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Perfect Picnic Spots

The Great Outdoors: picnic spots that you may have never considered + a collection of your classic favorites

Written By:  Valerie Hammond

Photographers:  The Tennessean & Various

Downtown Library Courtyard
This open secret spot is a special treat from the bustle of city life. Come for story hour and stay for a bite with the kids. If you just need respite from the pace of downtown, bring a bag lunch and enjoy the courtyard concerts from 11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. nearly every Tuesday.
Downtown Library Courtyard
615 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 862-5800

Parking: Free for the first ninety minutes at the Nashville Public Library Garage. Entrances to the garage are on Sixth and Seventh Avenues between Church and Commerce Streets in downtown. Remember to have your parking ticket validated at the desk inside the library near the Church Street entrance.
Hours: Monday - Closed; Tuesday - Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday 2 - 5 p.m.
Centennial Park
2500 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 862-8400

Parking: Various lots around the perimeter of the park as well as next to the Parthenon.
Hours: Dawn to 11 p.m. daily
Centennial Park
A city staple, Centennial Park draws visitors and locals alike. Snack in the shade of the Parthenon's columns (they're to scale you know) or cozy up for dinner at dusk in the flower garden. Depending on the season, you may also serendipitously stick around for a movie, one of Shakespeare's plays or even a big band dance.
Cumberland Park
Maybe you still haven't visted the newest of Nashville's Metro Parks (opened April 2012). The climbing wall and water features have drawn a younger crowd this summer, but there's more to this modern landscape. You must visit when the park hosts Jazz on the Cumberland this fall.
Cumberland Park
592 South 1st Street, Nashville, TN 37213
(615) 862-8508

Parking: Any of the following LP Field Lots: R1-R4, Lot T or K
Hours: Dawn to 11 p.m., daily
Carnton Plantation
A famed venue for weddings in Franklin, Carnton has so many great spots from beautiful alcoves and picket fence lined walkways. The cedar arbor is a favorite along with the rest of the garden expanse. With the intriguing battle history from this home, you may end up having a lunch and learn.
Carnton Plantation
1345 Carnton Lane, Franklin, TN 37064
(615) 794-0903

Admission: Adults - $15; Seniors (over 65) - $12; Children (6–12) - $8; Children under 5 - free; Grounds tour only: $5.00
Parking: In designated lots on the property
Hours: Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm; Sunday – 12 noon - 5 pm
Nashville Zoo
This family friendly Nashville spot is ideal for a picnic with plenty of entertainment. Meander to Gibbon Island for dinner and a show or if it gets too rowdy, follow the thick bamboo trail to a more tame place to picnic with koi fish, red pandas, and clouded leopards.
Nashville Zoo
3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 833-1534

Admission: Members - Free; Adults - $15; Seniors - $13; Children $10; Under 2 years - Free
Parking: $5 per vehicle (Members park free)
Hours: Daily 9 am – 6 pm (March 15 – October 13 ); Daily 9 am – 4 pm (October 14 – March 14)
Belle Meade Plantation
Take the stone path between the plantation and stables out to the open area under the canopy of trees. Squeeze in a tour of the house and grounds and afterward consider a free wine tasting at the estate's winery. If you need more to fill you up, admission includes access to many other historic buildings on the grounds including a dairy, horse stable, carriage house, mausoleum, gardens, and a log cabin.
Belle Meade Plantation
5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 356-0501

Admission: Adults - $16; Seniors - $14; College Students $10; Youth - $8; Children (5-under) - Free; Grounds Only - $10; Family Rate - $45
Hours: Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday - 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Tours start at 9:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday & 11:30 a.m. on Sundays. Last tour starts daily at 4 p.m.
Downtown Franklin
Arguably the most inviting and quaint downtown in Tennessee—downtown Franklin is replete with locally owned boutiques, friendly faces and beautiful scenery. Whether you gather a group on the historic square or grab something fresh off Merridee's menu, go slowly. Soak in the changing season and take a stroll down Main Street.
Downtown Franklin
510 Columbia Avenue. Franklin,
 TN 37064
(615) 591-8500

Parking: In the 4th Avenue public garage, just off Main Street or open spaces off the main square
War Memorial Plaza
This spacious plaza is a hubbub of activity for government employees making it a popular people-watching spot. Snag a spot next to the plaza fountains and enjoy the breeze blowing down from the capitol to the Nashville Room at the main library.

Before dessert, venture up the steps to the grotto just outside War Memorial auditorium and you'll be met by 'Youth'— the heroic statue in the center of the courtyard. He holds a Nike in his open left palm, symbolizing victory in war.
War Memorial Plaza
Charlotte Ave at 7th Ave North, Nashville, TN
(615) 741-9277
Arrington Vineyards
A favorite from our Style Blueprint contributors in the September issue of Nashville Lifestyles, Arrington is an amazing destination for an evening picnic. If you're early, secure one of the picnic tables or a table on the patio. Bask in the setting sun with a bottle of their Red Fox Red and enjoy the company of good friends.
Arrington Vineyards
6211 Patton Road, Arrington, TN 37014
(615) 395-0102

Parking: Available spots at the top of the hill near the tasting lodge. On busy weekends, parking guides will direct guests where to park and carts zip by to ferry folks up to the top.
Hours: Monday - Thursday: 11 am - 8 pm; Friday - Saturday: 11 am - 9 pm; Sunday: 12 pm - 6 pm.
Edwin Warner Park
The smaller of the two Warner Parks, Edwin houses the Warner Nature Center and trails that snake beside Ensworth school and the Little Harpeth River. Plenty of pavilions are scattered on the 625-acre park and our favorite spot is at the top of the rolling hill tucked in the center of the park. A few benches and a slim walking trail are the only reminders of civilization.
Edwin Warner Park
7311 Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 352-6299

Parking: Lot located near the entrance and along the paved road
Hours: Warner Park Nature Center: Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday
Park Trails: Daybreak - 11 p.m.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
This park is seriously under-rated! Stick to a daytime visit and see the 2,000-seat amphitheater that faces the State Capitol building. Plenty of picnic spots on the 19-acre grounds: try lunching next to the 18,000 lb. floating granite globe or dine on the massive etched map of Tennessee located on the south side of the mall.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
600 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 741-5280

Parking: On the street around the mall
Hours: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
Spread out along one of the reflecting ponds on the property or if you are looking for something more secluded, share a meal under the pavilion in the Japanese garden. Looking to really get away? Take the sculpture trail out into the wooded areas, just don't leave any crumbs for wandering wildlife!
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
1200 Forrest Park Drive, Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 356-8000

Admission: Adults - $12; Seniors - 
$10 (65+); College Students - 
$5 w/ ID; Youth (3-17) 
$5; Youth
 (2-under) - Free
Parking: $3 per car (Members park free)
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
; Sunday 11 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

; Closed Mondays
Shelby Bottoms Nature Center
The nature center is nestled on the far eastern edge of Shelby Park near the baseball fields and overhead railroad. Shade, water fountains and park information are inside, but the best place to spread your blanket is outside on the grass close to the river's edge. If you're lucky you can catch the General Jackson or another riverboat rolling by — close enough to wave at touring passengers.
Shelby Park
Shelby Ave at S. 20th
, Nashville, TN 37206

Parking: Lot adjacent to Nature Center or in marked spaces within the park
Hours: Daily, dawn - 11 p.m.
Percy Warner Park
One could easily lose themselves in the 2,000 acre park, we recommend toting a map unless you've got experience traversing the trails. There's something so Nashville about entering Percy from Belle Meade Boulevard and gazing up at the expansive stone staircase. Commandeer one of the hewn wooden benches for your picnic or travel all the way to the hill overlooking the Steeplechase course.
Percy Warner Park
2500 Old Hickory Blvd, Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 862-8415

Parking: Belle Meade entrance: Park on the paved road inside the park or across the street in the open lawn lot.
Hours: Trails are open from daybreak - 11 p.m.
Walk of Fame Park
Consider a picnic the next time you're downtown. Enjoy the rose gardens located on the Country Music Hall of Fame side of the park or toast to your adventurousness over the star of one of your favorite country music greats. While this small downtown green space does offer a few benches, you'll need to bring chairs or a blanket along with your crudités.
Walk of Fame Park
4th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203

Parking: Metered street parking or in pay/hour adjacent parking lots.
Hours: Dawn - Dusk
Harlinsdale Farm
Picnic with your pup in Harlinsdale's 1/2 acre dog park or stay near the stables. Stroll by the 3-acre pond and watch the sun set.
Harlinsdale Farm
239 Franklin Road, Franklin, TN 37064
(615) 794-2103

Parking: In designated areas
Hours: Dawn - Dusk
Elmington Park
Grab a quick bite at Star Bagel and head over to Elmington Park just off West End and I-440 at Bowling Avenue. Or arrive hungry and get your fill from a bevy of food trucks (hosted by Wanderland Urban Food Park on Sat & Sun). You may have to scour the grounds to score a shady spot but there are plenty of places to picnic; and who knows, you may even see the larping T. Swift has tweeted about…
The Hermitage
Get a feel for the rich history of Andrew Jackson's farming and horse racing plantation, a stop for tourists and native Tennesseans. Check out the Spring House that sits over a flowing spring or practice your best manners in the formal garden. At least you won't have to worry about elbows on the table!
The Hermitage
4580 Rachel’s Lane, Nashville, TN 37076
(615) 889-2941

Admission: Adults = $19; Seniors - $16; Students (13-18) - $14; Children - $9; Active Military and Children 5-under - Free
Parking: In the designated lot
Hours: Daily 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (October 16 – March 31); Daily 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (April 1 – October 15); Open every day of the year except Christmas and Thanksgiving. Also closed January 21 – 25.
The Natchez Trace
Birdsong Hollow at milepost 438 off Hwy 96 provides views of the double-arched bridge, 155 feet high (with a great view of the The Loveless Cafe).
The Natchez Trace
Starting at TN Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37246
(800) 305-7417

Parking: In-set parking along the Trace
Public Square Observation Deck
This overlook on the edge of the courthouse lawn is a hidden gem. Picnic on this perch and get a view of the river, LP Field, and up Deaderick Street to historic War Memorial plaza. This fall Public Square Plaza will again play host Live on the Green, a free concert series put on by the city of Nashville alongside other charitable partners. (Special parking rates available for this event).
Public Square Observation Deck
1 Public Square, Nashville, TN 37201

Parking: In the Public Square garage off James Robertson, hourly rate: $4
Hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum
Native Tennesseans recall a requisite visit to this historic plantation from their elementary days. Enjoy the shaded lawn and expansive porch of the Overton house.
Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum
636 Farrell Parkway, Nashville, TN 37220
(615) 832-8197

Parking: In the grassy meadow at the front of the property
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Sunday – 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Riverfront Park
First Avenue and Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203

Metro Parks' next stop is continuing to develop, restructure and expand the riverfront area. CMA Fest fans of the future will appreciate it. Enjoy the changing landscape at the edge of the Cumberland on the grassy tiers or from above on the Shelby Pedestrian Bridge. Inspire others to picnic where no one has picnicked before!

 

 

 

 

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