Immersive Ways To Explore Clarksville’s Rich History and Storied Past – Episode 145

Historic Clarksville Tennessee Attractions - Things to do in Clarksville, TN.
Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

Unforgettable things to do in Clarksville, TN for history lovers and curious travelers. Steeped in history and rich cultural traditions, a trip to Clarksville, Tennessee, promises to transport you back in time, whether you choose to explore a general interest museum, retrace the steps of Civil War soldiers at a well-preserved fort, or venture beneath the surface to discover the mysteries of a prehistoric cave. Clarksville Tennessee attractions offer more than a glimpse into the past; they provide a deep dive into the city’s vibrant history, Tennessee way of life, and the influential individuals who shaped the county. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Clarksville TN, visit these incredible attractions celebrating its deep Southern roots.

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This podcast episode is created in partnership with Visit Clarksville.

00:00 Danielle Desir Corbett Welcome to Clarksville, Tennessee. An hour drive northwest from Nashville, Clarksville is located in Montgomery County, and it's the fifth largest city in Tennessee. Clarksville promises visitors a laid-back getaway with a small-town feel without sacrificing the amenities you might enjoy like good food, tasty cocktails, and fun things to do for the entire family. Clarksville is steeped in history, dating back to various Native American tribes, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. With Fort Campbell nearby, one of the largest military installations in the country, Clarksville is a military town. a melting pot of different cultures, Clarksville is home to military families and veterans, retirees, families who have called Clarksville home for generations, college students, and more. While downtown Clarksville is compact and walkable, Clarksville is spread out, so I'd recommend renting a car or bringing your own so you can explore beyond the historic downtown area and access even more places and things to do in or around Montgomery County. While strolling downtown, you'll find historical architecture, restaurants, coffee shops, lots of churches, public art installations, and a number of wall murals. There are no skyscrapers. Surrounded by the Cumberland River and the 144-acre Dunbar Cave State Park, there are biking, walking, and hiking trails and plenty of outdoor adventures like boating, kayaking, and fishing on 650 miles of navigable water. Locals say Clarksville is a great place to raise a family and I was told that it's a great place for starting a small business as well. While I have a blog post with a detailed travel guide sharing my favorite things to do in Clarksville, Tennessee, in this episode, we're focusing specifically on Clarksville history and culture. Curious about the past and Tennessean way of life? Learn about some of the influential people who shaped Clarksville throughout the ages at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center. Step back in time and explore what life was like in rural Tennessee in the 19th century at historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement, and discover the spiritual significance of the Dunbar Cave and how it's been used for thousands of years. Hey, Financial Savvy Travelers, I'm Danielle Desir-Corbett, and welcome to the Thought Card Podcast. Welcome to the Thought Card, a podcast about traveling money, where planning, saving and creativity leads to affording travel, building wealth and paying off debt. We are the Financially Savvy Travelers. All righty, first up is the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, Tennessee's second largest general interest museum, which features art, history, culture and science. Here you can find one of the largest collections of beam porcelain sculptures in the Southeast, a large model train layout, and a variety of rotating temporary exhibits. Typically located on coastal seaports, a customs house is where fees and duties for importing and exporting goods into and out of the country were collected by the federal government. And although Clarksville isn't located on an ocean seaport, they had a customs house because of their navigable waterways with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.

04:23 Frank Lott The Customs House was built here in 1898 during the tobacco boom, and Clarksville was the largest exporter of dark-fired tobacco in the world. So, because of the amount of commerce that was being conducted here due to the tobacco industry, the federal government decided to build a facility that was both a joint Customs House and U.S. Post Office. That's why we have a Customs House in Clarksville, Tennessee. It served as three functions in its 124 years of life. It was built as a post office and customs house in 1898. Then it served for that capacity for about 40 years. In 1939, it became the city's Department of Electricity. And the post office, a new post office was built. But if you look here, here was your original postal counter. You know, you would pick up mail, buy stamps, buy money orders. And when it became the Department of Electricity, you would do the same thing here. I remember when I came to Clarksville in 1973, I came in here to open my electric account, you know, as a new resident of Clarksville. So I came up to this counter and, you know, signed up and paid my deposit.

05:40 Danielle Desir Corbett That's Frank Lott, the executive director of the Customs House, a longtime Customs House museum supporter who has been involved with the museum since the very beginning in 1984.

05:53 Frank Lott I've been associated with the museum since its very beginning, 1984. although I was not the director by any means, I was just a local businessman, you know, my civic work was always with the museum. I loved, I was a history minor in college, I wasn't a history major, but I was standing out here in the street in 1984 with my soon-to-be wife when they cut the ribbon to open the museum in the city's bicentennial year. I said to her, I said, I don't know what, but I want to be part of this. I don't know where that's going to lead us. But she's been with me every step of the way. And so I've been many terms on the board of trustees, chairman of the board, fundraiser, marketing consultant. But I've been director of the museum for going on four years, and it's kind of my dream job now. I feel like my whole 42-year career in marketing was like my apprenticeship to do this.

06:49 Danielle Desir Corbett So I want to highlight two exhibits in particular. Challenge and Champion is a permanent exhibit which celebrates the sports heritage of Montgomery County. While there are several featured athletes, Wilma Rudolph's story transcends the sports world. Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940. She was the 20th of 22 children and Wilma contracted polio at the age of four which partially paralyzed her left leg. She wore a leg brace for six years and eventually shut her brace in the sixth grade. The exhibit highlights how facing her illness head on challenged Wilma to overcome obstacles in her life. Wilma tried out for the basketball team and sat on the bench most of her first three seasons. Her basketball coach started a girls track team in 1954, mostly to keep the players in shape during the off season. Wilma discovered she could run faster than all the other girls. In 1960, Wilma Rudolph went off to become the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympic game. When Wilma returned home, it was Clarksville's first ever racially integrated event, a homecoming parade and banquet.

08:25 Frank Lott Wilma, of course, was born here, was a polio victim in early childhood and overcame that just through perseverance, became a international superstar, the first athlete ever to win three gold medals in the single Olympics. Well, now that's multi-gold is pretty common in a lot of sports, but she was the first. She was a real pace setter, record breaker. And then, as I said, she used her bully pulpit of her celebrity to influence what was the forthcoming integration issues of civil rights, civil justice, and for both African Americans and women. She was on the vanguard of what was going on in those early years. I mean, one of the very first lunch counter set-ins happened here in Clarksville at a local restaurant because of her. And I think it's marvelous that she came back from winning these gold medals and she said, I'm not going to participate in a parade if it's not integrated. If it's not open to everybody, I'm not participating. I'm not sitting down to have a meal to celebrate me if it's not a meal for everyone. And I think that was such a strong message for a female, particularly a black female, to challenge our own society to that fact, that this is just the way it's going to be. And this county executive, Mr. Hudson, I love what he said in response to that. He said, Wilma, you've competed at the highest levels. You've brought home these gold medals. And he said to the audience, you know, ladies and gentlemen, you play a piano. You can play very nice music by playing only the black keys on it. And you can play nice music playing only the white keys. But the best music comes from playing all the keys on the piano. And I love that metaphor. for it is powerful and it stays with us. And then Wilma, of course, passed away in 1994. We had not even built this building yet. I had lunch with her about six months before she passed away and the former director and I were with her and she brought all these personal items from her Rome experience. And we said, Ms. Wilma, we promise you we will have a place of honor for this. They're here we have, you know, and all these wonderful items from her personal achievements have from Rome that we now can share with the public. I think she would be pleased.

11:05 Danielle Desir Corbett So not only an inspiration to athletes, Wilma helped promote racial and gender equality in her hometown, across America and the globe. I love this powerful quote by Wilma which reads, I can't are two words that have never been in my vocabulary. I believe in me more than anything in this world. Now, the next exhibit I want to also share with you is called Becoming Clarksville, which is all about the influencers who impacted this community and the influencing factors that led to Clarksville's establishment and success.

11:49 Frank Lott Early government leaders, you know, saw a vision for what Clarksville could be, and Clarksville had a lot of firsts. You know, we had things like, one of our citizens became the Postmaster General under James K. Polk, and he invented adhesive postage stamp. Letters used to be paid by the recipient. when they received it, and he said, let's make people pay for them when they send them. That way we get our money on the front end, right? So the government was wise enough to do that. We've had a lot of firsts like that. Dr. Robert Tecumseh Burt was an African-American physician who came to Clarksville. He was the son of slaves. He graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, and then he opened the Burt Home Infirmary in Clarksville, which was the very first hospital in Clarksville. Now, there were doctors in Clarksville, but there weren't any hospitals. Other than during the Civil War, you had some military hospitals set up, but they were temporary. But he treated patients of all races. He wasn't just strictly for the African-American community. He was also one of the pioneers of, in childbirth, of cesarean deliveries. And he was one of the real pioneers of perfecting that technique. It saved a lot of people's lives, mothers and children.

13:09 Danielle Desir Corbett If you're traveling with little ones, there's a floor dedicated to engaging children called Explorers Landing. I really appreciated all the activities for children, like catfishing in the Cumberland River, identifying all different types of animals, a puppet theater, the bubble cave, the family art room, and introducing children to all different types of professions like plumbers and electricians. Customs House Museum and Cultural Center is also home to one of the largest model railroad layouts in the region. Interact with a miniature world, make cars move and helicopters fly. Children and adults of all ages really loved this gallery. You'll see their faces light up and just so much chatter and all these moving pieces. It's a really, really cool sight to see. So overall, visit Customs House Museum and Cultural Center for an overview of Clarksville. I recommend planning to spend a few hours here because there is a lot to see. Next, if you want to see what Tennessee looked like in the 1800s, visit historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement. Only 25 minutes from the downtown area, escape the hustle of modern-day life and visit historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement, which invites you to step back in time and experience rural Tennessee from 1830 to 1900. While the settlement as it stands never existed, the open-air 40-acre Living History Museum features a curated collection of 16 restored log homes and outbuildings which chronicle life before and after the Civil War. All the structures are authentic so there are no reproductions or models. Some structures have been disassembled and reassembled on the property while others have been moved here. Also, everything inside the homes and buildings are authentic and unique to the period. If you can, plan your trip around a guided tour or special event so you can access the fully furnished buildings. Ask questions to the staff and hear all of these really interesting stories. On a self-guided tour though, you'll start at the visitor center where you grab a map. As you explore the property, listen to short audio snippets which share a brief history about each building and how it was used. Restored to its original condition, you'll see an 1803 smokehouse, a loom house, a chicken coop turned into a cobbler's shop, an 1842 meat house filled with salt to cure hogs before smoking, a one-room church and schoolhouse, and so much more. Clarksville economy during that time was built on river trade, in particular tobacco, so be sure to explore Chestnut Taboo Barn, made from chestnut trees. This tobacco barn housed Burley tobacco, which was air dyed. The Chestnut Taboo Barn is undoubtedly, I think, my favorite structure. It was just interesting to see and imagine what it would look like to have this tobacco being air dyed and there are just spaces within the beams. And I never really saw a barn that looked like this. really small and compact, but really high up, long structure. And there were church pews in there as well. So I won't give it all away, but it was really, really interesting. And I think out of all the different structures, the Chestnut Taboo Barn definitely is one of those that stood out to me. One of the things I really appreciated about historic Collinsville is its openness to visitors using the artifacts. The Weakley family, who dreamed of rebuilding the settlement of Collinsville, started working on historic Collinsville in 1974 and opened it to the public in 1997. The Weakley family valued a hands-on approach to experiencing history, which means many of the artifacts are restored and also repurposed. Play your favorite songs on historic piano. Use a corn sheller. Children can play with handmade dolls made out of corn husk. And the blacksmith shop is fully functional and still used till this day. Not only can you immerse yourself in history, but you can literally touch it at Historic Collinsville. How cool is that? Capturing a moment in time, historic Collinsville is a rare gem, and it's fascinating to see how people lived in Tennessee. learn what they did for work and societal expectations for teachers, for example, in 1872 and 1915. Again, I'm not going to give it away, but there's just some really interesting things to learn about the thought process, expectations. Yeah, it's just, again, a fascinating, fascinating place to really step back in time and learn what life was like back in the day. Now, the third and last attraction that I want to highlight in Clarksville is Dunbar Cave. For a mix of nature and history, journey inside Dunbar Cave on a guided tour with a knowledgeable park ranger from the months of May to September. As one of the largest caves in Montgomery County, this eight-mile cave has been used for thousands of years and is a sacred place for Indigenous people. The cave entrance is a natural beauty. As you journey deeper, marvel at the drawings on the cave walls, some in charcoal, and others carved into the limestone dating to the 14th century. While they don't know exactly what the drawings mean, our tour guide shared some interpretations. On the tour, we learned the prehistoric Mississippian Native Americans believed Dunbar Cave to be a portal into the underworld. Their journey was dangerous, full of challenges both physically and spiritually. On the cave ceiling, not only will you see markings from cave torches during that time, but also initials and names of people and even graffiti etched into the cave walls like a portrait of a soldier. Excavations have revealed arrowheads, tools, and other ancient artifacts scattered throughout the cave. And there are spots where you have to crouch down and be careful of uneven and slippery surfaces, which makes for a fun adventure, I'll say, into the dark and mysterious unknown. There's one point where we turned off our flashlights and stood there in pitch darkness. After a few seconds, I was ready to power back on our flashlights. I'm telling you, it was pitch dark and a little eerie, but I'm still happy that we did that just to experience what it's like if, let's say, your flashlight went out or there was no torchlight. So that, again, just brought to light how dangerous this journey into the caves could be. Now leaving the cave, I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, my chest, my entire body. I felt free. But also that hot Tennessee sun was beaming down on us and immediately my glasses fogged up and it was back to being hot again. So here's some more information about the cave. Before becoming a protected state park, during the Civil War, Dunbar Cave was used as a hideout for the Confederate Army. As a private property, though, it changed hands a few times, becoming a resort, a social gathering space, and a naturally air-conditioned music venue before its decline in the 1950s and 1960s. Over the centuries, Dunbar Cave has meant many different things to different people. Some considered the cave a place of shelter. Others, a sacred place, a place of relaxation in the healing spring waters. And others saw it as a place to have fun, to dance and let down their hair and have a really good time. You can still see remnants of the paved dance floor and concession stand from that time today. In addition to the guided cave tours, enjoy nearly five miles of hiking trails, spot wildlife and fauna, or enjoy a picnic on the grounds. Dunbar Cave was fascinating. There's thousands of years of human history here, and it's a definite must-see worth checking out when you're in Clarksville. For more historic attractions and other experiences to have in Clarksville, I recommend downloading the Visit Clarksville app, which helps you map out and keep track of all the places you've visited or want to go and visit. The app is super convenient and during my trip, I used it daily. Overall, Clarksville has a rich history. And what I appreciated the most about this trip is the city's commitment to preserving and sharing its history, culture, and heritage with locals and also visitors near and far. A special thank you to Visit Clarksville for partnering with me on this episode. You can find out what's new, things to do, where to eat and drink, and tips for planning your own Clarksville vacation by visiting visitclarksvilletn.com. I also want to say a special thank you to our special guest, Frank Lott, from Customs House Museum and Cultural Center. For my recommendations, a breakdown of costs, and to see all of the photos and videos from my trip to Clarksville, visit thoughtcard.com slash Clarksville for my Clarksville travel guide. All the links mentioned in today's episode will be in the show notes. While that's all for this episode, I invite you to join me for the next episode because we're going to be exploring Franklin and Leapers Fork, Tennessee. If you haven't yet, please be sure to follow the podcast so you get new episodes sent directly to your favorite podcast player, whether that's Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or something else. Until the next adventure, financial savvy travelers.

Historic Things To See and What To Do in Clarksville Tennessee

Weclome to Clarksville, Tennessee!

How to travel without going into debt. Debt-free travel tips.
Clarksville’s Starry Night by Olasubomi Aka-Bashorum. 

Clarksville promises visitors a laid-back getaway with a small-town feel without sacrificing the amenities you might enjoy like good food, tasty cocktails, and fun things to do for the entire family. 

Whether you’re interested in Native American history, The Civil War, or The Civil Rights Movement, there’s something for everyone to learn from. Here are some of my favorite Clarksville TN attractions.

Listen to this podcast episode on YouTube.

Customs House Museum

First up is Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, Tennessee’s second largest general interest museum which features art, history, culture, and science. It’s also one of the most beautiful ornate buildings in Historic Downtown Clarksville!

Here you can find one of the largest collections of Boehm porcelain sculptures in the southeast and a variety of rotating temporary exhibits which change every 90 days or so.

You might be wondering, ‘Customs House’ is a unique name for a museum.

What’s a customs house?

Typically located on coastal seaports, a customs house is where fees and duties for importing and exporting goods into and out of the country were collected by the federal government. 

Although Clarksville isn’t located on an ocean seaport, they had a ‘customs house’ because of their navigable waterways with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Customs House served as three functions in its 124 years of life. It was built as a post office and customs house in 1898. In 1939 it became the city’s Department of Electricity. If you look here, here was your original postal counter. You would pick up mail, buy stamps, and buy money orders. When it became the Department of Electricity, you would do the same thing here. I remember when I came to Clarksville in 1973, I came in here to open my electric account. I came up to this counter, signed up, and paid my deposit.

Frank Lott, Executive Director of the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center

The Customs House Museum & Cultural Center is partially housed in a historic 1898 building, which was originally constructed as a Federal Post Office and Customs House to handle the large volume of foreign mail created by the city’s international tobacco trade.

Noteworthy Exhibits

‘Challenge & Champion’ is a permanent exhibit which celebrates the sports heritage of Montgomery County. While there are several featured athletes, Wilma Rudolph’s story transcends the sports world. 

Things to do in Clarksville TN - Customs House Museum and Cultural Center.
From Polio to Olympic Gold: The Inspiring Story of Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940. 

She was the 20th of 22 children and Wilma contracted polio at the age of four which partially paralyzed her left leg. She wore a leg brace for six years, and shed her brace in the 6th grade. The exhibit highlights how facing her illness head on challenged her to overcome obstacles throughout her life.

Wilma tried out for the basketball team and sat on the bench most of her first three seasons. 

Her basketball coach started a girl’s track team in 1954 mostly to keep the players in shape during the off season. She discovered she could run faster than all the other girls. 

In 1960, Wilma Rudolph went off to become the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympic game. 

When Wilma returned home it was Clarksville’s first-ever racially integrated event, a homecoming parade and banquet. 

Not only an inspiration to athletes, Wilma helped promote racial and gender equality in her hometown, across America, and the globe. 

I love this powerful quote:

“I can’t’ are two words that have never been in my vocabulary. I believe in me more than anything in this world.”

Wilma Rudolph

Next, explore “Becoming Clarksville” another permanent exhibit about the influencers who impacted this community and the influencing factors that led to Clarksville’s establishment and success. Some of the individuals you will learn about include Dr. Robert T. Burt who founded Clarksville’s first hospital.

If you’re traveling with little one’s, there’s a floor dedicated to engaging children called “Explorers Landing”. 

I appreciated all the activities for children like cat fishing in the Cumberland River, identifying animals, a puppet theater, the bubble cave, the family art room, and introducing children to all different types of professions, like plumbers and electricians. 

Customs House Museum is also home to one of the largest model railroad layouts in the region. Interact with a miniature world by making cars move and helicopters fly. For good reason, children and adults of all ages love this gallery. 

Overall, visit Customs House for an overview of Clarksville and Montgomery County, past and present. Plan to spend a few hours here because there’s a lot to see. 

Admission: $12 for adults (8-64), $5 for children (3-17), and children under 2 years old are free.

Customs House Address: 200 South 2nd Street, Clarksville, TN

Another Clarksville museum worth checking out if you want to see what Tennessee looked like in the 1800s is Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement.

Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement 

Only 25 minutes from Downtown Clarksville, escape the hustle of modern-day life and visit Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement which invites you to step back in time and experience rural Tennessee from 1830-1900. 

While the settlement as it stands never existed, in the 1870s there was a town called Collinsville. However, due to the confusion of other similarly named nearby towns, by 1880 it eventually lost its name.

Today the open-air 40-acre living history museum features a curated collection of 16 restored log homes and outbuildings which chronicle life before and after the Civil War. 

Open to visitors from April to November, all of the structures are authentic so there are no reproductions or models. Some structures have been disassembled and reassembled on the property while others have been moved here. Also, everything inside the homes and buildings are authentic and unique to the period. 

If you can, plan your trip around a guided tour or special event, so you can access the fully furnished buildings, ask questions, and hear more passed-down stories. See docents dressed in 1800s attire, partake in butter making, Blacksmith demonstrations, spinning and weaving demonstrations, and more.

On a self-guided tour, start at the Visitors Center where you grab a map. 

As you explore the property, listen to short audio snippets which share a brief history about each building, the previous owners, and how it was used. 

Restored to its original condition, see an 1803 smokehouse, a loom house, a chicken coop turned into a cobbler’s shop, an 1842 meat house filled with salt to cure hogs before smoking. There’s also a one-room church and schoolhouse, the center for worship and learning. The Irby-Bumpus Wildlife Center displays animals from all over Tennessee and a Native American artifact collection.

Clarksville’s economy during the 19th century was built on river trade, in particular tobacco, so be sure to explore Chestnut Taboo Barn, made from American chestnut trees which was popular before a blight wiped them out in the early 1900’s. This tobacco barn was special because it was used solely to house burley tobacco which was air dyed — this is why there are large spaces between the ceiling wood.

For a visual take a look at the short video below (left).

Listen to this podcast episode on Spotify.

One of the things I really appreciated about Historic Collinsville is its openness to visitors using the artifacts. 

The Weakley family, who dreamed of rebuilding the settlement of Collinsville, started working on Historic Collinsville in 1974, and opened it to the public in 1997. 

They valued a “hands-on” approach to experiencing history which means many of the artifacts are restored and repurposed. 

Play your favorite songs on a historic piano, use a corn sheller from that time period, children can play with handmade dolls made out of corn husks, and the Blacksmith Shop is fully functional and still used today.

Not only can you immerse yourself in Tennessee history, but you can literally touch it here.

Clarksville museums and Clarksville attractions - Historic Collinsville, TN.

Capturing a moment in time, Historic Collinsville is a rare gem – it’s fascinating to see how people lived in Tennessee, learn what they did for work, fun, and even some societal expectations.

Admission: $8 for ages 13 and up. $4 for ages 6-12.

Historic Collinsville Address: 4711 Weakley Rd, Southside, TN

Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement - Clarksville TN attractions

Dunbar Cave 

For a mix of nature and history, journey inside Dunbar Cave on a guided tour with a knowledgeable park ranger from May to September. Plan to spend roughly an hour in the cave which takes you a quarter mile deep. Cave tours sell out, so plan ahead and make a reservation.

As one of the largest caves in Montgomery County, this eight-mile cave has been used for thousands of years and is a sacred place for indigenous people. Since the cave is a sacred site for the Cherokee and other Native American groups, photography is not allowed. Bring your own flashlight or purchase one from the visitors center. It’s chilly in the cave so you may want to bring a light jacket, sweater, or hoodie.

The cave entrance is a natural beauty. As you journey deeper, marvel at the drawings on the cave walls, some in charcoal, and others carved into the limestone dating to the 14th-century.  

While they don’t know exactly what the drawings mean, our tour guide shared some interpretations. 

On the tour we learned the Mississippians (ancestors of the Cherokee) believed Dunbar Cave to be a portal into the Underworld. The journey was dangerous, full of challenges, both physical and spiritual. 

On the cave ceiling not only will you see ancient markings from cave torches, but also initials, names of people, and even graffiti etched into the cave walls, like a portrait of a soldier.

Excavations revealed arrowheads, tools, and other ancient artifacts are scattered throughout. 

There are spots where you have to crouch down and be careful of uneven and slippery surfaces which makes for a fun adventure into the dark and mysterious unknown. 

There’s one point where we turned off our flashlights and stood there in pitch darkness. After a few seconds, I was ready to power back on our flashlights. They say your eyes will never get accustomed to the darkness and without any light source you can quickly become disoriented.

Before becoming a protected state park, during The Civil War, Dunbar Cave was used as a hideout for the Confederate army. 

As private property, it changed hands a few times becoming a resort, a social gathering spot, and a naturally air conditioned music venue before its decline in the 1950’s and 60s. You can see remnants of the paved dance floor and concession stands from that time still today. 

Over the centuries Dunbar Cave has meant different things to many different people — shelter, a sacred place, relaxation in the healing springs water, or somewhere to have fun. 

In addition to the guided cave tours, enjoy nearly five miles of hiking trails, spot wildlife and fauna, or enjoy a picnic on the grounds. 

Dunbar Cave was fascinating; there’s thousands of years of human history here, a must-see Clarksville attraction. 

Admission: $18 for adults. Visitors under 5 years old are not permitted.

Flashlight: $10

Dunbar Cave Address: 401 Old Dunbar Cave Rd, Clarksville, TN 37043

For more historic attractions and other fun things to do in Clarksville, TN, download the Visit Clarksville app (Android and iOS) which helps you map out and keep track of all the places you visit. The app is super convenient and I used it daily during my trip.

Clarksville has a rich history, and what I appreciated the most about this trip is the city’s commitment to preserving and sharing its history, culture and heritage with locals and visitors, near and far. 

Next, read about things to do in Leiper’s Fork, a small rural community near Franklin, Tennessee, where time stands still and creativity shines through. Only 1.5 hours from Clarksville, plan a day trip to Leiper’s Fork for a laidback day exploring the countryside. You can also listen to the podcast episode below.

What are your favorite things to do in Clarksville Tennessee?

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2 replies
  1. Borja Outdoor says:

    Hey y’all, just stumbled across this cool piece about our very own Clarksville, TN, and couldn’t help but share! 🌳🏘️ As a local, I’ve always appreciated our unique blend of history, military pride, and that unbeatable small-town vibe, just a hop away from Nashville. From the historic downtown filled with neat coffee shops and wall murals to the endless outdoor fun at places like Dunbar Cave State Park, Clarksville’s got a little something for everyone. 🛶🎣 With Fort Campbell close by, it’s amazing how diverse and vibrant our community is, thanks to the mix of military families, students, and long-time residents. Got me thinking, though – what’s your go-to spot in Clarksville for a weekend hangout? And for those who’ve been around, any hidden gems newcomers should check out? Let’s get chatting! 🗣️✨

    Reply

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