Despite being one of the more central states in the US without any bays or beaches, Tennessee has a lot to offer kayak enthusiasts. In fact, many seasoned kayakers tend to agree that Tennessee is one of the best states for kayaking overall, with a very wide range of options to suit every kind of kayaker. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Overview

Overview
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The rivers in the central part of the state provide a true spectrum of kayaking possibilities, with places like Duck River offering smooth, easy-going waters for calm kayaking, while locations like Rock Island or the Ocoee River offers some major rapids and whitewater kayaking options. This all means that both newbies and highly experienced kayakers can find a lot to love around Tennessee.

In terms of the sorts of things you can see along the way, Tennessee also offers major variety for kayakers. The Cumberland River flows right through Nashville and lets kayakers enjoy urban exploration and sights like the famous city skyline, while other areas like the Clinch River or Buffalo River provide more natural environments, with all sorts of vegetation and wildlife in every direction.

Kayak rentals and services are also available all around the state, and kayaking in Tennessee is a super way to spend some time outdoors with friends and family, especially when the weather starts to heat up and everyone is eager to get outside and cool off on the water. Things to Do in Tennessee

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2.Best Kayaking Locations in Tennessee

Best Kayaking Locations in Tennessee
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There are so many great kayaking locations to choose from all around the great state of Tennessee, and it’s not surprising to find kayakers paddling along many of the state’s rivers, both large and small, at almost any time of year. Here are some of the top Tennessee kayaking spots for you to enjoy on your next visit to the state, as well as the contact details of kayak rental and tour outfitters in each respective area.

· Duck River

The longest river to be situated entirely in the state of Tennessee, the Duck River runs for almost 300 miles in total and provides some stunning scenery, with gravel bars and little secluded spots perfect for picnics and photoshoots. Since this river is located in the Duck River State Natural Area, it's almost entirely green and natural, with barely any manmade monuments or buildings along the way, so it's a really great place to get away from the hustle and bustle or urban life and feel at one with nature.

The River Rat's Canoe Rental - 4361 US-431, Columbia, TN 38401 (931 381-2278)

· Ocoee River

Perhaps best-suited to experienced kayakers, the Ocoee River features some truly intense class III and IV rapids, with over 20 continued rapids in total, and is a prime spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Located in the picturesque Cherokee National Forest, this river was actually once used in the 1996 Olympics for a kayak/canoe event and can pose a real challenge to even the most skilled kayaker. In short, this is the place to be if you want to take your kayaking to a new level in Tennessee.

Raft One - 4599 US-64, Copperhill, TN 37317 (888 723-8663)

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3.More Kayaking Locations in Tennessee

More Kayaking Locations in Tennessee
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· Cumberland River

One of the biggest waterways in the southern half of the United States, the Cumberland River is simply huge. It runs for almost 700 miles in total from the Appalachian Mountains until meeting up with the Ohio River in Kentucky. There are many great kayaking spots along this river, with both rural and urban kayaking opportunities.

Many people like to kayak through Nashville via the Cumberland River in order to see the city from a new angle, while many parks and campgrounds can be found along the river's banks. The majority of the river is quite calm and flat, perfect for inexperienced kayakers, but some sections, like the area near Cumberland Falls, contain some choppy rapids for more of a challenging kayaking session.

Cumberland Kayak - 2 Victory Ave, Nashville, TN 37213 (615 800-7321)

· Buffalo River

With more than 120 miles of crystal clear water to enjoy, the Buffalo River is one of Tennessee's most visually striking kayaking locations. The waters are clean and beautiful all year long and the surrounding forests and scenery provide a magnificent backdrop for extended kayaking adventures. Kayak fishing for bass and other species is also possible along this river and all sorts of wildlife from beavers to deer can be spotted along the banks.

Bone’s Canoe and Campgrounds - 16520 Bakerville Rd, Hurricane Mills, TN 37078 (931 209-5908)

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Best Kayaking in Tennessee



Attraction Spotlight: Discovery Center

The Discovery Center, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is a wonderful interactive children’s museum designed to immerse guests in various exhibitions about the world around them. From the five senses, to an enormous slide and outdoor activity area, expect to spent a full day discovering all the center has to offer.

History

The Discovery Center was created in 1986 after lengthy grassroots, parent driven campaign to fund the museum. In its first year of operation, the center welcomed 11,000 guests through their doors. Now, over 30 years later, nearly 120,000 visitors come to the museum every year.

Permanent Exhibitions

The Discovery Center, in addition to bringing in temporary exhibitions, also is home to a variety of permanent exhibitions.

5 Senses focuses on teaching children about the five senses - smell, taste, hearing, sight, and touch - by using a larger than life model of an eye, a nose, a tongue, an ear, and a hand that they can interact with while learning.

Art loving children will enjoy Creation Station. The station is stocked with paints, clay, cardboard, paper, chalk, and other mediums they can use to make their own artwork that they can either display at the Discovery Center or take home with them. Guided sessions are also available for students in the afternoon on Thursday and Saturday.

For the train lovers, there is Clark Maple’s Depot. Kids can don their own conductor hats and railroad engineer clothing, purchase a ticket, and help run the trains. This exhibition is only available at certain times, so families should check with the front desk for a full schedule.

The Farmer’s Market was designed to let children do their own shopping. They can pick up their own grocery basket, pick out fruits, vegetables, grains, and pastries, load them up on the conveyor belt, and check out at the cash register. Children will also learn about how their food is produced and the average amount of miles that it will travel to get to the dinner table, as well as why it is so important to choose local options.

The Discovery Center is also home to a life size firetruck. The Oren engine, from 1954, is the most popular exhibition at the center. Children can put on their own firefighting hat, boots, and gear while learning about the history of fighting fires in Murfreesboro as well as getting important safety tips.

The center is also home to Nature Play, an outdoor exhibition meant to promote creativity while also getting out of the house for physical activity. Nature Play consists of seven different areas - a sound garden, play garden, water table, sand table, butterfly garden, human sundial, and discovery garden.

Brave children can try the Super Slide, which is two and a half stories tall.

There is also a Shadow Room, which lets children use their entire body to explore the wide world of shadow and light while using phosphorescence to “freeze” their shadows on the wall.

One of the more entertaining areas is the Tennessee Live exhibition, which introduces children to the aquatic world by using a living stream table. The exhibition and table will teach them all about turtles, snakes, and fish (by visiting with some of the live animals who live at the center), dig for fossils, and explore the local Cherokee Nation.

Educational Opportunities

The Discovery Center also hosts a huge amount of educational opportunities for children of all ages who visit. The website maintains a full calendar of these events, including cost.

One of the most popular is their summer camp. The camp will divide children into age related groups and allows for daily exploration of the museum exhibitions, free play outside in the Nature Play area, and a snack. Camp counselors will also be on hand to help guide the children during their time at the summer camp. This camp is designed for children between kindergarten and 5th grade.

For educators who want to incorporate the Discovery Center into their lesson plan, the center also has a variety of options. There are “field studies,” their version of a field trip, that can be requested during open hours. There are also mobile labs available by contacting the museum staff, offering an hour-long lab session in the comfort of the classroom.

Dining and Shopping

While there is not a cafe at the Discovery Center, there are a variety of different snack and beverage options available for purchase in the museum shop. The shop itself is great for souvenirs and other educational toys and items. Many of the items available for purchase at the shop relate in some way to the exhibitions that can be found inside the center. Be aware that they do not take American Express as payment.

Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, 502 SE Broad Street, Murfreesboro, TN, 37130, Phone: 615-890-2300

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Attraction Spotlight: Stones River National Battlefield

Although it can be a somber experience, visiting the Stones River National Battlefield at Murfreesboro, Tennessee is visiting a living piece of American history. Guests of all ages should plan to spend a few hours on the grounds and take advantage of the many park ranger based tour options.

History

The Battle of Stones River occurred on New Year’s Eve 1862 through January 2nd, 1863 and is considered one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War, as it had the largest number of casualties (percentage wise) on both the Union and Confederate sides. It remains one of the more important battles of that war, mostly due to the incredibly important gains that came out of it for the Union, both politically and for the military. The grounds were declared a national historic landmark as well as historical military park in 1927.

Permanent Exhibits

Visitors who come to the battlefield say it takes around two hours to fully see the visitor center as well as the battlefield.

Visitor Center: The battlefield is home to a visitor center, which is open from 9am to 5pm every day with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Located at the museum is a museum with artifacts and relics from the Civil War, a movie about the Stones River battle, and a gift shop/bookstore.

Bicycle tours: Park rangers lead visitors on a bicycle tour of the battlefield every second Saturday of the month (between April and October), heading out at 9am. This is a great, environmentally, and physically healthy way to explore the area and learn about the history of the battle and the Civil War. Bicycle tours are limited to the first 15 guests and no bicycles are provided. Children under 16 must wear helmets. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and will be around seven miles total in length. Bicycles are welcome on all paved trails as well, even without being involved in a guided tour.

Living History: Guests planning to travel to the battlefield should check the website to see if any Living History programs will be going on during their visit. These programs focus on re-enactments, demonstrations of weapons and equipment from the Civil War, and other history lessons. Generally, there is at least one of these programs offered a month. It is a great, fun way to really watch history come alive!

Hiking: For visitors who prefer to see the grounds on their own, the park and battlefield offer over seven miles of hiking and walking trails. It also connects directly to another four miles of paved trails managed by Murfreesboro. There are variety of different difficulty levels to choose from, so guests can decide which one is right for their skill level.

Cemetery: One of the more somber areas on the battlefield grounds is the national cemetery for Stones River, which is the final resting place for almost 7,000 people (with over 2,500 of those people still being unidentified). There is a monument outside the grounds that is currently the oldest Civil War statue surviving in its original location, called Hazen’s Brigade (1863).

Educational Opportunities

The park and battleground encourage students to visit and participate in a variety of educational opportunities on-site.

Field trips: There are a variety of field trip options for students at the battlefield. They are categorized by grade level of the students, as well as topic type. Park rangers lead the field trips. Teachers should contact the staff to schedule as well as to discuss the lesson plan that the curriculum will hit.

Curriculum: The website is also home to tons of curriculum materials for teachers to use inside the classroom as well, all searchable by keyword. They are offered free of charge.

Junior Ranger: Children who come to the park without a class can participate in the junior ranger program. They should stop by the visitor center to pick up the booklet, which can be completed and turned in for a badge (completing six or more activities) or a patch (completing ten or more activities).

Dining and Shopping

While no dining options are available, picnicking is welcome. However, all picnics must be held in the designated areas, located across from the visitor center. Guests should make sure to clean up after themselves, especially taking care to throw away all garbage. For guests wanting to take home a souvenir, the visitor center offers a bookstore and small gift shop with apparel. Purchases go back into supporting the park’s system as well. The store also offers online ordering.

Stones River National Battlefield, 3501 Old Nashville Highway, Murfreesboro, TN, 37129, Phone: 615-893-9501

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Attraction Spotlight: Oaklands Mansion

Oaklands Mansion, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is a relic from the Civil War that has been restored into a functional and educational museum. Featuring both indoor and outdoor exhibits, the mansion is a great way to bring history alive for guests of all ages.

History

This historic plantation house was built in 1818. It has been listed on the National Registry for Historic Places in the state of Tennessee and is most well-known for its Civil War related history. Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, stayed in the home in December of 1892. The last actual owners of the home (Rebecca Jetton) moved out in the 1950s and mansion was turned into a museum and opened to the public in the 1960s. Thousands of guests now visit Oaklands on an annual basis.

Permanent Exhibits

The Oaklands Mansion actually contains both the inside and the outside grounds, both of which are tour able during their open hours.

The gardens and grounds are composed of the Native Tree Arboretum, Heritage Flower and Vegetable Gardens, Maney Springs and Walking Trails, and the 250-year-old white oak tree. Informational signs are located along the trail to help guests perform their own self-guided tours. This area also includes Maney Springs. The area as a whole is also known as Oaklands Park, and it is the largest naturally created wetland area in downtown Murfreesboro.

The mansion offers basic tours every day that they are open (which is every day of the week with the exception of Mondays when they are closed) at the top of the hour until 3pm. There is a cost associated with these tours, and discounts are provided for children, students, and seniors.

The internal collection of the mansion rotates on a fairly regular basis. One of the more regular exhibits at the mansion is a collection of medical items that is normally on display in a room located directly off of Dr. Maney’s bedroom. This collection contains a diverse selection of medical items, from a dental kit that dates back to the Civil War era to a kit that was used by the personal physician of Nathan Bedford Forrest for amputation purposes.

Guests who visit the mansion should pay special attention to the interior furnishings, which were especially lavish given the times. Decorated in the most modern style at the time, the mansion was designed with modern architectural styles and furnished with the latest and most fashionable furnishings for the mid-1800s. The newest addition to the mansion was designed in Italianate style in order to make the mansion the most suitable and comfortable for all of the entertaining that the family did in the home. It was designed by a local architect, Richard Sanders. It included a new front parlor as well as a library. Also built was a stunning spiral staircase that leads into the upstairs bedroom.

In the 1950s, the mansion was subject to multiple vandalization of both the artifacts and the actual structure itself. Starting with the restoration in 1959, many of the original artifacts were returned and refurbished and are now on display inside the museum. The museum goes into detail about the history of the many women who drove this rehabilitation forward.

Educational Opportunities

Field trips of the Oaklands Mansion are always welcome and encouraged by the knowledgeable mansion staff. Curriculum standards and various lesson plans are available on the mansion’s website. These plans are broken up into categories, focusing on plans for students in 1st through 3rd grade, students in 4th through 6th grade, and generalized plans.

The mansion also hosts a variety of educationally themed special events during the year. In May, there is a day focusing on the way that daily household chores were performed in the mid-1800s, allowing children to get hands on with doing the laundry and even milking cows. Fall brings the Autumn in the Oaks event, which is a full field day with arts, crafts, and activities that focus on the outdoors. Children can bring home leaf rubbings, help with harvest related chores, and learn more about what happened at Oaklands during the fall season. Many of these special, education events are offered free of charge.

Shopping

There is a small gift shop located in the mansion. This shop sells a variety of merchandise that is themed around the history of Oaklands and includes apparel, toys, and other gifts. The gift shop is open during the mansion’s open hours and proceeds go back into supporting the daily operations and rehabilitation efforts.

Oaklands Mansion, 901 North Maney Avenue, Murfreesboro, TN, 37130, Phone: 615-893-0022

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