7 Outdoor Activities in Nashville That’ll Give You a Breath of Fresh Air

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Nashville may be known for its live music and food scene, but it is also full of adventure. Enjoy the natural beauty by experiencing the best outdoor activities in Nashville for visitors and locals to explore.

Outdoor spaces like the Parthenon in Centennial Park to activities like hiking at Radnor Lake offer up plenty of options.

Outdoor Activities in Nashville

Best Outdoor Activities in Nashville

With the abundance of city and state parks, lakes and rivers, and other natural attractions, Nashville is great for outdoor enthusiasts.

1. Canoe Down 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 or kayak down the river. There are many gravel areas and banks to stop at along the way which means you can take this paddle trip as slowly as you wish.

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

Outdoor Activities in Nashville – Canoeing Harpeth River

2. Visit the Parthenon

The Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens Greece and inside you’ll find a 42-foot statue of the goddess Athena.

The Parthenon is located in the center of Centennial Park on West End. The Park is 132 acres and is a great spot for relaxing or hanging out with friends.

Outdoor Activities in Nashville – Parthenon
Photo courtesy of The Parthenon

3. Bike The Natchez Trace

The Natchez Trace is a road biker’s paradise. The Trace is 444 miles long and stretches from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee.

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.

So, 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 every time of the year.

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

Outdoor Activities in Nashville – Biking Natchez Trace
Photo courtesy of Scenic Trace

4. Visit Radnor Lake State Park

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

The park offers abundant wildlife viewing, several hiking trails, environmental education programs, and proximity to the city.

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

The park is a Class II State Natural Area. It is open for day use only with no camping or picnicking allowed.

Outdoor Activities in Nashville – Radnor Lake State Park

5. Paddle Board on the Cumberland River

Downtown Nashville sits on the Cumberland River so why not enjoy it. Kayaking and paddleboarding have both become popular activities and you can launch right from downtown.

6. Explore the Warner Parks

Edwin and Percy Warner Park sit next to one another and are collectively known as the “Warner Parks.” Together, they span 2,684 acres and are located only 9 miles from downtown Nashville.

You’ll find picnic shelters, dog parks, hiking trails, cross country running courses, golf courses, scenic overlooks, a nature center, and more.

It’s also very dog friendly.

Outdoor Activities in Nashville – Warner Parks

7. Smell the Flowers at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens

Cheekwood Botanical Gardens allows visitors to escape the city. The grounds include a reflection pool, a Japanese garden, and an art museum.

Cheekwood often has special exhibits and events so make sure to check their website before visiting.

Outdoor Activities in Nashville – Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
Photo courtesy of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens

Find campgrounds and RV parks in the Nashville area.

This Post Has 43 Comments

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  2. Marissa

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

  3. Corinne

    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!

  4. anna parker

    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!

  5. Ryan Biddulph

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

  6. Rachel

    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 🙁

  7. Mandie @ RamblingMandie

    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!

  8. 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.

  9. Sammi Wanderlustin'

    Aww wow, this all looks great fun! 🙂

  10. 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!

  11. Hannah

    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!

  12. 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!

  13. Bianca @itsallbee

    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.

  14. Lauren

    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!

  15. 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.

  16. duaba

    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!

  17. Alli

    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!

  18. Jay Alano

    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.

  19. Chris Boothman

    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 🙂

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

  21. Angela Travels

    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 🙂

  22. tammyonthemove

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

  23. Heather Boothman

    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!!

  24. Dennis Kopp

    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…

  25. Tara Lepore

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

  26. Lucy

    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!

  27. Erin

    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!

  28. Amy

    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!

  29. Jen Seligmann

    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.

  30. Kate

    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 🙂

  31. Els

    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!

  32. Brianna

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

  33. Chris Boothman

    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!

  34. Siobhan

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

  35. Joao Sa

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

  36. 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.

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

  38. Tam Gamble

    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. 🙂

  39. Christin

    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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