We managed to overlook the fact that July is Parks and Recreation Month until now, with less than a week left. Bummer. Good thing the parks in the Nashville area — and we have a particularly fantastic collection of them, with more than 160 parks covering almost 16,000 acres of land — are available to us all year.
Metro Parks’ method of celebrating Parks and Recreation Month was to focus on their “Plan to Play” initiative, which, in part, is meant to shine a spotlight on all the free and/or cheap activities and events our area parks offer on a day to day basis.
With the last few days of the month rolling in, we picked out a few of the most fun and affordable activities at Metro Parks that we could find. Testament to how great our parks system is: It wasn’t hard.
Close out Parks and Recreation Month with these Nashville options
Wednesday: Watch an outdoor movie
Shelby Park Picture Show in the Old Timers Baseball Field at Shelby Park
We have quite a few outdoor movie options in Nashville, but the relatively new Shelby Park Picture Show is definitely one of the best. Films screen as the sun goes down on the massive, high-res LED screen in the Old Timers Baseball Complex in East Nashville’s Shelby Park, and food trucks and a beer garden make the experience that much more enjoyable. Organizers turned to the community for opinions when it came to choosing the films, so the 2016 season is all crowd-pleasers, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off this Wednesday to The Goonies in August. Added bonus: The movie screenings are planned on Wednesdays, as the East Nashville Farmers Market — also held in Shelby Park — is wrapping up. So you can make a day of it, and snag some farm-fresh produce/artisan goods before settling in for movie night.
(Shelby Park, 1601 Davidson St., ShelbyParkPictureShow.com)
Saturday: Listen to (and if you want, play) some live music
Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party at Cornelia Fort Airpark in East Nashville
The Full Moon Pickin’ Parties at Warner Parks are somewhat famous, locally — for more than 15 years, acoustic pickers and bluegrass lovers have been heading out to the Warner Park Equestrian Center to listen and play, May through October, on the Fridays closest to the full moon. Those events are super fun, and if you’re a music lover, really inspiring. We just missed July’s, but while we’re on the subject of inspiration: Last year, some East Nashvillians took inspiration from the Full Moon Pickin’ Parties and created the Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Parties — similar approach, held once a month at the Cornelia Fort Airpark on the East Side. There’s local beer, local food vendors and local bands, and like the Full Moon parties, attendees are invited to bring along stringed instruments to join in, too. This Saturday at Cornelia Fort, Sam Lewis and The Glade City Rounders are the featured performers. Gates open at 6 p.m., and admission is $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and a drink ticket for an adult beverage is included.
(Cornelia Fort Airpark, 1093 Shadow Lane, FriendsofShelby.org)
Saturday: Dance, dance, dance girls (and guys)
Big Band Dance in Centennial Park
This year marks the 33rd anniversary of Big Band Dances — a summer Saturday tradition that lets you come down to Centennial Park’s event center, listen to world-class musicians performing big band music and, if you feel like it, move a limb or two. Not much of a dancer? Folks from Dance World offer help, with free group lessons on site, from 7 to 7:30 and 8:30 to 8:50 p.m. This Saturday (July 30), the focus is going to be on the Tango, with The Jerry Vinett Band providing accompaniment. The Dances run from 7 to 10 p.m., and admission is free.
(Centennial Park, 2500 West End Ave., Metro Parks free summer concerts)
Any day this week: Hit the sprayground
Cumberland Park on the Riverfront
Since we’ve been spending a lot of time complaining about the heat, it seems logical to throw in a worthwhile option for beating that heat. Cumberland Park opened down by the riverfront in 2013, as a part of the Riverfront Revitalization Plan in Nashville, and it’s already become a favorite Metro Park option for people all around town, especially during the summer. Chalk that summer lovin’ up largely to the spraygrounds, with cooling/entertaining water features. This is a particularly worthwhile option if you have young summer-break folks in your house to keep entertained (and cool).
(Cumberland Park, 592 South 1st Street, Nashville.gov)
New to Middle Tennessee and still in the process of exploring the green spaces the area has to offer? An easy way to get a broad look: The Metro Parks Park Finder, which lets you search Nashville for the park that suits you, based on location or activities there.
If park life is a big part of your life, and you’re looking to settle in a neighborhood that gives you excellent access, let us know — we’d love to help you explore!