Start making your spring and summer vacation plans now in Nashville’s Big Back Yard! 

Anchored by two world-famous music cities: Nashville to the north and Muscle Shoals, Alabama to the south, Nashville’s Big Back Yard covers 12 unique towns (with populations under 5K) to visit — each infused with music, history, art, local makers, and adventures to be experienced. (They might even provoke a happy memory of your own hometown!)  

With there still being a need to remain socially distant, there are plenty of ways to get out and explore safely. Let’s take a detour from the Broadway bustle as we show you what experiences are waiting for you in the wide-open space of Nashville’s Big Back Yard! Let’s start with the elephants.

 

Get Acquainted With The Largest Existing Land Animal

Hohenwald, TN

We bet you didn’t know that there are elephants in the south! Hohenwald is home to a 2,700-acre Elephant Sanctuary recognized as the largest natural-habitat refuge for captive Asian and African elephants in North America.

It’s currently home to 10 elephants retired from zoos and circuses — many of whom suffer long-term health and behavioral issues common to elephants that have spent their lives in captivity. The sanctuary provides them with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being.

While the elephant’s habitat is closed to the public, the Elephant Discovery Center offers hands-on, self-guided exhibits and educational programming that explores the many ways elephants shape our world. Make an appointment for a tour and check them out!

Learn more about Hohenwald

Listen for more about the Elephant Sanctuary from NPR HERE

 

See The Only Known Double-Span Natural Bridge In The World

Waynesboro, TN

If being outdoors is your game, grab your gear and head here! Located on the Green River, Waynesboro has long been a magnet for outdoorsy folks. With abundant kayaking, hiking, and wildlife just outside the few blocks that make up the city limits, it’s a no-brainer for hunters, hikers, paddlers, and nature lovers.

BONUS: Waynesboro is just a stone’s throw away from the Tennessee and Buffalo Rivers for even more opportunities to float through the natural beauty of Nashville’s Big Back Yard!

This town of less than 2,500 is a mecca for visitors who come from all over the world looking for a re-set at the Tennessee Fitness Spa — a famous wooded wellness center. But the property is more than a spa, it’s also home to the only known double-span natural bridge formation in the world! This bridge was used by outlaws like Jesse James to hide from lawmen, and the Pulpit Rock ledge is where Davy Crockett himself spoke to folks gathering below!

Learn more about Waynesboro

 

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Dive Into This Artsy River Town

Clifton, Tennessee

It’s hard not to fall for a classic river town like Clifton, Tennessee. With beautifully preserved historic buildings right on the water and gorgeous sunsets, this artsy small town is one-of-a-kind.

The emerging arts district has a local theater, fine arts, music, literature, and artisan crafts fueling the town’s culture. Make sure you tour the historic home of T.S. Stribling, the first Tennessean to win a Pulitzer Prize in literature for his 1933 novel, The Store.

While Clifton has plenty of outdoor activities off the water, you’re going to want to get yourself a boat as soon as you grab your first drink at the Clifton Marina!

Learn more about Clifton

 

The Hit Recording Capital of the World

The Shoals, Alabama

In 1969, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (aka the Swampers) founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studio at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Alabama. 

Since then, many music legends have recorded gold and platinum records and hundreds of hit songs here such as Cher, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and The Rolling Stones, just to name a few. The “music mojo” here is still very much alive and many popular artists still travel to record at this sacred studio today. Make sure when you’re in town, you take a tour of “The Hit Recording Capital of the World.”

Life in the Shoals is “Southern Living at its Best,” with distinctive small-city experiences, quaint boutiques, award-winning restaurants, and 10 historic districts. Muscle Shoals is a family-friendly community full of personality and opportunity.

Learn more about The Shoals 

 

Visit A House Built By Frank Lloyd Wright

Florence, AL

During the 1930s, Frank Lloyd Wright, the greatest American architect of all time, built structures of beauty unmatched in America before or since. The Rosenbaum House in Florence, AL is one of the purest examples of his Usonian style prototype.

During his seventy years as an architect, Wright would become famous across the world. His Prairie designs were the beginning of true American architecture based on needs and function, rather than on old European traditions. Wright preferred site-specific construction where buildings blended into the landscape. 

It was with his Prairie homes that Wright began using materials limited to those found in the local area, whether it be brick if there was clay, stone if there was an abundance of rocks nearby, or wood – natural not painted from nearby trees.  

These elements became one definition of his new concept, “Organic Architecture.” To Wright, architecture was not just about the buildings but included the furnishings and other elements that would help those within live peaceful harmonious lives. Come explore Florence so you can see this icon for yourself!

Learn more about Florence HERE

Listen for more about Florence, AL from NPR HERE

 

Go Camping Along The Clear Waters of The Piney River

Centerville, TN

The Piney River is a 23.7-mile-long tributary of the Duck River in Middle Tennessee that is enjoyed year-round by locals. Located on the banks of this river is a family-friendly RV campground just 15 miles from Centerville, TN, and only 50 miles from downtown Nashville, TN.

Piney River Resort is a vacation spot itself with 46 riverfront RV sites with pavilions, tiny home rentals, community bonfire areas, and individual fire pits. Here you’ll have immediate access to the Piney River to kayak, fish, or just lounge in the sun! 

Should you find yourself getting an itch to explore the surrounding area, you’ll find the Johnny Cash Farm and Museum a few miles away. Within thirty minutes of this resort, you can visit  Grinder’s Switch Winery for a relaxed afternoon or choose a little more adventure along the hiking trails at Montgomery Bell State Park, and nearby Bowie Nature Park.

Learn more about Centerville HERE

 

What town is calling your name on our Big Back Yard map? 

Dive in and explore even MORE adventures with Nashville’s Big Back Yard on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

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9 Comments

9 thoughts on “6 Adventures Waiting For You In Nashville’s Big Back Yard”

  1. Judith Jackson

    I wish someone could save White House, Tennessee. Developers are gobbling up farming land and building apartments and housing at an alarming rate!
    Also, Robertson County and Sumner County.

  2. Carol Booth

    We have been visiting Tennessee for years and have spent a lot of time in Nashville. Part of our trip always includes a trip to Antique Archaeology. We love to explore the building and all it has to offer in the area, including the art gallery down the street. The border is still closed and not looking like it will open for a long, long time, but one day we will return and visit. Love your posts and I am looking forward to exploring your state and seeing the many wonderful sites. Years ago, we stayed at the Opryland hotel for a week and explored your state, including catching a benefit that Emmy Lou Harris had at the Bellemere Plantation (I happened to be sitting next to her Mom)! We also visited the Jack Daniels Distillery (it was amazing to step back in time). I am typing and looking out the window at a very heavy snowfall – it is beautiful! Stay safe

  3. Anthony Giovanetti

    Thanks for the pics of the beauty that is still out there , but maybe you shouldn’t advertise it or they will end up
    Like the beauty that once was in Lake Tahoe and Yosemite here in over populated California . Yours truly Tony

  4. Jeffrey D Greer

    How in the world did you overlook the Buffalo River at Flatwoods exactly halfway between Hohenwald and Clifton?

  5. Brenda King

    I grew up near some of these towns. Yes they are beautiful with friendly people. I too would have stayed in TN, but in 1971 my husband and I had to leave to find employment and fun! We still have family and friends in this area! TN is a beautiful place!

  6. Julie

    I live in Linden and gave visited almost every town on this map. Abd I don’t see the big deal. Small towns are boring, and everybody knows your business. And unless you have roots here, and are considered a “good ol’ boy” good luck finding a job. You have to be willing to drive a long ways ti make a good wage.
    The only reason i bought my house here us because the crime rate is lower. And it is a safer place to raise your kids.

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