Clarksville is a perfect city to experience southern charm and the amenities you’ve come to expect as a traveler, while also enjoying the ability to simply get away from it all for the most part. The historic city is located in a spot that gives visitors expansive access to the gorgeous natural areas surrounding, including the Cumberland River.
Additionally, there’s plenty of culture and cuisine to make every traveler happy. Overall, there’s a good mix of things to do and keep you busy, but it all retains its small-town charm that allows you to relax a little bit.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Clarksville:
1. See the History of Clarksville
The Customs House Museum and Cultural Center has 35,000 square feet of exhibits and activities, making it the second-largest general museum in the state of Tennessee.
The building, constructed in 1898, was a post office and also a customs house created in response to the area’s huge tobacco trade.
It’s one of the most photographed structures in the area (and for good reason — it’s beautiful!), and the focus has expanded to so much more than the tobacco industry.
You’ll see a selection of exhibits, galleries and a sculpture garden.
Permanent exhibits include the Explorers’ Gallery (with a kid-size grocery story and other similar activities), Becoming Clarksville (a history of the area), Memory Lane (with a recreated 1842 log home), Challenges and Champions (a sports gallery), the Lucy Dunwoody Bohm Porcelain Collection and the original Postmaster’s Office.
2. Stroll the Riverfront
The McGregor Park Riverwalk features one mile of walking trails, picnic areas, a boat ramp into the Cumberland River, the As the River Flows Museum and more attractions over 15 acres.
The park is open late for sundown strolls, closing at midnight, and is free from any obtrusive skateboarders and loud audio, with strict rules to keep it that way.
The river is purely for boating and looks — no fishing or swimming.
3. Or Stroll in the Woods
If you’re not terribly into strenuous hikes, or have already seen the waterfront, you can go to the Clarksville Greenway for a nicely kept park that’s easy on the feet.
The paved trails are great for easy hikes, biking, walking and running.
Enjoy views of the forests and countryside, while still being nearby the amenities you need.
The Greenway is pretty large, but you can take your time and explore it all without feeling rushed.
However, keep in mind, the area could be prone to flooding, and if there’s a chance of rain, you may want to stay near to your car, as it’s advised that you leave immediately in the event of heavy rain.
4. Go Underground
Head to Dunbar Cave State Park, only a little over a mile away from downtown Clarksville.
Dunbar Cave is eight miles long, making it one of the largest caves in the county.
The huge space has been used for concerts, dances and shows of various kinds.
You can see the cave’s high historic, natural and archaeological significance displayed throughout, and even spot some ancient cave drawings that are thought to be part of a religious ceremony of some kind.
The cave stays a cool 58 degrees all the time, so be sure to bring a jacket!
5. Pack a Picnic
A perfect spot for a summer picnic is Liberty Park & Clarksville Marina.
The park areas are open through all the daylight hours, with the marina and boat ramps open every hour of the day.
There are community-built playgrounds, a 10-acre fishing pond, walking trail that’s almost 2 miles in length, access to the Cumberland River, multiple picnic pavilions, sports fields and an event center.
There’s also a dog park if you’re traveling with your furry friend.
6. Play Golf
If it’s raining or if the kids want to join in on the game, you can take your golf game off the green, and to D&D Mini Golf.
The indoor, 18-hole mini golf attraction is very popular with families, as it’s a blacklight course that brings you a ton of fun in a unique environment.
Each player also receives 3D glasses for a fully immersible experience.
The theme is Fantasy Forest, so keep your eyes peeled for the colorful gnomes, elves, unicorns and more.
Then, once you’re done playing, the kids can literally write on the walls, signing the graffiti wall with fluorescent chalk.
In addition to the mini golf, kids enjoy the arcade.
7. Make Your Own Art
Head to downtown Clarksville to Horsefeathers, a totally unique pottery and art studio.
Open studio hours are totally fee-free, and you can pick whatever pottery item captures your fancy, and then paint it.
However, keep in mind that this activity is best-suited for those travelers who plan to be in the area for about the next week or so, as you’ll have to wait to pick up your pottery after you decorate it.
For those who don’t have the time, you can also paint a wooden item, and take it home with you same-day.
The experts there will help you sand, antique, spray and create your wooden item so that you absolutely love your own work of art.
8. Reenact the Civil War
Pay a visit to Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Center, and learn about not only the site’s Civil War role, but also the 200 years of history that took place here.
The spot was originally inhabited by Native Americans, and as settlers came onto the scene, the area turned into a trading post.
The fort was constructed by Confederate troops, and was captured by Union forces in 1862. Today, this fort is very well preserved.
The Interpretive Center also features exhibits on the events that took place in the area.
9. Have a Drink
Visit Old Glory Distilling Company to explore small batch, hand crafted spirits that are made by and for locals.
Sip on whiskey, white rum, vodka and moonshine.
The tasting bar is always open for samples, and you can schedule a tour for certain times in the afternoon.
10. Or Two!
If whiskey and other spirits aren’t your favorites, you can try a taste of the local wine as well.
Beachaven Vineyards & Winery has been in business and highly acclaimed for the past 30 years.
Daily and free wine tastings and tours are available.
Unfortunately, though, you can’t buy wine by the glass while there.
Not to worry! You can buy a whole bottle, which is better, and they’ll supply the glasses for you to drink in the picnic area.
They also sell cheese, crackers, sausages and dips, perfect for accompanying your little impromptu picnic.
Sounds pretty good, right? The winery also hosts live music events through the warm months.
11. Step Back in Time
Each summer, Historic Collinsville comes to life.
Set on 40 acres, the living history museum includes 18 restored log homes and other structures dating all the way back to 1830. See real period artifacts as you explore the set up, and learn all about how the earliest settlers lived and worked.
Each building has been painstakingly recreated to be as authentic as possible, making the experience both highly educational and very entertaining.
You’ll see what it really meant to live in rural Tennessee during the antebellum and Civil War eras, 1830-1870, just miles away from the Cumberland River, a once-vital transportation and shipping waterway.
12. See a Show
The Roxy Regional Theater was opened in 1983 as a live theatre, and has become a staple in the community for great live shows and cultural experiences.
See world-renowned performances like Hedwig & The Angry Inch, or a concert of traditional Celtic folk music.
Check the theater’s calendar to see what’s coming up while you’re in town.
You’ll be sure to find something that catches your interest, whether you like Broadway musicals, Shakespearean dramas, jazz, classical music, children’s tales, cult classics or any of a variety of other options.
13. See the Local Art
The Downtown Artists Co-op is an association of local artists who promote the visual artists in the county.
There are 27 full artist members and 16 consignment artists, and you can visit their gallery, as well as their various events, including Pleinair: Art in the Streets and the Holiday Arts & Crafts Bazaar.
There are also First Thursday Art Walks (which are one of your best opportunities, as there’s free food, drinks and music in the evening), Gallery Talks and other events on their calendar, so be sure to take a look before visiting!
14. Go Shopping
If you happen to be in Clarksville during some poor weather, maybe head over to the Governor’s Square Mall for a little shopping.
The mall is now the prime commercial and retail area in the city, and offers dozens of your favorite mall staples, such as American Eagle, Hallmark, Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and Hot Topic, as well as some southern favorites like Dillard’s.
There are also several lunch options in case you need a bite to eat while there.
A movie theater is also nearby, so you can catch a film before heading back out into the weather.
15. Walk the Arboretum
The Clarksville City Arboretum is situated along the Cumberland River in Fairgrounds Park.
There are more than 30 species of trees to spot.
You can even go on to the city’s website for a list of all the species, and then see if you can identify them and check them off the list! This centrally located spot is easy to get to, and can be a short, simple trip if you’re not looking to commit to a long hike or waterfront run, and just want to get a little fresh air and green space for a few moments.
16. See Some Old-Timey Trains
The L&N Train Station is a restored railroad station in the downtown area.
It looks like it did at the turn of the 20th century, and you can see a diesel locomotive, as well as a caboose that was donated by the RJ Corman railroad company, a brand that you’ll see throughout Tennessee and Kentucky, if you happen to travel the two states by road.
Now, the space is used by both the local farmers market and some artists, but is also home to the Montgomery County Historical Society.
It’s pretty interesting and you can see the artifacts and art exhibits for yourself.
17. See a Transportation Hot Spot
If you want to keep the transportation history theme going, pay a visit to Port Royal State Historic Park.
The 26-acre park is the site of part of the Trail of Tears, and holds a fair amount of history dealing with transportation.
It was one of the earliest trading posts in the part of the state, and was a significantly important crossroads, later known as the only stop on the Great Western Road between Nashville and parts of Kentucky.
You can see several roadbeds that have been preserved here, including one that’s supposedly from prehistoric times, and then, of course, the one that’s part of the Trail of Tears.
There’s also an early steel bridge from the 1800s, which you can walk over.
There are also buildings from the 1800s scattered throughout the park.
18. Visit the Grave of a Legend
At the Foster Memorial Garden, you can visit the grave of Wilma Rudolph, and also spot her statue around town.
Rudolph was a significant figure within the civil rights and feminist movements.
She won three Olympic gold medals and set two world records as a sprinter, doing so in 110-degree heat.
She was a highly celebrated athlete that some may not know about.
19. Shop at the Farmers Market
With a destination that’s surrounded by beautiful rural regions, you know that you’ll find great, fresh produce from the area’s agrarians.
The Clarksville Downtown Market is open May through October, and brings not only local farmers and artisans, but also live music.
They even have their own market mascot, “Corny the Cob!” Stop by to shop for your afternoon snack, some foodie souvenirs to take back home or some handcrafted products.
20. Try Some Brews
The city’s only microbrewery opened in 1992 and has been going strong and keeping the competition at bay.
Blackhorse Pub & Brewery is now a hugely popular neighborhood spot, right within downtown Clarksville.
The handcraft brew menu isn’t extensive, but what they do have, is good.
It’s also all brewed right on site.
The food includes great pub fair, and there’s even brunch on the weekends!
21. Eat and Shop
If you want to shop, but still get a bite of authentic local food while you’re at it, stop at Miss Lucille’s.
The Marketplace sells both thrift items and antiques, but the attached Cafe has great standard cafe items, which you can enjoy right before you get back to doing all your shopping.
There are lots of soups, salads, sandwiches and baked goods to choose from.
22. Catch Some Live Music
If you happen to stop in Clarksville during the summer, be sure to take advantage of the concert series that goes on through the warm season.
Once a month, local musicians converge in downtown Clarksville to put on a great show.
The event is called Jammin’ in the Alley, and it not only promotes the local music scene, but also all the downtown businesses as a whole.
23. Adopt Local Pride
After a tornado destroyed a large chunk of Clarksville in 1999, the locals decided it was time to celebrate their town with an annual festival.
Now, you’ll want to put the Rivers & Spires Festival on your calendar.
The annual spring event draws tons of visitors, and it’s a great, free and family-friendly event that includes live music (from some pretty big country music names), children’s activities, beer competitions, a car show, an art market and even an arm wrestling tournament.
It’s a little bit quirky and all-around fun, so you won’t want to miss it!
24. Go Camping
If you really want to take advantage of this destination’s great outdoor scene, you may just want to pop open a tent and sleep under the stars.
Spring Creek Campground is a budget-friendly option for camping in the region, and has a great creekside setting.
In addition to offering designated spots for your tent, there are also facilities on site for showering and other important amenities, and there’s even a swimming area.
25. Hop Over the Line
Clarksville pretty much considers itself one and the same with Fort Campbell, even though the military base is over the border, in Kentucky.
The fort’s Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum is definitely a Clarksville attraction, and it gives guests a glimpse at the fort itself, the 101st Airborne Division, lots of military aircraft, vehicles, equipment and artifacts dating back to World War II, and as recent as Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Better yet, the admission to the museum is totally free.