Every summer, thousands of Midwest families head south for a vacation in Tennessee. Places like Chattanooga, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg draw travelers from all over to enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. But many overlook Clarksville in Northwest Tennessee.
Located less than one hour from Nashville, and 4 ½ hours from Cincinnati, it’s definitely a city worth checking out, especially if you love the outdoors. We found a ton of fun outdoor things to do near Clarksville, TN.
Outdoor Things to do Near Clarksville, TN
From the Trail of Tears to Civil War reenactments to a Pioneer Settlement and cave, you’ll find this and so much more waiting to be discovered in Clarksville.
Port Royal State Historic Park
Our first stop was at Port Royal State Historic Park. This park is historically significant as it was an encampment for the Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears.
We parked our van in the gravel parking lot which provides plenty of parking, even for RVs, and we made our way to the educational display to read about the area before taking a quick walk along the trail to the river.
As we walked quietly, I listened to the sound of the river and the birds chirping as the wind rushed through the trees. I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be Cherokee and walk that path to uncertainty.
Cold weather isn’t a friend to my husband so after walking to the river and viewing the pylons of a covered bridge that was once in this location, we made our way back to the van.
This is a small park, but I’d recommend you allow 1-2 hours to explore if you plan to walk along the short trails and stop inside the Visitor Center. During warmer weather, it would be an ideal place to launch a kayak, fish, and enjoy a picnic.
Address: 3300 Old Clarksville Highway Adams, Tennessee 37010
Dunbar Cave State Park
Dunbar Cave State Park is another interesting spot and one that I was most excited about when researching things to do in Clarksville. Inside the cave, you’ll find Native American cave art dating back to the 14th century.
Tours of Dunbar Cave are available seasonally and may just lure me back for another visit to Clarksville. There are three daily tours beginning in May.
The park is nice because it offers a paved, accessible walkway leading to the cave for those who may use a wheelchair or walker as well as strollers. The walkway runs alongside a marsh with various waterfowl. Those who are able may enjoy some of the wooded trails that originate from the parking lot.
In addition to the trails, you’ll find a Visitor Center with restrooms and a few souvenirs that are available for purchase. You’ll also find several picnic tables and I imagine that Dunbar Park is quite popular during warmer months.
You can read about our visit to this location here: Dunbar Cave State Park.
Address: 401 Old Dunbar Cave Road Clarksville, TN 37043
Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement
This historic attraction is just 25 minutes outside of Clarksville. This pioneer settlement is the perfect way to spend a day outdoors, whether you are traveling with kids or just a big fan of history.
Start your visit with a self-guided tour of the restored buildings that are spread across the 4-acre property; displays represent various time periods from 1830 to 1900, so you can also see how life evolved towards the turn of the century.
The park is open on Saturdays and Sundays only, from June through October. For a group of six or more, you can request additional days to visit.
Tours are self-guided, although occasionally guided tours are given; check the website for the most up-to-date events.
Address: 4711 Weakley Road Southside, TN 37171
Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Center
A visit to Fort Defiance is a must for those with an interest in Civil War history. Our visit to Clarksville actually coincided with a reenactment.
The grounds are gorgeous with a paved trail that winds down to the Cumberland River and provides an amazing view of the city of Clarksville.
I’m told this is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city. Unfortunately, the clear blue skies had disappeared on our last day in Clarksville, so I didn’t capture an epic photograph but I’m thinking that’s just one more reason to revisit the area, right?
Address: 120 Duncan St. Clarksville, TN
One of the most relaxing things to do in Clarksville is to take a stroll along the Cumberland Riverwalk.
The trail follows the river for about four miles, with parks and playgrounds along the way.
You’ll have great views of downtown Clarksville, as well as across the river. You’ll also some interesting historic homes, like the River Master’s house.
Address: 640 North Riverside Drive Clarksville, TN 37040
Another great spot along the Cumberland River is Liberty Park. This riverfront park has several attractions so you could easily spend a full day here during your trip to Clarksville.
For starters, there’s an arboretum, a fishing pond, four pavilions, a 2-mile walking trail, a playground, a dog park, and a marina with a boat ramp.
Freedom Point offers great views over the river, and a memorial statue for Pat Head, head coach of the UT Lady Volunteers basketball team. You can even rent a bike or a boat for more time outdoors in Clarksville.
Address: 1190 Cumberland Drive Clarksville, TN 37040
Public Art in Clarksville
One of the best ways to spend time outdoors is on a self-guided walking tour of public art in Clarksville. Clarksville has some great public art to explore, including murals and sculptures.
The “Pillar of Cloud, Pillar of Fire” is a moving tribute, dedicated to all soldiers of all wars.
You’ll find several bronze sculptures throughout downtown Clarksville, as well as murals like the Starry Night one on Madison Street.
Of course, Nashville also has some fantastic public art and isn’t too far for a day trip from Clarksville. The best thing about murals is that they are often changing, so you’ll never get the same tour twice!
Have you gotten the impression that I want to return to Clarksville? I certainly hope so!