Exploring the picture-perfect historic downtown, noshing on great southern cookin’ and learning about links to music royalty are just some of the fun things to do in Clarksville, Tennessee.
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Best known as an army base town thanks to its location near Fort Campbell, Clarksville is a one hour drive northwest of Nashville along the Kentucky border and includes a few sites listed on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail and the Tennessee Music Pathways route. Better yet, it has some rather unexpected gems you won’t find anywhere else.
From finding secret speakeasies to sleeping in a real life dollhouse, here are five quirky things to do in Clarksville TN.
See ancient art in Dunbar Cave State Park
One of the top Clarksville attractions is Dunbar Cave State Park, which has cave art dating back to the 14th century.
Tours are offered seasonally, where guests can venture into the cave and look for the suns, concentric circles and warrior figures that were carved into it by the Mississippian Native Americans.
The park itself spans 144 acres, and was once used as a resort area complete with live music nights in the natural amphitheater. Today, it’s used for birding, the cave tours and there are also more than three miles of hiking trails.
Drink a moonshine slurpee
OK, technically we can’t call it moonshine, but the Smooth Shine concoctions at Old Glory Distilling Co. are sure to make you a fan of this strong spirit.
This all-American distillery has ground their own grains, distilled, barrelled and bottled every drop of spirits in-house since opening their doors in Clarksville back in 2016, a process that guests can learn about first hand during one of the guided tours.
While Tennessee whiskey is the main focus, their vodka, rum and botanically-infused gins are also noteworthy. The huge tasting room also has a wraparound bar for sampling tasting flights or full on cocktails, and their fruity Smooth Shine concoctions are like a boozy slurpee and especially popular during the hot summer months.
Globe Guide tip: If you need to work up to the strong stuff, start off at Beachaven Vineyards & Winery which makes more than two dozen types of wine and hosts one of Clarksville’s longest running outdoor music events, Jazz on the Lawn.
See where Jimi Hendrix once played
Downtown Clarksville is like hipster heaven, thanks to a collection of cool boutiques, record stores, cafes and street art around virtually every corner.
While it looks historic, many blocks of it had to be painstakingly restored after a devastating tornado ripped through in 1999 and destroyed buildings like the court house and a number of churches.
Today, it’s impossible to tell any damage was done, and the postcard-worthy downtown core features the Roxy Theatre which has been around since the early 1900s, great shopping on Franklin Street, and historical markers explaining the significance of many spots.
One of those is a marker for the Tennessee Music Pathways as famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix once called Clarksville home, as well as one for Grammy-winning banjoist Charlie Cushman who was born here.
Eat in a post office
While you’re downtown, drop by The Mailroom for dinner. Serving up comfort food and elevated cocktails (which use sugar cane as sweeteners which they hand press in the back), the real star of the show is its location.
The grand building was once a United States Post Office and Federal Building, and it also features a massive outdoor patio complete with fire pits which makes it the ultimate hangout spot.
Stay in a quirky house
For an unforgettable stay, book into the Old Clarksville House which has three bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, dining room, full kitchen…and its very own speakeasy. We’re not going to give away its exact location in the space, but let’s just say the effort of finding it is half the fun!
Another unique option is its neighbour The Pink House, which is like a real life dollhouse. Popular with Instagrammers and wedding parties, the home’s decor was inspired by an iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe. Almost everything is–you guessed it–pink, from the coffee maker to the fridge to the glassware, even its exterior.
There are two bedrooms, one bathroom, a full kitchen, dining room, living room, sunroom and a gorgeous backyard complete with twinkle lights.
Globe Guide explored Clarksville as a guest of Visit Clarksville and the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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