Most people come to Nashville to enjoy the vibrant nightlife, take in some live music, and enjoy the creative and evolving food scene. But, the city has a host of amazing green spaces that can be fun to explore too. So, when you're ready to escape the hustle and bustle of South Broadway and seek some tranquility in the outdoors, these are the best parks to explore in the Music City.
Spread out over 132 acres, Centennial Park is one of the most popular outdoor spaces in all of Nashville, and for good reason. Not only is the park home to an exact replica of the famous Parthenon in Greece, it also features a mile-long walking trail, an arts center, several historical monuments, sand volley ball courts, a band shell, and beautiful sunken gardens. There is even a lake and a dog park for those who travel with their four-legged friends. All of these features make this a great place for visitors to go for a stroll or just lounge around on the grass, soaking up the local scenery.
Radnor Lake State Park
Expansive and rustic, Radnor Lake State Park covers more than 1,300 acres and features multiple walking paths for those looking to stretch their legs. In fact, there is more than 6 miles of trails to explore here, including some that are completely accessible by wheelchair. At the heart of the park is the titular Radnor Lake, which is beautiful at both sunrise and sunset. Sharp-eyed hikers can even spot a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, squirrels, owls, mink, and even otters. The park is another popular one with locals, particularly on the weekends, but it is well worth a visit just about any time.
The Warner Parks
Located right next to each other, Edwin Warner Park and Percy Warner Park (collectively known as the Warner Parks) have much to offer Nashville natives and visitors alike. Combined, the two parks cover more than 3,100 acres, and include numerous hiking and mountain biking routes, as well as trails dedicated to equestrian riders. There are also several athletic fields on the premises and a golf course for those looking to hit the links. An informative nature center is one of the top highlights of the Warner Parks, as are the scenic overlooks, and the dog park. Even a drive through the area delivers outstanding views and a sense of peace and privacy.
Shelby Bottoms and Shelby Park
Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Natural Area is a 960-acre outdoor space that sits adjacent to Shelby Park. Both have plenty to offer, including a fantastic Nature Center, several miles of paved trails that are not only great for walking and bike riding, but are easy to navigate by wheelchair as well. The greenway itself runs along the Cumberland River, providing some unexpected scenic views at times, although the thick hardwood forest that lines the trail is more common. Shelby Park includes a small manmade lake and multiple athletic fields, as well as open space for just soaking up the outdoors. Both are easily accessible to one another, creating yet another fantastic outdoor environment in the heart of Nashville.
You'll have to drive a short distance north of Nashville to reach Beaman Park, but if you're looking for a bit of solitude it is worth the effort. The parking lot and modern nature center greet visitors, but you won't have to travel very far along the hiking trail to feel like you've stepped into a remote wilderness. With miles of trail crisscrossing the 1,700-acre park, you can spend all day exploring this place. Bring a good pair of hiking shoes, some water and a backpack, because chances are you're going to want to see as much of it as possible. Beaman also happens to be pet friendly, so if you want to bring your dog along, he or she will be welcomed as well.
Fannie Mae Dees Park
Often referred to as the "dragon park," Fannie Mae Dees is home to a large, colorful, and whimsical mosaic statue of those mythical beats. That attraction alone tends to lure in plenty of curious visitors, although the numerous playgrounds, picnic tables, benches, and shade trees often convince them to stay for awhile. The park is an especially good one for families with small children, as there are plenty of swing sets, sliding boards, and other kid-friendly attractions to keep small travelers occupied for hours on end. And since it is conveniently located in town and close to the Vanderbilt University campus, you won't have to spend hours in traffic just to get there.
Located in downtown Nashville, directly across from the Honky Tonks and glitzy attractions found on South Broadway, Riverfront Park is a surprising oasis for those looking to relax in the outdoors. The 11-acre park includes lovely views of the Cumberland River, pathways that connect to a nearby greenway, a small dog park, and open space to host small events. There are also statues and other works of art sprinkled throughout the area, not to mention a small amphitheater for outdoor concerts or plays. Nearby, history buffs will discover a replica of Fort Nashborough as well — the first settlement in the region, which can trace its origins back to the earliest settlers in the 1780s.
Hamilton Creek Park
Hamilton Creek Park sits along Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, providing good access to the Music City's largest body of water. Visitors will find a sandy beach to relax on, or should they feel like being a bit more active they can take to the water in small boats, kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddle boards. Nearby, there are a series of short, but fairly technical mountain bike trails that will test a rider's endurance on the way up and his or her skills on the way back down. When you've finished working up an appetite, there are a number of covered pavilions to grab a seat in and enjoy lunch by the water.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
Dedicated to the history of the state of Tennessee, this 19-acre park can be found close to the state capital building itself. At the Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park, visitors will discover an oversized map of the state carved from granite, a Word War II memorial, and impressive array of fountains. Other highlights include a 95-bell carillon, an historical pathway that provides insights into the origin of Tennessee, and a series of large planters that are home to indigenous flora from around the region.
The quintessential neighborhood park, Sevier is at times a quiet respite from the busy city, while at others it is alive with activity. The park is home to a farmer's market on most Tuesday nights, while also hosting special events, and the occasional outdoor concert. Relatively small at just 20-acres in size, Sevier is nevertheless the home to a modern community center that offers a wide variety of classes, a fully-stocked gym, meeting spaces and much more. Outside the center visitors will find two playground sets — one for younger children and the other for older kids — as well as tennis courts, basketball courts, and space for a variety of other athletic pursuits. This is a good place to just enjoy some down time or find unexpected activity even during the middle of the week.