Fun things to do on the Cumberland River in Tennessee


Nashville is a wonderful vacation destination for many reasons, but it also happens to be a beautiful getaway because it is situated on the Cumberland River. The juxtaposition of the large buildings and city lights set in a scenic natural setting makes for an unforgettable experience.

Especially if you find ways to integrate the river into your vacation!

Cumberland River

Photo Credit: gstockstudio

It’s true that you shouldn’t swim in the river, as is the case with most rivers. Currents can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other things you can do to take in everything this beautiful river has to offer.

Hop Aboard the General Jackson Showboat

Getting on a boat is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the river. Just make sure you choose the right boat!

If you’re looking for entertainment while you gaze out at the water and the Nashville skyline beyond, there’s no better choice than the General Jackson Showboat.

“The General Jackson Showboat is one of the largest showboat cruises in the country and its dock is found on the Cumberland River. The boat itself has a lot of stunning features, with a length of 274 feet and a towering height of 55 feet. It also features a paddle wheel that is 36 feet long and 24 feet in diameter. Just the paddle wheel weighs 36,000 pounds!”

Your entire family will love riding on this historic boat while you enjoy world-class entertainment and a delicious dinner. At two and a half hours long, it’s a great way to spend the evening.

Take a Stroll and Cross the Pedestrian Bridge

No vacation should be so hectic you can’t find time to take a stroll. That is especially important if you find yourself vacationing where there’s a beautiful trail for you to take advantage of.

The Cumberland River features a beautiful pedestrian bridge that enables you to take in the sights on the river and the city. It connects a path that crosses the river, so there’s plenty of space to take a long walk. The Greenway is 3.5 miles, so it makes for an enjoyable bike ride too.

Catch a Show at Riverfront Park

The people of Nashville love spending time on the river, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a beautiful Riverfront Park where you can catch live acts of all kinds.

Just a few of the shows you might be able to catch during your stay include:

  • Festivals that include the Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival that feature DJs, river races, and a beer garden.
  • Wine on the river, where you can taste wine and delicacies from cultures around the world.
  • Dance to the music of popular local bands. A few that have performed in the past include Ole Smoky Moonshine and Daddy’s Dogs.
  • In June, the outdoor concert arena hosts the CMA Music Festival, which is the city’s largest concert event.

Go Fishing

Fishing is always a fun activity when you’re on vacation, especially if you’re near a river, as fishing in a river can be a little bit different than what you’re used to in a pond or a lake.

The most popular types of fish to catch in the Cumberland River include walleye, sauger, and striped bass. It is also home to trophy brown trout, as well as plenty of rainbow trout.

The easiest and safest way to cast a line into the water is to hire a fishing charter. Not only will they make sure you’re properly licensed and fishing in the right areas, they have all the gear you need to be successful without having to buy your own pole.

Paddle a Kayak

Just because you shouldn’t swim in the river doesn’t mean you can’t get a little wet! Rent a kayak and head out onto the Cumberland River.

You can rent a kayak and head out on your own, but if you’re a beginning kayaker, consider heading out with a group. Figuring out how to paddle is pretty easy, but going with a group ensures you won’t get lost. It can also provide you with peace of mind. Heading out on the river when you’ve never done it before can be scary!

By all means, spend plenty of time in restaurants, enjoy the nightlife, and soak up everything else the city is known for. Just make sure you enjoy the Cumberland River too! With these ideas, you’ll enjoy everything this beautiful waterway has to offer.



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