Clarksville, Tennessee’s fifth-largest city, is located just over an hour north Nashville and less that half an hour south the nearest town in Kentucky. This historic city was founded in 1784 and shares the scenic Cumberland River with Nashville. It also has 30 parks and two state parks. Clarksville is a great place to go for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and picnicking.
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Visit Dunbar Cave State Natural Area
Over 1,000 years of evolution, Dunbar Cave State Natural Area has seen everything. Prehistoric times, around 1260 CE, saw people leave evidence of their presence on the cave’s walls by inscribering art.
The cave was bought by Roy Acuff, a country music star, for $150,000 and turned into a luxury palace. This was the era when big bands, square dancing, and radio programs were all possible within the cave’s naturally ventilated entrance.
Clarksville is a place you will never forget. You can take a guided tour with a ranger through the cave. It was taken over by the state in 1973 and made a natural area. Although life here is somewhat wild in some ways, it’s still quite natural due to all the wildlife that has returned: turkeys and woodpeckers as well as swans.
You can also play golf, which is also available near the cave. Swan Lake Golf Course is the 18-hole course that Roy Acuff designed.
Address: 401 Dunbar Cave Road, Clarksville, Tennessee
Official site: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/dunbar-cave
Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Center
Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Centre is a Memorial Park and 2.5-mile trail that offers scenic views of downtown Clarksville as well as the Red and Cumberland Rivers. The interpretive center is located 200 feet above the river on a hilltop. It explains the importance of the fort during the Civil War. The 1,500-square foot center, which was built in 2008, displays weapons, clothing, artifacts, and other information to help visitors learn more about the historical fort, Defiance.
Confederate Army built the fort to defend Clarksville. Union control took over the fort in 1862. This was the turning point in the fall of Nashville. The United States Colored Troops was formed by runaway and freed slaves who set up camp at Fort Defiance. They fought alongside the Union Army for the abolition and emancipation slaves.
Visitors to the park can find more than just gun mounts and other remnants from its turbulent past. There is also a gift shop and picnic tables and washrooms.
Address: 120 Duncan Street Clarksville, Tennessee
Stroll McGregor Park & RiverWalk
McGregor Park & RiverWalk are some of the best parks and walkways in Clarksville. You can bring your dog with you along the 1.7-mile promenade which follows the Cumberland River. Enjoy the beautiful atmosphere at the picnic areas by bringing a picnic. The park has a playground, a boat ramp and washrooms.
If you prefer to cycle or walk, McGregor Park has a bike rental. McGregor Park is just one of five BCycle stations in the city that allow you to rent a bicycle. The museum has a 12-panel exhibit called “As the River Flows” that explains Clarksville’s history and contributions to the river. The museum is open all year round, and can be found above the Cumberland.
Address: 640 N Riverside Drive, Clarksville, Tennessee
Liberty Park & Clarksville Marina
You could be busy all day at Clarksville Marina and Liberty Park. What are the many activities and attractions you can do in one urban park? You can spend a few hours fishing on the 10-acre pond. Then launch your boat from the four-lane ramp to the Cumberland and hike the 1.8-mile walking path.
The dog park is a great place to take your canine friend, while the playground was built by the community. You can play a variety sports on the athletic fields. You can also enjoy a picnic in one of the four pavilions.
You can also rent a bike at one of the five Liberty Park BCycle stations in Clarksville. After you are done, you can either return the bike to the place you left it, or you can drop it off at another station, such as the Cumberland Riverwalk Station, Downtown at Public Square, Clarksville Greenway’s Pollard Road Trailhead, downtown at Franklin Street Corner, and the Clarksville Greenway’s Cumberland Riverwalk Station.
Address: 1190 Cumberland Drive Clarksville, Tennessee
Miss Lucille’s Marketplace: Treasure Hunting
Miss Lucille’s Marketplace is all about antiques and coffee. This combination is unbeatable, and you can experience it when you treasure hunt at Miss Lucille’s 52,000-foot “eclectic” marketplace. Grab a cup of coffee or one of the signature drinks before you set out on your adventure browsing and trading through 200 vendors offering everything you could imagine.
You can go into any of the wide alleyways, which are designed for special needs customers, and find what you like. It could be an antique item, or perhaps a piece from Miss Lucille’s Furniture Design Room. You might find it on Miss Lucille’s Cafe’s menu.
Address: 2231-L Madison Street, Clarksville, Tennessee
Official site: www.misslucillesmarketplace.com
Take a look at the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center.
Imagine the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center as a former Federal Post Office and customs house. You’ll be stunned when you pass this 1898 architectural masterpiece as you walk down South 2 Street in Clarksville.
This impressive structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (since 1972). It combines many styles of architecture. The structure’s striking design features include four eagles in each corner, pitched gables and decorative flourishes. Clarksville was a major international trading hub for tobacco. This building also served as a place to receive foreign mail and customs. The building was home to the city’s electric department for 40 years before it became a museum and cultural centre.
This stunning building houses 35,000 feet of exhibit space and special events. It is Tennessee’s second-largest general interest museum. It has fine art and children’s exhibits. You can also learn everything about local history. The Heimansohn Gallery features a model railroad. Collaborate with your children to create a masterpiece using Lego blocks at the family art studio.
Address: 200 S 2nd Streeet, Clarksville, Tennessee
Official site: www.customshousemuseum.org
Roxy Regional Theatre
Art Deco theatres are a striking but quickly disappearing design. So be on the lookout for communities that decide to keep them around. The Roxy Regional Theatre in Clarksville is an exceptional piece of architecture. It has survived two fires and an economic depression as well as wars. It has since evolved into an entertainment venue that caters to all ages and stages.
The Roxy is more than a screen house for movies. It also serves as a stage for live performances. Here they can learn skills and get experience in live theatre at their regional arts school or summer training camp. From the Lillian Theatre in 1915 to today’s Roxy Regional Theatre, performing arts have dominated Franklin and First Street. Before you visit, take a look at the website and then enjoy a show at Roxy Theatre.
Address: 100 Franklin Street, Clarksville, Tennessee
Official site: http://roxyregionaltheatre.org/
Stop by Rotary Park
Rotary Park is a nature park covering 111 acres. It offers something for everyone. There are more than six miles worth of biking and hiking trails for those who want to get serious exercise. A sand volleyball court is available for groups who want to have some fun and kick it up while having fun. A family can have a picnic in one of the pavilions, and then play on the 18 hole disc golf course. Older people might enjoy throwing some ringers in the olde horseshoe pit, a throwback to a simpler time. The playground is a favorite spot for kids, as well as the large open area.
Visitors can learn about animals and plants at Wade Bourne Nature Center. This 4,200-square foot complex features displays and hands-on activities. This is the perfect place to stop by before or after your hike to increase your understanding of the natural world. There are two buildings with toilets and two pavilions that can be rented at Rotary Park. The scavenger hunts are run by two Girl Guides from the local area. This is another way to get involved in Rotary Park play.
Address: 2308 Rotary Drive, Clarksville (Tennessee).
Rent a bike and ride Creekside on Clarksville Greenway
The Clarksville Greenway is a 9-mile paved path that runs through the country. You can rent a bike from the BCycle station located at the Pollard Road Trailhead to explore the greenway. While nine miles may seem like a long distance on foot, the biking option offers moderate exercise and a great view in a fraction of that time.
You will bike an abandoned rail bed, and then meander along a forest trail beside the Red River or West Fork Creek. You will find modern facilities for toilets near the parking lot you parked your vehicle.
Address: 1101 Pollard, Clarksville, Tennessee
Blacklight Mini-Golf 3D
D & D Blacklight Mini Golf reimagines mini-golf as it was. It uses black lights and 3D graphics with a fantasy forest theme. This is only one example of the many colorful possibilities that are available to you. You may feel pulled in many different directions at this place of entertainment on the appropriately named Holiday Drive.
You will recognize some of them, like the arcade, pool table and paint room. Surreal lighting makes old themes seem new again. Balladium is where two teams of opposing players blast each other with foam balls fired from air cannons.
These activities can be enjoyed by children, their families and friends. To play on a busy day such as a rainy Sunday or Saturday, you will need to make a reservation.
Address: 211 Holiday Drive, Clarksville, Tennessee
Official site: www.ddminigolf.com/clarksville-home
Imagine Pioneer Life in Historic Collinsville
The pioneers who settled Historic Collinsville during the 40 year period 1830-1870 were successful. You can visit 18 restored log homes on the 40-acre grounds of and see furnishings from bygone eras. It is only a half hour drive from Clarksville. It will give you an eye-opening glimpse into the daily struggles of those who lived here during Civil War.
Learn about the animals and plants of the region at the wildlife center. Keep an eye out for seasonal events like spring homecoming, fall pilgrimage, or Christmas celebrations. Enjoy a Southern-style lunch and picnic after touring the exhibits. While you stroll the nature trails, reflect on the characters of the livestock and people who lived here.
Address: 4711 Weakley Road, Southside, Tennessee
Official site: http://historiccollinsville.com/
Enjoy a hike in Port Royal State Historic Park
The 14-mile east of Clarksville is the Port Royal State Historic Park. It was the original community and trading center in Tennessee. In 1796, Tennessee was made a state. This happened only 20 years after the nation’s founding. Port Royal was a crucial regional inspection point, just as Clarksville’s post office and customs house were important for international tobacco trade. The weekend tour “From Commerce to Collapse” will take you through this fascinating chapter of local history.
The 26-acre park offers an interpretive program to educate schoolchildren about the tragic history of the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee Indians were forced to relocate from Georgia and Tennessee to Oklahoma following this traumatic route.
You can also visit Port Royal by following two trails: The half-mile River Bottom Trail takes you along a section of Trail of Tears near the Red River. Hopson Spring Branch Trail starts at Main Street. It follows Sulphur Fork Creek, and the Hopson Spring Branch.
Address: 3300 Old Clarksville Hwy, Adams, Tennessee
Official site: www.tnstateparks.com/parks/port-royal