Explore America's park logoIn a town known for country music and honky tonks, Nashville’s Centennial Park is a peaceful place to stroll quietly while waiting for your ears to stop ringing from the night before. The 312-acre park at on West End and 25th Avenue North has been the city’s green getaway for more than a century.


Here you’ll find great lawns and one-mile walking trail, the tranquil Lake Watauga and a beautiful sunken garden. There are sand volleyball courts and two dog parks. But the most notable feature of Centennial Park is the Parthenon, a replica of the ancient Greek temple built of brick, stone, structural reinforced concrete, and cast concrete aggregate instead of Pentelic marble. Nashville’s version of the Parthenon serves as the city’s art museum, housing a permanent of 63 paintings by 19th- and 20th-century American artists donated by James M. Cowan.



The park, site of an old racetrack, and Parthenon were built in 1897 as the site of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Things to do

leaving the dog park at Centennial Park in NashvilleYou can walk or jog on the one-mile walking trail through the park or run with your dog at one of two dog parks. (That's a forlorn pooch at right leaving the small dog park behind.) Then you can check your email or update your Facebook status. Centennial Park offers free wireless Internet access.


Centennial Art Center — a renovated swimming complex — includes a gallery and studio classrooms.


Be sure to stop and smell the basil at the herb garden maintained by the Herb Society of Nashville.


Why you’ll want to come back

A recently completed master plan for redevelopment of the park calls for construction of a new arts and activities center, playgrounds, a new events pavilion for concerts and plays, and a visitor’s center. The plan also recommends expansion of the park’s rose garden and creation of a second rose arbor. Also proposed is development of a new Cherry Blossom Walk along Lake Watauga.


Flora and fauna

Ducks and geese swim on Lake Watauga.


By the numbers:

  • Website: Nashville Parks and Recreation
  • Park size: 132 acres
  • Funky fact: The bronze doors of the Nashville Parthenon weigh 7.5 tons each, making them the largest set of matching bronze doors in the world.
This is part of Explore America's Parks, a series of user's guides to national, state and local park systems across the United States. We'll be adding new parks all summer, so check back for more.


Inset photo of Slinkie the dachshund leaving the dog park behind: seeMidTN.com/Flickr

Centennial Park in Nashville: A user's guide
The most notable structure in Nashville's green playground is the Parthenon, a replica of the ancient temple made of modern materials.