Ideas for day trips from Nashville

Presented by Susan Gregory, PARKS of Cool Springs

Thinking of moving to Nashville and wondering what the area has to offer besides music? Here is my list of just a few of the many day trip opportunities near Nashville.

Paradise for speleologists

About an hour from Nashville, Clarksville is home to Dunbar Cave State Park, one of the most accessible cave complexes in the region. The park’s more than 100 acres offer hiking trails and picnic areas; however, the highlight is the caves containing prehistoric Mississippian Native American rock art dating back to the 14th century. Between May and August you can visit this site which the natives believed to be 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, the Cumberland Caverns offer beautiful rock formations, subterranean waterfalls, and huge underground rooms, including the Volcano Room, which hosts 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 incredible features including Frozen Niagara, Fat Man’s Misery and Bottomless Pit; although it is estimated that more than 600 miles remain unexplored.

Shall we raise a toast

When people think of great wineries, Tennessee doesn’t automatically come to mind, but it should! Forty minutes south of Nashville is Arrington Vineyards, 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 weekends.

One of the best-known spirits producers in the United States is the Jack Daniels Distillery of Tennessee in Lynchburg. The first registered distillery in the United States was established in 1866 by Jack Daniels. The master distiller has strategically located its facilities near Cave Spring Hollow, the source of the limestone-filtered waters that are a key factor in whiskey quality. The distillery offers tours, and even though the facility is in a dry county, you can still sample and purchase the product on a tour.

History is everywhere

The home of President Andrew Jackson, The Hermitage is now a historic site and museum in Hermitage, Tennessee, just 20 minutes from Nashville. Jackson purchased the 1,000+ acre property in 1804 for his wife Rachel. The construction of their house took place from 1819 to 1821; however, a chimney fire destroyed most of the original residence in 1834, when Jackson commissioned a new house to be built in the Greek Revival style. Today the house is in the care of the Andrew Jackson Foundation, which preserves the historic monument and organizes a variety of tours.

Many people don’t know that Nashville and the surrounding area saw some of the most important battles of the Civil War. Stones River National Battlefield Park, 40 minutes southeast of Nashville in Murfreesboro, is home to the largest enclosed Civil War-era earthen fort, Fortress Rosecrans. The 570 acres of parkland also include Stones River National Cemetery and the Hazen Brigade Monument, the oldest Civil War monument still standing on its original site.

About 20 minutes south of Nashville is the site of one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles, the Battle of Franklin. The Carter House became the headquarters of the Union Army’s Twenty-Third Corps. The family attempted to hide from Union soldiers on the farmyard. They also treated one of Carter’s sons who was injured during the battle. He was brought to his family home and died shortly thereafter. 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 Carter House is Carnton Plantation, the 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 part of the land, now known as the McGavock Cemetery, to rebury fallen Confederate soldiers. Soldiers were reinterred in sections by state, and Carrie kept a log listing each one’s names, states, and regiments. The house, cemetery and grounds can be visited year-round, and Carnton is now a popular destination for people wishing to see the ‘widow of the south’ house.

simply fun

Never let anyone forget that Tennessee was the 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 world’s best barbecue at Rendevous.

If you need to burn off some energy or get the kids moving, return to Franklin for an afternoon at the SOAR Adventure Tower. This one-of-a-kind structure is a four-story ropes course with levels for everyone, from little ones and novices to expert climbers. When you’ve had enough of the rock climbing, try a round of mini-golf on the 18-hole, musical-themed course.

Obviously, you’ll never get bored living in Nashville once you find your “home base.”

Susan Gregory, an experienced and licensed real estate agent in Nashville, can help you find the right home to establish your new roots – then you can expand your branches to explore. Call Susan today at 615-207-5600.

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