Mary Hance Nashville Tennessean
Published 9:43 p.m. UTC Jul 3, 2018
If you are looking for free summer fun, my “Ms. Cheap Guide to Summer 2018″ is the ticket.
My guide features free Middle Tennessee concerts, festivals, movies, family programs, hikes and nature events, ideas for learning new things, plus a list of free places to get wet and cool off between now and Labor Day!
Everything listed in my guide is free, and I hope it helps you have a wonderful summer on the cheap.
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1. Big band dances
These family-friendly Saturday night dances take place in the event shelter at the back of Centennial Park from 7:30-10 p.m. with dance lessons at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The lineup: July 7, Guardians of Swing; July 14, Debbie Bailes and Her Band; July 21, The Paul Ross Orchestra; July 28, Radio Daze; August 4, The Merchants of Cool; August 11, The Lynn Beal Band; August 18, Rory Partin and his All Star Band; and August 25, Music City Swing.
You can bring your own picnic or snacks, and there are usually food trucks.
Details: nashville.gov/parks or 615-862-8440. For cancellation info, see twitter.com/bigbandances.
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2. Splash in Cumberland Park
The super interactive “spray pad” at Cumberland Park, 592 S. First St., is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 3. In addition to the water features, the riverfront park offers a splendid view of the Cumberland River and the downtown skyline and has has lots of other family fun, with an amphitheater, walking trails, climbing wall and a picnic area.
Details: http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks/Cumberland-Park.aspx or 615-862-8400.
3. Shakespeare in the Park
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s “Shakespeare in the Park” is celebrating its 30th year of theater under the stars at the Centennial Park band shell with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed Thursday-Sunday Aug. 9 through Sept. 9 in Centennial Park, and Sept. 13-16 in Academy Park in Franklin. Patrons can bring picnics, blankets and lawn chairs. The events include food trucks and a pre-show lecture at 6 p.m., family-oriented entertainment at 6:30 p.m., with the Shakespeare performance at 7:30 p.m. It’s all free, but the Shakespeare Festival suggests a $10 donation, and they offer “Royal Packages” with VIP treatment for $75.
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4. Sunday concerts at Crockett Park
This series of 7 p.m. Sunday concerts in the Eddy Arnold Amphitheater in Brentwood, winds up with the July 4 Celebration with The Kadillacs; August 5, Nashville Yacht Club.
Details: brentwood-tn.org or 615-371-0060.
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5. Music at the wineries
Several Middle Tennessee wineries offer outdoor summer concerts. Take a picnic, buy a bottle (or not) and enjoy good live music. Some also have free wine tastings.
Arrington Vineyards, 6211 Patton Rd., Arrington, has “Music in the Vines” concerts from 4-8 p.m. Saturdays and 2-6 p.m. Sundays. You can listen to jazz in the courtyard and bluegrass in the barn.
Details: www.arringtonvineyards.com or 615-395-0102.
Sumner Crest Winery, 5306 Old Highway 52, Portland, has concerts 6-9 p.m. about twice a month through October. It’s The Great Rock & Roll Revival on July 14, Flashback to the ’70s & ’80s on July 28 and the 19th annual Grape Stomp on Aug. 25.
Details: sumnercrestwinery.com 615-325-4086.
Beachaven Winery, 1100 Dunlop Lane, Clarksville, holds its 6:30-9 p.m. “Jazz on the Lawn” concerts on scattered Saturdays; July 7: The Consoulers; July 28: Richard Waters featuring Stacy Mitchart Band; Aug 4: Rhythm Kings; and Aug 18: Tina Brown. Beachaven also has “DJ on the Dock” happy hours from 5-8 p.m. on June 14, June 28 and July 12, with tunes, beach games, dancing and food trucks.
Details: beachavenwinery.com or 931-645-8867.
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6. Jazz on the Cumberland
The seventh annual Jazz on the Cumberland concert series on the riverfront (Nashville Cumberland Park, 592 S. First St., next to Nissan Stadium), features smooth and traditional jazz on scattered Sundays from 5:30-8 p.m. Dates are July 15 and Aug. 19. There are food trucks, and you can bring your lawn chairs or blanket.
Details: jazzonthecumberland.com, or 615-731-9001.
7. Hot Chicken Festival
The 12th annual Hot Chicken Festival is July 4 at East Park, 700 Woodland St. The rain-or-shine event starts with a parade of fire trucks at 10:30 a.m. You can try free hot chicken samples from numerous local hot chicken establishments. There is live music and kids activities.
8. Tomato Art Fest
The 15th annual Tomato Art Fest takes place 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 10-11. There is a free concert August 10, followed by the August 11 family-oriented festival, which features wacky costumes, plenty of tomato eating, tomato-themed games, contests, a parade, art, music and children’s activities in and around Art & Invention Gallery in Five Points in East Nashville.
Details: tomatoartfest.com or 615-226-2070.
The Cumberland River Compact’s Waterfest is July 8 at Cumberland Park next to Nissan Stadium. This is the fourth year for this free one-day family festival, which offers lots of wet and wild fun with water slides, music and games, as well as educational exhibits that stress the importance of water quality and the environment. The event, put on by the the Compact and Water for Life, is from 1-4 p.m. Sunday.
10. Country Music Hall of Fame
Youth from Davidson and bordering counties now get in free to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as part of the museum’s Community Counts initiative. Up to two accompanying adults receive 25 percent off. Proof of area residency is required for free admission. The Community Counts program also allows Davidson County residents of any age to visit for free by checking out a Community Counts Passport from any Nashville Public Library.
Details: countrymusichalloffame.org or 615-416-2001.
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11. Enjoy Nature Center Programs
Warner Park Nature Center, 7311 Highway 100, has its annual Insects of the Night program at 7 p.m. July 20, when you can dress as your favorite insect and learn through games and night hikes; and the Celebrate Hummingbird Day from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 25.
They also have “Wednesdays are Wonderful” programs for all ages 10-11:30 a.m. in July. Registration is required for Wednesday programs. Friday iSpy programs require no registration, and you can search for pollinators, dig in the dirt and investigate snakes and salamanders, with some help from the naturalists.
The park has “Ponder the Pond, Explore the Creek, and Investigate Insects in the Garden” on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and noon. There are Warner Park Walks every Saturday in July, where you can stroll park roads and trails with a naturalist and learn about the birds, butterflies and trees.
Plus, on any day, you can take the StoryWalk Book Trail, behind the Nature Center, take a hike, enjoy the pond and garden or rock on the Nature Center back porch.
For full schedule: wpnc.nashville.gov or 615-862-8555.
12. Art crawls
The festive First Saturday Art Crawl is a chance to explore the Fifth Avenue galleries, plus as many as 20 other downtown galleries. There is a free shuttle that will take you around. And most of the galleries have free snacks and wine, as well as great art on exhibit.
The Franklin Art Scene is 6-9 p.m. the first Friday of every month in and around downtown Franklin, with more than 30 galleries participating.
Arts & Music at Wedgewood-Houston offers great art and receptions in several locations in this emerging neighborhood the first Saturday of every month, starting at 6 p.m.
The East Side Art Stumble is the second Saturday of each month from 6-9 p.m. in East Nashville and Inglewood.
Details: Follow East Side Art Stumble on Facebook.
The Jefferson Street Art Crawl is the fourth Saturday of the month from 6-9 p.m. in the North Nashville/Jefferson Street areas.
13. String City
Popular “String City: Nashville’s Tradition of Music and Puppetry,” the original puppet show chronicling the history of country music, is back for a series of summer performances in the Ford Theater of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Dates are July 2-7 and July 9-14 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. This 75-minute production is for music lovers of all ages and uses marionettes, rod puppetry, shadow/animation puppetry and an ever-changing set to tell country music history as it relates to Nashville’s transformation into Music City. The program is co-presented by the Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Chair Productions and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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14. Star parties
The Barnard-Seyfert Astronomical Society has public star parties at various locations this summer. You can learn about the night sky from amateur and professional astronomers, who bring telescopes to share. Dates are: July 20 at Bells Bend Nature Park; and 8:30 p.m. August 17 at Bowie Nature Center.
15. See the Titans
Watch the Tennessee Titans practice at St. Thomas Sports Park, 45 Great Circle Road in Metro Center. There should be open practices in late July and early August, with times to be announced. You can just show up and watch, and often get photos and autographs after practice.
16. Free bowling
Register the kiddos online at kidsbowlfree.com and get two free bowling games each day that week, all summer long at local alleys including Donelson Plaza, Tusculum, Murfreesboro, Hendersonville and Hermitage. The Franklin Family Entertainment Center in Franklin has free deals for kids ages 18 and younger all summer through its “Incredabowl” program.
Details: kidsbowlfree.com and Franklinlanes.com.
17. Visit farmers’ markets
The Nashville Farmers’ Market, 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., not only has fresh produce and artisan products, but also themed monthly night markets, on the third Friday from 5-9 p.m. These are ”shop and sip and give” experiences, with local and regional farmers, artists, restaurants, food trucks, craft beer, Tennessee wine, live music and local nonprofits. Coming up are: July 20, Corn Shucking Contest & Corn Hole Tournament; and August 17, Watermelon Throwdown. There is also a Community Farm Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 30.
The Franklin Farmers Market is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the back of The Factory at Franklin, 230 Franklin Road. In addition to the produce, it features live music and family events, including a tomato festival on July 14 and a watermelon festival on August 18.
Details: Franklinfarmersmarket.com or 615-592-1337.
Hip Donelson Farmers Market is a music and market combo with plenty of produce and a different band every Friday this summer from 4-7 p.m. The market has moved this year to the grounds of Two Rivers Mansion.
Murfreesboro’s Saturday Market is open 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday starting June 3 on the Murfreesboro Public Square on the west side of the courthouse.
Details: Downtownmurfreesboro.com or 615-895-1887.
For a full list of markets in Tennessee, see Picktnproducts.org.
18. Go honky-tonking
Head for the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway. Many, including Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Robert’s Western World, never have a cover charge and have live music night and day.
19. Outdoor movies
Murfreesboro’s Movie’s Under the Stars outdoor movie series, which has been a Murfreesboro mainstay since 1947, has a fine lineup of movies that will be shown at 8:30 p.m. at various locations through July. The free outdoor shows are at: Barfield Crescent Park near pavilion 1-2 on Mondays, Cannonsburgh Village on Tuesdays, Richard Siegel Neighborhood Park on Thursdays, Cason Lane Trailhead on Fridays and Fountains at Gateway on Saturdays.
Details: Murfreesborotn.gov/parks or 615-893-2141.
Mt. Juliet Parks has outdoor movies on first Fridays at Charlie Daniels Park amphitheater. On July 6, “Lion King;” and on Aug. 3, it is “Deep.”
Details: MJParksandRec.org or 615-758-6522.
The City of Franklin offers outdoor family movies at 8 p.m. at Pinkerton Park, 405 Murfreesboro Road. On July 13, it’s “Descendants 2.”
Details: Franklin-gov.com/government/parks or 615-550-6947.
Jailhouse Industry’s outdoor Lawnchair Theater, 4144 Old Hillsboro Road, Leiper’s Fork, Tenn., features classics and family movies at dusk on Fridays through August.
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20. Tour the governor’s mansion
There are free historical tours of the Tennessee Executive Residence occupied by nine governors of Tennessee, including current Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam. Tours are offered most Tuesday and Thursday mornings by appointment. Requests for tours and field trips must be submitted at least two weeks in advance.
Details: https://www.tn.gov/firstlady/residence/tour-the-residence.html or 615-532-0494.
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21. Experiment with Mr. Bond
Mr. Bond the Science Guy has dozens of free appearances designed to make science fun this summer at libraries and other locations.
Details and dates can be found at Mrbondscienceguy.com.
22. Story times
Nashville Public Library has regular story times at the main library, 615 Church St., featuring Library Pete, The Professor and Mary Mary, singing, juggling and reading at 9:30 a.m.,10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
Details: Library.nashville.org or 615-862-5800.
The Brentwood Library has preschool story times, including songs, finger plays and crafts at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and a story time for all ages at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The library also has a story time “Explosion” program for ages 5-8 at noon Thursday, with snacks, stories, movement and crafts.
Parnassus Books, 3900 Hillsboro Road, has a 10:30 a.m. Saturday story time for children 6 and younger. They also have a 4 p.m. story time on some Thursdays, and children are always invited to come in and pet the store dogs, Lewis, Bear, Opie, Frankie and Mary Todd Lincoln.
Details: Parnassusbooks.net or 615-953-2243.
Barnes & Noble book stores in Cool Springs, Murfreesboro and Hendersonville have regular story times, with the focus being primarily 2- to 5-year-olds.
Details: See BN.com and click on “Stores and Events.”
Learning Express, 420 Cool Springs Blvd., Franklin, has a variety of summer programming, including a princess almost every week doing a story time and activity with photos. Most of these are at 11 a.m., but the days change so check https://learningexpress.com/stores/franklin for information.
23. Puppet shows
The Nashville Public Library’s award-winning professional Wishing Chair Productions puppeteer troupe has a busy summer lineup. They will perform ”Momotaro, the Peachboy,” based on a Japanese story, on July 20-21 and ”Gulliver’s Travels” on July 27-28.
In August, Wishing Chair will perform “Sky Bear,” based on a Native American folktale about how the Milky Way was formed. Dates are August 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. All of the shows are at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the main library, 615 Church St.
The Library’s Puppet Truck will take its “Many Moons” show to various branch locations in July.
Details: library.nashville.org or 615-862-5800.
Hands On Nashville offers an easy way for anyone to get involved. It pairs volunteers of all ages with projects in all segments of the community.
Details: Hon.org or 615-298-1108.
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25. Tour the State Capitol
Tennessee State Capitol tours, which last 45-50 minutes, start at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk-ins should go to the information desk on the first floor of the Capitol through the west entrance of the building.
For a guided tour, check capitol.tn.gov for schedule and details. Adults will need a photo ID to get through security, and everyone will have to pass through a metal detector. If you want to get a jump on the tour, check out www.tnmuseum.org/Exhibits/Tennessee_State_Capitol.
There also is a self-guide brochure available at the Capitol. The Capitol is a prime example of Greek Revival architecture, and it has one of the best views of Nashville from its hilltop perch.
There is free parking at the Bicentennial Mall, if you are willing to walk up the hill. There is also some metered parking on Deaderick Street. For more information, call 615-741-0830.
26. Kids shows
Franklin Parks has a popular Kids Day series that includes the July 25 Kids Water Day from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Details: http://www.franklin-gov.com/government/parks or 615-550-6947.
27. Get to a greenway
Walk, bike or skate on Middle Tennessee greenways. Nashville has more than 86 miles of greenways. Nashville.gov/greenways.
Murfreesboro’s greenways system along the Stones River, which goes by Cannonsburgh Village and the Stones River National Battlefield, includes 13 miles of paved trails with several trailheads. Murfreesborotn.gov/parks or 615-893-2141.
Sumner County has great greenways and walking trails, too.
Franklin Parks offer lots of trails and walkways.
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28. Bluebird Cafe early show
The famed Bluebird Cafe has several free admission opportunities. There is never a cover charge for the Sunday Spotlight, Sunday writers nights or Monday open mics. And most early shows (6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.) do not have a cover. However, there is a $3.28 reservation charge when you reserve a spot online, and there is a $10 food/drink purchase minimum per person for all shows except open mic.
If you go for one of the first-come, first-served walk-up seats, you don’t have to pay the website fee.
Details: Visit www.bluebirdcafe.com and click on the “Shows” tab for the calendar and pricing.
29. Flea market
The monthly flea market at The Fairgrounds Nashville is always fun to explore. Parking is $5, but admission is free. Summer dates are July 27-29 and August 24-26.
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30. Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park on James Robertson Parkway in downtown Nashville is a treasure if you are up for a self-guided walking outdoor history lesson. You can “tour” the state via a 200-foot granite map and see the visitors center for information about Tennessee State Parks. The history wall takes you through Tennessee history, and there is a World War II Memorial and beautiful carillon. The fountains, which represent the 31 rivers in our state, are up and running 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and you are welcome to run through and cool off. Rangers offer free walking tours and other programs that you can find out about on the park’s Facebook page and website.
Details: TNstateparks.com/parks/about/bicentennial-mall or 615-741-5280.
31. Stones River National Battlefield
This 680-acre Civil War battlefield in Murfreesboro has a visitor center where you can get a map and enjoy a self-guided tour. During the summer, there are three programs daily: ranger talks or walks at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and a 90-minute caravan tour at 2 p.m., where you follow a ranger in your car to a number of stops to get a comprehensive tour of this site.
There are bike tours (bring your own bike) at 9 a.m. most Saturdays through October. The Battlefield’s popular hour-long Hallowed Ground Lantern Tours are offered on select Saturdays through early September. You need a reservation, which they start taking at 9 a.m. Mondays preceding tours. The limit is 35 people, and the spots fill fast.
Details: https://www.nps.gov/stri/index.htm or 615-893-9501.
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32. Frist Art Museum
The Frist is always free for ages 18 and younger and on Thursday and Friday nights for college students. Visitors can enjoy free live music every Thursday and Friday evening in the café. The Frist is part of the Blue Star Museum program, which offers free admission to military personnel and their families Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Martin ArtQuest Gallery, an interactive art-making space for all ages, has reopened after extensive renovations and is free to the public daily. There are free architectural tours every Saturday at 4:30 p.m., when you can learn about this landmark building.
Details: FristArtMuseum.org or 615-244-3340.
33. Gaylord Opryland Summerfest
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center has its annual SummerFest through Sept. 3, with free events including a kid-centric “Hootenanny Hoedown” on Friday and Saturday nights, live musical performances scattered through the summer and daily Summer Fountain Shows (Aqua and HydroBeats) in the Delta Fountain area. You can park free near the movie theater at Opry Mills and walk over.
34. Murfreesboro outdoor concerts
Murfreesboro Main Street’s Friday Night Live Concert Series on the downtown square kicks off June 1 with Music City Swing. Other first “Friday Night Live” dates are July 6, Aug. 3 and Sept 7. All are 6:30-9:30 p.m. Bring your lawn chair.
Details: Downtownmurfreesboro.com or 615-895-1887.
Murfreesboro’s Cannonsburgh Village has a third Friday concert series from 7-9 p.m., at 312 S. Front St. It’s Chris Gantry on July 20 and South 231 on August 17.
35. Visit Hatch Show Print
In business since 1879, Hatch was the printer of choice for Grand Ole Opry stars for many decades. The shop moved from Broadway to the Country Music Hall of Fame in fall 2014. There are paid tours, but it is fun (and free) to walk through and look at the printing process on your own.
The shop offers a free monthly family program, which is typically the first Sunday, where you can get an overview and make your own print. Program passes to participate are distributed 30 minutes prior to each session on a first-come, first-served basis. Ages 5 and up and accompanying adults are welcome.
Details: Countrymusichalloffame.org or 615-256-2887.
36. Farm Fun Days
The Tennessee Agricultural Museum at Ellington Agricultural Center offers a hands-on look at the 19th and 20th centuries from a farming perspective through its “Farm Fun Days.” On July 14, you will find goats galore with goat milking and feeding, homemade goat milk soap, spinning at the log cabins, leather working, basket making and freshly ground cornmeal at the grist mill. On July 21, the Metro Mounted Police Patrol will do training demonstrations with horses at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Enjoy free wagon rides, the local beekeeper, wild birds of the forest, weaving, a team of Belgian horses and Farmer Fred with his banjo on his knee. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Details: tnagmuseum.org or 615-837-5197.
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37. Live on the Green
Lightning 100’s Live on the Green concert series takes place at Public Square Park in downtown Nashville Thursdays Aug. 9, 16 and 23, plus a three-day run over Labor day weekend. Performers TBA.
38. Play in the fountains
The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park fountains, which represent Tennessee’s 31 rivers, run from about 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily with a light show after dark. The fountains are a great place to splash around and cool off — and learn some history and geography along the way.
Details: TNstateparks.com/parks or 615-741-5280.
39. Jump in the lake
Most area lakes’ swimming beaches have a $5 access fee, but Lock 3 Beach on Old Hickory Lake off Walton Ferry Road in Hendersonville is free. There is a small swimming beach, a few grills and picnic tables and a bathroom.
For information on other lake access for Old Hickory, see http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/Lakes/Old-Hickory-Lake/.
Several nearby state parks have free swimming beaches, too. Montgomery Bell in Burns (615-797-9052), Rock Island (931-686-2471) and Long Hunter State Park (in the Bryant’s Grove area of the park) near Hermitage/Mt. Juliet (615-885-2422) all have swimming beaches open to the public.
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40. Free swim
Metro Parks’ community pools (Cleveland, Looby and Rose) have open swim times, but hours vary. The regional recreation centers, including Coleman, Hartman, Hadley and East, and Napier Center have indoor community pools that are open year-round.
Details: Nashville.gov/parks or 615-862-8400.
41. Bastille Day
Alliance Francaise de Nashville is having its second annual French Fest at Sevier Park in the 12 South area from 5-9 p.m. on July 14.There will be music, a French inspired market and games and dancing. https://wwwafnashville.org
42. Radnor Lake
Radnor Lake State Park, 1160 Otter Creek Road, offers ranger-led hikes, birds of prey programs, reptile programs and canoe floats during the summer. The programs are free, but some have a reservation fee.
You can also check out Radnor’s Barbara J. Mapp Aviary Education Center, which is free and open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and 1 p.m. to sunset Saturday.
Details: For more information or to register, visit Radnorlake.org or call 615-373-3467.
43. DIY downtown art tour
Take your downtown art tour with the Nashville Downtown Partnership’s “Make Your Own Art Walk,” which lets you create your own tour and map. Go to https://www.nashvilledowntown.com/destinations/make-your-own-art-walk-map and plan your tour, choosing galleries, outdoor sculptures, historic churches, architectural gems and whatever else strikes your fancy from a long list of options.
44. Visit Fort Negley
This historic site overlooking the Nashville skyline was the location of the largest inland stone fortification built during the Civil War. There’s a visitor center at 1100 Fort Negley Blvd., which offers interpretative exhibits, interactive touch screens, artifact displays and videos about the Civil War and the fort. The center is open Tuesday-Saturday, but you can take a self-guided tour almost any time during daylight hours. The park also has an outdoor hands-on fossil collection site where visitors are encouraged to dig and explore our region’s marine past, and if you find a fossil you like, you get to keep it. They also have “Fossil Find Days” at the site.
Details: http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Historic-Sites/Fort-Negley.aspx or 615-862-8470.
45. Tales at Twilight
Metro Parks will present “Tales at Twilight” performances for families at Cumberland Park at 7 p.m. on four Fridays in July. Bring lawn chairs and a picnic, and enjoy an interactive evening of magic, stories, dance and music, as well as a spectacular view of downtown and the Cumberland River. The lineup: July 6: Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville; July 13: Farmer Jason; July 20: Nashville Public Library Puppet Truck (“The Frog Prince”); July 27: Mr. Chris Hip Hop Dance.
Details: Nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/ Cultural-Arts/Music/Free-Summer-Concerts.aspx.
Kidsville started as a Kids Corner tent at Musicians Corner and has expanded into a standalone program of The Conservancy, which now presents “Kidsville at the Parthenon” story time from 11-11:45 a.m. Saturdays, with Parthenon-related stories and crafts for preschool and elementary school-age children at the foot of Athena.
Kidsville is also the kid-friendly part of the Musicians Corner lawn party concert series, offering musical meet-and-greets, crafts and art projects, plus fitness fun for children. Musicians Corner takes place at Centennial Park on Friday nights and Saturdays through June and on Thursdays in September.
47. Music with a Mission
Thanks to Musicians Corner and Nashville City Center, there is a new free mid-day outdoor concert series on Thursdays in downtown, with proceeds going to different area non profits each week. The “Music with a Mission” series kicks off July 12 (with proceeds going to Room in the Inn) and runs through mid November. Artists will perform on the indoor/outdoor stage(called JamNasium) on the Nashville City Center Plaza, 511 Union St. Nashville City Center’s owner Alliance Partners HSP is the sponsor.
48. Check out splash pads
Little ones love the small fenced water playgrounds at Watkins and Kirkpatrick parks. Watkins is on 17th Avenue North across from M.L. King Magnet School. Kirkpatrick Sprayground is at 620 S. Ninth St. in East Nashville. Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Details: Nashville.gov/parks or 615-862-8480.
Mt. Juliet’s Charlie Daniels Park is home to Ava’s Splash Pad sprayground, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday through early August and weekends through Labor Day.
There is a “Splash Day” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 28, when Charlie Daniels Park will be transformed into a water park with inflatable water slides and all sorts of wet and wild fun, plus a free lunch.
Other splash pads are at Gregory Mill Park in Smyrna and at L.L. Burns Park in Kingston Springs.
You can also enjoy water fun at the Don Fox Community Park, 955 Baddour Parkway, Lebanon, where there’s a wading pool designed for children, featuring water umbrellas and other fun spraying features. There’s a 2.5-mile paved trail, three playgrounds, a track and plenty of picnic tables.
49. Visit Cannonsburgh Village
Cannonsburgh Village is a living history museum of early Southern life, 312 S. Front St., Murfreesboro. It’s open Tuesday-Sunday. You can see an authentic gristmill, a one-room schoolhouse, a town hall, a log home, a general store and other reminders of pioneer times. There is also a creek and trail.
Details: Murfreesborotn.gov or 615-890-0355.
50. Williamson Community Band
The 60-member Williamson County Community Band, sponsored by the Williamson County Parks & Recreation Department, will have a free concert at 3 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Brentwood Library.
Details: wcparksandrec.com or 615-790-5719.
51. Music for seniors
Sponsored by Metro Arts and Tennessee Arts commissions, this series offers free monthly concerts for seniors and caregivers. Dates include; 10 a.m. July 24, Sylvia Hutton at Cheekwood Botanical Hall; and 10:30 a.m. August 17, The Western Swingers at Delmas Long Community Center in Goodlettsville.
Details and RSVP: Musicforseniors.org or 615-330-1937.
52. Butterfly Festival
Burgess Falls State Park’s 14th annual Butterfly Garden Celebration is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 21, with hikes to the three waterfalls, a butterfly identification walk, a birds of prey program, a reptile program, children’s activities and landscaping sessions, where you can learn about native plants.
Details: http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/burgess-falls or 931-432-5312.
53. Watch an old time ball game
The Tennessee Association of Vintage Baseball games take place all summer at various locations. These fun-to-watch games use the rules, equipment, costumes and culture of the 1860s.
54. Splash Out
Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation’s “Splash Out” events for children 12 and under (with parent or grandparent) are cool, with the Murfreesboro Fire Department spraying hoses 1:30-3 p.m. Dates are: July 12 at Barfield Crescent Park pavilions 5, 6, and 7; and July 26 at Old Fort Park, pavilion 1.
55. Enjoy local art galleries
There are plenty of local galleries, and many have receptions for exhibit openings. They include: Vanderbilt’s Fine Arts Gallery in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Ave. S., where the exhibit through July 14 is “America Creative: Portraits by Everett Raymond Kinstler.”
Details: vanderbilt.edu/gallery or 615-322-0605.
Other galleries include Centennial Art Center Gallery in Centennial Park, at 25th Avenue North and Park Plaza (nashville.gov/cac), Art & Invention Gallery (artandinvention.com), Local Color (localcolornashville.com), The LeQuire Gallery (lequiregallery.com), The Arts Company (theartscompany.com) and York & Friends (yorkandfriends.com).
56. Fiddlers Jamboree
The annual Bluegrass Along the Harpeth Fiddlers Jamboree is July 27-28 on the square in downtown Franklin.
57. Murfreesboro nature programs
Murfreesboro Parks and Rec has a calendar full of nature programs for families. Nature Play Days for preschoolers are Thursday mornings, and Animal Encounters are Saturday afternoons through July. These all take place at Wilderness Station. There is also a Trail Worms children’s program, with a short hike, songs and a craft Friday mornings on the greenway.
58. Explore Owl’s Hill
Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary, 545 Beech Creek Road, Brentwood, a private nature preserve which usually has a $10 admission, offers free guided hike days about once a month, with offerings for all ages.
Details: Owlshill.org or 615-370-4672.
59. Bowie Park
Bowie Nature Park, 7211 Bowie Lake Rd., Fairview, has a night hike on July 13. For other programs, see Bowiepark.org or 615-799-5544.
60. Gallatin Third Thursdays
Gallatin’s Third Thursdays on Main is a series of outdoor concerts, with Michael Ryan Vance on July 19, and South Street Players on August 16. Concerts begin at 6:30 p.m.
61. Goodlettsville Music on Main
Goodlettsville has a Music on Main summer concert series with live music, food trucks, and a kids zone from 6:30-8 p.m. at Goodlettsville City Hall, 105 S Main St. The lineup: July 5, South Street Players; and July 19, TBD.
62. Portland Music on Main
Portland’s Music on Main series includes: Soul Soup on July 12; and Legacy, 7 p.m. Aug. 11. All take place on Main Street in Portland.
63. Perry County Music on Main
Perry County’s Music on Main Street Saturday night concert series is back for its ninth year, alternating from week to week between Linden and Lobelville, Tenn., through Aug. 4. The concerts are at 7:30 p.m. and include an array of musical styles and performers.
64. Attend a Metro Council meeting
Learn how your city government works. Meetings take place 6:30 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays on the second floor of the Metro Courthouse. Get the agenda at Nashville.gov or 615-862-6780.
65. Summer reading
Nashville Public Library’s “Reading Rockstar” summer reading challenge for all ages offers a ton of prizes and perks for reading books and doing other “cheap” stuff, such as visiting a park or museum, getting a free library card or making a craft. Read 600 minutes and complete activities to win prizes like coffee mugs, earbuds and rubber duckies.
The program features fun events, including: Scott Tripp, the “Balloon Guy;” Mr. Bond’s Science Guys; the Nashville Zoo; the Country Music Hall of Fame’s instrument petting zoo; family performer Rachel Rodriguez; and the Global Education Center with dancing and drumming events.
The Brentwood Library “Libraries Rock!” summer reading program for children offers prizes, badges, story times and special programming through the summer.
There are Lego Mania programs at 2 p.m. Fridays for ages 5 and up, as well as dozens of programs featuring music and magicians, including Rodney Kelley at 1 p.m. July 24).
There are also animal programs, science edutainers, pop-up theater and puppets, creative writing workshops and a young gardener program. And there are teen programs, including Teen Tuesday craft times, 3-D printing classes on July 21, and a Teen Anime Club, DC/Marvel Club and Pizza and Pages book club. The Brentwood Library is at 8109 Concord Road.
Details: brentwoodtn.gov/departments/library or 615-371-0090, ext. 8380.
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program lets kids earn a free book. They read any eight books and record them in a special journal that asks which part of the book is their favorite and why. Then they take the completed journal to any Barnes & Noble store by Sept. 3 to choose a free book from the list featured on the back of the journal.
Summer reading isn’t just for kids. Bookstores have book clubs for grownups, too. The Nashville Public Library has a multifaceted program for all ages, with book clubs including Great Books, Killer Thrillers, Novel Conversations and Page Turners Book Club, plus gaming, vinyl listening and adult coloring events.
Details: Library.nashville.org or 615-862-5800.
66. Library archives
Explore the Metro Library Archives, which has nearly 5 million historic items from Davidson County. It is located on the third floor of the main library, 615 Church St.
67. Kids can make a craft
Enjoy a hands-on kids clinic one Saturday a month at The Home Depot, where the children get a kit and apron and help with their craft.
68. Dog and horse shows
Enjoy one of the free horse, cattle or dog shows at area agriculture centers. The Williamson County Ag Expo Park, 4215 Long Lane, Franklin, has a K-9 Sports Agility Show July 6-8, a dog training club show July 12-15, and a U.S. Dog Agility Association Show August 23-25.
Details: Follow Williamson County Ag Expo Park on Facebook or 615-595-1227.
The Tennessee Livestock Center in Murfreesboro has several shows, including the the Clarksville Kennel Club agility trials Aug. 3-5 and the German Short Hair Pointer Club agility trials, Aug. 23-25. There are also free horse shows, including a Pinto show August 11-12 and a Paso Sino show Aug. 17-19.
Details: MTSU.edu/TLC or 615-898-5575.
69. Take an easy walk
If you want a flat, paved walking trail that can easily accommodate strollers and wheelchairs, the one-mile Centennial Park trail that encircles the Parthenon and takes you around Lake Watauga is perfect for exercise and people watching. There is a flat paved trail around Couchville Lake in Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage.
70. Dog parks
Metro Parks now has six dog parks, where you can take your dogs for some leashless fun. The parks are at Warner, Centennial, Shelby, Two Rivers, the William A. Pitts Dog Park in Tusculum and the downtown park next to Ascend Amphitheater.
71. Skate time
Roll out to the skate park at Two Rivers Park, where you can skate on a street course or have fun in the skaters’ bowls. Skateboards, inline skates and BMX bikes are welcome.
Details: Nashville.gov/parks or 615-862-8400.
72. Mountain biking
There are five miles of introductory mountain bike trails at Bells Bend Park, nine miles of intermediate and advanced trails at Percy Warner and various trails at Hamilton Creek and Cane Ridge in Nashville. You also can enjoy a serious bike ride at the Lock 4 Bike Trail off Lock 4 Road off Highway 31 in Gallatin, where you can try the challenging nine-mile USA Cycling-sanctioned base course. There is also a three-mile course that works for beginners, including kids.
Other good mountain biking spots are Long Hunter State Park’s Jones Mill Mountain Bike Trail, a 3.5-mile loop for hiking or mountain biking (615-885-2422), and more than 20 miles of mountain bike trails at Montgomery Bell State Park (615-797-9052).
Details: Middle Tennessee mountain bike trails (Biker’s Choice: 615-822-2512)
73. Play tennis
There are more than 100 free Metro courts in Nashville, and many of them are lighted. The Centennial Sportsplex courts are the only Metro outdoor courts that charge a fee. If you want to see great tennis, it’s free to watch tournaments at Centennial Sportsplex.
Details: Nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Athletics/Tennis.aspx or 615-862-8490.
74. Brown Bag concerts
The Brown Bag Lunch jazz concert series is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Centennial Park’s Pavilion Event Shelter. Dates include July 11 and 25 and August 9 and 22.
75. Movies at the library
Nashville Public Library has more than 170,000 DVDs you can check out, plus music, movies, magazines and e-books you can stream or download. The library will show movies at branches all summer, from documentaries to a “Coffee and Classic Movies” series on Thursdays at the Hermitage branch, to popular children’s movies including “Moana” and “The Lion King.”
76. Join a meetup
Whether you want to hike or paddle, there are meetups with programs and get-togethers: meetup.com/nashville-hiking.
You also can find group walks and biking options at
77. Frisbee, anyone?
Try out Frisbee golf at Metro Parks’ Frisbee golf courses at Cedar Hill Park, Two Rivers Park or Seven Oaks Park (Nashville.gov/parks or 615-862-8400). There are also good Frisbee golf courses at Sanders Ferry Park in Hendersonville (Hendersonvilleparks.org), Barfield Crescent Park in Murfreesboro (Murfreesborotn.gov) and Henry Horton State Park. (https://tnstateparks.com/parks/activities/henry-horton).
78. Get fit
Metro’s Regional Community Centers at Hadley, Coleman, Hartman, McCabe, Sevier, Southeast and East parks have free indoor walking tracks and gymnasiums, as well as affordable fitness classes and workout centers. Hadley, Coleman, Hartman and East also have free indoor swimming pools.
Details: Nashville.gov/parks or 615-862-8400.
79. Read Ms. Cheap
Ms. Cheap’s columns can be found at Tennessean.com/mscheap.
Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or [email protected] Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”
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