Places and their history are best discovered by wandering off the beaten path. We've put together a full weekend of authentic experiences and sites that will unlock Clarksville's rich history and culture. As you visit and immerse yourself in these places and activities, you'll soak up the local essence of this charming Southern city. Like many who visit, you may be so captivated that you'll want to make it home!
View the Cultural Experience Travel Itinerary here.
Dunbar Cave State Park
Dunbar Cave State Park offers a multifaceted cultural experience that highlights the park’s rich music history, cave art from the indigenous people who inhabited the area during the 14th Century, and Affricanna Town, a place of refuge for self-liberated enslaved African Americans following the Union Army’s capture of Clarksville in 1862.
Take a guided cave tour between May and September to view the infamous dark zone cave art for yourself. The park is open year-round for hiking, bird watching, picnics, and viewing historic markers throughout the property.
Located atop a 200’ bluff at the confluence of the Cumberland and Red Rivers, Fort Defiance is one of the few intact earthen works forts remaining in the United States. This remarkable place takes visitors back in time to gain an understanding of the region's role in one of the most pivotal chapters in American history.
The Interpretive Center houses artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays, providing an immersive journey through the turbulent Civil War era. One notable audio display lets visitors hear the stories of those affected by the War Between the States, including troops from both armies, an enslaved person, a local merchant, and a young girl who lived in Clarksville at the time.
Outside the interpretive center stands a United States Colored Troops Monument. Installed in the summer of 2022, this statue honors the USCT, who were men of African descent, many formerly enslaved, who enlisted in the Union Army to fight for their freedom.
Historic Cemetery Tours
Search for family names at Clarksville's historic cemeteries. Established on February 23, 1800, Riverview Cemetery is the oldest known public burial ground in the area. It is rich in history and has the remains of many early pioneers, settlers, civic leaders, and statesmen, as well as men and women of all the American wars. Greenwood Cemetery was founded in 1872. The cemetery is the final resting place of many of Clarksville's most notable citizens including Tennessee Governor and Austin Peay State University founder Austin Peay and Actor Frank Sutton who is best known for playing Sgt. Carter on the sitcom Gomer Pyle, USMC. Guided tours of both cemeteries are offered during the fall months.
Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement
Step back in time at Historic Collinsville. The living history museum provides an authentic glimpse into the daily lives of those living in the area throughout the 1800s. Here, you'll explore 16 restored log homes and outbuildings brimming with period-accurate furnishings and artifacts, as well as participate in activities such as making butter. The immersive experience extends to monthly special events with lively demonstrations, hands-on activities, and costumed interpreters who bring history to life through storytelling and interactive exhibits.
Historic Downtown Walking Tours
Embark on a self-guided walking tour of downtown and enjoy historic architecture from the mid-1800s. Dozens of structures are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church. As you explore, keep an eye out for Clarksville Then & Now Trail panels that tell the stories of our historic buildings. See photos of what used to be, read about former businesses, and scan a QR code to learn more about each building.
Port Royal State Historic Park
Nestled on the Montgomery County border, this historic park not only showcases the vibrant history of a 19th-century trading town but is also an important point of reflection on the tragic events of the Trail of Tears. Explore the well-preserved structure that tells the story of Port Royal's past, offering insights into early commerce and daily life. Then, walk the same path taken by over 10,000 Cherokee on their last night in Tennessee. Guided Townsite Tours are offered Friday-Sunday. The park is open for hiking and picnics daily.
Museums & Trails
African American Legacy Trail
Discover the expansive and significant history of Clarksville’s African-American community with the African-American Legacy Trail. From community gardens and historic churches to athletic, musical, and business trailblazers -- even an inspiring Olympic Champion -- this trail has many stories to tell.
As the River Flows Museum at McGregor Park
Learn about the history of the Cumberland River and its significance to Clarksville's development through McGregor Park's As the River Flows Museum. The museum's panels begin with pre-settlement times and the habitation of indigenous people, continuing through to the modern day.
Customs House Museum and Cultural Center
Built in 1898 as a US Post Office and Customs House for the flourishing tobacco trade, this architecturally fascinating structure is now the state's largest general history museum featuring several exhibits detailing Clarksville's rich history. "Becoming Clarksville: Honoring Legacies of Leadership" uses interactive software, engaging videos, and local artifacts to showcase Clarksville’s history and the individuals who impacted the community and nation.
Explorer's Landing features a hands-on educational exhibit for children, Exploring Our Town. This interactive exhibit highlights the different elements that impacted the establishment and growth of Clarksville, from farming, construction, and transportation to area wildlife and the Cumberland and Red Rivers. Be sure to download the Exploring Our Town Self-Guided Walking Tour for little ones to explore interesting and historic buildings around town.
Wade Bourne Nature Center at Rotary Park
Learn about natural history with hands-on activities and live animals native to the area including a 500-gallon aquarium with fish you'd see in the Cumberland River and area streams. Wade Bourne Nature Center's exhibits are not limited to the inside of the building. Outside, visitors will find pollinator, butterfly, and rain gardens. The center hosts weekly programs that teach younger audiences about the natural world. The center is a tribute to Clarksville native Wade Bourne, one of the most recognized and respected journalists in the field of hunting, fishing, and resource conservation.
Downtown Artists Co-op
Bring home a piece of local art from The Downtown Artists Co-op. This association includes over 30 talented local artists. Visitors to the gallery will find pottery, jewelry, paintings, drawings, and more available for purchase.
The DAC hosts the First Thursday ArtWalk each month from 5:00 - 8:00 PM. This event not only showcases local art but allows attendees to meet the artists behind each piece. The First Thursday Art Walk displays pieces throughout downtown shops, galleries, and restaurants.
Take part in Clarksville's annual downtown creative arts festival during the first week of October. Artsville Fest includes visual and performing arts, live large-scale art exhibits, intimate interactions with artists and makers, and much more.
Create something special during your time in Clarksville with this free creative arts program. ArtLink's mission is to ignite passion and build character through creativity.
Live Musical Performances
Clarksville is fortunate to have many musical groups involved in the performing arts including the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, the Cumberland Winds, and Austin Peay State University’s Department of Music.
Roxy Regional Theatre Performance
Experience the cornerstone of Clarksville's entertainment by attending a live performance at the Roxy Regional Theatre. The present Roxy Theatre opened its doors in 1947, showing movies until 1980 and opening for live theatre in 1980. The Roxy produces 10 main stage events annually along with several special events throughout the year.
Tennessee Music Pathways
Gain a deeper understanding of the people, places, and genres that make Tennessee the 'Soundtrack of America' through the Tennessee Music Pathways. A statewide driving tour, the Pathways represents hundreds of landmarks across the state and spans seven genres of music: blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock 'n' roll. Clarksville is home to five official Pathways locations.
Complete Visit Clarksville's Challenge Trails
Explore Clarksville and Montgomery County with the Visit Clarksville App Challenge Trails. Complete any or all of the 18 “trails” and earn cool and fun collectible pins. Trails like Architectural Gems, Artsy Shopping, Civil War Trail, Heritage Trail, Music Heritage, and more are a fantastic way to explore and learn.