Planning a family getaway means finding a destination that pleases both grown-ups and children. That means kid-friendly activities and accommodations, of course. But how about a sophisticated restaurant scene for the parents? Throw in some natural beauty, a historical setting, and enough indoor activities to keep everyone entertained. Sounds a lot like Clarksville, Tennessee.
This charming town is less than an hour northwest of Nashville, just across the border from Kentucky. It sits on the Cumberland River and is surrounded by trails, lakes, and one impressive cave to explore. The newly revitalized downtown is a destination itself, perfect for strolling, shopping, and grabbing a bite.
There’s a lot you can do as a family over a long weekend in this mid-size town. Here are some ideas for outdoor adventure, historical enlightening, and kid-friendly fun.
Dunbar Cave State Park is home to an 8-mile-long cavern offering guided cave tours during the summer months. The cavern is a natural stunner, but also features Native American cave art that dates to the 14th century. After a trip through the cave, take advantage of the park’s hiking trails and abundant wildlife.
Clarksville’s 650 miles of navigable waterways provide excellent boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. If you’d rather stay on dry land, take advantage of the trails in the area. Start by exploring the Clarksville RiverWalk at McGregor Park, where you’ll find a 1.5-mile walking trail along the Cumberland River.
Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement is a perfect spot for little explorers to get a taste of what life was like in rural Tennessee more than 100 years ago. Take a self-guided audio tour of the 16 restored log structures across 40 acres to get a sense of life both before and after the Civil War. Make sure to visit the wildlife center, which is home to native Tennessee plants and animals, as well as big game from other parts of North America.
To learn about the region’s history, visit the Customs House Museum, the second-largest general-interest museum in Tennessee. Housed in a building that dates to 1898, the museum’s architecture is an attraction on its own. It’s filled with interesting tidbits around every corner, including art, local history, and interactive kids exhibits, like the Bubble Cave.
Learn more about the area’s Civil War history at the Fort Defiance Interpretive Center and Park. This bluff-top earthen works fort one of the few that remains intact. The interpretive center offers a great history lesson about the battles fought here, as well as a look back on the earliest settlers in the region.
When the kids are ready for some action, head to DEFY Clarksville Extreme Air Park, a trampoline park that gives them plenty of space to burn off that energy. The City Forum’s 120,000 square feet are filled with activities that kids (and most adults) love, including go-karting, bowling, laser tag, mini-golf, and an arcade. There’s even a play area for the younger kids. Downtown, let the kids roam around Downtown Commons, a full-block urban park with water features and an Imagination Playground.
No matter what you decided to do, you’ve burned a lot of calories, so plan your meals to be part of your unique Clarksville experience. For traditional southern favorites, try Reggie’s BBQ with slow-smoked brisket, ribs, pork, and burnt ends. Nestled along the Cumberland River, the Catfish House is a regional favorite with hand-breaded filets and tempting homemade desserts.
At Silke’s Old World Breads, you’ll find freshly made bread, sandwiches, soups, and pizzas…even luscious German pastries. Fanelli’s Deli is new downtown and offers authentic Italian deli items. Yada on Franklin is another great lunch stop with sandwiches, smoothies, pastas, and wood-fired pizzas.
At dinner, make all the adults happy with a quiet evening at Edwards Steakhouse and its wide selection of prime steaks, seafood, and pasta. Yes, there’s even a kids’ menu.
Clarksville is also home to several breweries that can make for a great night of tastings. Start planning your trip at visitclarksvilletn.com.