Nashville: city of country music, universities (22, to be precise) and…lakes? Sure enough, despite being the capital of landlocked Tennessee, there’s a surprising array of natural lakes and reservoirs surrounding this musically inclined city. Whether you want to swim, fish or simply hike along the shores, we’ve asked our local insiders which lakes are worth a visit near Nashville.
It’s easy to forget that you’re still technically inside the city limits when visiting this state park. With six hiking trails and an area spanning over 1,300 acres (526 hectare), it’s no surprise that Radnor Lake is also a wildlife-lover’s dream. Keep an eye out for the wild turkeys, owls and, on steeper ground, deer who call this tranquil lake home. It’s particularly peaceful in the morning, when mist rises off the surface of the water and mingles with the treetops. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd
Ever thought about doing a downward dog while balanced on a paddleboard? At Percy Priest Lake you can do exactly that and more. Its sparkling cobalt waters are just a 15-minute drive from Nashville and cover a whopping 14,000 acres (5,666 hectares), so there’s plenty of space to try your hand at whichever water-based adventure takes your fancy. If that wasn’t enough to keep you busy, you can also launch yourself into the lake via water slide or zipline at the Nashville Shores Waterpark. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd
Follow the meandering Cumberland River upstream from Nashville and you’ll eventually reach Old Hickory Lake. As it’s one of the best spots near Nashville for boating and fishing, it becomes crammed with a veritable armada of wannabe sailors on a sunny weekend. If swimming is more your style, take the plunge at Old Hickory Beach, which comes part and parcel with a sandy patch of shore where you can dry off in the warm Tennessee sun after your dip. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd
Sitting between two bends of the Cumberland River, this lake is also slap bang in the middle of Two Rivers Park – which just so happens to offer the most activities per square mile in Nashville. The lake itself is a particularly good spot for fishing and is well-located for teeing up at neighboring Two Rivers Golf Course, or alternatively you can spend an afternoon exploring the opulent Two Rivers Mansion. To sleep, bed down at Two Rivers Campground which, despite being near to the highway, is a quiet yet welcoming stay. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso
Even though it’s only a 20-minute drive from Nashville, the approach to Marrowbone Lake is nothing short of spectacular. The winding roads are stitched with deep green trees that mark the entrance to Beaman Park’s hills and prime hiking territory. When you arrive, hire a boat, buy some bait at the on-site kiosk and try your luck at fishing. Don’t worry if you don’t catch too much, though – there’s a brilliant fine dining restaurant, Shadowbrook, set inside a Tudor mansion on the lake’s northeastern shore. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso
Grab your rods and reels: it’s time to go fishing. One of Nashville’s top-rated fishing spots can be found at Sevier Lake, which is set among the tranquil trees of Shelby Park. You’d do well to take things slow here. Rise early and spend the morning casting your line into the calm water as the sun begins to peek out over the trees. Fishing complete, take a slow amble around the lake’s edge, finishing up by eating your lunch on the small land bank that looks out over the water. Bliss. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso