You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ms. Cheap's Guide to Summer 2020: Yes, there are still things to do!

The Tennessean (Nashville) logo The Tennessean (Nashville) 5/23/2020 Mary Hance, Nashville Tennessean
a man standing next to a body of water: Tony Palmisano, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., fishes at Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, May 15, 2020. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean Tony Palmisano, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., fishes at Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, May 15, 2020.

With so many summer events canceled and countless attractions closed or limiting offerings, you may fear there is nothing to do this summer.

But I've been working hard to come up with a list of affordable seasonal fun that will prove you wrong. 

The Ms. Cheap Guide to Summer is a little different this year, but there are still plenty of free and affordable things to do, like hikes and walks, biking opportunities, free fishing, summer reading, DIY tours, history outings, virtual experiences and some water fun, too.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

I hope my guide will help you make the best of your summer days. And whatever you do, please be sure to comply with the "Tennessee Pledge" guidelines about masks and social distancing.

Take a hike

Middle Tennessee is blessed with hundreds of hiking options through its state and local parks. Just go to tnstateparks.com and click "Find a park." Check local parks, too (nashville.gov/parks). If you want to hike in a group, there are free hiking "meetup" events at meetup.com/nashville-hiking where you can find day and night hikes, as well as paddling opportunities and volunteer events. It is free to join.

More: Get fresh air and social distance on less-traveled Tennessee State Parks trails

Check out a drive-in movie

With many traditional movie theaters still closed, there are a couple of places to see a movie and step back in time with the drive-in experience. Area drive-in move theaters that are open include the Moonlite Drive-In in Woodbury and Stardust Drive-In in Watertown.

Concert In Your Car: Is drive-in music headed to Nashville?

Free bowling

The Franklin Family Entertainment Center in has free games of bowling for kids ages 18 and younger all summer through its "IncredaBOWL" program.

The program where children can sign up to bowl two free games every day at participating alleys should be up and running in Nashville later in the summer.

Detailskidsbowlfree.com and franklinlanes.com 

Volunteer

Hands On Nashville offers an easy way for anyone to get involved. It pairs volunteers of all ages with projects in all segments of the community. Volunteer opportunities are limited to groups of 10 or less.

Detailshon.org or 615-298-1108

Walk or bike the greenways 

Nashville has almost 100 miles of greenway trails for walkers, joggers and bikers.

The Shelby Bottoms Greenway, part of which is along the Cumberland River, connects to the Stones River Greenway's Percy Priest Trailhead. Richland Creek Greenway offers several bridges over Richland Creek, as well as multiple views of the McCabe Golf Course. The MetroCenter Levee Greenway hugs the Cumberland River and offers great river views.

There has been a heightened interest in biking from families and individuals for its natural social distancing. For good routes, see walkbikenashville.org or greenwaysfornashville.org for printed or online maps, or download NashGR for free on your smartphone for a pocket version of Nashville's Greenway Trail System.

Murfreesboro's 13-mile greenway system includes Lytle Creek Greenway and the Stones River Greenway, which goes by Cannonsburgh Village and the Stones River National Battlefield. 

Detailsmurfreesborotn.gov/185/Greenways-Wetlands or 615-893-2141

More: 'We've sold a year's worth in 30 days': Nashville bike shops try to keep up with demand

Nature centers

Explore on your own at one of the four Metro Parks nature centers: Warner Park, Shelby Bottoms, Bells Bend and Beaman Park. The centers are closed, but hiking trails and creeks are open and ready for you to make your own adventure. 

The staff is offering an array of ideas and activities through creative posts on the center's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. They've shared everything from a ghost story telling and a how-to on tying knots to snake identification photos and campfire snack recipes.

A not too scary ghost story - great to tell around the campfire. Credit: Alvin Schwartz

Posted by Bells Bend Park on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Detailsnashville.gov/parks

Other good places to explore nature are Wilderness Station in Barfield Crescent Park in Murfreesboro (murfreesborotn.gov/176/Wilderness-Station) and Bowie Nature Park in Fairview (bowiepark.org).

Take your own walking tour

For a downtown tour, start with a stroll across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which offers a spectacular view of the city (and a good photo op) and an up-close look at the Cumberland River. 

Take a virtual tour

With many attractions closed or partially open due to policies surrounding COVID-19, almost every local and national attraction is now offering virtual experiences: storytimes and puppet shows from the library, virtual tours of the latest exhibits at the Frist Art Museum and The Hermitage, interactive experiences at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Adventure Science Center, virtual concerts featuring the Nashville Symphony, webcams at the Nashville Zoo and more. A great resource is the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp's roundup at visitmusiccity.com/covid-19/virtual-nashville-experiences.

If you are interested in history, the Metro Historical Commission has 21 Nashville history tours that you can enjoy from home on nashvillesites.org.

Get in, or on, the water

State park beaches at Montgomery Bell in Burns (615-797-9052), Rock Island (931-686-2471) and Long Hunter State Park (in the Bryant's Grove area of the park) near Hermitage/Mt. Juliet (615-885-2422) all have swimming beaches that are free and will be open to the public this summer with CDC-recommended social distancing protocols which encourage groups not to gather with more than 10 people.

Detailstnstateparks.com 

If you want to get on the water, you could rent a 24-foot pontoon (anywhere from $285 for a weekday half day to $360 for a full day from Elm Hill Boat Rentals) and spend some time on Percy Priest Lake.

You could also rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for $22 an hour at Cap'n Dave's Water Sports at Percy Priest Lake. Canoe and kayak rental outfitters, like Foggy Bottom and Tip-A-Canoe on the Harpeth River, have reopened with limited group outings by reservation.

Detailscapndaveswatersports.com/paddle-craft, tip-a-canoe.com and foggybottomcanoe.com

Free fishing

Free fishing week is June 6-13, where anyone 15 or younger can fish without a license for free on any public lake. Free fishing day for all ages, no license required, is June 6.

Detailstn.gov/twra/fishing

a person sitting on a rock next to a body of water: John and Kassidy Slaven, of Nashville, fish at Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, May 15, 2020. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean John and Kassidy Slaven, of Nashville, fish at Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, May 15, 2020.

Summer reading

Libraries all over Middle Tennessee are offering engaging summer reading programs for all ages. The Metro Nashville Library locations may be closed, but you can register on the Summer Reading Challenge website and download the app to get started.

Then any time spent reading, writing, storytelling or listening to stories counts toward minutes. The more you read, the better your chance is to win some great prizes.

Detailslibrary.nashville.org

More: Library launches summer reading challenge early this year

Visit Fort Negley 

The 156-year-old Civil War fort's Visitor Center at 1100 Fort Negley Blvd. is closed, but a self-guided tour can be taken almost any time. There is a nice walkway around the fort and a great view of downtown from the top. Plus, the outdoor hands-on fossil collection site where visitors can dig for fossils is a fun activity.

Details: nashville.gov/parks

Visit Cannonsburgh Village

Cannonsburgh Village is a living history museum of early Southern life, located at 312 S. Front St., Murfreesboro. The visitor center is closed, but the grounds are open Tuesday-Sunday. You can see an authentic gristmill, a one-room schoolhouse, a town hall, a log home, a general store and other reminders of pioneer times. There is also a creek and trail.

Details: murfreesborotn.gov or 615-890-0355

Radnor Lake 

Radnor Lake State Park, at 1160 Otter Creek Road, will be offering some programs for 10 or fewer people soon. The park's Barbara J. Mapp Aviary Education Center is offering guided programming for small groups, rather than being open regular hours.

Details: radnorlake.org or call 615-373-3467

Mountain biking

There are 6 miles of mostly beginner mountain bike trails at Bells Bend Park, 8 miles of intermediate and advanced trails at Percy Warner Park, 11 miles at Hamilton Creek, 8.5 miles of beginner and intermediate trails at Cane Ridge and 3.5 miles of intermediate trails at Cedar Hill Park.

Detailsnashville.gov/parks

You could also enjoy a bike ride at the Lock 4 Bike Trail in Gallatin, where there's a 9-mile USA Cycling-sanctioned base course and a 3-mile kids course (615-822-2512). Long Hunter State Park (615-885-2422) has 5 miles of trails in two loops. Montgomery Bell State Park (615-797-9052) has more than 20 miles of mountain bike trails.

Tour Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

This 19-acre downtown state park, which is next to the Tennessee State Museum, offers a self-guided walking history lesson with its Tennessee history timeline. There is also a 200-foot granite map of the state, a World War II memorial, a 95-bell carillon and a Pathway of History. The fountains will not open this summer, and the Visitors Center and restrooms are temporarily closed; but the park is hoping to offer guided programs for groups of 10 or less soon.

Detailstnstateparks.com/parks/bicentennial-mall

Stones River National Battlefield 

Stones River National Battlefield, 3501 Old Nashville Highway, Murfreesboro, is open for limited day use and self-guided tours on foot or on bike every day. 

Details: nps.gov/stri or call 615-893-9501

a wooden park bench sitting in the grass: Visitors to the Stones River National Battlefield frequently stroll across land where soldiers walked, slept and sacrificed their lives. © Helen Comer / DNJ Visitors to the Stones River National Battlefield frequently stroll across land where soldiers walked, slept and sacrificed their lives.

Free golf

Although Metro Parks golf clubhouses are closed, five of the golf courses — McCabe, Ted Rhodes, Percy Warner, Harpeth Hills and Two Rivers — are open. There are no restrooms, no carts and no tee times, but play is free seven days a week. 

More: Free golf, anyone? Metro courses are open while clubhouses are closed

Metro Parks Frisbee golf courses are also open at Cedar Hill Park, Two Rivers Park and Seven Oaks Park. 

Details: nashville.gov/parks or 615-862-8400

a group of baseball players standing on top of a grass covered field: Keylan Myers, left, and Callie Edwards enjoy a round of golf at McCabe Golf Course in Nashville on March 23, 2020. © George Walker IV / The Tennessean Keylan Myers, left, and Callie Edwards enjoy a round of golf at McCabe Golf Course in Nashville on March 23, 2020.

Go berry picking 

Dozens of Middle Tennessee farms grow berries and allow you to pick your own in the summer months. It is fun and a great way for kids to see where their food comes from. Plus, you get to enjoy some real home grown flavor and support our local farmers at the same time.

To find a list of pick-your-own farms, go to picktnproducts.org. Click on "Pick Your Own" on the top navigation bar and then select which fruit you want for a county-by-county list.

More: Strawberry farms welcome pickers and berry buyers

a little boy that is standing in the grass: Clark Sampson, 5, of Hendersonville enjoys a morning of picking and eating fresh strawberries at Bottom View Farm in Portland May 3, 2016. © Mary Hance / The Tennessean Clark Sampson, 5, of Hendersonville enjoys a morning of picking and eating fresh strawberries at Bottom View Farm in Portland May 3, 2016.

Read Ms. Cheap

Ms. Cheap's columns can be found at tennessean.com/lifestyle/ms-cheap.

Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or mscheap@tennessean.com. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Ms. Cheap's Guide to Summer 2020: Yes, there are still things to do!

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Tennessean (Nashville)

The Tennessean (Nashville)
The Tennessean (Nashville)
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon