To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Tennessee statehood, Nashville constructed the impressive Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park (tel. 615/741-5280), north of the state capitol. The mall, which begins just north of James Robertson Parkway and extends (again, north) to Jefferson Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, is a beautifully landscaped open space that conjures up the countryside with its limestone rockeries and plantings of native plants. As such, it is a very pleasant place for a leisurely stroll. The western edge of the park offers fantastic views of the capitol.
However, this mall is far more than just a park. It is also a 19-acre open-air exhibition of Tennessee history and geography and a frame for the capitol, which sits atop the hill at the south end of the mall. Also at the south end of the mall is a 200-foot-long granite map of the state, and behind this are a gift shop/visitor center, a Tennessee rivers fountain, and an amphitheater used for summer concerts. Along Sixth Avenue, you'll find a walkway of Tennessee counties, with information on each county (beneath the plaques, believe it or not, are time capsules). Along Seventh Avenue is the Pathway of History, a wall outlining the state's 200-year history. Within the mall, there are also several memorials.
Known together as "The Warner Parks" (tel. 615/370-8051; www.nashville.gov), Edwin Warner Park and Percy Warner Park offer beautiful scenery, miles of hiking and equestrian trails, picnic areas, and outdoor recreation sites. Percy Warner Park (2500 Old Hickory Blvd.) is the crown jewel of Nashville green spaces. Named for Percy Warner, a local businessman and avid outdoorsman, the wooded hills and rolling meadows extend for more than 2,000 acres. Though popular with bicyclists, be aware that they must share the winding, paved roads with vehicular traffic. Perfect for picnics and other outdoor pursuits, the park offers clean shelters, restrooms, and even a 27-hole golf course. Edwin Warner Park, 50 Vaughn Rd. (on Old Hickory Blvd., near Hwy. 100), also has lovely picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and a dog park.
After visiting this park, it seems appropriate to take a stroll around Centennial Park, located on West End Avenue at 25th Avenue. This park, built for the 1896 centennial celebration, is best known as the site of the Parthenon, but also has many acres of lawns, colorful playground equipment, 100-year-old shade trees, and a small lake.
Picnic It -- To reserve a picnic shelter in any of Nashville's city parks, call tel. 615/862-8408.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.