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11 Unique Activities & Places to Visit in and Around Nashville

By: Matt Niehoff

Tag: weekend getaways


Everyone has their new year resolutions: lose weight, tighten the budget, be nicer, cut back on sweets... all of which are fantastic(ish) in their own right, but, let's take a moment and explore resolutions that are a bit more fun: like, exploring unique places in and around Nashville. I've got ideas for fun weekend trip ideas, outdoor activities, festivals and more. So my dearest readers, I present to you a few sights and activities that have been on my to-do list for quite some time - ones that now top of my list of 'musts' to accomplish this year:

Fisk University Campus
Founded six months after the end of the Civil War, Fisk University's 40-acre campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is comprised of some of the most gorgeous examples of Italianate and Queen Anne architecture in the city. Do a bit of research on the web and you'll learn more about how this historic college played a significant role in the United States civil rights movement, as well. Fascinating history +  unique architecture = a must see.

Beaman Nature Park

A less popular rival to Percy Warner Park, Beaman offers the same amenities with much less of a crowd. With only a 20 minute drive from Nashville, you can access and explore the 1700 acres containing trails, waterfalls, streams, and wildlife at this beautiful park. 

Historic Rugby

Visiting Rugby is like stepping into the 1800's. This well-persevered Victorian  village offers visitors a museum, historic tours of its original buildings, unique lodging, and more. A perfect weekend getaway and chance to explore the stunning Cumberland Plateau area in Tennessee.

Dyer Observatory Bluebird on the Mountain

Live music on one of the tallest hilltops in Nashville? Yes please. The Dyer Observatory's Bluebird on the Mountain concert series is designed to highlight the view - taking in glorious sunsets from the front lawn.  After an in-the-round performance from some of the best songwriters in Nashville, when the stars begin to shine, the telescope is opened for visitors to cap their night with views of the night sky.

Full Moon Pickin' Party

Another music-centered festival - the Full Moon Pickin' Party held at Percy Warner park showcases bluegrass music under the light of a full moon. $15 gets you admission and 4 beers - or, if you bring your own instrument to pick, you can get in for only $10. A perfect way to experience the music culture here in one of Nashville's most fabulous parks.

Milky Way Farm
The vision of Frank Mars (yes, that Mars - of the candy empire), who purchased land in Tennessee in the 1930’s after the success of his Milky Way candy bar, The aptly-named Milky Way Farm is a 1000+ acre retreat just south of Nashville, featuring several charming barns and stone houses. The 25,000 main house can be toured the first Saturday of every month for $10.

Moon Pie Festival 

Ah.... Bell Buckle Tennessee, home of the world famous snack, the Moon Pie. Every year, this normally sleepy town hosts the RC Moon Pie Festival, featuring bluegrass music, dancing and a parade. Bell Buckle is also home to plenty of antique shops and down-home country cooking. Don't miss the Jack Daniel's Distillery while you're out that direction, too.

Downtown Art Crawl

Eight years in Nashville and I still have not made it to a Downtown Art Crawl. Obviously that needs to change in 2015. Held the first Saturday of every month, Nashville's Downtown Art Crawl is the perfect way to check Nashville's bustling art scene - and features diverse exhibitions featuring every genre of art. Admission is free, and most galleries have wine + snacks.

The 127 Yard Sale

Every year individuals stake out their properties for what could be the world's largest yard sale. Stretching over 690 miles from Addison, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama, folks band together on the 127 corridor over a four-day period - typically the first weekend in August - to sell their 'treasures'. Check it out in Tennessee anywhere from the Jamestown area all the way down to Chattanooga. 

Mt Olivet Cemetery

A cemetery on the list? Creepy, but yes. Mt. Olivet of course, being no ordinary cemetery, it is one rich with Nashville history: Several of our most notable citizens are buried here, including George Dickel and David Lipscomb, along with over 1,500 confederate soldiers in 'Confederate Circle'. There is a free walking tour marked by signage in the cemetery - and a booklet with additional information can be picked up at the office.

Cumberland Gap
Avoid the crowds elsewhere in the Smokies and check out the Cumberland Gap - where the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia all meet, known as the first 'gateway to the west'. Between 1760 and 1850, almost 300,000 people walked, rode, or were carried through the Cumberland Gap - and now you can too via this National Park's vast trail system. Also in the area: tour Gap Cave, the abandoned Hensley Settlement, Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, plenty of antiquing, and more.