Two hours south of Evansville, on the corridor linking the River City with Nashville, Tennessee, are two smaller cities with bright lights and big appeal. Boasting charm, history, and a relaxed pace, Clarksville and Dickson are worth a stop.
Clarksville, 112 miles south of Evansville on Interstate 24, is a matrix of activity along a ribbon of winding Cumberland riverfront.
In the downtown historic district, the 1898 Customs House Museum and Cultural Center features architect William Martin Aiken’s juxtaposition of classic Richardsonian Romanesque accents like arched windows and etched masonry with a Gothic Revival roof and lookout tower. Three floors of curated exhibitions now showcase acclaimed artists. At the museum, grab a map of Clarksville’s downtown public art trail, with 25 sculptures, murals, and fountains reflecting the town’s broader commitment to artistic expression.
Hop into Strawberry Alley Ale Works, a craft brewery with mainstays like the 1820 Kölsch and Class A IPA. Further afield, at Tennessee Valley Brewing Company, Eric and Wendy Brannstrom integrate 200-year-old heritage grains and local pecans and honey.
From downtown, walk the scenic Upland Trail along the Cumberland Riverwalk, a two-mile stretch that meets Liberty Park and the Clarksville Marina to the south — an idyllic place to clock a few more miles on land or water, with 1.8 miles of trails, a boat rental facility, and 10 acres for picnics and outdoor recreation.
East of downtown is the 144-acre Dunbar Cave State Park, perfect for bird sighting. Rest your feet at The Mad Herbalist, a tea lounge where patrons can curate tea flights, from smoked lapsang to bright berries and hibiscus, in a delicious sendoff to nearby Dickson.
Dickson, Tennessee, just 33 miles south of Clarksville, is steeped in nostalgia, with a retro ice cream parlor, storied live music at The Grand Old Hatchery, and iconic movie theater dating to 1951.
Anchoring downtown, the Clement Railroad Museum sits where 13 train lines once passed through Dickson and immerses visitors in Tennessee’s Civil War and iron industry history. The museum site is a former hotel for traveling salesmen in the leather and tobacco industries.
Stay at the newly renovated Montgomery Bell State Park Lodge. The 3,850-acre park offers three tranquil lakes, a beautiful craftsman-style spillway, top-notch golf course, and thriving oak-history forest interior.
A bonus once you’re northbound again is nearby Charlotte, Tennessee. Tour preserved sites from the Promise Land, a prosperous 19th and 20th century African American community. Stop off at Sweet Charlotte for more than 125 varieties of old-fashioned candy, gourmet popcorn, fudge, and sodas before journeying home.
When You Go
Customs House Museum & Cultural Center
200 S. Second St.
Strawberry Alley Ale Works
103 Strawberry Alley
Montgomery Bell State Park Lodge
1000 Hotel Ave., Burns, TN
Clement Railroad Museum
100 Frank Clement Place
707 Promise Land Road
3601 TN Hwy 48