SUP is Stand Up Paddleboarding has been big in beach communities for years. Now it’s making its way to inland cities, like Nashville, and it’s one of the hottest and trendiest water sports. Where can you go to paddle around? What should you bring? Can you do it with kids? We’ll tackle all those questions and more! The next time you visit Music City, be sure to add this to your list of fun family activities.

What is SUP?

Take a paddle break on a SUP adventure in Nashville.

Photo courtesy of Samantha Nelson

When you think of SUP, Stand Up Paddleboarding, imagine it to be a cross between surfing and kayaking. All three are great workouts for your whole body, but especially your core muscles.

You can go for miles standing on a long board while dipping your paddle into the water. Of course, the adrenaline junkies have mastered the sport so well that they’re branching out and doing SUP in class I-II-III rapids. That’s the stuff heart attacks are made of, y’all! I did SUP for the first time in Aruba with tiny waves at the beach and couldn’t stay upright for more than a few minutes. I can’t imagine rapids!

How Hard Is It to Paddle?

There are various board widths that affect the degree of difficulty while standing. SUP rentals are typically pretty wide, stable boards that can support you plus a kid, furry or human. How calm the water is and how strong current or wind conditions are also affects how easy it is to stand up on the board. Opt for a quiet river or lake on a peaceful day, and it’s pretty simple.

Where Can You Rent a SUP in Nashville?

Choose a calm lake for a first paddle on your SUP adventure.

Photo courtesy of Samantha Nelson

Nashville Paddle Company offers long term and short term rentals, including yoga classes on the water! Locations in Percy Priest Lake and Cumberland River/Downtown

Special tip about the location: Percy Priest Lake is a magical place about ten minutes outside of downtown Nashville. Whenever we go there, we feel transported out of the city and into a lakeside getaway. We recommend Percy Priest for nature lovers. 

Paddle Up TN offers rentals and lessons in Rock Harbor Marina

Special tip about the location: After your adventure, be sure to enjoy a meal waterside at the Blue Moon Grill.

Big Willie’s Action Sports offers a two-hour city tour from the water! Now that’s a good way to see Nashville! Location: Cumberland River/Downtown

Special tip about the location: The downtown location is right off the famous Broadway strip. You can literally hop off your board and walk right into a country bar with live music! We watch paddleboarders on the Cumberland all the time!

Caney Fork Outdoors Nashville offers SUP rentals, but also other accessory rentals like a roof rack to help transport your board or a waterproof cooler for your river snacks! Locations: Nashville

A special tip about the location: Five minutes from Caney Fork Outdoors are a couple of different boat ramps into the Stones River. Our family uses this location quite a bit whenever we want an SUP adventure!

Things to Remember When SUP’g with Kids.

Kids paddle in and on the water

Kids paddle in and on the water. Photo courtesy of Samantha Nelson

1) Be sure to bring a phone. You can buy a waterproof bag, or risk it and stick your phone in a few sandwich baggies. Either way, bring a phone along with you, in case of an emergency.

2) Everyone needs a life vest, even kids who are just along for the ride.

3) Be sure to check weather conditions before launching out, including river conditions. The National Weather Service releases river observations and forecasts.

Nashville pin4) Try to hug the shoreline when doing SUP. This will help you stay out of the way of boats. Be weary of the wake of any motorized watercraft. It can definitely tip your board, if you’re not careful.

5) Use that time to educate. Talk about ecosystems or water safety. Since we’re a homeschooling family, we use every opportunity to observe and learn about our world. Talk about animals that live on the lake or the river. Listen to the birds. Bring binoculars and have the kids spot things on shore.

6) Remember it’s not about getting somewhere specific. Take your time and enjoy being outside as a family. We didn’t get very far on our trip. We’d stop every 50 yards so the kids could jump off the board and into the water. Then, they’d splash around for a bit before hopping back on. Every few minutes they’d want a turn paddling. So, my husband and I would sit on the boards while our 5- and 6-year-olds would paddle, aka drift while hitting the water obnoxiously with an oar.  Then, we’d float and eat snacks. We probably went a mile in two hours, but the kids were beaming ear to ear the entire time.

What to bring on your next SUP adventure?

  • A waterproof camera. You’ll have a lot of opportunities to make memories. Take a lot of pictures! We’re so glad we did. You don’t want to worry about a camera that can’t get wet.
  • A phone safely tucked away in a waterproof bag.
  • Snacks and water bottles will come in handy while out on the water.
  • Bug spray is essential. You want to do everything you can to ensure a calm and peaceful paddle. You don’t want flying bugs munching on your legs to disrupt that. It wasn’t a problem for us, but mosquitos are Tennessee’s state bird. Just saying.
  • Sunscreen is important, as well. If you’re out on the water, you may need a reapply mid-trip.

Looking for other fun activities to do in Nashville? Here’s a ready-made list just for you.