As travel opens up again, and we all venture a little further from our home state, we're diving into summer with these water-filled activities. Infinite Waterways and Marinas Across the Volunteer State. Yep, we're road tripping and heading to Tennessee.
With over a half-million acres of lakes and 50,000 miles of rivers, Tennessee has unlimited adventure possibilities. Here is a round up of a few of our favorite water adventures...
Swimming hole at Rock Island State Park. | Photo Credit: Cody Bryant
Sail Away on Your Next Tennessee Vacation
Rock the boat and shake things up on your next summertime adventure at lakes, rivers and waterways across the state. Visitors can spend the weekend smooth sailing with friends and family while they take in Tennessee’s natural beauty by boat. Whether looking to take it easy, fish the day away or pull out the innertube, chase the heat waves to one of our many rivers or lakes.
Marina at Pickwick Landing State Park in Counce, Tennessee. | Photo Credit: Tennessee State Parks
Montgomery Bell State Park - Burns
Looking for a city escape? Boaters can cruise over to Montgomery Bell State Park to unwind and float among the park’s three lakes. Montgomery Bell offers a wide range of water activities to escape on a summer oasis including paddling down Lake Acorn, boating around Lake Woodhaven and taking a plunge in the water at the area’s swim beach. Visitors can also cast a line and spend a day fishing for bass, brim, catfish and more. End the water-filled day at the park’s full-service restaurant where visitors can take in sunset views overlooking Lake Acorn and dine on classic Tennessee cuisine.
Norris Lake – Follette
If the mountains are calling, head to East Tennessee and set up camp at Norris Lake. With over 34,000 acres of clear blue waters surrounded by Tennessee’s scenic mountains, it is the vacation that dreams are made of. Whether into fishing, floating down the lake in a pontoon, water skiing or tubing, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Not only are there campsites nearby for visitors to fully maximize their timeout on the water, but there is also over 22 marinas to dock at, fill up on gas, grab a snack or drink or spend the evening having dinner and enjoying live music at one of the waterfront marina restaurants. The lake is also open to all swimmers and has been classified by the Tennessee Valley Authorities System as the cleanest lake in the state.
Pickwick Landing State Park – Counce
For the idyllic weekend out on the water, consider spending it at Pickwick Landing State Park. Whether looking to cruise along the Pickwick Lake or hook a fish or two, spend the day among Tennessee’s blue skies, crisp waters and one of pro-fisherman’s Bill Dance’s favorite fishing spots in Tennessee.Pickwick Landingoffers Pickwick Pontoon Rentals where you can rent a boat, kayak or canoe for the day. The day doesn’t have to end with a boat ride at Pickwick, consider soaking up some rays and cooling off in the water at the park’s two miles of beaches or teeing it off the golf course overlooking the lake.
Grab Your Rod & Reel and “Fish Tennessee”
An outdoor adventurer’s dream and the ideal sport suited for the whole family, fishing in Tennessee’s more than half-million acres of lakes and 50,000 miles of river and streams is second to none. Experience the state’s beautiful scenery, cast the net a little wider and hit the open water for a little fishy competition and memories to last a lifetime.
Bass-fishing on Chickamauga Lake. | Photo Credit: Tennessee Tourism
Chickamauga Lake – Chattanooga
Cast a line and spend the day floating down Chickamauga Lake. Along the way, visitors may just catch sight of a catfish, largemouth bass, crappie or bluegill fish. With 36,000 acres of lake stretching across 810 miles of shoreline, there is plenty of space to reel in a tournament winning bass and drift along some of that state’s natural beauty. Whether an expert fisherman or a beginner, the lake is inviting to all ages. Make it a weekend of fishing by staying at Harrison Bay State Park which lays among 40 miles of Chickamauga Lake’s shoreline. Here, set up camp, dock the boat at the park’s marina, rent a paddle board and spend the afternoons biking, hiking and golfing all with the park’s grounds.
Scenic City Fishing Charters – Chattanooga
Spending the weekend in Chattanooga with an itch to hit the open waters? Look into Scenic City Fishing Carters. With seven certified U.S. Coast Guard captains, they provide everything you and your crew may need for a day on the lake including the boat and al the fishing equipment. This is great for beginners to the area looking to learn more about fishing in Tennessee. This is a can’t miss opportunity.
Reelfoot Lake – Tiptonville
Venture out west to Tiptonville for 15,000 acres of breathtaking scenic beauty at one of the “Natural Wonders of the World,” Reelfoot Lake. Many species of fish call Tennessee’s only naturally-made lakes home, such as bream, catfish, crappie and bass, but the one that attractions visitors far and wide is the bluegill. During your visit to the lake, take some timeout to enjoy all the delightful surprises and nature that makes up Reelfoot Lake State Park. Surrounded by endless cypress trees and plant species, it is truly an outdoorsman’s treasurer. Consider joining one the park naturalists on a guided bald eagle and waterfowl tours, renting a canoe to thread through the swamp and spending a night at the campsites along the shoreline.
Paddle Your Worries Away
Paddle your worries away and take in breathtaking scenery as you glide down Tennessee, lakes, rivers and streams. Whether looking for a chill day on the lake or seeking more an epic water adventure, Tennessee offers the best of both worlds.
Buffalo River – Lawrence County
Discover the good life as you paddle along the Buffalo River. Located in Linden, go back in time and enjoy the small-town local charm and the beauty of Middle Tennessee. Stretching over 125 miles, the Buffalo River is the perfect destination for those wanting to get their feet wet in kayaking or canoeing. The peaceful, calm waters make for an enjoyable morning or afternoon casting out a line or drifting along some of Tennessee’s rich scenery and diverse wildlife. Don’t have a canoe or Kayak? There are many places along the way that provides not only rentals but also campsites including Buffalo Bud’s Canoe, Kayak & Campground and Buffalo River Resort.
The Lost Sea - Sweetwater
Named “America’s Largest Underground Lake” by the Guinness Book of World Records, The Lost Sea is unlike any water adventure you have been on before. Embark 300 feet underground to experience the history and captivating topographical structures of the caverns from a glass-bottom boat. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior as a Registered Natural Landmark, this rare Tennessee must-see.
Ghost River Rentals - Moscow
While in the Memphis area, visitors can’t miss the opportunity to paddle in the eerily beautiful Ghost Section of the Wolf River. Choose to rent one of their kayaks, canoes, or stand up paddle boards and spend the day floating around the west Tennessee’s natural beauty, the river’s picturesque landscape of cypress trees, wetlands and river grassland and catching a glimpse of the area’s wildlife. Ghost River Rentals also offers guided tours to learn more about the iconic river.
Just Keep Swimming
Spend the weekend cooling off in Tennessee’s heat by visiting some of the state’s best swimming holes, beaches and waterfalls. With over 500 waterfalls stretching across the state, there’s plenty to add to your summertime bucket list.
Percy Priest Lake - Nashville
A little water haven located in Nashville, Percy Priest Lake is a breath of fresh air for those looking to take a swim and soak up some sun. While the area boasts a ton of outdoor activities including boating, fishing, sailing, hiking and nature seeking, the best day spent is diving into the pristine, clear waters and chilling out along Nashville’s beautiful shorelines.
Rutledge Falls – Tullahoma
There is no better way to cool off in the summertime heat than taking a plunge in the icy-cold Rutledge Falls. Located near Tullahoma, Rutledge Falls is privately-owned but is opened to visitors to come and explore its beautiful property and take a swim in the crystal-clear falls. While in Tullahoma, make a pitstop by one of Tennessee’s most instagrammable-worth lakes, Tims Ford Lake. Take the boat out for a spin at one of the eight public boat ramps, stop by the two marinas to fuel up and spend the day taking in all the nature and beauty of the Cumberland Plateau.
Rock Island State Park – Rock Island
Venture out to Rock Island State Park to absorb the breathtaking beauty of Center Hill Lake. One of the most popular draws to the area is the upstream trail where visitors can take a plunge in the upper gorge area which has swimming holes. During your visit Center Hill Lake, take the time to get the boat out on the water for a relaxing spin or try out some jetskiing or spending the afternoon fishing along the lake’s bank for some Tennessee’s most popular catches including bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish.
Magnolia Bridge, Blue Hole, Falls Creek Fall and North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area are other bucket list locations to add to the summer activities list.
Water Adventures for the Thrill Seekers
Slide and glide into your next Tennessee getaway by hitting up the open waters. Water skiing, rafting and wakeboarding are other popular water sports that attract visitors and locals to the state’s lakes and rivers. If looking for a thrill, there is no better place to hit up the open currents. Some hot spots to check out include the Pigeon, Ocoee and Nolichucky Rivers. For a perfect day shredding on the state’s rolling acres of lakes head to Chickamuaga, Kentucky, Norris, or Percy Priest for a fun-filled day out on the water.
Rafting the Ocoee River in Cleveland, Tennessee. | Photo Credit: Josh Ness/Tennessee Tourism
Relax, Sit Back and Dine at These Tennessee Marinas
As the day in the sun comes to an end, cap the adventure with a relaxing dinner overlooking the water while baking in a Tennessee sunset. Dock the boat and sip on a drink at these marinas that house restaurants across the state.
Euchee Marina on Watts Bar Lake in Ten Mile, Tennessee. | Photo Credit: TNECD
Wildwood Resort & Marina – Granville
Located only an hour outside of Nashville on Cordell Hull Lake, Wildwood Resort & Marina transports its guests immediately to vacation time. Designed with the perfect weekend escape in mind, guests can enjoy the two waterfront restaurants on property, enjoy live music by local musicians and live in the life of luxury in one of their boutique-style cabins or inns.
Pebble Isle Marina – Johnsonville
Spend the weekend lakeside in Johnsonville at Pebble Isle Marina. Overlooking Kentucky Lake, Pebble Isle offers a campground for the R.V. adventurers, the perfect location to Johnsonville State Historic Park and the delicious Grey Heron Grill. Situated on the water, they offer a wide range of sandwiches, catfish, steaks and more to refuel after a long day on the water.
Euchee Marina & Resort – Kingston
Situated on one of the south’s largest lakes, Watts Bar, Euchee Marina Resort & Campground is the perfect summer escape. On-site they provide their guests with great service and the best amenities including floating cabins, camping sites and boat slips. Whether staying on property or stopping by the refuel, grab a bite to eat at the marina’s Euchee Grill & Brewhouse. With craft beers on tap, an extensive menu of food including seared Barramundi and breathtaking views, it is the perfect weekend recharge.