By the time August rolls around, many of us have had our fill of summer fun.
(And in a summer with little rain, many of us also have grown weary of hoses, sprinklers and water bills that would rival the debt load of a small nation.)
So, who wants to go outside and do something?
You should and here’s why: Yes, it’s still plenty hot, but the mornings and evenings are bearable. Plus, now the kids are back in school, which cuts down on all kinds of traffic and mayhem.
With all that in mind, and a sincere desire to highlight some great, free opportunities to get off the sofa and mix with as many or as few of our fellow citizens as you’d like, here are some free, fun outdoor activities for the end of summer:
Starts in June
Been dawdling on getting that membership to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts?
There’s plenty of value to be had, such as free admission to exhibits, and you also get in free to Frist Fridays, a monthly outdoor concert. Plus, if you renew early, they throw some extra free parking at you.
And the acts are cool. See: Rhett Miller, who is making all kinds of noise as an “alt-country lifer,” (Rolling Stone’s words).
Plus, while you’re there you can pick up some decidedly un-museum-like snackage (corn dogs, pretzels) to enjoy whilst in attendance.
We love the Greenway system so much we are giving it two spots on this list. Since the system wraps around a big chunk of the city, that only seems fair.
Plus, some of us live in East Nashville and others on the Westside, so this split vote also cuts down on office squabbling. (We all know what side is better. And it is not the west side.)
If you’ve spent any time at all at the Target on White Bridge, the Publix on Harding Place or any of the shops in between, you’ve likely encountered senior citizens who live nearby talking about “counting turtles.”
If you enter the Greenway at the Hill Center Trailhead, you’ll soon make your way into nicely shaded woods, and soon to a bridge over the aforementioned creek et voila! — turtles! Once they see you on the bridge they will make a beeline (well, as bee-like as a turtle can manage) toward you, as some people toss them treats.
Over the (Cumberland) River and through the woods, to hipster-dense East Nashville we go.
You’ll wind your way along the river until, about 2.5 miles out, you get to the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge, from which you can see the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center’s glass roof in the distance.
Cross the bridge and pick up the trail underneath Briley Parkway alongside Two Rivers Parkway. Or just stand on the bridge, catch your breath from the seriously steep climb to get up there and enjoy some fine public art.
Saturdays, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. (music starts at 1:30)
Free time on a Saturday?
Lawn chairs, outside food and coolers are fine (don’t bring booze).
Food trucks and a pub will be serving up to those who come empty-handed.
Parking is available at HCA lots across from the park’s north side.
Courtyard Concerts — Nashville Downtown Library
Tuesdays, 11:45 a.m.
If you’re downtown on a Tuesday this month, get on over to the library and take in a courtyard concert.
They’re free, and you can grab a tasty lunch at the Provence downstairs and take it up with you.
Don’t have a library card? Don’t need one to enjoy the concert, but shame on you. (Reading is fundamental, so take care of that shortcoming now.)
And support the Friends of Nashville Public Library while you’re at it.
Live On The Green
Aug. 11, 18 & 25
This is getting repetitive by now, all this amazing free concert madness, but there is a reason why this is called Music City.
More like Free Music City, but that sounds like a prison chant. We digress.
Music City Walk of Fame
Again with the downtown. There’s lots to do, so sue us.
Recent inductees Loretta Lynn and Jack White, so it’s hip as all get-out, plus it’s open and accessible 24 hours a day.
That means you can tear up some Lower Broadway karaoke and them come and tearfully, drunkenly apologize to Wynonna Judd and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
Downtown Self-Guided Walking Tour
Tired of having music stars at your feet? Keep on strolling, look up and learn a bit about Nashville.
A downtown walking tour is a nifty way to burn some calories on the cheap.
This particular route from the tourism focuses on some of the more well-known buildings, and then the Metro Nashville Historical Commission offers up this stroll through some lesser-known history that’s still above ground and ready for viewing.
Finally, we leave downtown! But not too far, as we’re headed to a nearby hilltop for a view of 2016 Nashville from an 1862 perspective.
Fort Negley was a Union fortification built after Nashville fell early in the Civil War.
It was built by slaves and free black workers who’d been conscripted into service, and is billed by the National Register of Historic Places as the “largest inland stone fortification constructed during the Civil War,” and one that has a “complex polygonal design” just for good measure.
There’s a visitor’s center with short videos and lots of other information, and various spots along the trail from the parking lot up to the ruins of the fort itself have informational markers so you can bone up on your history (and catch your breath).
Want to dig into the hillside? Join the Fort Negley Fossil Finders the second Saturday of each month and get your inner geologist on.
Just across 8th Avenue a bit from Fort Negley we have Reservoir Park, where nearby residents hope to establish a dog park.
Hence, Reservoir Dogs. Yes, we went there.
In 1912 the reservoir broke and some 25 million gallons of water roared down into Nashville. The walls are sturdier now, so enjoy the grassy hillsides without looking over your shoulder.