Cookeville is a small city in Tennessee, surrounded by spectacular mountains and state and local parks. It is the perfect base for nature lovers who want to explore the outdoors, but it also offers enough activities in town to interest those who want to experience a city break. Things to do in Cookeville include visiting museums, art galleries, theatres, downtown shopping, distilleries and farmers markets.
The city is 130 km (80.9 miles) from Nashville, so you could easily come here for the day trip, but I suggest a longer stay as there is plenty to do and see. There are three national parks close by, Cummins Falls, Burgess Falls, and Rock Island, where you can hike, fish and picnic. Those interested in history will enjoy the Cookeville Depot Museum, the History Museum, and the Derryberry Art Gallery.
You won’t go hungry in Cookeville, as there is a plethora of restaurants downtown, as well as many coffee shops and bakeries where you can sample delicious cakes and pastries. There are also sports bars and pubs with great pub grub, craft beers and TVs playing sports all day long. To help you decide what to do during your visit, whether it is a week or a couple of days, these are my top 20 things to do in Cookeville that will make your stay more enjoyable.
- Cookeville, Tennessee
- 20 Things To Do In Cookeville
- 1- Explore The Outdoors At Cummins Falls State Park
- 2- Visit The Cookeville Depot Museum
- 3- Have A Family Fun Day At Hidden Hollow Park
- 4- See Cookeville’s Famous ‘Our Protectors’ Mural
- 5- Take A Step Back In Time At Cookeville History Museum
- 6- Hike In Burgess Falls State Park
- 7- Enjoy A Show At The Cookeville Performing Arts Centre
- 8- Spend The Day At Cane Creek Park
- 9- Go Shopping At The Market On The Square And Cookeville Antique Mall
- 10- Take A Leisurely Stroll At White Plains Historic Home
- 11- Enjoy Dogwood Park’s Fountain
- 12- Enjoy Authentic Cajun Food At Crawdaddy’s Grill
- 13- Explore The City’s Natural Area
- 14- Visit The Muddy Pond Amish Community
- 15- Enjoy A Horseback Ride
- 16- Enjoy A Tasting At The Tennessee Legend Distillery At Maddox Place
- 17- Experience Local Arts At The Appalachian Centre For Crafts
- 18- Enjoy Cookeville At Night
- 19- Have A Tour And Taste At Delmonaco Winery & Vineyards
- 20- Mix With the Locals At Cookeville Farmers Market
- 20 Things To Do In Cookeville
20 Things To Do In Cookeville
1- Explore The Outdoors At Cummins Falls State Park
Cummins Falls State Park is a 282-acre park 14 km (8.8 miles) north of Cookeville.
It gets its name from the spectacular waterfall in the park, which is 23 metres (75 feet) high and is on the Blackburn Fork State scenic river.
It is the eighth-largest waterfall in the state of Tennessee.
The park is a day park and closes before sunset, so you can’t camp but it’s a lovely place to spend the day.
You can hike, and you have the choice of an easy or a difficult hike.
The easy hike takes you from the car park to a spot where you get magnificent views of the waterfall.
The other hike takes you to the base of the waterfall, where you can swim, and after, hike above the gorge.
However, you have to purchase a permit to do this, and only 200 people are allowed to do this hike each day, so book well in advance.
Another tip is to be careful if you decide to swim at the base of the falls, as the current is strong.
The park is open all year round, and it is free to get in apart from the permit.
There are designated picnic areas, so you can stay all day and even fish in the river.
2- Visit The Cookeville Depot Museum
If you are interested in trains, you will love the Cookeville Depot Museum as it tells the story of the city’s railway history.
It is in the original Cookeville train depot, dating back to 1909.
The museum houses many artefacts from the Tennessee Central Railway, such as cabooses from 1920 and the 1960s, a model train loading up with coal, and a Baldwin steam engine from 1912.
Entrance to the museum is free, and you can take a guided tour that I recommend, as you will learn more about the railroad system in Cookeville through the years.
The museum is in a small park which has picnic tables, so you can have your lunch here.
The Cookeville Depot Museum is at 116 Broad Street, Cookeville, 3850.
3- Have A Family Fun Day At Hidden Hollow Park
If you have children, Hidden Hollow Park is a great place to take them for a few hours.
It is a park within the city and has a swimming pool, playgrounds, fishing ponds, courts such as a volleyball court, and a petting zoo.
There are picnic areas, so you could easily bring your lunch here for a break from the activities.
If you want a bit of exercise but nothing too strenuous, Hidden Hollow Park will suit you down to the ground.
It has a few walking and biking trails that don’t involve walking up hills, making it a relaxing experience.
Hidden Hollow Park is at 1901 Mt. Pleasant Road, Cookeville, 38506.
4- See Cookeville’s Famous ‘Our Protectors’ Mural
Don’t miss going to see the ‘Our Protector’s’ mural, as it is spectacular.
It honours the people who helped in the fire of September 2021 and includes firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and emergency technicians.
The mural is painted on a depot building and depicts smoke coming out of a window.
The smoke is disguised as the US flag and is shaped like the country.
There is a ladder leading up to the window with a fireman and police officer standing at the bottom and a paramedic, with an ambulance, helping a woman.
‘Our Protectors’ Mural is at the corner of Cedar and West Broad Street, Cookeville, 38501.
5- Take A Step Back In Time At Cookeville History Museum
If you would like to learn more about the history of Cookeville and Tennessee, stop by the Cookeville History Museum.
It houses artefacts, photos, and documents dating from the start of the 19th century until the recent past.
There are interactive displays so you can get involved, and there is a timeline around the building, starting with the first people who settled in the city and leading up to the present day.
Guided tours are on offer, and you will find that the staff are friendly and well-informed, so don’t hesitate to ask them questions.
As well as the permanent exhibition, special events, such as lectures, family days, and book signings, are held throughout the year.
Cookeville History Museum is at 40 E. Broad Street, Cookeville, 38501.
6- Hike In Burgess Falls State Park
Just 18.3 km (11.4 miles) south of Cookeville is Burgess Falls State Park, a park known for cascading waterfalls and spectacular views.
You can visit at any time of the day, but it is just a day park, so you can’t camp overnight.
In the park, there are hiking trails, some demanding, others offering a leisurely stroll.
You can bring a picnic and spend the day enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Be sure to go to one of the outlook points for views worth photographing.
There are four waterfalls in the park, falling from as high as 76 metres (250 feet), one plunging straight into the gorge.
You can visit the base of the biggest waterfall by boat or kayak, but you aren’t allowed to swim as it is too dangerous.
It is free to go into Burgess Falls State Park, and it is also free to park your car.
Burgess Falls State Park is at 4000 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, 38583.
7- Enjoy A Show At The Cookeville Performing Arts Centre
The Cookeville Performing Arts Centre has three theatres, holding a total of 456 people.
The sound and lighting systems are ultra-modern, leading to lively and exciting performances.
Over the years, The Cookeville Performing Arts Centre has hosted highly acclaimed plays, dance performances, comedy shows, and concerts.
Check their website to see if there’s anything on during your stay in Cookeville.
The Cookeville Performing Arts Centre is at 10 E Broad Street 3285, Cookeville, 38501.
8- Spend The Day At Cane Creek Park
You can easily spend the day at this 262-acre day park in Cookeville.
There are picnic tables with charcoal grills, so you can have a barbecue as a break from the activities.
Cane Creek Park has a beautiful lake where you can fish and rent out paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes.
There are walking trails, a mountain bike trail, an 18-hole disc golf course, five playgrounds, two fishing piers, a volleyball court, and a basketball court.
If you have children, they will be tired out by the end of the day.
Some of the trails wind through forests, and you may be lucky enough to spot wildlife such as wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, opossums, grey squirrels, and racoons.
You might also spot hawks and, if you are lucky, owls.
You can bring your dog to the park as long as it is kept on a leash.
Cane Creek Park is at 201 C C Camp Road, Cookeville, 38501.
9- Go Shopping At The Market On The Square And Cookeville Antique Mall
If you want to shop ‘til you drop, there are plenty of opportunities in Cookeville.
One of these is The Market on The Square, which is a woman-owned and operated business.
It is right in the centre of Cookeville and is a multi-level shopping heaven.
In the basement, you will find home décor, while the ground floor sells delicious food such as salted caramel banana bread and Florida sunshine red pepper corn chowder soup.
There is also a full range of kitchen accessories on offer on this floor while on the other floors, you will find fashion, accessories, and jewellery.
They have an online shop as well, so you can buy from them when you get home.
Cookeville Antique Mall covers 836 square metres (9,000 square feet) and is filled with vendors selling a wide variety of antiques and collectables, such as furniture, jewellery, books, toys, and clothes.
You will find that prices are reasonable and that the vendors are friendly and helpful.
The Market on The Square is at 6 N. Jefferson Avenue, Cookeville, 38501.
Cookeville Antique Mall is at 402 Dubois Road, Cookeville, 38501.
10- Take A Leisurely Stroll At White Plains Historic Home
The White Plains Historic Home was built in the 1840s and was used as the country seat and a centre of commerce.
It was a plantation, and the grounds cover 15 acres.
Over the years, various buildings were built on the grounds, such as living quarters for slaves, a post office, an inn, a store, a school, and farm outbuildings.
There was also a deer park where people went hunting.
The house is on the National Register of Historic Homes, and you can take a tour of the house and gardens by appointment.
Special events take place here during the year, so check their website to see if anything is on while you are visiting Cookeville.
The house is part of the annual Quilt Festival, where historic houses display quilts and you can follow a trail to all these houses.
In December, there’s an open house.
White Plains Historic Home is at 2700 Walton Road, Algood, 38506
11- Enjoy Dogwood Park’s Fountain
Dogwood Park is open year-round and is free.
It is a great place to take your children on a hot summer’s day, as there is an interactive fountain where they can splash away to their hearts’ content.
There are walking and cycling trails, a playground, a rose garden, and picnic shelters with benches.
You can bring your dog, as long as it is kept on a leash.
The park comes alive during the summer evenings when films are shown, and Shakespeare and musical shows are performed in the park’s amphitheatre.
Special events are held in the warm weather, such as Blues & Brew, a jazz and beer festival, and Dogapalooza, a celebration of dogs.
Bring your dogs and enjoy animal demonstrations, activities for owners and dogs, an off-leash play area, an agility course, and a dog show for kids to show off their pets.
What’s even better, is that it’s free.
12- Enjoy Authentic Cajun Food At Crawdaddy’s Grill
If you are a fan of Cajun food, Crawdaddy’s Grill serves some of the best dishes north of Louisiana.
It’s one of the most popular restaurants in the city, not least because they pile your plates high.
Dishes include jambalaya, fried green tomatoes with crab cream sauce, alligator bites, classic crab cakes, blackened salmon, and shrimp n’ grits.
If you have a big appetite, there are massive 22-ounce ribeye steaks on offer.
Desserts are luscious and include molten lava cake and pecan cobbler.
They also have an extensive wine list.
The restaurant is huge and offers seating inside, on the patio, or the rooftop, so you can enjoy the views and the summer weather.
From time to time, there is live music.
Crawdaddy’s Grill is at 53 VV Broad Street, Cookeville, 38501.
13- Explore The City’s Natural Area
The City’s Natural Area is a treat for nature lovers, particularly because it has beautiful waterfalls cascading into a river-like bend, which is actually a lake.
There is a boat ramp here where you can launch your own small boat, kayak or canoe.
You can also fish in the lake.
There are picnic areas, so you can bring your lunch and an arboretum for you to walk off your food among the trees.
There is also a hiking trail that begins in the car park and ends at City Lake Falls, which has a viewing platform.
It is 0.48 km (0.3 miles) there and back, so it is a short hike but a worthwhile one for the view at the end.
The City’s Natural Area is at 2010 Bridgeway Drive, Cookeville, 38506.
14- Visit The Muddy Pond Amish Community
Muddy Pond Road is home to several Mennonite communities who have named the area Muddy Pond after one of the small muddy ponds that can be found there.
They are friendly and welcoming people, and you can easily spend a few hours here visiting the various shops and having lunch.
The first stop along Muddy Pond Road is Troyer’s Café, where you can have a cappuccino and a pastry or doughnut.
It is a quaint building with a book corner where you can stay for an hour or so.
The next stop is the Country Porch, which is a bakery, deli, cafe, gift shop, and grocery store.
This is a lovely stop for lunch, as they serve delicious deli sandwiches.
There are also two leather shops, a general store, and the Sorghum Mill/Muddy Pond Variety Store, where they make 100% sorghum syrup with no additives.
Why not try some? It’s a natural sweetener and is great on pancakes.
The Muddy Pond Amish Community is 24.56 km (15.26 miles) from Cookeville and will probably take you 20 minutes to get there.
The Muddy Pond Amish Community is at Muddy Pond Road, Monterey, 38574.
15- Enjoy A Horseback Ride
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced horseback rider, Circle K Horse Pavilion will suit you down to the ground as it offers lessons for all levels.
You can choose between having a private lesson or joining a group.
In addition, you can choose whether you want to ride indoors, outdoors around the premises, or on a trail.
The trail rides offer the best experience.
The scenery is beautiful, and there is plenty of shade where you can rest your horse and make sure that it gets fresh water.
The instructors are experienced riders, and the horses are well looked after.
All safety standards are adhered to.
Circle Horse Pavilion is at 4698 Bohannon Lane, Cookeville, 38506.
16- Enjoy A Tasting At The Tennessee Legend Distillery At Maddox Place
If you enjoy a nip or two of whisky, vodka, or in fact, any other spirit, why not head over to The Tennessee Legend Distillery at Maddox Place?
You can take a tour of the distillery and learn how the spirits are made and the history of the process.
Afterwards, you can enjoy a tasting of a few of their products and then purchase a bottle or two of your favourites if you wish.
They produce a wide variety of spirits, and some of their unusual ones include Orange Creamside Moonshine, Peanut Butter Cup Whisky, and Blueberries & Cream Cream Liqueur.
The Tennessee Legend Distillery at Maddox Place is at 323 East Spring Street, Cookeville, 38501.
17- Experience Local Arts At The Appalachian Centre For Crafts
The Appalachian Centre for Crafts is part of the campus of the School of Art and Design within the College of Fine Arts.
It is in Smithville, which is 46.3 km (28.76 miles) from Cookeville, but it is worth the trip.
The Centre has a gallery with artwork created by more than 150 artists, some local and others regional.
You can purchase any piece that you like.
In the summer, the Centre holds workshops in such mediums as glass, clay, wood, metal, fibre, and blacksmithing.
They have classes for all different skill levels, and you can book online.
The Appalachian Centre For Crafts is at 1560 Craft Centre Dr, Smithville, 37166.
18- Enjoy Cookeville At Night
After a day’s sightseeing, you will probably want to have a night out.
Cookeville is well set up for an enjoyable evening’s entertainment, whether you just want to go to a good restaurant, enjoy a few drinks at a bar or pub, or you want to dance the night away.
Spankies is a vibrant American bar and grill serving traditional American food like steak, seafood, and Reuben sandwiches.
If the weather’s good, you can eat outside.
There are a few TVs in the bar, and they often have live music.
Hooligans Half Irish Pub is a sports bar with plenty of TVs to watch live matches.
They serve traditional pub grub, have a great selection of beers and a jukebox.
They stay open till late.
Father Tom’s Pub serves American pub grub like burgers, pork sliders, and shrimp ‘n grits.
They have a good selection of craft beers and serve killer cocktails.
Spankies is at 203 E 9th Street, Cookeville38501.
Hooligan’s Half Irish Pub is at 586 S Jefferson Avenue, Cookeville, 38501.
Rather Tom’s Pub is at 32 N Cedar Avenue, Cookeville, 38501.
19- Have A Tour And Taste At Delmonaco Winery & Vineyards
Delmonaco Winery & Vineyards is just a 15-minute drive away from Cookeville and is a great place to try some local wine.
You can have a tour of the winery and vineyards so that you can learn how the wine is produced from start to finish.
Then you get three complimentary tastings of their best wines.
The experience doesn’t have to end there.
The winery has a restaurant serving dishes made with locally sourced products, and, of course, there is an extensive wine list.
The winery also hosts special events, so check their website to see if anything’s on while you are in Cookeville.
They sometimes have live music nights and, at other times, wine and food pairing sessions.
Delmonaco Winery & Vineyards are at 600 Lance Dr, Baxter, 38544
20- Mix With the Locals At Cookeville Farmers Market
If you want to visit a spot where locals gather, head to the Cookeville Farmers Market.
Unlike many farmers markets, which are only open in the morning, this one is open from 6 am to 6 pm every day, including Sundays.
The market has vendors selling a wide variety of goods, including baked goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, locally reared meat, and handmade crafts.
If you are staying in self-catering accommodation, it is a great place to buy food as it is fresh and reasonably priced.
It is also a good place to buy souvenirs or gifts to take home.
Cookeville Farmers Market is at 530 Mahler Avenue, Cookeville, 38501.
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