Explore the remarkable history, beautiful scenery, outstanding shopping and dining experiences throughout Middle Tennessee. Choose attractions and stops that align with your interests and provide a unique experience like none other. Do you like hiking on scenic trails or a strolling a quaint downtown? Cornhole game at a brewery or sampling tour at a distillery? Prefer a solo getaway or love celebrating with friends and family? Choose from the categories below that can help you start planning your trip to this historic and beautiful region of Tennessee.
Experience rich Native American Woodland culture with a hike through the beautiful Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park in Manchester, Tennessee. Witness the sites and traverse the trails where ancient Native Americans resided nearly 2,000 years ago. Spend the day exploring, take in the picturesque waterfalls and delve into the remarkable history of this park. A small museum and visitor center are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and restrooms are available onsite.
Visit Downtown Franklin, about 22 miles south of Nashville, where historic preservation meets contemporary shopping and dining. Stroll along brick sidewalks, take in the stunning architecture, and enjoy the vast collection of antique and art galleries, quaint gift stores, boutiques, restaurants, and historical locations throughout this delightful area. Also home to a number of music, food, and holiday festivals held throughout the year, Franklin’s Main Street District is a must-visit. Historic sites like the Carter House and Carton in and around the downtown area are must-sees and provide an astonishing glimpse into the expansive Civil War history of Franklin. See for yourself why it ranks among the best downtowns in America.
Promising delicious food, live music, and trendy shopping experiences, downtown Columbia is always sure to please. Whether it is enjoying the local breweries and restaurants or walking through the quaint boutiques and shops, downtown Columbia offers fun for the whole family. Enriching the town’s ecological diversity, walk (or kayak) the Duck River, which wraps around the edge of downtown and is home to over 150 species of fish. Also be sure to check out the nearby up-and-coming Columbia Arts District where you can share in the abounding artistic and creative expression taking shape in this classic, Southern downtown.
Star Spangled Brewing Company, located in Clarksville, Tennessee, is a veteran-owned brewery offering a rotating selection of small-batch, high-gravity craft beers. “Hop” on over to the tasting room and sample some of their best brews or check out the brewery’s fun outdoor space which is pet-friendly and features picnic tables and yard games - perfect for friends, family, and Fido to enjoy. Food trucks are available with tasty meals and snacks to compliment your drinks. Visit this one-of-a-kind brewery and taste the most patriotic beer around.
Nestled on 400 acres of stunning Tennessee farmland, the Short Mountain Distillery specializes in making organic Tennessee whiskey, bourbon, and various original spirits. Visitors to the distillery can see firsthand how the spirits are made on the distillery tour, tasting and learning along the way. After the tour, stop by The Restaurant at Short Mountain Distillery and enjoy genuine Southern cuisine accentuated by farm fresh vegetables, herbs and meats. Whether you’re taking the tour, learning the ins-and-outs of cocktail crafting during a class, or savoring a delicious meal at their restaurant, you are sure to love the Short Mountain Distillery, where locally and sustainably grown ingredients form legendary spirits.
For an experience unlike any other, stay at the Treehouse of Center Hill Lake, perfect for a secluded and peaceful mountain getaway. Start the morning with a cup of coffee on one of the five balconies and soak in the spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. Take the afternoon to hike down to Center Hill Lake on the cabin’s very own private trail, which leads to a cove and a perfect spot to kayak. Finish the day relaxing in the hot tub beside the fire pit or cozying up on the large sectional to watch the sunset.
Located just an hour’s drive from Nashville, the Wildwood Resort and Marina offers a variety of accommodations and adventures for every traveler. From rustic waterfront cabins to harbor cottage houseboats to a vintage Airstream village, Wildwood gives you the opportunity to choose which experience best suits your interests. Book a pontoon or kayak to explore Cordell Hull Lake and partake in the wide variety of water activities. After a fun-filled day, dine at the Lakeside Restaurant and enjoy panoramic views of the lake aside shoreline bonfires and live music. Visit Wildwood and discover the peaceful, modern-rustic resort that remains one of Tennessee’s best kept secrets.
Ever hear of duck bowling? Seen 24 pinball machines in one room? How about indoor bocce or life-size pong and Jenga? You can experience all of this and so much more at Pins Mechanical Company located in the heart of Nashville. With retro-modern touches intertwined in the welcoming and modern space, Pins leaves no room for boredom with their extensive collection of vintage arcade, pinball and yard games perfect for friends and family of all ages. Three bars offering a plethora of unique cocktails (like the Pinball Wizard or the Game Over), draft beer and wine are located around the facility. Food trucks are parked just outside to satisfy your appetite. A combination of cozy indoor sitting areas and spacious outdoor patios gives you ample opportunity to relax and have a great time. Come see why Pins is quickly becoming one of the best hangouts in Nashville. Quick tip: if you are interested in bowling, reserve a lane as soon as you arrive because it's one of the more popular activities.
Searching for some world-famous Tennessee barbecue? Need look no further than some of Middle Tennessee’s most iconic barbecue at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nolensville. This location was the first Martin’s opened in 2006 and features their award-winning West Tennessee-style whole-hog barbecue. Try some of the local favorites, including the Redneck Tacos or Farmer’s Salad with smoked turkey. Served in generous portions and with a number of delicious sides, Martin’s will never disappoint. Hungry at home but don’t want to go out to grab a bite? Order Martin’s online for takeout or for delivery through DoorDash and savor the flavor from your own kitchen table.
Recognized as the original home of Nashville hot chicken, Prince’s Hot Chicken located downtown delights heat lovers with chicken rich in flavor. With a variety of hot (and mild) menu options to choose from, Prince’s hot chicken is coated in flaming spices sure to kindle your taste buds. Whether you are an avid heat chaser or just enjoy some good fried chicken, Prince’s provides some of the best hot chicken in Middle Tennessee. Beware though, the “XX-Hot” chicken may cause you to breathe fire.
Known around the world as one of Nashville’s oldest and most prominent honky-tonks, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge has hosted thousands of live music concerts since 1960 and hosted such artists as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Faron Young. Steeped in history with an unmistakable old-school atmosphere, Tootsie’s features three levels, each with live music and a full bar. Complimented by tasty food, great drinks, and enduring history, this Nashville icon is a must-visit. And be sure to check out the rooftop area for some amazing views of downtown.
Grinder House Coffee Shop is more than just a coffee house, it is a welcoming and cozy community where everyone can gather and enjoy locally sourced coffee drinks, home-style soups and sandwiches, and live music. With homey décor, accommodating staff, and plenty of space to sit back and relax, Grinder House Coffee Shop is the perfect place to unwind and sip your favorite cold brew or espresso. Grinder serves breakfast all day in addition to their full lunch and dinner menus, accentuated by delicious made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits and other delightful treats. Declared the best listening room for live singer songwriters in Tennessee, it isn’t just coffee and biscuits that you can enjoy at Grinder. Check out their website for a calendar with upcoming live shows and see for yourself why so many adore this curated eatery and specialty coffee house.
Walk Through History or Experience New Adventures
Step back in time and see what it was like to live in Tennessee from the 1830s to the 1930s with a visit to Cannonsburgh Village. From historic buildings to a large tractor exhibit, this 8-acre site features a gristmill, schoolhouse, caboose, chapel, doctor’s office, general store, and a functional blacksmith’s shop. You can even see the world’s largest cedar bucket. The village is free to visit. Though the structures and visitor center are closed from December to April, the grounds are open year-round. Take in some local history and live like it’s 1845 at Cannonsburgh Village.
Encircled by the Harpeth River, AdventureWorks in Kingston Springs is the perfect setting for great views and even better adventure. Take the Canopy Zip Tour, Nashville’s original zip line tour that has you flying fast above their 40-acre forest. If you’re brave enough, choose the Haunted Forest Zip Tour, and learn about the mysterious Montgomery Bell. For more thrills, you can even zip line at night with the Moonlight Tour. Perfect for family outings or a daytrip with friends, AdventureWorks is open on weekends and by special request. Say yes to new adventures and soar through the sky at AdventureWorks.
Continue planning your vacation by discovering even more things to do in Middle Tennessee.
Tennessee has some of the best climbing destinations east of the Mississippi River. Rappeling, bouldering, sport climbing and trad climbing can all be done here.