re starting to really convince me that I need to go to Nashville soon. Everything sounds like so much fun!

  42. Tam Gamble

    June 30, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    What a great list of outdoor activities to undertake. I like the idea of hiring a canoe and just taking a relax trip down the river. 🙂

  43. Christin

    August 24, 2015 at 5:16 PM

    We love Nashville, but haven’t gotten to take advantage of any of the outdoor activities you mentioned. Saving for a future trip!

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