Although sprouting into an urban metropolis, Nashville still understands the importance of green spaces. Within short distances from Music City’s many neighborhoods, there are green spaces galore. It’s easy, and never far away, to find somewhere to picnic with your beau, play with your family, hike with your pals or jog by your lonesome. These are some of the most treasured spots in Middle Tennessee that offer an oasis from the ever-growing city and give you the chance to embrace the natural beauty of our state. Spend your summer days visiting (or revisiting) these beautiful outdoor destinations.
5911 Old Hickory Blvd., Ashland City, TN 37015
North of Nashville, you will find Beaman Park. Not as popular as some of Nashville’s other parks, Beaman offers peace and quiet. You truly feel like you are miles away from the city (really, you are only about 15 miles from downtown). The landscape is also different than others in the area with the terrain slightly tougher. It is worth the added challenge as the 1,700 acres offer some of the loveliest spots and hikes we have seen in the area. Dogs are welcome at Beaman Park, too.
SB TIP: Try the Sedgehill Trail to the Henry Hollow Loop. Much of the loop runs along a flat stream bed then becomes challenging with hills that lead to a gorgeous bluff. Beaman Park made our list of 8 Best Local Day Hikes.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
600 James Robertson Pkwy., Nashville, TN 37243
Nestled between Germantown and Downtown, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park offers green spaces, history lessons and unbeatable views of the capitol. Surrounded on its four sides by the First Tennessee Park, the Capitol steps, Nashville Farmers’ Market and the bustling neighborhood of Germantown, it is no surprise that this park is rarely unoccupied. Join morning runners on their jog through the 19-acre park, attend local events in the grass, have a picnic with finds from the Nashville Farmers’ Market, take a seat in the 2,000-seat amphitheater, visit the World War II Memorial, splash in the fountains or simply enjoy the stunning views of downtown.
SB TIP: Picnic tables are the perfect place to enjoy lunch from the Farmers’ Market.
2500 West End Ave., Nashville, TN 37203
Centennial Park is Nashville’s best-known park thanks to its central location, iconic Parthenon and 132-acres that are home to dozens of local festivals and events. If you are looking to join in on the fun, check out Musicians Corner, Shakespeare in the Park or a Big Band Dance. You are sure to see folks getting competitive in games of soccer, frisbee, beach volleyball and just about anything else. The one-mile walking trail gives you a front-row view of all of the activity, The Parthenon, Lake Watauga, the playground, Cockrill Spring and the various arts buildings.
SB TIP: Although the running loop is only one mile, you can take advantage of the fields and Parthenon steps for a full-body workout!
592 S. First St., Nashville, TN 37213
Experience Nashville’s waterfront at Cumberland Park. If you happen upon the park during a steamy summer day, expect to see kiddos enjoying play spaces and cooling off in the fountains. The park is also home to an outdoor amphitheater that can fit approximately 1,200 people for events. You can find this 6.5-acre park between the Shelby Street Pedestrian and Korean War Veterans Memorial bridges.
SB TIP: The park was designed with families in mind. Take your kids and let them play on the climbing wall, play areas and fountains.
Edwin Warner & Percy Warner Parks
7311 Hwy. 100, Nashville, TN 37221
The Warner Parks offer some of the most loved and well-used outdoor space in Nashville. Trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding bring folks to the 3,180-acre natural park system. Additionally, there are picnic shelters (we highly recommend hosting a get together in one of these), historical landmarks, golf courses and scenic drives. The most recognizable place within the parks is the Allée, otherwise known as the Belle Meade steps. Burn your buns by running up these steps! Another reason to visit Edwin Warner Park is for the annual Iroquois Steeplechase. Enjoy the tradition of horse racing in a stunning setting.
SB TIP: The wooded trails are perfect for trail running (and hiking) any time of year. All skill levels are welcomed as the different trails bring something for everyone looking to enjoy nature.
3531 West End Ave., Nashville, TN 37205
Elmington Park is one of the town’s smaller parks at 13.34 acres. With the historic West End Middle School at the base of the property, Elmington Park is a go-to spot for all ages. Thursdays in June, the park offers a Movies in the Park series, and food trucks attract folks from all over for everything from grilled cheese to peaches. On any given day, you’re likely to see soccer players, dog owners and sun bathers taking advantage of the green space. On Sundays, keep an eye out for Nashville Foam Fighters, a group that dresses up in Medieval garb and battles with foam swords, javelins, arrows, flails, maces and more. (If you are interested in joining them, click here.)
SB TIP: While the park activity picks up on the weekends, it is a quieter spot during the week. So if you are looking for a peaceful escape, head to Elmington Park.
Fannie Mae Dees Park
2400 Blakemore Ave., Nashville, TN 37212
A few short blocks from Hillsboro Village is Fannie Mae Dees Park, more commonly known as “Dragon Park” because of the beautiful mosaic dragon found there. With the dragon newly restored, there are plenty of additional features for kids and adults to enjoy as well. Trees and picnic shelters offer shade for those looking to relax on hot summer days, and benches offer a place to enjoy a little respite. You will be joined by families, Vandy students and neighborhood regulars.
SB TIP: The playground and stone fort are loved by local kiddos, including children with physical disabilities.
101 46th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37209
The Sylvan Park neighborhood is attractive to many for its walkability. In addition to the walkable streets, the neighborhood offers McCabe Park and the McCabe Community Center, which has a full-service fitness center, exercise classes, gymnasium, game room, after-school youth program, sports programs, art exhibits and an outdoor playground. The McCabe Park trailhead leads all ages to the Richland Creek Greenway, which encircles the McCabe Golf Course, a 27-hole course and practice facility. And in the spring and fall, you’ll likely spot McCabe Little League players on both the big and little ball fields. (Read more about the neighborhood here).
SB TIP: The 3.8 miles of paved Greenway that loop around the golf course make it a perfect place for runners looking to stay off the main roads.
1160 Otter Creek Road, Nashville, TN 37220
With more than 1,300 acres and a stunning lake at its center, Radnor Lake offers ample opportunity for hiking, biking, jogging and wildlife spotting. Hike the six miles of unpaved trails, or take to the Otter Creek Road paved path (1.1 miles), which is perfect for those looking to bike or jog (and dogs are welcome here). There is also the Lake Trail, which is accessible to people with all-terrain wheelchairs. While visiting, join others in the hunt for the hundreds of species of wildflowers, mosses, fungi and ferns, plus the chance to observe owls, herons, water fowl, amphibians, reptiles, mink, deer and otter. You can also get an introduction to the history of the area at the Walter Criley Visitors Center.
SB TIP: Private boats are not permitted on the lake, but canoe tours are offered by rangers during the summer.
4701 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN 37209
On the edge of Sylvan Park, you will find Richland Park, which sits between Charlotte Avenue and Park Avenue and offers green space for those in the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to a library and tennis courts, the park features a playground, gardens, a volleyball court and a small ball field. The park is framed by trees, which makes it an oasis in the busy corridor. During the summer, Richland Park Farmers’ Market draws large crowds for fresh produce and goods from local vendors.
SB TIP: Richland Park is surrounded by sidewalks and bike lanes, making it easily accessible to its neighbors.
100 First Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37201
Nashville’s waterfront is the gem at the end of Broadway. The 11-acre Riverfront Park offers paths, including a greenway that connects to Rolling Mill Hill Greenway, a dog park, ornamental garden and lawn for events. Additionally, phase one of Fort Nashborough’s renovation is nearly complete and offers a look back at Nashville’s rich history in an all-new display. Ascend Ampethiter has also been a large draw for the riverfront. With almost 7,000 seats, the venue welcomes concert goers from spring to fall.
SB TIP: Steps away from Broadway, Riverfront Park is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
3021 Lealand Lane, Nashville, TN 37204
It is no surprise that 12South has seen exponential growth in the recent years. In addition to residences and businesses, the Sevier Park has been impacted by the growth as well. The 20-acre site has a fairly new community center, playgrounds, tennis courts and a basketball court. Hammocks are hung and blankets are laid from Monday to Sunday by those looking to get some fresh air and relax. It is rare this park is found unoccupied, and the energy in the space is ever apparent during the weekly 12 South Farmers’ Market, held each Tuesday in the summer. Stop by to find produce, meats, dairy, baked goods and specialty items.
SB TIP: Although the park itself does not offer much room for joggers, the community center is well-equipped with a full-service fitness center.
1900 Davidson St., Nashville, TN 37206
Shelby Bottoms is a crowd favorite for its diverse outdoor offerings. Three miles of the park line the Cumberland River, and the greenway offers five miles of paved trails and five miles of primitive trails for running, walking and biking. The greenway also connects to the Stones River Greenway, meaning you can travel roughly 22 miles of greenway from Shelby Bottoms Nature Center to Percy Priest Dam. The Nature Center is a place of environmental education, while the baseball fields and golf course offer additional opportunities for activity. Additional amenities include a dog park, playgrounds, picnic shelters and the pond, which offers a beautiful waterside hangout.
SB TIP: Shelby Bottoms is easily accessible from various parts of Nashville, whether by bike, foot or motor vehicle.
3150 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37214
In case you haven’t heard, Donelson is hip. One of the reasons this neighborhood is attractive is the proximity to Two Rivers Park. The 375-acre park is only miles from Donelson’s main strip and offers solitude in miles of greenways and river access. Stones River Greenway (which connects to Shelby Bottoms Greenway) offers 10 miles of paved trails that run from Shelby Bottoms to Percy Priest Lake and links to the YMCA on Lebanon Road, Heartland Park and Two Rivers Park along the way. While traveling the greenway, you will also encounter parks, Stones River and Percy Priest Lake access, Two Rivers Skate Park, Two Rivers Golf Course, Two Rivers Dog Park and Two Rivers Mansion. (Read more about the Donelson neighborhood and green spaces here).
SB TIP: Similarly to Shelby Bottoms, Two Rivers connects to different parts of town and allows you to connect via various parks and greenways.
You’ve got your guide to Nashville parks – now get out and explore them for yourself!