The Best Camping Near Nashville, Tennessee

The Best Camping Near Nashville, Tennessee

Step outside the bustle of Music City USA to discover some of the most stunning sights of the south. Relax riverside at Piney River Resort or explore natural highlights like the Lost Sea from campgrounds near Nashville.

Nashville, Tennessee
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About Camping Near Nashville

Head to Nashville for cultural treasures like the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Once you’ve had your fill of hot chicken and live music, drive outside the city for camping near Nashville to enjoy a different kind of fun. Take the picturesque backroads to campgrounds near Nashville for hiking, fishing, boating, and even spelunking opportunities. Between Fall Creek Falls and South Cumberland, there’s no shortage of breathtaking water features and heart-thumping hiking trails.

Top Campgrounds Near Nashville, Tennessee

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Nashville Camping FAQs

Nashville, Tennessee—home to country music, bachelorette parties, and an under-the-radar outdoor scene. While often thought of for its arts and culture, Tennessee is one of the best states in the South for outdoor adventure. There are many great spots within driving distance for camping near Nashville, TN, including well-trafficked spots and some hidden gems.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Go Camping Near Nashville, TN?

There are really two answers to this question, depending on what you want. If you want to enjoy the beauty of central Tennessee but aren’t interested in Nashville’s nightlife, the best time to go camping near Nashville, TN, is in the fall. Central Tennessee tends to be more comfortable starting in the early fall, and campers are treated to changing leaves.

If you want to take advantage of Nashville’s nightlife while you’re there, then the best time to go camping near Nashville, TN, is anytime from late spring to early fall. While Nashville summers are hot and humid, music and nightlife fans will make that tradeoff to be in Music City.

What Are the Top Outdoor Activities Near Nashville?

Nashville has great proximity to several types of outdoor activities. In the summer, travelers will want to get out onto the lakes and nearby rivers. Kayaking, swimming, and floating are all popular summer activities. With miles of nearby hiking trails, this section of the Volunteer State is also a great destination for hikers, with the best camping near Nashville, TN, being within a short drive of the city.

What Are the National Parks Near Nashville?

There are no national parks right next to Nashville, though there are several pieces of federal land within driving distance.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area – 3 hours

This is the closest piece of federal land to Nashville. While there are plenty of great state parks and wildlife management areas around, federally-run public lands are scarcer in this section of the Volunteer State. However, Nashvillians and visitors love Big South Fork for its water sports opportunities and hiking trails.

One of the best things about Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is its ample backcountry camping opportunities. While you’ll need a backcountry permit, you can camp anywhere you like, as long as it fits the park’s guidelines. When it comes to backcountry camping near Nashville, TN, this is one of the best choices for a more primitive experience.

Cherokee National Forest – 3.75 hours

Cherokee National Forest is split into two sections by Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since the two are very similar driving distances from Music City, this national forest is a great option for the outdoor adventurer who wants solitude that the popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park just can’t provide in peak season. While there are plenty of camping options in the state of Tennessee, there are few better free options for camping near Nashville, TN than the beautiful Cherokee National Forest.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 4 hours

This is the peak of camping near Nashville, TN. Routinely one of the most visited national parks (mainly due to the free entrance), this is a must-see if you haven’t already been. While summer is a great time to hike the Smokies, fall is incredible, and Great Smoky Mountains is considered one of the best national parks for fall colors each year.

Nantahala National Forest – 4 hours

The Nantahala National Forest is actually the largest of North Carolina’s four national forests, covering more than 800 square miles. The greenery here is second only to the Pacific Northwest (PNW). In fact, it’s also the second wettest region in the country, surpassed only by the PNW.

Nantahala comes from Cherokee, translating to “land of the noonday sun.” This description is quite apt, as the sun only hits the valley floor in the middle of the day. Campers who want a quiet commune with nature will be best served heading into the Nantahala National Forest and skipping other popular destinations.

What Are Some of the Most Popular State Parks Near Nashville?

Radnor Lake State Park

Radnor Lake State Park is far and away the most popular state park near Music City. However, since it’s a day-use-only park, it isn’t a great choice if you’re solely looking for camping near Nashville, TN. Even if you’re looking to spend time camping, Radnor Lake State Park is still a beautiful place to stop for a day or even just the afternoon.

Long Hunter State Park

This 2,600-acre park sits against the east bank of Percy Priest Lake, a man-made lake near Hermitage, Tennessee. Unlike Radnor Lake, Long Hunter State Park is an option for camping near Nashville, TN, charging a nominal, non-refundable fee to stay at one of the two primitive tent sites on the lake’s shoreline. Those both require a six-mile hike to get there but are more than worth it if you have the time and self-sufficiency.

Cedars of Lebanon State Park

You don’t have to head too far out of Nashville to find Cedars of Lebanon State Park. It’s just 40 minutes from the city, and you’ll find some of the best camping near Nashville, TN.

Cedars of Lebanon is perfect for campers who want a little extra comfort. With over 100 campsites all outfitted with picnic tables and grills, as well as electric and water hookups, all the basics are covered, even at the tent sites. The three bathhouses all offer hot showers. If that isn’t enough, Cedars of Lebanon offers deluxe, fully furnished cabins that include a kitchen area and sleep up to five.

Montgomery Bell State Park

Montgomery Bell State Park is another great option for the comfort-oriented camper. Montgomery Bell has very similar offerings to Cedars of Lebanon, just on a smaller scale; it offers roughly half the campsite options, though all with the same amenities. The cabins here are actually a touch nicer than those at Cedars of Lebanon, as Montgomery Bell State Park offers premium-level cabins instead of deluxe.

What Are the Top Attractions in Nashville?

Grand Ole Opry

It’s called Country Music’s Biggest Stage for a reason. The Grand Ole Opry has seen some of the greatest musicians of our time perform, ever since it opened its doors in 1925. Even if you aren’t a fan of country music (though it’s inescapable in Nashville), the tour of the Grand Ole Opry will still fascinate.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

There are American music museums larger than this one, but there sure aren’t many! This massive center houses the famous Hall of Fame Rotunda, a place that honors all the genre’s greatest legends. Starting in 1961 with the induction of Hank Williams Sr., this has been country music’s highest honor for decades. Outside of the Hall, the museum section offers a fascinating display of exhibits on the history of the genre, rotating from year to year.

The Parthenon

No, you haven’t taken a wrong turn. This full-sized replica of the Parthenon in Athens was built just before the turn of the 20th century and has been the centerpiece of Centennial Park for well over a century. Inside the Parthenon are several interesting art exhibits that stay on display for about six months at a time.

Frist Art Museum

The Frist is one of Nashville’s premier museums of arts and culture. There are several exhibits on display at any one time, rotating every few months, that showcase art from both around the world and around the city. Note that the museum closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and is only open in the afternoons on Sundays.

Where’s Some of the Best Food in Nashville?

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack South

There’s no way to have a Nashville food list without Nashville hot chicken. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy—it’s truly a bucket list food, and there’s no better place to enjoy hot chicken than the original spot in Music City. If you stop in just one place for this Tennessee treat, make it Prince’s.

Pelican & Pig

Don’t worry—pig is on the menu, but pelican is not. What used to be an auto upholstery shop is now one of Nashville’s hottest restaurants. The menu here is short but designed with purpose, making for a good mix of fine and casual dining in a modern, upscale-casual atmosphere.

Big Al’s Deli

If you go to a deli run by someone genuinely called Big Al, you trust that deli. Big Al is known throughout the city to be someone interested in good community and good food. The menu here is all Southern comfort classics. Things are simple and done well, and no matter how many times you visit, you’re never disappointed.

Redheaded Stranger

Nashville doesn’t exactly spring to top of mind when thinking about tacos, but Redheaded Stranger has made a name for itself. Located in the eastern portion of the city, Redheaded Stranger dishes out Southwestern-inspired eats to go with its margaritas and beer list.

Nashville is a town that contains multitudes. While its history and pedigree center around music, arts, and culture, camping near Nashville, TN, offers an escape from the high-speed movement of city life.

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