Nature Provides the Setting for Valentine’s Day Romance in Middle Tennessee
Saint Valentine’s Day, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, honors a Christian martyr from Rome who lived during the 3rd century A.D. After English poet Geoffrey Chaucer got into the action in the 14th century though, it was all about romance.
This year celebrate Feb. 14 in the most romantic setting of all, nature.
A walk and a picnic at one of two neighboring Metropolitan Nashville Warner Parks off Highway 100 in West Nashville is high on my wife’s list. Percy Warner Park has seven miles of hiking trails started by the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s, bridle paths, picnic shelters and paved roadways winding through 2,058 acres of woods.
Just across Old Hickory Blvd., Edwin Warner’s 625 acres contain a dog park, hiking trails and picnic areas. The Nature Center off Highway 100 is where you can take a bathroom break and get lists of planned programs and hikes, maps and trail information. From November through February picnic areas are first-come and restrooms near them are closed.
On Valentine’s Day a guided night hike is scheduled from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. with a focus on the “nature of love.” Registration to learn about critter courtships is free and begins Jan. 31 for ages 6 and older.
The Nature Center is open Tues.-Sat. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. while the Warner Parks are open between daybreak and 11 p.m. daily.
Also located off Highway 100 in West Nashville nearer to town, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Art Museum provides an island of refined tranquility. The 55 lush acres contain different styles and periods of gardens featuring pools, fountains, arbors and sculptures.
Cheekwood is “eye candy” for my wife, Cathy, who finds walking through the gardens food for thought plus good exercise. I prefer fragrant flowers, bushes and trees. After 20 years of gardening together she manages to keep something sweet smelling in bloom most of the year. That’s a gift that keeps on giving in my book.
Cheekwood admission includes the resident American art collection inside the Georgian-style mansion. An exhibition of American miniature portraits and some of the love stories surrounding them will be featured in “Affectionately Yours: American Miniature Portraits and the Stories They Tell” from Feb. 14 through Aug. 25.
How about lunch or dinner at one of Tennessee’s State Parks? Several are serving Valentine’s Day dinners complete with candlelight, sparkling beverages and long stemmed red roses.
Here are ideas to whet your appetite:
• Pickwick Dam State Park hosts a candlelit buffet dinner with catfish, shrimp, prime rib and chicken overlooking the lake. Paris Landing serves lunch and a dinner buffet with prime rib, catfish, smoked chicken and chocolate covered strawberries. Both places offer you and your sweetie excellent waters for fishing.
• Montgomery Bell State Park features a candlelit four-course dinner by reservation only with a dance area and romantic music during dinner and options for wine and overnight lodging. The park has lakes to satisfy your angling desires.
• Treat your sweetheart to prime rib, chicken alfredo and blackened grilled tilapia with a chocolate fountain at Fall Creek Falls. A two-night Valentine’s Day bed and breakfast lodging special is an option. Fall Creek Falls is home of the state’s record three-pound bluegill. This record was tied 10 years later in 1987.
Join David Lincicome of the TN Division of State Natural on a hike at Fall Creek Falls State Park on Feb. 16. Reservations are required no later than Feb. 14.
How are you spending your Valentine’s Day? Share your plans in the comments.