5 Great Places to Run in Nashville

Urban terrain, tree canopies and water views: We've got some seriously scenic running routes

Many cities are best explored on foot, and Nashville is no exception.

With miles of greenways, beautiful downtown vistas and dozens of picturesque parks, running through Music City is safe and fun. Plus, you’ll have plenty of interesting sights to distract your mind.

For locals, transplants and travelers, we've got options.

Centennial Park

Located off of Nashville’s West End Avenue, Centennial Park is one of Nashville’s most beloved public spaces. This is one of those parks that has it all—132 acres in the midst of the city, a full-scale replica of The Parthenon dating back 1897, exquisite gardens and plenty of running paths. The most popular is a one-mile paved path that winds around a man-made lake, providing gorgeous views of The Parthenon and manicured sunken gardens.

You can add to your mileage by running the perimeter of the park, where you’ll catch views of the bustling city from the safety of wide sidewalks.

Run past flowering spring trees at Centennial Park
Run past flowering spring trees at Centennial Park (©Bradley Griffin/Creative Commons, Flickr)

Cumberland River Greenway

Running the Cumberland River Greenway is the perfect way to catch glimpses of the Nashville skyline and enjoy the hustle and bustle of downtown Music City.

As you run along this 3.5-mile paved path, you’ll pass several Nashville hotspots, including the Shelby Street Pedestrian bridge (pause for a skyline photo!), Nissan Stadium, Bicentennial Mall, the Nashville Farmers' Market and more.

Bonus: If you’re running on a hot day, you’ll pass several public fountains and splash pads that are perfect for a cool-down.

Cumberland River Greenway pedestrian bridge
Lots of people yearn to burn on the Cumberland River Greenway pedestrian bridge (©Prayitno/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Shelby Bottoms Greenway

This is an ideal path for long-distance runners and beginners, alike. The Shelby Bottoms Greenway winds alongside the Cumberland River, through tall natural grasses and wooded areas, forming about 5 miles of paved trails and another 5 miles of primitive natural trails.

In warmer months, the greenway provides plenty of shade, with water fountains at the Shelby Park entrance. Mile markers are located every quarter mile, allowing runners to keep a close eye on their distance and turn back whenever they please.

Keep your eye out for plenty of wildlife, including deer, owls, waterfowl, raccoons, frogs and more.

A dragonfly languishes at Shelby Bottoms Greenway
A dragonfly languishes at Shelby Bottoms Greenway (Courtesy Nashville.gov)

Music Row

Take a closer look at the heart of Nashville’s entertainment industry by running a few miles along the street where historic records and popular hits have been made.

The sidewalk-lined streets on Music Row are surrounded by record labels, publishing houses, recording studios and more. Runners who enjoy a cityscape can huff and puff along 3 or 4 miles with moderate elevation changes.

Begin at Owen Bradley Park and run down Music Square East for one block before turning onto Roy Acuff Place. Take Roy Acuff two blocks to 18th Avenue South and pass Historic RCA Studio B. Circle back to Music Square East and continue on until the street becomes 16th Avenue South. After another half mile or so you’ll run into Edgehill Village, where you’ll pass boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops.

If you want to explore, circle around a few blocks before heading west on Edgehill Avenue to 21st Avenue. Then turn right and run alongside 21st until you reach Grand Avenue. Then turn right again and make a quick left back on Music Square East to return to your starting point.

Explore and take notes for your less sweaty return trip to the shops and restaurants of Edgehill Village
Explore and take notes for your less sweaty return trip to the shops and restaurants of Edgehill Village (Courtesy Edgehill Village)

Percy Warner Park

This park is located in the Belle Meade section of Nashville, and it’s an off-the-beaten-path destination for runners, bikers, hikers or anyone who loves to be outside.

Start at the Belle Meade entrance near the Warner Stone Steps. From there, you can access miles of paved trails or branch off onto one of the many wooded trails. Percy Warner Park is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of Middle Tennessee’s natural beauty.

Just keep in mind that the running paths include plenty of hills. In general, these trails are for intermediate or advanced runners.

Percy Warner Park in Belle Meade offers idyllic vistas
Percy Warner Park in Belle Meade offers idyllic vistas (©Michael Brown/Flickr, Creative Commons)