Centennial Park Nashville: A Review Of The Playground & More

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The kids' first time at Nashville's Centennial Park - enjoying the swing! photo by Jenn at TheFunTimesGuide.comI love parks, my kids love parks, and we just happened to be in the downtown area already so we thought we would explore a little bit of Nashville’s beautiful Centennial Park.

Like The Parthenon (which is located within Centennial Park), the park itself was built as part of Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition in 1897.

Once the exposition was over, the committee called for the preservation of not only The Parthenon but the park grounds as well.

There is so much to see and do there!

Here’s a little about our first time visiting Nashville’s Centennial Park…


History Of Nashville’s Centennial Park 

Centennial Park is 132 acres and was once farmland owned by Anne Robertson Johnson Cockrill (General James Robertson‘s sister).

It’s interesting how Anne became the owner.

She was given the land as a “land grant” for her valiant effort (while wounded) during an attack on Fort Nashborough. Indians were trying to set the fort on fire so Anne, along with other ladies, fought the Indians off  with a bucket brigade (where a line is formed and buckets are passed hand to hand). The ladies pummeled the attacking Indians with boiling hot wash water!  Anne saved the fort and many families.

Oh and by the way, Anne was also the first teacher in the state of Tennessee! How cool is that bit o’ history about Centennial Park?


First Impressions

As you can imagine, the park is really big. We only explored a little bit of it (due to time restraints), but we do plan to go back in the fall.

We started at Lake Watauga which is an artificial lake (didn’t know that either). The lake is pretty with fountains and ducks but it wasn’t particularly shady where we were, so we began to feel the heat and quickly moved on.

We then took a look at the map of Centennial Park and I let the kids decide where to go next. I had my fingers crossed for the sunken garden. They chose… the playground. (Big surprise, huh?)

One of the things I really look for in parks — especially in the heat of the summer — is shade trees. Luckily, as we drove from the lake to the playground there were shade trees a plenty!


The playground is amazing at Centennial Park in Nashville. photo by Jenn at TheFunTimesGuide.com


Nashville’s Centennial Park Playground: Two Thumbs Up!

At the playground, smack dab in the middle of the equipment is this huge tree. (It looks like a Magnolia tree to me, but I could be wrong.) Not only is it gorgeous, but it covers the entire play area with much needed shade. The kids happily played on the equipment for quite a while with all the other children that were there — which was more than I expected since it was very hot.

The band shell at Centennial Park Nashville. photo by Jenn at TheFunTimesGuide.comOn our way to the playground, we passed the Centennial Park band shell. This is an outdoor stage that holds a long history of musical entertainment. There is also seating at the band shell (so you don’t have to bring your own chairs). Events are still held at the band shell. For example, each August the Nashville Shakespeare Festival takes place there.

Once the kids were done with the playground, we walked around a bit. There was beautiful music coming from somewhere.

All around the playground area are these wonderful, large wooden swings. My kids couldn’t leave the park without trying one of these things! The swing was big enough to fit all 3 of them and it only took a little movement and the swing was in motion. In cooler weather, you could spend a good amount of time leisurely swinging and enjoying the beauty of the park.


So Much To See And Do

We had limited time and zero coolness, so we decided to head home. But we’ll be back! This beautifully maintained park has so much to see and do that it was impossible for us to get it all in in one visit.

On the day we visited, there were many people doing a variety of different things in the park:

  • We saw someone relaxing under one of the large shade trees reading a book.
  • We saw a group of kids playing Frisbee.
  • We saw people riding their bikes.
  • We saw people walking (for exercise).
  • We saw many people enjoying Centennial Park with their pets.


This Centennial Park Map helped us decide which things we wanted to do during our brief visit. photo by Jenn at TheFunTimesGuide.comSome other wonderful features of Centennial Park worth mentioning:

  • A 1-mile walking trail (which — even in the summer heat — had many people on it)
  • An art center
  • A sunken garden
  • Sand volleyball courts
  • dog parks
  • And a handful of historical monuments scattered around the park


Things To Know Before You Go

Centennial Park is located at 2598 West End Avenue – Nashville, Tennessee 37232.

Park hours are from dawn until 11PM.

  • There is no parking or driving on the grass — which may be an issue when planned events are going on. There is plenty of FREE parking though, so on most days this is not an issue.
  • There are public restrooms.
  • During the summer bring lots of water!
  • The park is very close to Vanderbilt University. It’s a great opportunity to swing by and visit that beautiful campus.


Here are some great tips for taking an adventure tour of Centennial Park with kids!


More About Nashville’s Centennial Park