Staying Active in Nashville

After visiting two great cities over the last few months (Dallas and Las Vegas) I realized that I was missing an opportunity by not blogging about places and resources that I researched or used to stay active while on the road. So, I finally made it to Nashville last week and vowed that I would not miss the opportunity of sharing great information for those who might travel and be in need of means to stay active while visiting Music City.

First of all, Nashville was one of my favorite places to travel in the U.S., ranking up there with San Diego. Visiting in late June presented the issue of dealing with 90+ degree heat and horrendous humidity but it didn’t get in the way! With good planning and a lot of water, even the summer in the south can’t stop you if you want to stay active in Nashville.

I decided to stay in the west end in the neighborhood of Sylvan Park. I chose it because it was located near I-40 to get downtown quick but it had cute homes and shady streets that would allow for running/walking/biking in the heat. It was also located very close to McCabe Park, which had paved running and biking trails as well as a small community center that allowed for drop-in visits for only $3.00. It isn’t big but it had what I needed to get a workout in to avoid the extreme heat.

Sylvan Park also has one (of the many) B-Cycle stations. These are great for anyone wanting to get some recreational biking in. Note: if you are traveling with kids, I would say these are hard to navigate for anyone under 12. We used these bikes in Sylvan Park, as well as downtown and in Centennial Park (more on that in a minute).

When downtown, we were able to catch part of the extensive Greenways system. Nashville is known for this incredible and beautiful trail system. We hopped on a stretch right in the heart of downtown and rode north along the Cumberland River. There are stretches along the route we took that were very industrial but there are many parts to the network around Nashville that you could easily find something a little more scenic or ride further north where the landscape becomes more natural.

Another area nearby for health conscious travelers is the Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park right in the heart of downtown, overlooking the state capitol. There were many runners and walkers out and around this park and the Nashville Farmer’s Market located right next to it. Since it was extremely hot, we also visited the water fountains located at the Visitor Center adjacent to the park. The view up the hill is awesome and you can climb the 220 stairs to the Tennessee state capitol building a few times to add some intensity to your run or walk through the area.

One of our favorite outdoor parks, located on the east side of the Cumberland River, is Cumberland Park which also connects parts of the downtown Greenway system, including the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge (also known as John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge).  Walkers, runners, and bikers were all taking advantage of using these areas, even in the 90-degree heat! Luckily there is an awesome splash park here that is one of the coolest examples of urban design that I have ever seen in a congested, downtown area. It overlooks the impressive Nissan Stadium, where the Tennessee Titans play. It also offers a great view of the downtown skyline across the river while you’re at it!

Any time I travel, I always make a point to visit college or university campuses nearby. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Vanderbilt facilities to see their recreational and sports resources. They have recently undergone a renovation and expansion allowing them to add-on more strength and conditioning space. I would highly recommend getting a day pass here if you are looking for access to just about any kind of cardiovascular or strength equipment (including squat racks and other Olympic lifting equipment/space) that you would not be able to find at the YMCA or local boutique studio. But, it also comes with a higher guest pass daily fee of $10.00. Their pool and Fieldhouse were impressive too. I’ve seen hundreds of collegiate recreation centers and Vanderbilt is 1 of 2 that I have visited that comes with a bowling alley.  The outdoor sand volleyball court was calling my name too!

Centennial Park is another convenient resource adjacent to Vanderbilt in what is known as the midtown area. We were through this park a few different times and saw many walkers and bikers as well as a yoga class going on. Food trucks park here too, but I can’t say any of the options were what I would consider healthy.  Across the street is the Centennial Sportsplex with an $8.00 drop-in fee which gives you access to a fitness center, pool, group classes, and even ice skating!

The great part about everything I mentioned here is that almost all of it comes at no cost. While there are plenty of options to stay active for free, there are still others that come at a very reasonable price. In some cases, it might even be worth getting a guest pass to a particular facility just to gain access to locker rooms and showers if you are active in or around the city.

There are many more great parks as well as recreational and fitness resources around Nashville. This is just as much as I could cram into 4 days while trying to play tourist too! I plan to return and visit some of those outlying the city including hiking areas and state parks. Hopefully this will be helpful for anyone considering a visit to the area wanting to maintain fitness while in the Music City!


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