2. Centennial Park And Vanderbilt University
The most famous element of this park, just over a mile from downtown, is the replica of the Parthenon (yes, the one in Greece!). But Centennial Park itself is the hidden gem. Originally built in 1897, it was the site of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. The city decided to make it a permanent park when the Expo closed and to keep the Parthenon as an attraction. I found the park to be a lovely place with ponds with ducks, plenty of food truck vendors, and picnic spots galore.
Vanderbilt University, built by patriarch Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1873, sits adjacent to the park. He is literally a looming figure with a statue of him prominently featured in Centennial Park. The campus has beautiful grounds you can stroll. Check out Kirkland Hall, a unique building that is the original site of the university. The Peabody College of Education buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Centennial Park is open every day from dawn to 11 p.m. Visit in the spring when magnolias and redbuds are in bloom.