Top 10 Free Outdoor Activities - Parthenon Publishing
Outdoor activities in Nashville

Top 10 Free Outdoor Activities

By the time August rolls around, many of us have had our fill of summer fun.

(And in a summer with little rain, many of us also have grown weary of hoses, sprinklers and water bills that would rival the debt load of a small nation.)

So, who wants to go outside and do something?

You should and here’s why: Yes, it’s still plenty hot, but the mornings and evenings are bearable. Plus, now the kids are back in school, which cuts down on all kinds of traffic and mayhem.

With all that in mind, and a sincere desire to highlight some great, free opportunities to get off the sofa and mix with as many or as few of our fellow citizens as you’d like, here are some free, fun outdoor activities for the end of summer:

Frist Fridays

Starts in June

A little music, a little culture, all can be yours on Frist Fridays.
Photo Courtesy Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Been dawdling on getting that membership to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts?

There’s plenty of value to be had, such as free admission to exhibits, and you also get in free to Frist Fridays, a monthly outdoor concert. Plus, if you renew early, they throw some extra free parking at you.

And the acts are cool. See: Rhett Miller, who is making all kinds of noise as an “alt-country lifer,” (Rolling Stone’s words).

Plus, while you’re there you can pick up some decidedly un-museum-like snackage (corn dogs, pretzels) to enjoy whilst in attendance.

Nashville Greenways

Richland Creek Greenway Turtles
The Richland Creek turtles are kind of a worst-kept secret on the Westside.

Richland Creek

We love the Greenway system so much we are giving it two spots on this list. Since the system wraps around a big chunk of the city, that only seems fair.

Plus, some of us live in East Nashville and others on the Westside, so this split vote also cuts down on office squabbling. (We all know what side is better. And it is not the west side.)

If you’ve spent any time at all at the Target on White Bridge, the Publix on Harding Place or any of the shops in between, you’ve likely encountered senior citizens who live nearby talking about “counting turtles.”

If you enter the Greenway at the Hill Center Trailhead, you’ll soon make your way into nicely shaded woods, and soon to a bridge over the aforementioned creek et voila! — turtles! Once they see you on the bridge they will make a beeline (well, as bee-like as a turtle can manage) toward you, as some people toss them treats.

Shelby Bottoms

Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge
The Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge is your well-earned reward for a two-mile trot along the Shelby Bottoms Greenway.

Over the (Cumberland) River and through the woods, to hipster-dense East Nashville we go.

In addition to being in the shadow of a ginormous train trestle, the Shelby Bottoms greenway entrance also boasts the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center, which is worthy of a visit all by its own self.

You’ll wind your way along the river until, about 2.5 miles out, you get to the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge, from which you can see the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center’s glass roof in the distance.

Cross the bridge and pick up the trail underneath Briley Parkway alongside Two Rivers Parkway. Or just stand on the bridge, catch your breath from the seriously steep climb to get up there and enjoy some fine public art.

Musicians Corner

Saturdays, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. (music starts at 1:30)

Centennial Park plays host to Musicians Corner, a great way to see high-quality entertainment for free.
Photo Courtesy Musicians Corner

Free time on a Saturday?

No better way to spend it than at Centennial Park, where in the shadow of the Parthenon you can enjoy some of Nashville’s top talent, doing their thing for free at Musicians Corner.

Lawn chairs, outside food and coolers are fine (don’t bring booze).

Food trucks and a pub will be serving up to those who come empty-handed.

Parking is available at HCA lots across from the park’s north side.

Courtyard Concerts — Nashville Downtown Library

Tuesdays, 11:45 a.m.

The Downtown Main Library becomes a concert venue during Tuesdays in August and September, thanks to the Courtyard Concert Series.
Photo Courtesy Nashville Public Library.

If you’re downtown on a Tuesday this month, get on over to the library and take in a courtyard concert.

They’re free, and you can grab a tasty lunch at the Provence downstairs and take it up with you.

Don’t have a library card? Don’t need one to enjoy the concert, but shame on you. (Reading is fundamental, so take care of that shortcoming now.)

And support the Friends of Nashville Public Library while you’re at it.

Live On The Green

Aug. 11, 18 & 25

Live On The Green features, as per usual, an amazing lineup of talent in 2016.
Photo Courtesy Live On The Green

Still downtown?

On Thursdays, there’s more free music on offer thanks to Live On The Green, which takes place at Public Square Park.

This is getting repetitive by now, all this amazing free concert madness, but there is a reason why this is called Music City.

More like Free Music City, but that sounds like a prison chant. We digress.

Music City Walk of Fame

The Music City Walk of Fame pays homage to all the musicians who've come through here, or at least a lot of 'em.
Photo by Amiee Stubbs, Nash Country Weekly.

Again with the downtown. There’s lots to do, so sue us.

Walk off those corn dogs and artisanal cocktails on the Music City Walk of Fame, just across from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (at Demonbreun and 4th Avenue).

Recent inductees Loretta Lynn and Jack White, so it’s hip as all get-out, plus it’s open and accessible 24 hours a day.

That means you can tear up some Lower Broadway karaoke and them come and tearfully, drunkenly apologize to Wynonna Judd and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Downtown Self-Guided Walking Tour

The Men's Quarter Nashville
The Men’s Quarter is just one iconic piece of Nashville architecture you can learn about on a downtown walking tour.

Tired of having music stars at your feet? Keep on strolling, look up and learn a bit about Nashville.

A downtown walking tour is a nifty way to burn some calories on the cheap.

This particular route from the tourism focuses on some of the more well-known buildings, and then the Metro Nashville Historical Commission offers up this stroll through some lesser-known history that’s still above ground and ready for viewing.

 Fort Negley

Fort Negley
Photo Courtesy Nashville Parks & Recreation

Finally, we leave downtown! But not too far, as we’re headed to a nearby hilltop for a view of 2016 Nashville from an 1862 perspective.

Fort Negley was a Union fortification built after Nashville fell early in the Civil War.

It was built by slaves and free black workers who’d been conscripted into service, and is billed by the National Register of Historic Places as the “largest inland stone fortification constructed during the Civil War,” and one that has a “complex polygonal design” just for good measure.

There’s a visitor’s center with short videos and lots of other information, and various spots along the trail from the parking lot up to the ruins of the fort itself have informational markers so you can bone up on your history (and catch your breath).

Want to dig into the hillside? Join the Fort Negley Fossil Finders the second Saturday of each month and get your inner geologist on.

Reservoir Park

Nashville Reservoir
Image: Jay Graves

Just across 8th Avenue a bit from Fort Negley we have Reservoir Park, where nearby residents hope to establish a dog park.

Hence, Reservoir Dogs. Yes, we went there.

In 1912 the reservoir broke and some 25 million gallons of water roared down into Nashville. The walls are sturdier now, so enjoy the grassy hillsides without looking over your shoulder.





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