Dating back to the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, Centennial Park has been one of Nashville’s great public treasures for well over a century. Occupying 132 acres in the heart of Nashville’s west side and featuring a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, the park plays host to a ton of recreational and cultural opportunities throughout the year, from regular events like Musician’s Corner and Shakespeare in the Park to annual celebrations like Earth Day Festival. Casual and seasoned runners alike will love the scenic, paved one-mile loop that runs through the park, providing a recreational haven amid a bustling residential and commercial neighborhood.
What Makes it Great
The list of reasons that makes Centennial Park a fantastic recreational destination is virtually endless. It’s central location on the western edge of Nashville’s midtown neighborhood puts it within short walking (or running) distance of many local attractions, including Vanderbilt University, nearly limitless restaurants, and abundant nightlife opportunities. Centennial Park is also a highly multi-functional public space, allowing runners to combine their workouts with other fitness components. You’ll often see running groups stopping to use one of the park’s many lush fields to stretch, rest, or do a host of calisthenic-based exercises to achieve a full-body workout.
Centennial Park also makes for arguably the most scenic run in Nashville. The one-mile loop takes joggers around both the Parthenon and Lake Watauga, where it’s easy to spot ducks bathing and families fishing in the calm waters. Large, old-growth trees are well-placed throughout the park to offer runners plenty of cool shade even on the hottest summer days, and the sunken gardens on the north end of the park are a great place for joggers to stop and cool off for a minute. Adding to the park’s overall aesthetic beauty are the numerous historical markers along the paved loop, providing runners with information on the history of the park and its larger significance in the story of Nashville as a whole. The running path is also well-marked with both mile markers every quarter mile and directional arrows to give joggers a clear understanding of where they’re going and how far they’ve gone.
Who is Going to Love It
The one-mile loop that winds through Centennial Park is ideal for casual joggers looking to get in a few miles. The path is incredibly flat, making it readily accessible for runners of all ability levels. Because of it’s central location in the heart of a vibrant commercial and residential district, local residents and office workers are sure to love the park’s running opportunities, allowing them to sneak in a workout on their lunch break or to get in a quick jog close to home. Even runners seeking long-distance workouts can take advantage of the one-mile loop by incorporating a few laps into a longer road running route through one of the surrounding neighborhoods, adding some scenic relief into what could otherwise be a fairly mundane jog.
Directions, Parking & Fees
Centennial Park is centrally located in the heart of the Vanderbilt/West End neighborhood, making it easily accessible from both West End Avenue and Charlotte Pike. With 11 parking lots located throughout the park, there is plenty of free parking to be had within a short walk of the running path. You’ll also find an abundance of on-street parking, both inside the park and along its edges on Park Plaza and 25th Avenue North. Despite having tons of free places to park, many of the spots are often taken during the weekends, especially on event days, so you’ll want to get there early to snag a spot. Centennial Park is also a great place to bring your dog on a run with you, especially with the adjacent dog park off 31st Avenue where you can let your pup run free and make some friends.