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With summer in full swing, it’s abundantly clear how different this one is from summers past. And though our levels of comfort may vary when it comes to exploring activities outside of our homes, and many businesses have yet to reopen fully, there are still plenty of opportunities to get a dose of sunshine and adventure. Here are five of our favorite ways to spend a summer day in Nashville.

Driving down a sunlit road for a summer outing

Summer outings are an excuse to hop in the car and do a little adventuring. So, what are you waiting for?

Dinner + Movie

We may not be reclining in movie seats with a bucket of popcorn just yet, but that doesn’t mean catching a summer flick isn’t possible. The Stardust, Pink Cadillac, Macon and Franklin (in Franklin, Kentucky, not Tennessee) drive-ins are all relatively close if you’re up for hitting the highway. Our pick is the Stardust, which is open seven nights a week. They have a full concession stand, and family-friendly classics play on one screen — our recent favorites include The Goonies and E.T. — while horror films play on the other. It’s social-distancing entertainment at its finest.

If you’re looking for something a little more polished and local, East Nashville restaurant lou is serving up Thursday night dinner-and-movie duos that have us drooling. Menu items change each week, and their picnic sacs come with the option to reserve two free tickets to an appropriately themed movie pairing, which they screen on their beautiful back patio. Recent evenings include Mexican dishes accompanied by a showing of Y Tu Mamá También, and a stellar Italian food and Stealing Beauty combo. Orders can be placed here, and movie spots can be reserved here.

Lou picnic sac for a summer outing

Lou‘s delicious picnic sacs pair perfectly with their movie picks. Image: Ben Rice

Reconnect with Nature on a Kayak

A trip to the beach may or may not be in the cards for you, but Paddle Up Nashville offers a few ways to commune with nature right here in town, as you take to the water on a paddleboard or kayak. You can also watch the moon rise on one of their two-hour full-moon kayak trips, offered on July 2 and 3, August 2 and 3, and September 1 and 2. The trips start at $35.

Additionally, Paddle Up Nashville’s Hump Day Paddle takes place every Wednesday until September and features half-price hourly rentals all day long. You can even bring your canine BFF on your paddleboarding excursion, as long as you call ahead to request one of their limited “woof boards.”

RELATED: 3 At-Home Date Night Ideas for a Fun Night In

Tennessee Safari Park

If you’re up for an exotic adventure, and you’re willing to take a bit of a drive, the Tennessee Safari Park is well worth the visit. You can purchase a bucket of feed and get up close and personal with the likes of camels, zebras, alpacas and even giraffes, all from the safety of your vehicle. Just don’t turn your back on the ostriches. No, really. For $16 per adult and $12 per child (plus $3 for a giant feed pail), you’ll wind through the 5.5 miles of dirt road, surrounded by animals on both sides. It takes one to two hours to drive through, depending on how often you stop for photo ops, and you may run into a bit of a line getting in, so we recommend getting an early start. The park is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, noon until 5 p.m., with a strictly enforced 4 p.m. entry cut off.

Tennessee Safari Park for summer outings

The Tennessee Safari Park is a wild ride worth experiencing. Image: Kaleigh Barthelemy

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Wine Tasting at Natchez Hills

About an hour from Nashville, you’ll arrive in Hampshire, TN, where you’ll find Natchez Hills, a family-owned vineyard and winery located near the Natchez Trace Parkway. Natchez Hills produces small-batch, hand-crafted wines, and you can stop by the tasting bar to sample the vino — wine tastings are $6 for five wines, and light snacks are available for an additional cost. Reservations are only required for parties of eight or more. Learn more about this Middle Tennessee treasure here.

Natchez Hills wine at The Hermitage

A wine tasting at Natchez Hills makes for a perfect summer outing. Image: Natchez Hills Winery

Treetop Adventure Park

Nashville Shores is just starting to welcome back guests, and so is the Treetop Adventure Park. With new protocols in place to offer a safe and fun experience, the park is all set for your next gravity-defying, outdoor experience. From zip-lining and suspended bridges to Tarzan swings, they’ve got everything you need for a thrilling and scenic good time. They even have courses for kids and juniors, making it a day the whole family can enjoy.

Here’s to a fun-filled summer!


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