Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Best Parks in Nashville

On Saturday morning I went to the downtown library looking for a travel guide on Charleston. They didn’t have any on hand but I did stumble on a travel guide on Nashville. I had no intention of reading it, but I skimmed it over this morning to see if there were any major attractions I have missed out on. There was a section in the book regarding all of the nicknames this city has had or currently has. The list included: Music City USA, The Athens of the South, The Belt Buckle of The South, The Wall Street of the South (Nashville was a major player in southern banking before the shift to entertainment and healthcare) and The City of Parks.

City of Parks is an accurate description. The Nashville Parks commission states they manage 113 properties encompassing over 10,000 acres. In addition we have eight state parks the Nashville Metro area, numerous dog parks, and an aggressive plan in place to connect every part of Nashville through a series of urban greenways. Here is a list of some of my favorite parks in Nashville.

1. Centennial Park: (West End and Natchez Trace) I live two blocks away from Centennial Park and it is easily my favorite park in town. In my opinion, Centennial Park is the heart of the city. On any given day you can find numerous people taking advantage of what this area has to offer. The Parthenon, a replica of the Greek landmark that remains from the Exhibition, is its cornerstone. It houses the statue of Athena, a museum, and an art gallery. Lake Watuga is probably the second most notable feature and you can often find people fishing, feeding the birds, or relaxing on its banks. The park also boasts acres of green space, gardens, walking/running trails, and many other attractions. The park sponsors most of Nashville's key events including Earth Day, Movies in the Park, The Shakespere Festival, The Italian Festival, The Country Music Marathon, numerous chairity walks, and many other events. The park was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1972. In 2008 Mayor Karl Dean announced a major initiative to restore and preserve the park.

2. Shelby Bottoms: (Shelby and 20th) Shelby Bottoms is amazing because its 810 acres of undeveloped land located in an area where land would probably sell for a hefty price. It has five miles of paved and unpaved trails making it popular amongst runners, bikers, hikers, and birdwatchers. On the weekend, I often ride my bike across the river through Shelby Bottoms, and into the Stones River Greenway. Shelby Bottoms is also located near Shelby Park which is popular because of its playgrounds, baseball field, lake, picnic areas, and boat ramps.

3. “Dragon Park”: (Blakemore and 24th) The actual name of this park is Fannie Mae Dees Park, but it’s better known as “Dragon Park.” When I lived in Hillsboro Village I was only a block away from this park. I’ll admit that there are nicer parks, but I think this one is probably the coolest one if you’re a little kid. The highlight of the park is “The Dragon,” a giant sculpture of a sea serpent covered with mosaic designs. A lesser known fact is that the park is also the home to Tennessee’s first “Boundlessness Playground.” The playground is the brainchild of a local mom who was concerned because there was no play area that was accessible to children with physical and developmental disabilities. Through her hard work and the support of her community “Lily’s Garden” was constructed and named after her daughter.

4. Radnor Lake: (Granny White and Otter Creek Road) Radnor Lake is a state park located in the Oak Hill community. The lake is actually manmade, it was constructed by a railroad company to supply water for it’s steam engines. Eventually developers tried to make the area into suburban tract housing, but the public prevailed and it’s now one of Nashville more popular parks. The area is always packed with walkers, hikers, and birders taking advantage of the several miles of paved and unpaved trails. The area also boasts a large selection of wildlife including birds, otters, and deer.

5. The Warner Parks: (Highway 100) Edwin Warner and Percy Warner parks are located in West Nashville, and when combined is one of the largest parks in the US. Currently the park is at 2,684 acres with negotiations underway to purchase another 324 acres of ancient forest from the HG Hill family. I don’t make it out to this park as much as I would like but it’s very popular. It has several miles of hiking and equestrian trails and hosts the Iroquois Steeplechase.

Honorable Mention: Sevier Park, Beeman Park, Hall Of Fame Park, Hamilton Creek Park

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if it counts as Nashville or not, but Longhunter is a favorite the wife and me. I like the picnic tables underneath the trees at the second turn off the main road there, but most folks like the lake, the trail around the lake, and the playarea for kids at the first turn off of the main road.