Just under an hour’s drive northwest of Nashville, Clarksville has a rich history in tobacco trade and was once home to Acme Boots, the world’s largest cowboy boot maker from the 1940s-80s. However, the city has since evolved into a thriving hub of art, culture, and history. Here are the best things to do in Clarksville, TN, (the downtown area, unique features, and prominent sights) that you won’t want to miss!
Fun Fact: Clarksville is a city at the confluence of the Red and Cumberland Rivers, and currently the fifth-largest city in the state of Tennessee.
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Beachaven Vineyards & Winery
Beachaven Vineyards & Winery is an established and renowned winery in Clarksville, producing award-winning wines for many years. They have a stunning tasting room and beautiful property where you can enjoy the scenic views while savoring the delightful wines.
I picked the Barrelhead Red and Tempo, a smooth red blend, for my husband, and 101st/Melody and Harmony for me.
The 101st/Melody is a tropical-flavored Gewurtraminer wine that was truly enjoyable and easy to drink. However, the real standout was Harmony, a limited seasonal release riesling with black cherry notes.
Clarksville’s Impressive Food and Beverage Scene
Clarksville has a delightful array of trendy eateries, ranging from sit-down restaurants to fast-food joints. Additionally, there’s a distillery called Old Glory and seven craft breweries, which is quite impressive for a city of this size.
Some of the breweries include King’s Bluff, Clarksville Brewery, Blackhorse Pub & Brewery, Gladiator, Strawberry Alley Ale Works, and Star Spangled Brewing Company.
My top picks for where to eat in Clarksville are Harbor Cafe, Strawberry Alley Ale Works, and Liberty Park Grill, all tried and true, and in town for years.
For a complete restaurant guide to Clarksville, check out this post.
Located just twenty minutes outside of town, the Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement offers a captivating glimpse into 19th-century plantation life. Spanning 40 rural acres, this remarkable site showcases 16 meticulously restored log homes and structures from the years 1830 to 1870.
Among the highlights are the blacksmith shop, tobacco barn, and cobbler’s shop, which I found particularly charming to photograph. Surprisingly, the main houses are adorned with period antiques, despite being exposed to the elements. The settlement operates from May to October, with special events held during Easter.
Pick up a guide sheet from the Visitor Center check-in and use the QR reader provided to delve deeper into the fascinating history of each property. This truly embodies a perfect balance of heritage and technology.
Customs House Museum and Cultural Center
Clarksville’s rich history resides in a distinctive building showcasing permanent and temporary exhibits. Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, spanning 56,000 square feet, offers educational and interactive experiences for all ages, including the captivating Bubble Cave and hands-on activities for children.
The museum is renowned for its extensive train display and exquisite porcelain collection, such as the Lucy Dunwody Boehm pieces. Additional attractions include McGregor’s Market, a lego wall, and captivating puppet shows. As a prominent art and historical museum located downtown, it proudly presents over 35,000 works of art across various galleries.
The Customs House Museum serves as a hub for visual and performing arts, hosting dynamic exhibitions, workshops, and events. Admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 17. They are closed on Mondays.
Please note: The Customs House Museum is ADA-compliant and provides a limited number of wheelchairs free of charge at the reception desk.
Dunbar Cave State Park
Dunbar Cave State Park is a captivating destination you won’t want to miss. Formerly home to a legendary hotel, this 144-acre park offers a wealth of history and natural beauty. Along with renowned musicians like Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, country music icon Roy Acuff transformed the site into a vibrant venue for festivals and shows.
Today, the park invites visitors to immerse themselves in its wonders through enjoyable activities such as walking, hiking, jogging, and seasonal cave tours. Explore the eight-mile limestone cave system, marvel at the diverse wildlife, and try your hand at fishing.
Take note that cave tours are available from May to mid-September, so remember to bring a jacket as the temperature remains a constant 58-degrees. Closed-toe shoes are required, and carrying a flashlight is recommended.
It is also worth mentioning that Dunbar Cave State Park is the only place in Tennessee where you can experience a guided cave tour. This premier nature destination promises to fascinate all those who appreciate the outdoors.
Downtown Clarksville boasts stunning historical buildings, a treat for both history enthusiasts and photography lovers. A must-visit is the captivating history wall, complemented by a contemporary sculpture.
Noteworthy sculptures include the Children’s Fountain at Strawberry Alley, The Day After between Second and Commerce Streets, and Franklin Street’s tribute to Frank Sutton (Sgt. Carter from Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.).
The Montgomery County Courthouse, dated back to the 1800s but meticulously remodeled and restored post the 1999 tornado, stands as a testament to architectural beauty. Seek out the Starry Night and God Bless Clarksville murals, exuding vibrant charm.
Beyond aesthetics, this bustling downtown area offers an array of local shops, eateries, and entertainment venues for an immersive experience.
Shopping in Clarksville
If you are in need of sprucing up your wardrobe or just need a good rainy day activity, you can shop for hours at Governor’s Square Mall. Belk is the anchor department store. On Wilma Rudolph Blvd, you will find just about anything ever needed. I prefer the shops throughout Downtown Clarksville, for really original items and gift ideas.
When in Tennessee, a pair of boots is almost a necessity, and those can easily be found.
Roxy Regional Theatre
The Roxy Regional Theatre, an iconic movie house in downtown Clarksville, is renowned for its classic marquee neon sign. It offers live professional theatre and musicals, providing affordable and comfortable shows.
I attended a sensational performance of All Shook Up, where the talented entertainers had us all singing and dancing in our chairs. With a rich history, this theatre is the go-to for live performances in Clarksville, offering high-quality shows, ranging from classic musicals to plays and dramas. The staff and facilities are top-notch, ensuring an excellent experience for all.
Upcoming shows include “The Vagina Monologues”, “SpongeBob: The Musical”, “Thoughts of a Colored Man”, and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”.
Austin Peay University
This university, spanning 200 acres, has around 10,000 students and is home to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team. As proud members of the Ohio Valley Conference, the university holds a special place in my heart as a generational alma mater.
Fort Defiance Civil War Park (and Other Parks)
Clarksville boasts an impressive array of parks, both state and local, totaling 32 in number. From serene spots for picnicking or biking to parks offering exciting water sports and splash pads for added enjoyment, there is something for everyone.
Don’t miss the renowned Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center, which not only showcases historical weaponry, but also houses an interpretive center. History enthusiasts and families seeking to delve into the Civil War era will find this place a treasure trove. Guided tours reveal hidden gems such as the underground powder magazine, gun emplacements, and protective gates that once safeguarded the town.
Of particular interest are the Liberty Park Trails, adorned with a diverse selection of trees clearly marked for easy identification and education, including gingko and common bald cypress. With trails ranging from the .67-mile Wetlands Stroll Route to the 3.21-mile Liberty Rim Extensive Route, there is multiple paths to choose from.
Another park worth exploring is the Clarksville Marina, offering a picturesque setting for leisurely walks amidst nature.
Where to Stay in Clarksville
Chain hotels like Best Western Plus, Country Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Towneplace Suites, and Tru by Hilton offer a range of options. We have stayed at all of them over the years while connecting with family, friends, and attending events.
On my last visit, we parked our RV at Clarksville RV Park and Campground, a charming facility near exit 1. The campground offers over 50 spots for RVs, tents, and cabins. Amenities include a dog park, playground, a delightful pool and pavilion, as well as a large fire pit and conversation area complete with rustic furniture and swings.
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