It’s officially the last Nashville Wanderer’s post of the year! We’ve explored a lot of places throughout our first year at Vanderbilt, making great memories along the way, and hopefully, through these posts, we’ve inspired you to travel off campus as well. This week Walker and I decided to pack a lot into one post, so we went and visited one of our favorite places in Nashville: the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Not to be confused with Centennial Park, Bicentennial is located right down the hill past the Tennessee State Capitol. It’s a bit of a hike if you decide to walk — about 45 minutes (which I still highly recommend) — but only a short eight-minute ride if you decide to Uber. Since the 19-acre park is so beautiful and has a multitude of attractions, I made a list to cover as many of the features as I could. Bicentennial has got:
- The Greek-inspired Tennessee Amphitheatre
- The Nashville Farmers’ Market
- The Court of Three Stars (the center has an echo spot like Upper Quad) surrounded by a Carillon of 50 Greek-styled bell towers
- Rivers of Tennessee Splash Fountains
- A 200-foot-wide Granite Map of Tennessee
- A World War II Memorial with an 18,000-ton moving granite globe
- The Tennessee State Museum right across from the Court of Three Stars
For our trip, Walker and I spent our time exploring the Tennessee State Museum, the Court of Three Stars and bell towers, and the Nashville Farmers’ Market. We started at the museum, which is free to the public, and were immediately blown away by the structure and detail of the exhibits. Music, racial movements, the Civil War, sports, clothing through the decades, paintings, and even quilting (I still don’t know why quilting was involved) were covered in the wonderfully arranged displays of Tennessee’s origins and past. The museum had plenty of interactive screens and videos that covered each exhibit and also had plenty of photo-worthy architecture as well (the place is so huge that I honestly lost Walker for a solid ten minutes).
Before we left the museum, we hit up the children’s area (you should not be surprised by this point) and it honestly had some of the coolest art from the entire place. While the general exhibits had lots of history, the children’s area had all of the bright murals one would look for. The floor was covered by a giant map of Tennessee and the walls had multiple colorful pieces on them; one of them even included the Batman Building, but Walker failed at getting my photo next to it (rip).
After chilling at the museum for a while, we headed over to the park itself to check out the WWII memorial. As mentioned above, the WWII memorial has a giant, heavy black granite globe in the center of it, showing the places around the world that Tennessee troops went to during the war. The memorial is surrounded by cherry blossom trees and leads the way to the Court of Three Stars.
This area is so cool to experience because one direction you’ve got a beautiful lawn leading up to the State Capitol hill, and the other way you have 50 Greek-inspired columns that encircle a humongous granite version of the Tennessee Tristar. The lawn was undergoing construction when we visited this time (hence the lack of photos), but from past visits, I can assure you that it is a sight you will want to see while at Vanderbilt.
For our last stop, we hopped into the Nashville Farmers’ Market to check out some of the cool printing shops and local businesses inside. We had grabbed food at Commons before we left (gotta get that swipe), but the market also has bubble tea, crepes, Mexican, coffee, Jamaican, Korean, BBQ, a deli/grill, Jeni’s ice cream, and more. Since we weren’t eating anything there, we shopped, took some artsy photos with a magazine (check below), and then headed to the outside market and garden center.
The outside market hosts a lot of events throughout the year, and although there was no specific event the day we were there, they had some food trucks and neighborhood vendors selling their art (I got a bag of scrap fabric for only $5). The garden center, Gardens of Babylon, has actually been rated one of the most environmentally friendly businesses in Nashville. It was so fun to see all of the different kinds of plants (some were the same ones from Stevenson’s greenhouse) and shop around for flowers and succulents. Walker and I also spent a shameful seven minutes trying to get a mini Venus flytrap to eat a leaf (it did not work). But all jokes aside, I will definitely be hitting this place up for some affordable house plants for next year and recommend the same for anyone else.
Bicentennial State Park is a jam-packed experience that makes you want to come back time and time again. It is seriously one of the most beautiful places I’ve found in Nashville and I hope that you take the time to see it for yourself. Whether you’re looking for some good food, a scenic place to study, a chance to get to know Tennessee’s rich history, or a new succulent, Bicentennial has got it all and is only a walk away.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park Info: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/bicentennial-mall
Tennessee State Museum Hours and Info: https://tnmuseum.org/
Nashville Farmers’ Market Hours and Info: https://www.nashvillefarmersmarket.org/