Outdoor Activities In Nashville

VMSII Favorite Outdoor Spots in Nashville


Percy Warner Park

Honorable Mention

Radnor Lake

McCabe Park

Rock Island

Long Hunter State Park

Shelby Park

Centennial Park

Cummins Falls

Parks in the City

Beaman Park

Nashville’s newest park (May 2005) is supposed to be more of a natural park and reserve, with lovely forests and streams.

4111 Little Marrowbone Rd

Bicentennial Capitol MallState Park

The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park is located in the shadow of the State Capitol in downtown Nashville. The 19-acre park is designed to complement the Tennessee Capitol Building, give visitors a taste of Tennessee’s history and natural wonders, and to serve as a lasting monument to Tennessee’s Bicentennial celebration.

600 James Robertson Parkway

Centennial Park

Across from Vanderbilt on West End, this popular park is a great place for a lunchtime stroll. This park is the site of several arts and crafts fairs and many small-scale concerts. The Parthenon, the world’s only full-scale replica of the famous Athenian temple, is the main feature of the park. Be sure to check out the statue of Athena, the largest indoor statue in America, which was built by local Nashvillian Alan LeQuire. In the summer, Centennial Park holds Shakespeare in the Park and Nashville Scene’s Movies in the Park.

2500 West End Ave

Cedar Hill Park

Just 15 miles north of campus, four major baseball diamonds and one junior league diamond are open for public use whenever games are not scheduled. There is also a lake stocked with fish (mostly bream), eight tennis courts, and many trails on which one can appreciate the foliage and fowl.

860 Old Hickory Blvd

Fannie Mae Dees Park

More commonly known as Dragon Park, this small area located right next to campus features a playground and tennis courts.

2400 Blakemore Ave

Love Hill

Although not really a park, Love Hill is one of the highest points in Nashville. Locals, especially couples, love to visit the hill during sunset and enjoy the views of Vanderbilt's campus and downtown's skyline.

Love Circle

McCabe Park

Located west of campus in Sylvan Park.

Murphy Road & 46th Ave N

Percy Priest

Located just 15 minutes from downtown, this park and lake is a great place for fishing, hunting, camping, picnicking, boating, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, and more!

3737 Bell Rd.

Riverfront Park

This park is the site of many special events, including concerts, fireworks, Dancing in the District, the Summer Lights Festival, and others. It is located at the end of Broadway in downtown Nashville. Second Ave, located right behind the park, has lots of shops, bars, and restaurants.

100 1st Ave N and S

Sevier Park

Get popsicles at Las Paletas on 12th Ave S and Kirkwood Ave and cross the street to the park for a stroll.

Lealand at Clayton Ave

Shelby Park

Located in East Nashville, across the Cumberland River. It has an excellent public golf course, boating, picnic facilities, softball diamonds, and tennis courts.

Shelby Ave at S. 20th St

Warner Parks: Percy Warner Park

This surprisingly large park has numerous hilly footpaths that are open to both day hikers and joggers. The park also features designated horse trails, which are not open to mountain bikers. There are many isolated picnic areas and a great spot for a daytime date spot. The park is especially beautiful during the fall and spring, with several stunning vantage points. Biking in the park is strenuous but satisfying, and running is great. Polo matches and horse races are often held nearby, including the annual Iroquois Steeplechase. Near the Hwy 100 entrance, Percy Warner Park offers athletic fields for soccer, football, and frisbee.

2500 Old Hickory Blvd

Warner Parks: Edwin Warner Park

Smaller and less secluded than Percy Warner Park, Edwin Warner Park has picnic areas available for daily rentals and a model airplane field. It is also the site of the Annual Nashville Balloon Classic, a hot air balloon bonanza benefiting the EAR Foundation.

50 Vaughn Rd

Road Biking

To all of you road bikers out there, let the celebration begin. Your new home is one of the best places to cycle. Percy Warner Park offers a spaghetti-like loop road that is 11 miles long and full of challenging hills. Students recommend Shelby Bottoms Park for biking as well. Another great ride is along Natchez Trace, which starts at the Loveless Cafe, located a mere 20 minutes outside of town along Hwy 100. This cycleway winds 444 miles down to Natchez, Mississippi, and is absolutely beautiful. For those who want to check out the country road system, get the book Bicycling in Middle Tennessee by Ann Richards and Glen Wanner. Quiet, scenic networks of virtually traffic-free roads abound in all directions just 15-20 minutes outside of Nashville. For longer rides, southwest of the city between I-40 and I-65 is very popular and you will see lots of cyclists out on the weekends. Past VMS students also recommend riding to Leipers Fork via Vaughn Rd, Old Natchez Trace, and Old Hillsboro Rd, or riding along some of the beautiful two-lane roads that leave Nashville, particularly Hwy 100 or Hwy 70 (take West End Ave west out of town, and it will split into Hwy 100 and Hwy70). There are also great opportunities to ride in the annual Middle Tennessee American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure (30, 62, and 100 mile rides) in May, and the National MS Society Jack and Back (70 miles each way over 2 days) in September.

Mountain Biking

The greater Nashville area offers really good mountain bike trails, but be sure to check out other areas of TN if you want some truly epic riding. An online resource for mountain biking in the middle TN area is www.nashvillemountainbike.com, which offers great information on trails, events, and mountain biking in general. Another website with information on trails in the Nashville area is www.singletracks.com. Lastly, the book Tennessee Mountain Bike Adventures by David Moore offers a complete look at bike trails in TN.

Camping & Hiking

The Tennessee State Parks website lists each one’s available activities and has information on making reservations for cabins, lodges, or campsites. Recommended state parks for camping are South Cumberland and Fall Creek Falls. http://www.state.tn.us/environment/parks/

Canoeing, Kayaking, & White Water Rafter


The scenic Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, is a beautiful river to canoe. For the canoeing and camping combination, look into trips to Buffalo River, which is somewhat more challenging than the Harpeth. Also try Lake Barkley at Land Between the Lakes on the Kentucky border, west of Dover, TN. To make a long weekend of it, explore some of the 170,000 acres spanning between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, which is also open for camping, fishing, scheduled hunting, and hiking. Finally, for those wanting to explore East Tennessee, check out the Nolichucky River in the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park, just east of Greeneville, TN. This river goes through beautiful farmland and has many scenic islands for short stops.

Whitewater Rafting

If white water rafting is your thing, call the Ocoee Outpost of the famous Nantahala Outdoor Center (1-800-232-7238; www.noc.com) for trip information. NOC can also turn you into a good beginning kayaker in a few days if you have the time and money for a weekend clinic. Also try the Outdoor Sports Center on Hwy 64 in Ocoee (423) 338-2147 for white water trip information.


For those who want to live the “real” life of a doctor, there are seven municipal golf courses and several other private courses open to the public in Nashville. Wide ranges of price and difficulty levels are available. The Nashville Metro Parks courses are marked with an asterisk (*), and more information on those can be found at http://www.nashvillegolf.com/. Prices for the Metro courses range between $8 and $11.50 during the week and $1 more on the weekend. Some offer half-price specials for students during the summer months. According to a VMS lore, the best way to get tee times for inexpensive rounds of golf are to browse through the following website: www.lastminutegolfer.com

Forrest Crossing

A decent layout with some challenging holes; however, the course is plagued by having too many tee times per day. It can easily take 5-6 hours to get around, depending on the day of the week and the weather.

750 Riverview Dr, Franklin

18 holes, carts, tee times

Gaylord Springs

Designed by PGA Champion, Larry Nelson, this 18-hole links-style course offers GPS technology on every cart and superior course conditions.

18 Springhouse Ln

18 holes, carts, driving range, tee times online

Harpeth Hills

In Percy Warner Park, this is the best Nashville course for the money. It has hills and woods, and is fairly tight with little water but plenty of sand.

2424 Old Hickory Blvd

18 holes, carts, tee times

Hermitage Golf Course

Voted the best course in Nashville by the Tennessean and Nashville Scene readers. Also has a driving range.

3939 Old Hickory Blvd

18 holes, carts, driving range, tee times

Legacy Golf Course

A Raymond Floyd design, this course is an absolute steal. It is surrounded by an Audubon Society bird refuge and has some interesting hazards, including rattlesnake sanctuaries (i.e. that ball is lost!).

100 Raymond Floyd Dr, Springfield

18 holes, carts, tee times

Legends Club

A semi-private club that alternates which 18 holes are open to the public. It’s expensive but usually in great shape. It’s definitely a worthwhile place to play, especially if someone else is treating you!

1500 Legends Club Ln (off Franklin Rd), Franklin

36 holes, carts, tee times NEEDED

McCabe Golf Park

Close to Vanderbilt, McCabe offers three 9-hole courses, all of which are wide open with a paucity of water and sand. It is a confidence booster for the marginal golfer.

46th Ave N and Murphy Rd

27 holes, carts, tee times

Nashboro Village

Decent for a semi-private course with plenty of hazards. Be sure to call ahead for a tee time and pricing.

1101 Nashboro Blvd

18 holes, carts, tee times, driving range

Percy Warner Golf Course

Short 9-hole course with no water, about 5 sand traps, and no par-5s. It is a fun track for any duffer and a confidence booster for any hacker. The greens are frustrating for seasoned golfers (shag carpet!).

1221 Forrest Park Dr

9 holes, no carts, no tee times

Ted Rhodes Golf Course

The fairways are wide open and the greens are elevated and very large. There are water hazards that come into play on five holes.

1901 Ed Temple Blvd

18 holes