Day Trip Ideas from Nashville

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Brought to you by Susan Gregory, PARKS of Cool Springs

Considering a move to Nashville and wondering what the area offers besides music? Here is my list of a few of the many opportunities for day trips near Nashville.

Spelunkers Paradise

About an hour from Nashville, Clarksville is home to Dunbar Cave State Park, one of the region’s most accessible cave complexes. The 100+ acres of the park offer hiking trails and picnic areas; however, the highlight is the caves containing prehistoric Mississippian Native American cave art dating back to the 14th century. Between May and August, you can tour this site that the indigenous people believed was a portal to the Underworld.

In 1810, land surveyor Aaron Higgenbotham discovered what is now known as Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, about 30 minutes from Nashville. With 32 miles of caves and passages, Cumberland Caverns boast beautiful rock formations, underground waterfalls, and massive underground rooms, including the Volcano Room, which hosts the monthly Bluegrass Underground concerts.

A short 1.5-hour drive to Kentucky will take you to Mammoth Cave National Park, the largest cave system in the world. Over 400 miles of passages and chambers have been explored, with some incredible features, including Frozen Niagara, Fat Man’s Misery, and the Bottomless Pit; although it’s estimated that there are more than 600 miles remaining unexplored.

Shall We Toast

When people think about great wineries, Tennessee doesn’t automatically come to mind – but it should! Forty minutes south of Nashville is Arrington Vineyards, which is owned by country music artist Kix Brooks, winemaker Kip Summers, and entrepreneur John Russell. The winery offers tastings, flights, and sales of its award-winning wines. The 95-acre property hosts Food Truck Fridays and Music in the Vines, a free live music event on the weekends.

One of the best-known producers of spirits in the US is Tennessee’s own Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg. The first registered distillery in the US was established in 1866 by Jack Daniels.  The master distiller strategically located his facilities near Cave Spring Hollow, the source of the limestone-filtered waters that are a key factor in the quality of the whiskey. The distillery offers tours, and even though the facilities are in a dry county, you can still taste and buy the product during a tour.

History Is Everywhere

President Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage is now a historical site and museum in Hermitage, Tennessee, only 20 minutes from Nashville. Jackson purchased the 1,000+ acres property in 1804 for his wife Rachel. Construction on their home took place from 1819 to 1821; however, a chimney fire destroyed most of the original residence in 1834, at which time Jackson commissioned a new home to be built in the Greek Revival style. Today the home is under the care of The Andrew Jackson Foundation, which preserves the historical landmark and conducts a variety of tours.

Many people are not aware that Nashville and the surrounding areas saw some of the most historically significant battles of the Civil War. The Stones River National Battlefield Park, 40 minutes southeast of Nashville in Murfreesboro, is home to the largest Civil War era enclosed earth fort, Fortress Rosecrans. The 570 acres of parkland also includes the Stones River National Cemetery and the Hazen’s Brigade Monument, the oldest Civil War monument still standing in its original site.

About 20 minutes south of Nashville, you’ll find the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin. The Carter House became headquarters for the Twenty-Third Army Corps of the Union Army. The family attempted to hide from Union soldiers on the farm grounds. They also cared for one of the Carter’s sons who was wounded during the battle. He was brought to his family home and died a short time later. Tours of the property include the room where the son died and several outbuildings that still have bullet holes from the battle.

A short drive from the Carter House, is Carnton Plantation, home of the McGavock family, which was used as a temporary field hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Battle of Franklin. In 1866, Carrie McGavock donated a portion of the land, now known as the McGavock Cemetery, to rebury fallen Confederate soldiers. The soldiers were reburied in sections by state, and Carrie maintained a record book listing the names, states, and regiments of each. The home, cemetery, and grounds can be toured year-round, and Carnton is now a popular destination for people wanting to see the home of the “Widow of the South.”

Just Plain Fun

Never let anyone forget that Tennessee was home of The King, Elvis Presley. Travel three hours west to Memphis to visit Elvis’ home Graceland and Sun Studios where Elvis recorded his first song and be sure to try the best barbeque in the world at The Rendevous.

If you need to expend some energy or get the kids moving, head back to Franklin for an afternoon at SOAR Adventure Tower. This one-of-a-kind structure is a four-story ropes course with levels for everyone from the littles and novices to expert climbers. When you get tired of the climbing, try a round of mini-golf on the 18-hole, musically themed course.

Clearly, you will never get bored living in Nashville once you find your “home base.”

Susan Gregory, an experienced, licensed realtor in Nashville, can assist you in finding the right home to put down your new roots – then you can spread your branches to explore. Call Susan today at 615-207-5600.

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