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
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!
See The Only Known Double-Span Natural Bridge In The World
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!
Dive Into This Artsy River Town
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!
The Hit Recording Capital of the World
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.
Visit A House Built By Frank Lloyd Wright
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!
Go Camping Along The Clear Waters of The Piney River
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.
What town is calling your name on our Big Back Yard map?
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