Home to more than 100 stand-alone parks, and a quick drive away from the Great Smoky Mountains, Nashville offers many opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors.
Across the street from Vanderbilt’s campus, Centennial Park comprises 132 acres of green space and paved trails, as well as a bandshell, dog park and other attractions. Centennial Park also has a rich history as the host site for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and for Nashville’s Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the classical Greek temple. The structure was built in 1897 to celebrate the city’s reputation as the “Athens of the South”—a nickname earned through Nashville’s progressive dedication to higher education and the exchange of intellectual ideas.
Closer to downtown, the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park is modeled after the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The park features several tributes to Tennessee history, including a 200-foot granite map of the state, the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains, and a carillon of 95 bells representing each of the 95 counties of Tennessee.
Other popular parks within 10 miles of Vanderbilt’s campus include Shelby Park, the Percy and Edwin Warner Parks, Radnor Lake and Riverfront Park. The city also has developed an extensive network of greenways for cyclists and joggers. The greenways connect key parks together and make up many of Davidson County’s nearly 200 miles of trails.
In addition to the nearby greenways, scenic hiking routes and historic riverfront, the Vanderbilt campus is itself a top outdoor attraction. An accredited arboretum, the university campus has more than 6,000 trees and shrubs, including nearly 200 different species.