Most people think of the Smoky Mountains when they think fall color in Tennessee, but you don’t have to venture far from downtown Nashville to enjoy spectacular scenery on a family holiday. Here are my five family friendly recommendations for enjoying fall color in Middle Tennessee:
Located off Otter Creek Road South of downtown Nashville, Radnor Lake State Park features six miles of trails. We’ve seen deer and many other wildlife on hikes at Radnor Lake. The 85-acre lake, for which the park is named, and the entire park is a nature sanctuary, so the hiking trails are strictly used for hiking and wildlife observation. No jogging, biking, or pets are allowed on the trails, but they are allowed on the road that circles around the lake.
Edwin and Percy Warner Parks, collectively known as “The Warner Parks,” are the largest municipally administered parks in Tennessee and together span nearly 3,000 acres of forest and field, all located just 9 miles from downtown Nashville. The Warner Parks are one of our favorite places to picnic, hike, and bike ride with our daughters. We also love the Warner Park Nature Center, which features many free family friendly programs. We had portraits taken of our girls last fall at Edwin Warner Park and the leaves were absolutely gorgeous.
My husband and I love to take the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway to downtown historic Franklin, Tennessee, on date nights. It’s a beautiful drive and you’ll encounter very little traffic, but you might just spot deer or wild turkey roadside. The historic Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery that winds down through Tennessee and Mississippi. We love to stop at picturesque Garrison Creek for family picnics.
Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate and is just a short drive 10 to 15-minute drive from downtown Nashville in Belle Meade. Admission is not free, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Cheekwood also hosts many outdoor concerts, as well as exhibits and activities during the holidays.
Located in Burns, Tennessee, Montgomery Bell State Park’s 3,782 acres feature hiking trails, camping, golf, and more. The park inn features a family budget friendly buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (great cobbler and catfish) and we’ve seen deer on the golf course surrounding the lodge. The inn, conference center, and restaurant overlook beautiful Lake Acorn.