The Best Lakes to Visit in Tennessee

Sunrise Trooper Island in Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park Burkesville Kentucky
Sunrise Trooper Island in Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park Burkesville Kentucky | © Pat and Chuck Blackley / Alamy Stock Photo
Frank Lopez


Tennessee might not have the ocean or the sea, but it has no shortage of beautiful National State Parks with lakes to tan beside, swim in or launch boats into. Whether you want to escape to somewhere secluded, find a place with a family atmosphere, or really get to appreciate the watersports that make these lakes so inviting, Tennessee has it all to offer. We at Culture Trip have chosen some of our favourite beaches for you to kick back and enjoy.

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Cordell Hull Lake

The secluded Cordell Hull Lake is just a very short drive east of Nashville. Whatever enthralling fun in nature you can think of, you can get down to it here. Camping, fishing, boating, hiking and fantastic picnic spots are all on the cards. The swimming beaches are locally renowned and most inviting for you to revel in. If you want a picnic surrounded by lush nature, and a satisfying dip in the lake, this is definitely the peaceful spot to do it.

Cheatham Lake

A favourite swimming beach on Cheatham Lake is the Cheatham Dam Right Bank Recreation Area. It is part of this long lake that up to two million people a year visit to fish or frolic in. This is certainly the beach spot to visit if you like boating or sailing. Water-skiing and tubing on the lake add to the general atmosphere of the area. The restaurants on the marina always provide the opportunity to end the day close by and well fed.

Dale Hollow Lake

For those who like their trips to the beach to be super mellow then Dale Hollow Lake is a good choice. Found not far from the Kentucky border, it serves to provide power to the surrounding areas through hydroelectric power as well as relaxation to swimmers and boaters. There is also great fishing all year around. The nearby reservoir provides 620 miles of shore, which makes it a summer destination with boating galore. The lake offers another much more tranquil option. With affordable lodging and restaurants right there, you have the option to stay a little longer.

J Percy Priest Lake

This Nashville lake draws seven million visitors every year. They come to hunt and camp but the one thing that really draws the crowds is the swimming. This water stretches for over 40 miles and there are up to six different swimming spots to choose from. If you really like to let your hair down, the Nashville Shores water park nearby has a tonne of waterslides, pools and its own beach. For those who like to take things a little more easy, then there’s horse-riding on offer.

Old Hickory Lake

If you fancy watersports in an extremely attractive spot then head to Old Hickory Lake, near the city of Hendersonville. There are some really decent sail and pleasure boat options to choose from, making this a graceful place to relax in. There are also two swimming spots that are extremely well looked after. Surrounded by picnic areas and campsites, there is a thriving energy around this lake. There is also the option of taking a really peaceful hike in the surrounding areas, while less obvious activities, such as archery are also possible.

Center Hill Lake

In eastern Tennessee, surrounded by the most beautiful forest, lies the Center Hill Lake. Here you’ll find more than 400 miles of shoreline and three waterfalls that will cascade to your delight. Boating and swimming are again a main draw but the good choice of marinas make this a very popular destination. Some stay on houseboats to truly get into the spirit, allowing the days to float on by. If you only have the choice of one lake to dive into in Tennessee – this could be the one.

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