Experience the Culture

To really understand a place, you must learn where it’s been and what makes it the way it is now. This itinerary is for the traveler looking to truly know who Clarksville is and what we are about. Learn about our rich history at museums and parks, eat some mouthwatering comfort food at our locals’ favorite spots, and experience authentic southern hospitality along the way.

Day One

Welcome to Clarksville! After grabbing some morning fuel at one of our many local coffee shops, start your day where it all began, the Cumberland River. McGregor Park’s As the River Flows Museum illustrates the history of the Cumberland River and its significance to Clarksville's development from that very spot. This free museum sits along the Cumberland Riverwalk allowing for a nice morning stroll.

Less than two miles away, Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center is one of the few intact earthen works forts left in the United States. Walk the grounds and explore the center’s interactive displays to learn about Clarksville’s role in the Civil War. Right around the corner, you will find Sevier Station, home of Revolutionary War Hero Valentine Sevier, the oldest standing structure in Montgomery County.

Explore a cave! Dunbar Cave State Park is full of history and offers an experience unmatched anywhere else in the world. Book guided cave tours between May and September to see 14th-century dark zone cave art. If your visit is outside of that time, no worries! You can still visit the mouth of the cave on your own. As you walk the park’s trails, take note of the historical markers discussing Affricanna Town and Dunbar Cave’s surprising music history (Spoiler: It involves the Grand Ole Opry!)

You have surely worked up an appetite after all that learning. Enjoy lunch at a true Clarksville staple, Johnny’s Big Burger, with a classic burger and their iconic Bun N Cream. Take note of our favorite school, Austin Peay State University, located just across the street. Let’s Go Peay!

Next, head to our historic downtown to learn more about Clarksville at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center. What was built in 1898 as a US Post Office and Customs House is now the largest general-interest museum in Tennessee. Enjoy films of our past, interactive displays, and more in the permanent exhibit “Becoming Clarksville”.

Continue learning about Clarksville’s architecture and arts scene by taking a self-guided downtown walking tour. 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, learn about former businesses, and scan a QR code to read more about each building. You can also find four Tennessee Music Pathways markers throughout downtown.

Be sure to stop inside the Downtown Artists Co-op for unique pieces created by talented local artists. Next door, ArtLink, is a free creative arts program ready to help you create your own masterpiece. Just steps away, shop for local pottery from River City Clay or handmade jewelry at Made by Adelaide.

After perusing, it’s time for dinner. If you’re looking for a local favorite, opt for pizza and beer at Blackhorse Pub & Brewery. If you want to dine in a historic building, head to The Mailroom, housed in the former US Post Office and Federal Building.

Top off the night with a live performance at the Roxy Regional Theatre. The Roxy began in 1947 showing movies until it opened for live theatre in 1980. Today, the Roxy produces 10 mainstage performances annually with talent from across the nation.


Day Two

If you are really looking for that local experience, begin your day with breakfast at The Choppin’ Block. This specialty butcher shop is a community staple.

Once you’ve filled your belly, it’s time to begin exploring. Book a Townsite Tour at Port Royal State Historic Park or explore on your own. Read the signs throughout the property to learn about Port Royal’s history as a vibrant 19th-century trading town, as well as a stop along the Trail of Tears.

Clarksville really loves the outdoors. Drive through Rotary Park until you reach the Wade Bourne Nature Center. The center is full of hands-on learning activities and live creatures. Can you spot all the native fish species in their 500-gallon aquarium? The center showcases native species of plants and animals you're likely to see while exploring the park and nearby area. It's also a tribute to Clarksville native Wade Bourne, one of the most recognized and respected journalists in the field of hunting, fishing, and resource conservation. After exploring the center, take a stroll along the ADA-accessible creekside trail.

What’s a visit to Tennessee without some good BBQ? Tucked inside a gas station right off the highway, you will find a truly local and authentic favorite – Excell Bar-B-Q.

Next stop, Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement. Drive the country hillsides and winding roads before stepping back in time at this living history museum. See an authentic glimpse into the lives of Tennessee pioneers throughout the 1800s by exploring the site’s 16 restored log homes and outbuildings. You can even make your own butter -- yum!

Once you're back in town, head to the oldest known public burial ground in the area. Established on February 23, 1800, Riverview Cemetery 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. Guided tours are offered during the fall months.

Take note of the antebellum estate next door. The Smith-Trahern Mansion was constructed in 1858 by wealthy tobacconist Christopher Smith and overlooks the Cumberland River. The mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. (The Smith-Trahern Mansion is temporarily closed for construction.)

You’ve had burgers, biscuits, and BBQ on this trip. What’s left? Fried catfish with all the fixins, of course! Located on the banks of the Cumberland River, the Catfish House has been a Clarksville staple since the 1970s. Be sure to order a homemade dessert after your meal!


Just One More Day

If you find yourself able to add one more day to your itinerary, we encourage you to do so.

You can easily fill a day discovering the expansive and significant history of Clarksville’s African American heritage 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 over 20 stops with many stories to tell.

Fort Campbell is an important part of what makes Clarksville who we are. The Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum is located on the military base but is open to the public. Obtain a visitor’s pass at Gate Four to explore the museum’s exhibits on the history of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles, 5th Special Forces, and 160th Special Operations.

Check to see if there are any live musical performances scheduled during your visit. The city is fortunate to have many groups involved in the performing arts including the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, the Cumberland Winds, and Austin Peay State University’s Department of Music.