As the temperature rises and Nashville's peak tourist season gets underway, many of us who live here in Music City are looking for a quick getaway to reconnect with nature, reduce stress, and have some alone time with the ones we love the most. Read on for five of my favorite destinations and journeys, all within 3 hours of Nashville. No matter how you like to travel, I hope you'll take time this month to enjoy our beautiful state - so get out there and find your "ahhhhh..." moment...
#1 - The Down-to Earth Outdoor Adventure Enthusiast
Destination: Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery
Features: Whitewater Rafting, Rock Climbing, Hiking, Camping, Craft Beer, Food Truck, Stargazing
Nestled within Tennessee's beautiful Obed Vally lies the Lily Pad Hopyard Brewery - an adventure seeker's launchpad that is sure to become your next favorite hideaway after a day of playing in the woods. This family owned and operated campground has become a favorite destination for enthusiasts of kayaking and rock climbing, both of which are easily accessible from the Lilly Pad. The Lilly Rapids of Clear Creek are less than a mile from the campground entrance, and with the Obed Wild & Scenic River National Park just minutes away, the Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery makes for the perfect home base for an action-packed weekend. This area also has plenty of hiking trails for land-lovers and those who want to stay on the ground - all with breathtaking views of the Obed Valley.
After a day of frolicking around by the river, return to Del's Place for a deliciously crafted brew at the Lilly Pad Hopyard. The beergarden is laid-back, family & dog-friendly, and truly sets the tone for an evening of relaxed comeraderie with good people. There are plenty of yard games available, and you won't have to wait long for a mandolin and/or guitar to show up - feel free to bring your own as well. Fuel up with a bite from Del's friends at the Sauced Frog, a food truck that turns out savory sandwiches and sides during the weekends and also on Thursday & Friday evenings.
Travel Note: Be sure to bring a flashlight so that you can find your way back to your campsite - this region of Tennessee is great for stargazing due to the fact that it is pitch black outside at night! Tent camping and small pull-behinds only, no large RV accommodations. Water and porta-potties available, camping is $5/night.
#2 - The Hopeless Romantic
Destination: Pickett CCC Memorial State Park
Features: Hiking, Camping, Cabins, Group Camping, Canoeing, Stargazing, Caves, Natural History
There is a magical little state park that I like to go to when I need to re-set my mind and prioritize the important things in life. That place is Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, located about 90 minutes north of Crossville, Tennessee. If you've ever seen Fern Gulley, then I'm sure that Pickett was the inspiration - the park boasts lush greenery and slowly-dripping moss covered rocks that surround little creeks and crannies throughout the park. There are many hiking trails that wind over a large natural bridge, under a giant cave (or two), and somehow maintain a cooler temperature than anywhere else I've been in the middle of summer. Pickett is truly a lovely place to reconnect with your sweetheart, your family & friends, and with nature.
The CCC cabins built in the 1930's are great fun to stay in, and there are more furnished options available as well as a group camp if you'd like to make an event out of it. RV hookups and tent camping are also available. You can canoe, swim, or fish at the lake in the center of the park, and if you'd like a bit of education, visit the park's archaeological museum, which features artifacts from the Upper Cumberland Plateau. Pickett State Park is a certified dark-sky viewing location (the first in the Southeast), so at the end of the day, grab your sweetie and a blanket and make your way outside for some of the best night skies that Tennessee has to offer.
#3 - The Casual Cruiser
Destination: Old Hillsboro Road...and beyond!
Features: Scenic Driving, Restaurants, Shopping, Antiques, Community Events, Cycling, Motorcycling
It's amazing how quickly you can escape the hustle of Nashville and be transported to the beautiful countryside that we are so fortunate to have here in Tennessee. Head south on Hillsboro Pike, then turn right on Old Hillsboro Road. Make sure to stop in at Barbara's Home Cookin' for some mouth-watering fried chicken and traditional southern fare to begin your journey. This alluring little stretch of highway gently winds through breathtaking hillside scenery, scattered with stunning equestrian retreats and historic Victorian-era farmhouses. Eventually, you will happily find yourself arriving in the historic town of Leiper's Fork, where you can enjoy local music at Pucketts, take in the beautiful craftsmanship of local artists or hunt for your next antique find. There are also a slew of community concerts and events throughout the year, so be sure to check the schedule here before you head into town.
If you'd like to extend the day trip, continue on through Leiper's Fork and hop on the Natchez Trace Parkway. This 444-mile long stretch of road spans three states and has long served as a main thoroughfare in the region. American Indians traversed the corridor for centuries, predating its use after European settlement. Needless to say, this is a road that is rich with history and yet provides a beautiful backdrop to take a leisurely cruise through the countryside at your own pace.
Leiper's Fork Website: https://visitfranklin.com/see-and-do/leipers-fork
Natchez Trace Parkway Website: https://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm
#4 - The Lake Life Lover
Destination: Dale Hollow Lake
Features: Lakeside Lounging, Water Sports, Fishing, Camping, Marinas, Restaurants & Bars
If you like your summers to be a little less "Percy Shores" and a little more clean and pristine, then Dale Hollow Lake is most certainly worth the drive. With some of the most clear blue water you can find near Nashville, Dale Hollow Lake is the perfect setting to just get away from it all and relax. State Parks, camping, hiking, water sports - you name it, it can be done at Dale Hollow Lake.
Visit the lake's website here to explore all of the fun it has to offer. Fun Fact: The best fireworks on the lake are actually on July 3rd!
#5 - The Social Butterfly
Destination: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Features: Urban Fun on the banks of the Tennessee River
If you're not quite ready to trade in your cell phone for a can of bug spray, but still want to reconnect with nature this summer, then look no further than Chattanooga, Tennessee. With a large town/small city vibe, you can pack your weekend with activities or just wing it - either way, there are plenty of places to enjoy a good meal, a cold drink, and a fantastic view with the ones you love.
Aside from the mainstays of the Tennessee Aquarium, The Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and Lookout Mountain, this town has a thriving college scene, so there's plenty of great grub and lots of breweries and bars to try out. Stay downtown and grab some authentic Creole cuisine at Blue Orleans, or venture out to Lookout Winery for an adult grape juice and wood-fired pizza. Hands down, Chattanooga is a great place to go with a group, with kids, or for a couple's weekend. Choo choo!
Chattanooga, TN Visitor's Bureau Website: https://www.chattanoogafun.com/
Thank you for reading the June installment of the MOTIV Monthly! Please subscribe below if you would like to receive an email reminder for each publication.
Join us for Made in Nashville, U.S.A. - I'll be celebrating locally made art, furniture, and more made right here in Nashville, Tennessee. Until, then have a wonderful month and stay tuned for more Design With Intention! Follow us on Instagram @motivinteriors to see photos of our Twins on 12th project coming up next week.