Summer in Nashville, TN can be hot and humid, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors all day. You can have a little beach trip right in town – that’s right, Nashville actually has beaches. Not the kind with the ocean, of course, but beaches nonetheless.
If you’re craving a beach getaway and you live in the Nashville area (or are visiting!), check out these top places to go for some sand and sun.
This post will look solely at the closest beaches in the Nashville area, not on beaches that you need to drive a long distance to get to, so you can enjoy these easily on a day off!
It’s important to note before we get started that there are regular reports of drowning incidents at these lakes. Don’t enter the water outside of dedicated swimming areas, and if you are unable to swim don’t enter the water at all. If you’re out boating, always wear a life vest. Children should be closely supervised at all times.
Old Hickory Lake
Old Hickory Lake is located in Northwestern Nashville and has multiple recreation areas with sandy beaches, places to get in the lake, picnic areas, trails, and more.
Located on the shores of Old Hickory Lake, Old Hickory Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Nashville. It has a wide sandy beach area and a dedicated swimming area too, with a large grassy area behind the beach. The beach also has covered picnic tables, grills, and a playground.
In addition to relaxing at the beach or getting in the water, there is a boat ramp here for a day out on the lake, a 1.1 mile nature trail, and electric and water hookups for RV camping. Anglers will enjoy the lake too, which is well stocked with catfish, crappie, and bass.
Shutes Branch, also located on Old Hickory Lake, has places to get in the water for a swim, as well as the opportunity for boating, fishing, and biking. There are places along the shore here to set up a tent and beach chairs. Much of it somewhat gravelly and rocky, but there is smooth dirt right too that is great for setting up camp for the day.
Facilities include picnic tables, a dock perfect for fishing, beautiful grassy areas with plenty of big shade trees, and mountain biking trails.
Hamilton Creek’s shoreline is more of a rocky shoreline than a sandy one, so it might not be as much of the beach that you are looking for, but the lake is pretty and it still offers swimming, boating, paddle boarding, and other water activities.
There’s also an awesome playground for the kids, plenty of grassy areas to relax, and lots of wildlife viewing opportunities. Birds that frequent the area include gulls, loons, and waterfowl.
Lots of people come to this area for the mountain biking trails too. The Hamilton Creek Mountain Bike Trails consists of 7 total trails, which range from short trails less than a mile to the West Trail, coming it at close to 7 miles total.
Located on Old Hickory Lake, Cedar Creek Campground is a popular destination for swimming, fishing, and boating. The campground has several public beaches that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing, as well as plenty of campsites if you want to spend the night.
One of the best things about Cedar Creek Campground is the variety of water sports available. You can rent boats, jet skis, and water sports equipment from the nearby marina and spend the day exploring the lake. The lake is also a popular spot for fishing, with plenty of bass, crappie, and catfish to catch.
Cedar Creek Campground is a great spot for a day trip or weekend getaway. With its beautiful scenery and variety of activities, you’re sure to have a fun and memorable time at the beach.
Another great lake in the Nashville area home to some beautiful beaches is J. Percy Priest Lake. It is located in Southeastern Nashville, also just outside the city.
Percy Priest Dam Recreation Area
Located on the northern shores of J. Percy Priest Lake, Percy Priest Dam Recreation Area is another popular spot to get in this lake. It puts you right next to the dam, built by the Army Corps of Engineers. Like other spots on the lake, it is great for boating, water skiing, paddling, and more.
The entrance has some rock, but overall it feels pretty beachy. It is a very large, entrance to the lake, and other parts of this recreation area are very rocky and popular for off-roading. The visitor’s center is worth a stop and can give you all the info you need to make the most out of your day on the lake.
The Cook Day Use area offers some of the most picturesque scenery of anywhere in Nashville. A paved walking trail hugs the shoreline, while a soft sandy beach area gives way to the lake’s calm waters, where the whole family can enjoy a little swim. It is the perfect place to spend a beach day with your family or friends.
There are also picnic shelters here, a nature trail, and plenty of space to get your dog’s energy out.
Anderson Road Recreation Area is a great spot for a day of swimming, fishing, and camping, and is one of the best places of any spot on the lake. Facilities include restrooms, a bath house, dump station, and picnic tables, all great for camping. There are also grills, picnic tables, a walking trail, and boat ramps.
This recreation has a real sandy swimming beach. The soft sand is perfect for the kids to have a lot of fun making sand castles in. It is located right near the swim area, so if you want to take a dip while your kids play in the sand you can easily keep an eye on them.
Long Hunter is located on the eastern part of the lake, almost exactly across from Anderson Road campground. You get the best of two worlds at this park – it is actually sandwiched between Percy Priest Lake and Couchville Lake and provides easy access to both places.
Swimming is allowed at Bryant Grove, which is also the beach area. Swimming isn’t allowed in Couchville Lake or near any of the boat ramps. This park has beautiful views of the lake, including of Bear Island. There is a 4-mile loop trail where you can spot lots of wildlife, even deer on occasion. There is also a playground and plenty of amenities for your day at the beach.
Center Hill Lake is located a little over a one hour drive from Nashville and is located in the Cumberland River basin. It is home to multiple parks and recreation areas, including the the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Crafts, Burgess Falls State Natural Area, and Rock Island State Park. In total, this lake has 24 different recreation areas.
One of the best beaches on Center Hill Lake is at Rock Hill State Park. There is a beautiful natural sandy beach that is located at the headwaters of the lake. The lake itself is a great place for boating, paddling, fishing, and birding.
If you’re willing to take a short drive outside of Nashville, Dale Hollow Lake is a great place for a day trip. Located about two hours outside of Nashville, this lake is filled with outdoor activities. It offers hundreds and hundreds of miles of rugged, undeveloped shoreline filled with opportunities for water activities, as well as activities around the lake like biking, hiking, and horseback riding. There is also a beautiful golf course located right on the lake.
One of the best places to go on Dale Hollow is the Pleasant Grove Recreation Area. There is a cool little swinging bridge leading to the park, which is actually a small island in the lake. There is a picnic shelter right before you cross the bridge, and several great places to enter the water, including one area with steps leading to a small, secluded beachy area.
Instead of going outside of Nashville to a beachy lake area, why don’t you head to downtown, where the beach has come to you? Little Chill Beach made a slice of paradise right in the middle of the city!
You can rent the whole beach for a private party, bring your own essentials, invite your friends and family, and hit the sand. They’ve got the shade and the tables.