From outdoor music and film series to canoe trips and culinary pop-ups, there’s SO much to do in Nashville come summertime. So much, in fact, that a comprehensive guide would be nearly impossible — so we’re hitting the highlights. If a newcomer or visitor asked us what not to miss this season, this is the guide we’d send. Soak up every precious moment of summer with these bucket list-worthy events and activities!
Attend a Pickin’ Party
A summer tradition here in Nashville, there’s nothing quite like celebrating the South under the light of the full moon with a “Pickin’ Party.” Jam to bluegrass at Warner Park’s Full Moon Pickin’ Party (proceeds go to protect Warner Parks), or head to Cornelia Airpark once a month for even more family-friendly pickin’ party fun (proceeds benefit Shelby Park, Shelby Bottoms, and Cornelia Fort Airpark). Both event series feature family activities, food vendors, craft beer, and of course, live music all evening long.
Catch a Movie Under the Stars
Reserve a few Thursday evenings this summer to attend one of multiple outdoor movie series taking place around town:
- Nightlight 615 is Nashville’s only 21+ outdoor movie series, taking place each week at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, complete with food trucks and adult beverages. This is ticketed event which typically sells out, so purchase tickets early and plan to arrive early — with picnic blankets or low-rise lawn chairs in tow!
- Movies in the Park take place everything Thursday in June at Elmington Park, with festivities starting at 5 p.m. and movies starting at sunset. This event is free and family-friendly.
- TailGate Brewery Movie Nights take place at their Headquarters location in West Nashville every Thursday in June. Movies begin at 7 p.m., but you should plan to arrive early to order pizza and beer! The movie screenings are free — kids and dogs are welcome.
Spend Some Time in the Water
Nashville has no shortage of ways to appreciate the water, from canoeing and kayaking on the Harpeth and the Cumberland to renting a pontoon on Percy Priest. You can even sip cocktails while you pedal downstream! No matter your choice of activity level, make a point to get out on the water. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Take a staycation at Gaylord Opryland Resort, and book the SoundWaves Experience package. From the lazy river and water rides to live music and private cabana rentals where you can relax a spell, SoundWaves offers family-friendly fun in the sun with special offers for Tennessee residents!
- Take a guided fishing trip on Percy Priest Lake with Music City Fishing Charter or Brian Carper.
- Rent jet skis through companies like Cap’n Dave’s Water Sports or Nashville FlyBoard.
- Explore the river with Cumberland Kayak or Nashville Paddle Company.
- Go tubing with Sunshine’s Adventures.
- Book Canoe the Caney for a sunset river cruise or experience the historic General Jackson Showboat and dine while you cruise the Cumberland.
- Check out the River Queen Voyages Pedal Pontoon for some fun in the sun that includes tasty adult beverages.
- Wade in a waterfall. If you’re looking for a way to cool off and enjoy Nashville’s scenic landscape, head to one of Nashville’s favorite local sites, the West Meade Waterfall, where you can dip your toes in the water and snap some stellar nature shots while you’re at it. For additional waterfall options within a short drive, head to Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park in Manchester, TN, or check out these eight Tennessee waterfalls within driving distance.
Enjoy Nashville’s Gardens and Green Spaces
Grab a blanket and your favorite lunch, and head to one of Music City’s parks or green spaces for a picnic to remember. If you don’t already have a favorite spot to set up camp, we recommend soaking up the sights at any of these wonderful (and scenic) spots!
- Discover the magic of Cheekwood Estate and Gardens with their current Light: Bruce Munro exhibit where you can wonder the magical lighted art throughout the estate. On Thursday nights, enjoy the exhibit with added food and cocktail options, in addition to live music. During the day, check out the family-friendly Carmen Herrera: Estructuras structures.
- Get a little animal therapy at Piccolo Farms Animal Sanctuary (you can bring a meatless picnic lunch to enjoy during open farm days) or Lucky Ladd’s Petting Farm, where you can spend time with over 100 animals.
- Create the ultimate, personalized picnic experience with companies like Picnic PopUp and Picnic in the Ville, and feast as you enjoy the sights at local spots like Centennial Park, Cumberland Park, Harlinsdale Farm, and even your own backyard!
Attend an Outdoor Concert
Live music is an integral part of the quintessential Nashville experience, and we’re grateful this summer offers so many opportunities to appreciate music under the moon — from the Nissan Stadium and Ascend concert lineups to smaller venues around town.
- Enjoy a free Musicians Corner concert in Centennial Park. There are 59 artists on the lineup this year!
- Head to Arrington Vineyards for Music in the Vines, where you can spend a weekend afternoon listening to live jazz and bluegrass bands while feasting on bites from Simply Living Life. There are no reservations required, and parking is always free. Of course, you can also grab a bottle of wine (or a tasty frozen beverage) to go with your feast.
- FirstBank Amphitheater has a ton of stellar concerts this summer, from Goo Goo Dolls to Dwight Yoakam and even Kidz Bop.
- Cheekwood Estates & Gardens is the place to be for music amid the flowers. Check the calendar for live music events such as Jazz Under the Stars, Songwriters Under the Stars, and the Thursday Night Out performance series.
- Attend the annual Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival on July 22 and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Jefferson Street community.
- Bluebird on the Mountain is an amazing local treat at Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory in Brentwood, TN. Bluebird’s musical lineup outdoors under the stars, and you pay per vehicle to attend (up to eight people per vehicle).
Explore Nashville’s Culinary Scene
Sampling the goods at Nashville’s summer food events might top our bucket list. After all, the seasonal local produce is at its peak — from strawberries and watermelon to corn and tomatoes. You’ll find plenty of fabulous summer menus around town, but here are a few other ways to indulge in the tastes of summer.
- Grab a burger and an ice cream cone at nostalgic West Nashville spot Bobbie’s Dairy Dip.
- Go on a food festival crawl — from the Watermelon Festival at Lucky Ladd Farms to East Nashville’s annual Tomato Art Fest to the Music City Hot Chicken Festival.
- Attend an intimate farm dinner at one of GratiDude Ranch in Leiper’s Fork.
- Experience a night of wine tasting and delicious cuisine with Westin Nashville’s Winemaker Dinner Series, and enjoy a five-course meal with wine pairings and a view at the hotel’s L27 Rooftop Lounge.
Go Flower Picking
Is there anything better than colorful fresh flowers adorning your summer tablescape? If your home garden doesn’t offer the opportunity for bouquets, head to By Faith Farm to pick your own blooms from their gorgeous, expansive garden. The farm hosts “You Pick Flower” days — for $25, you’ll receive a mason jar so you can head out into the gardens to select stems for your arrangement. The proceeds go to Fed by Faith, a nonprofit devoted to planting and harvesting healthy food for underserved communities.
Other places to pick your own flowers include:
- Madison Creek Farms in Goodlettsville
- Lucky Ladd Farms in Eagleville
- S. E. Daugherty and Sons Farm in West Nashville
Take Your Self-Care Outside
It’s prime time to get out and explore all of Music City’s natural beauty. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful, leisurely hike or something more adventurous, here are a few ways to get out into the sunshine and soak up that vitamin D!
- Practice yoga on a Lower Broadway rooftop with the Yoga Buzz series at Acme.
- Check out SUP Yoga with Nashville Paddle for some stretching and a light workout under the sun (and on the water). Who knew you could do yoga on a paddleboard?
- Go on a nature walk, whether you stroll around Radnor Lake, hike the Mossy Ridge Trail at Percy Warner Park, or take to the streets in your own community and wave to neighbors. If you’re looking for even more trail options, consult tnstateparks.com for places to observe wildlife, enjoy stunning vistas, and get in a bit of exercise.
- Unplug and refresh with Forest Therapy Nashville, a physical and mental healing experience amid our local flora and fauna.
- Get your heart pumping at the Nashville Shores Treetop Adventure Park, where you can zipline and scale obstacle courses to your heart’s content. Other options for ziplining across the Nashville landscape include The Adventure Park at Nashville and Adventureworks in Whites Creek.
Hit up Nashville’s farmers’ markets
Are you craving homemade pasta, pies, just-baked sourdough bread, farm-fresh eggs, tomatoes on the vine, or aromatic basil? There’s no better spot to find local goods on a Saturday morning in the summer than one of Nashville’s farmers’ markets.
From the charming Richland Park Farmers’ Market to the grand Nashville Farmers’ Market open downtown year-round, you’re bound to find all the beautiful locally sourced flowers, produce, and artisan goods you can handle.
For a complete guide to the farmers’ markets in both Davidson and Williamson counties, check out our complete Guide to Nashville Farmers’ Markets. We also highly recommend stopping by one of The Peach Truck pick-up locations to snag a bushel (or several) of their fresh, juicy peaches!
Support Your Team!
There’s something about the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and the smell of ballpark hot dogs that conjures up that childhood nostalgia we all know and love. Head to First Horizon Park in Germantown for a dose of good old-fashioned family fun and excitement as the Nashville Sounds continue their season beneath the iconic guitar scoreboard. Not to mention, you can make your way over to The Band Box in “Right Field,” where you can play cornhole while you sip cocktails and cheer on the home team. Let the tradition live on.
If soccer is more your speed, Nashville Soccer Club’s season is still in swing, and there’s plenty of opportunity to take in a home game — check out the schedule here. Located in Nashville’s Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood, there’s plenty to eat, see, and do around GEODIS Park, so you can make a full day of it!
Catch Up on Your Reading
One of summer’s greatest pleasures is sitting down to read. Whether you’re bringing your book selection to the beach, reclining on a front porch swing, or searching for a secret spot to call your own, there are oodles of pages just begging to be turned. The Nashville Public Library is adding a little incentive with its annual Summer Reading Challenge from now through July 31. This year’s theme is “Nashville Works Together,” and the goal is simple: read, track your time, and earn prizes. Your time spent reading ultimately translates to money donated to local nonprofits. Audiobooks count, too! If you want a few recommendations, check out these fantastic beach reads.
Make this summer count, Nashville!
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