Hit the Water Any Way You Like
With the Cumberland River weaving through Nashville and lakes close by, Music City loves the water. Here are some great ways to enjoy it.
Paddleboarding and Kayaking
You’ll find paddleboards afloat on the Cumberland River near downtown as well as on the Harpeth River, Percy Priest Lake and Stone’s River.
Climb aboard for a one-, two- or four-hour kayak self-guided excursion with views of both nature and the Nashville skyline. Be warned: ya gotta paddle ’cause this ain’t no Disney ride. It is, however, Nashville from a perspective even most locals have never observed. Children under 7 are not allowed; those 7-10 years old must travel in a tandem kayak with a supervising adult. You can also climb aboard the Nashville Pedal Pontoon Party Boat. Host your own private party or climb aboard with likeminded strangers. Photo above: River Queen Voyages/Audrey Spillman
Three self-guided tours are offered. The most popular, the Skyline Tour begins with a meet-up at Cumberland Park adjacent to the Pedestrian Bridge. You catch their shuttle to Shelby Park for put-in and paddle your way back to the park. Simple and serene. They also have a limited number of launches weekly on the Stones River.
If you’ve never paddleboarding, it’s recommended that you enroll in their class before heading out on your own. Options include 60- and 90-minute rentals of boards and kayaks, tandem kayaks, paddleboard yoga classes and you can bring your pup along for the ride for an additional $5 fee. Discount for online registration. Located on Percy Priest Lake, east of downtown.
Whether you want a tube, canoe or kayak, these folks can get you ready for the Harpeth. They also offer a shuttle service for those bringing their own armada.
These happy people offer kayaks, paddleboards, tubes and a multi-person thing called a lilypad. They’ll launch you on the Harpeth and even offer an overnight camping experience. Kudos for offering assistance to people with mobility issues.
You can paddle on Stones River and the Duck River but most local folks choose the Harpeth. It’s a bit closer to Nashville than the others, offering a pretty tame current–although a few places are a little tricky. Here’s a map to all access points of local rivers.
The grandaddy of outfitters, I took my first float on the Harpeth with them more than 30 years ago. Make your reservation online to save 20%. They also offer kayaks for rent.
Across the street from Tip-A-Canoe, same song, second verse.
Family-owned and operated outfitters on the Harpeth. Choose from 2- or 5-mile trips for $55, plus tax.
Imagine a jet-powered board that lets you soar above the surface of Percy Priest Lake, maybe even turn a flip if you’ve got what it takes. That’s what this company offers the intrepid. Not surprisingly, they offer instruction before they let you blast off.
Want to rent a jetski, wave runner or pontoon boat? These folks stand ready to launch you. on Old Hickory Lake or Percy Priest Lake.
Safe Harbor Marina
Actually it’s two marinas that share the name: Elm Hill Marina on Percy Priest Lake and Blue Turtle Bay on Old Hickory Lake. Both rent a variety of pontoon boats in half-day and full-day blocks. Tip: Sam’s Sports Bar has surprisingly good food. At either location, please be smart enough to be sober on the water.
Mention the outdoors to any longtime Nashvillian and you’ll soon hear about our lakes. The closest are Old Hickory and Percy Priest. Here are four companies that rent a variety of craft including pontoons and fishing boats. All are located on Percy Priest Lake, east of Nashville proper.
Close by, Percy Priest Lake and Old Hickory Lake are your best options. I’ve a friend who regularly floats on the Harpeth River with his fishing pole with surprising success. You’ll need a license unless you’re under 13 years old. Here’s all you need to know about Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses.
Go lo-tech at one of our government-maintained public beaches for a small fee, spend an afternoon at Nashville’s Wave Country with its wave pool and slides, drop larger bucks for the Nashville Shores waterpark or even larger bucks at SoundWaves, Opryland Hotel’s private waterpark which has several nifty features. FYI, I don’t recommend swimming in the Cumberland River.