You can still experience Nashville, Leiper’s Fork and middle Tennessee and get in your getaway while staying ‘socially distanced’ — using quotes here because I’m not totally sure why that term is still being used when it’s really about staying physically distant.
Though we’ve taken the threat of the virus seriously since the onset of the pandemic, a few months in we found out I was pregnant so we’ve had to take extra precautions and have gotten creative on ways to stay active, stay connected with friends and enjoy the area we live in.
We could go on for days about what to get into but we’ve narrowed it down the best we can for those who feel they need a getaway and can safely travel to visit.
Outdoor Walking & Hiking:
Walking & hiking have been our savior from boredom and to take in the fresh air regardless of the temps. Here are some of our favorite spots and tips for enjoying them:
- Radnor State Park is within Nashville city limits but you feel like you’re in a rural area once you arrive. They offer a variety of different trails for varying levels. Our favorite is the Lake trail which clocks in just over a mile.
- Hiking (and driving) the scenic Natchez Trace Trail. Randy over at NatchezTraceTravel.com has put together extensive guides on ways to enjoy the trail on foot, bike, car and even by horse! We’ve followed several of his guides. We also had friends with 2 little ones visit and we did his Garrison Creek suggestion. It was a great distance/ level for everyone.
- Greenways galore! Nashville has a variety of greenways you can explore however, our personal home is in the Gulch neighborhood. We have found ourselves on the Gulch greenway a fair bit which then connects to other nice little walks/ strolls. You can meander through Capitol View neighborhood, pick up to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park (more on that later), even connect and walk around Downtown Nashville. In particular, 1st Avenue runs along the Cumberland River and across that you can see the Nissan Stadium (where the Titans play). Even though Downtown Nashville has picked up again with activity if you go earlier in the morning (I’d suggest before 10am), it will still be pretty secluded.
- Back to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park … not only can you feel like Rocky by running the steps in front of the Capitol you can also geek out with your inner history buff. 🙂 There is a WWII memorial, pathway of history and our personal fave for a photo opp is the granite state map.
- Centennial Park is Nashville’s little version of Central Park! In the rolling hills of TN, it is very hard to find a flat place to walk but this is it! Not only is this an easy path with various little ponds throughout, it is best known for its replica of the Parthenon- the reason Nashville is also known as the Athens of the South. PS: the also have a great dog park!
- Stroll through neighborhoods in Nashville & Franklin. It may come as no surprise since we own 7 homes in the area that we sort of have a bit of a house addiction. We absolutely love looking at different styles of homes, different neighborhoods and just taking in the place we call home. Typically, we’ll drive to an area and have lunch or breakfast and then just head out on foot and sort of get lost (be sure to pin your parked location on google maps so you can always find your way back, though)! 🙂 Some of the best neighborhoods for house looking are: 12 South neighborhood, East Nashville, Sylvan Park and Germantown (all in Nashville) + Westhaven & Downtown Franklin (side streets) (both in Franklin).
FREE Outdoor Activities:
While many of these activities are still on foot, they offer a bit more than just a normal walk or hike:
- Midnight Sun Scavenger Hunt, developed by VisitFranklin is a family-friendly self-guided scavenger hunt. This is so cute to do with the little ones, offers a bit of history/ education and a nice way to explore Downtown Franklin. Visit the site to download the map + there are also free downloads for coloring pages and activity pages. If you finish the hunt, there’s a little prize at the end, too!
- Trying to get a photo with any of Nashville’s most popular murals can typically mean long lines or fighting off other visitors. Right now, with not as many folks in town it’s a perfect time to get some great photos. We love this article, 71 stunning Nashville murals written by NomadlyWeds if you want to do the murals on your own. See below for nominal cost mural options.
- We’ve also taken the opportunity to enjoy some seasonal pickin! It started with strawberries, then pumpkin patches and on to apple orchards. Our favorite was a visit to Breeden’s Orchard in Mt. Juliet (their apple cider and empanadas, oh my). Though most are closed for the winter season, more pickin options will be available in Spring through Fall!
- Calling all mountain bikers!! We haven’t gotten to personally enjoy this (remember, I’m pregnant and generally quite clumsy) but we have watched it being cleared, built and open over the last few months and it’s pretty darn cool. Leiper’s Fork has a new mountain bike park, Wilkins Branch Mountain Bike Park that boasts 156 acres of hilly and wooded land!
Nominal Cost Outdoor Activities:
Up until now, everything we have mentioned is FREE to enjoy! But we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest a few paid options that are well worth the price of admission!
- Another self- guided tour by VisitFranklin is the Masters & Makers digital passport (this one is for the adults)! Technically there is no cost to participate but you do have to ‘check-in’ and enjoy tastings at 4 different spots and there is a cost to that so we’re going to label this one paid. This digital passport takes you along the Williamson County trail of making wine and spirits at the county’s winery and distilleries. Though we have not done the passport yet (remember: pregnant) we have tried many of the places and can vouch for them. The benefit of using the digital passport and checking in, though is that you get a free t-shirt by doing so!
- Mural tours: If you want to have a bit more guidance (or even extra hands so that everyone with you can get in the photo), consider one of the mural tours. We suggest either the walking mural tour or the golf cart mural tour – I like these options because you can easily get right up to the mural instead of trying to deal with parking if you’re driving yourself.
- Cheekwood Estates & Gardens offers a gorgeous setting to enjoy both day and night (be sure to buy tickets in advance right now)! Through January, they are doing Chihuly lights and from Nov 20- Jan 10, holiday lights- with real reindeer! If you’re reading this after January, don’t worry they always have a new feature and/ or exhibit for every season. You can check out their website for the latest happenings.
- With or without kids, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is a pretty fun place that has taken safety and cleanliness very seriously. We’re not exactly zoo aficionados or anything (as in we’ve not been to a whole lot of zoos- though I anticipate that changing once our little guy arrives) but we’ve has several guests come through that are and say it’s one of the better zoos they’ve been to. After spending so much time in Australia, my favorite is going through and saying hello to the kangaroos! Be sure to buy/ reserve your tickets in advance – you can do so here.
- ALPACAS! Mistletoe Alpaca Farm is doing daily private tours (by appointment only). They have 1/2 hour and hour options as well as options for up to 5 guests or up to 10 guests. Y’all if you have not seen an alpaca up close, this is your chance… DO IT! 🙂
- Visit the goats at Noble Springs Dairy Farm. I’ve been purchasing their goat cheese products pretty much since we moved to Nashville but I’d never gotten the opportunity to visit their farm. We had friends in town and ended up going to their baby goat & charcuterie night. We had a blast walking the farm, eating all the cheese and just enjoyed being outside in a new atmosphere. They typically do tours on Saturdays but also do other sporadic events. It’s nothing fancy, just goats and good cheese! Pro tip: bring your bug spray!
- If you’re wanting to see a movie but still keep your distance, the Field at Franklin is doing a drive-in movie series. They typically only release their schedule a month or so in advance (right now it’s up through mid- December) so it’s unclear if they’ll continue into the winter. However, if you’re here between now and then, definitely snag your tickets. It’s only $25 per car for admission. We’ll be catching Elf so we may see you there! 🙂
- When spring and summer roll around, consider enjoying one of Nashville’s many rivers or lakes. We personally love either kayaking and/ or doing the StandUp Paddle Board (SUP) tour on the Cumberland River which gives you a totally different view of Downtown Nashville!
- Explore Downtown Franklin by segway with a segway tour. Now, I’ll be totally honest that I have not done this because 1) pregnant and 2) even not pregnant I am not exactly known for being graceful. 🙂 However, we have had guests to do this and highly recommend it and felt very comfortable.
- If your inner adventurer wants to see some of the ‘backroads’ in Tennessee, check out the Back Country Tour by SXS. This tour picks up in Williamsport, TN which is about 45 mins from Nashville and 30 mins from Leiper’s Fork.
- If you want to splurge a little bit (I’d say this is above the ‘nominal cost’ bracket) but want the view of a lifetime, you may want to consider a Hot Air Balloon ride over the rolling hills of the Tennessee countryside.
Dining & Drinking Options (indoor with added precautions or outdoors):
I have to say, we have been very fortunate with our dining experiences in Nashville, Leiper’s Fork, Franklin and really, all around middle Tennessee. We have never felt like we were in a place where they weren’t taking added precautions. However, we’ve summed up our list of places that offer outdoor seating and went above and beyond with their protocols. We do highly suggest getting reservations where you can or calling ahead to verify hours! We’ve made each place clickable so you can also go right to their website.
Nashville Breakfast/ Brunch:
- Pinewood Social (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- The Southern (indoor with added measures + outdoor with heaters)
- Pancake Pantry (indoor with added measures)
- Frothy Monkey (multiple locations, indoor + outdoor options depending on location)
- Cafe Roze (indoor with added measures + limited outdoor)
Nashville Lunch/ Dinner:
- Lockeland Table (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- Urban Grub (indoor with added precautions + outdoor with heaters)
- Emmy Squared (Gulch & Green Hills locations both indoor with added measures + outdoor with heaters)
- El Fuego (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- Lyra (indoor with added measures + outdoor
- Mas Tacos (technically you walk up and order to go, then sit on their patio to eat)
- Butchertown Hall (outdoor – with heaters)
- City House (indoor with added measures + outdoor with heaters)
- Edley’s BBQ (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- Peg Leg Porker BBQ (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- 404 Kitchen (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- The PIcnic Cafe (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- Blue Moon Waterfront Grill (indoor with added measures + outdoor with heaters)
- Once Upon a Time in France (indoor with added measures + limited outdoor with heaters)
- 1892 (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork (indoor + outdoor)
- Red Byrd Coffee (walk up & take away)
- Country Boy Restaurant (indoor + outdoor)
- High Brow Coffee (indoor with added measures + outdoor)
- Scouts Pub (outdoor dining with heaters)
- Merridee’s Bread Basket & Bakery (indoor with added precautions)
- Cork & Cow (indoor with added precautions)
- The Grilled Cheeserie (indoor with added precautions)
- Gray’s on Main (indoor with added precautions)
- B1218 Surfbar Nashville (outdoor)
- Von Elrods Nashville (outdoor with heaters)
- Leiper’s Fork Distillery (outdoors)
- Arrington Vineyards (outdoors)
- Hop Yard at Fat Bottom Brewery Nashville (indoor and outdoor)
- 6th & Peabody – Ole Smoky Distillery & Yeehaw Brewing Co Nashville (indoor and outdoors)
- Pearl Diver Nashville (indoor and outdoor)
Please note: this is BY NO MEANS a full list. Most local restaurants are open and going to great lengths for their customers. However, these are just ones we have personally visited since the pandemic (a bit embarrassing how much we eat out actually listing it all like this) and therefore feel comfortable recommending. We have NOT visited all of the bars personally because of that whole pregnancy thing. 🙂 But these are places we visited prior to the pandemic and trust them.
If the weather isn’t being cooperative or you’re not eating or drinking, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy our area. Many places have gone above and beyond to ensure distancing measures are in place and are taking added cleaning precautions. While there have been several pop up outdoor music events, we are finding they are slowing as the temps begin to drop and most live music is now indoors or in spaces that already had outdoor rooftops. Watch our blog as we will post one-off, ‘pop up’ events.
Music, Entertainment & Other Activities:
- Downtown Nashville is currently open with limited capacity at most venues and a curfew in place. This includes honky tonks with live music, restaurants and bars. Many even have heated, outdoor rooftops as well if you prefer to be outside.
- Grand Ole Opry is back open (woo hoo) just with limited capacity. You can do the tour or catch a show.
- Listening Room Cafe
- Franklin Theatre
- Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork (for live music)
- Country Music Hall of Fame / RCA Studio B/ Hatch Show Print combo tour
- Adventure Science Center
- Frist Art Museum (with limited hours)
- Tennessee State Museum
- City Winery (indoor live music + outdoor wine garden series)
- RCA Studio B experience (tour)
- Top Golf
- Watch the Titans play at Nissan stadium
- Joyride Golf Cart Tours
- Mint Julep Experiences (custom, private and group tours)
- Pins Mechanical (arcade, bar, pinball, foosball, duck pin and ping pong)
- Sid’s Gold Piano and Karaoke bar and lounge (this is brand new, we haven’t been yet but looks like a great, fun concept)
Shop Til You Drop:
While you’re out and about, support some of our small, local businesses if you can. There are so many to list that we’ve decided to organize this by some of our favorite areas to shop so you can hit multiple shops in one go:
- Downtown Franklin
- Leiper’s Fork Village
- The Factory in Franklin
- Hillsboro Village
- 12 South
- Shoppes at Fatherland
- The Gulch
Please note: we prefer to send our guests to local places you cannot find anywhere else. However, we know the need or desire may arise to visit larger stores while in town. All area malls are open which includes: Mall at Green Hills, Cool Springs Galleria Mall and Opry Mills Outlet Mall.