Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Celina, TN

  • Published 2023/03/14

Celina is a small city in the nation’s country music capital, Tennessee.

This small city in Clay County is full of beautiful surprises for those who want to explore its streets.

Celina is one fine example of a back-country destination which aren’t as overcrowded as top tourist destinations.

Its streets take you back to the olden days when life was slow and easy.

Celina is a unique destination for quick day trips, presenting the other side of Tennessee.

Here are the best things to do in Celina, TN:

Explore the Historic Courthouse Square

Clay county courthouse at Courthouse Square

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the first sites you’ll notice in Celina is the Courthouse Square, where the Clay County Courthouse stands.

Most businesses and tourist attractions are concentrated in this spot.

You’ll enjoy strolling through its beautiful cobblestone streets surrounded by red-brick buildings with the courthouse as its focal point.

Buildings along Courthouse Square

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Prepare to get mesmerized passing through these centuries-old Italianate buildings dating back to the 1800s.

Likewise, you can also visit stores, cafes, restaurants, and galleries throughout Courthouse Square.

Before you explore the rest of Celina, make sure to start at Courthouse Square.

Restaurants along Courthouse Square

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Appreciate Nature at Dale Hollow Reservoir

If you’re searching for Celina’s best nature spot, head to the Dale Hollow Reservoir.

This natural attraction in Celina is an excellent place for a quick vacation, outdoor adventure, or a romantic getaway with your loved ones.

Dale Hollow Reservoir is nestled between the Tennessee and Kentucky borders.

Damming the Obey River, just above Cumberland River’s juncture, formed the vast lake.

Celina’s locals love to visit this recreation area during the weekends or holidays.

Aside from its scenic lake backdrop, Dale Hollow Reservoir features numerous walking and biking trails, forested areas, fishing spots, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Relax at the Donaldson Park

Another outdoor attraction you need to visit in Celina is the Donaldson Park.

This park is within the city limits, adjacent to the Obey River Tailwater.

It is a part of Cordell Hull Lake, an exciting place for boating and fishing.

Donaldson Park is a great place for a quality picnic with your loved ones or travel buddies since you don’t have to drive out of the city.

Since Donaldson Park is adjacent to Obey River, you’ll enjoy catching rainbow trout, the most abundant species, at one of its fishing spots.

In addition, you can catch brook and brown trouts at Donaldson Park’s fishing spot.

On the other hand, Donaldson Park features a broad green area perfect for frisbee, football, or baseball catch.

Browse the Clay County Museum of History

Don’t miss the Clay County Museum of History, especially if Celina’s rich history fascinates you.

Established in 1986, the museum features rare artifacts and collections that detail Clay County’s past.

This museum features numerous exhibits from artifacts, photographs, documents, equipment, and other objects the visitors can see up close.

These artifacts offer unique and fascinating backstories about Celina and Clay County’s famous citizens and personalities.

Spending an hour or two at the Clay County Museum of History is a fascinating experience to add to your trip to Celina.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Pleasant Grove Park

This day-use recreational park in Celina is a famous place for unwinding in the outdoors.

Pleasant Grove Park is just beyond the marina and cabins along Dale Hollow Lake’s shores.

The Army Corps of Engineers manages the day-use recreational park, featuring top-notch park amenities with an affordable entry fee.

It has numerous trails where you and your loved ones can enjoy hiking and nature viewing.

At the same time, it has a swinging bridge that takes you to an islet in Dale Hollow Lake.

For locals, Pleasant Grove Park is also an excellent fishing area that yields smallmouth bass and brown trout.

Likewise, boating, picnicking, water-skiing, and swimming are popular outdoor activities in Pleasant Grove Park.

Make a Splash at Horse Creek Marina Resort

This famous lake resort in Celina is another outdoor attraction you must visit, especially with your loved ones.

It features a top-notch lake resort where you and your loved ones or travel crew can stay.

It has cozy cabins, chalets, houseboats, boat rentals, and an affordable vacation package that would likely exceed your expectations but won’t drain your wallet.

If you’re looking for an excellent summer vacation destination in Tennesee, book a room at Horse Creek Marina Resort.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Gone Country Cafe

Exploring Celina’s natural and historical attractions can be tiresome.

You’ll be craving good food.

Thus, head to the Gone Country Cafe to treat yourself to delicious food.

Gone Country Cafe is best known for its breaded pork tenderloin sandwich and Southern-style cooking.

Since 1938, this local restaurant in Celina had served customers back when it was still a Trailways Bus Stop.

Many travelers frequently stop at this restaurant to eat before resuming their journey.

Gone Country Cafe also has a gorgeous mural outside the restaurant which features its significant history of bus travel.

Munch Southern-Style Barbeque at the Dale Hollow 1 Stop BBQ

Head to the Dale Hollow 1 Stop BBQ for Southern-style barbecue.

This local barbecue joint is famous for its slow-cooked hickory charcoal barbeque pork and chicken.

It’s also where you can taste a rare barbeque, the barbeque pork shoulder, which is famous throughout Celina.

This barbeque joint opened in 2003, but it traces its roots back to 1985.

Today, it’s one of the most famous barbeque joints in Clay County that has served locals for more than 30 years.

Don’t forget to pair their mouthwatering barbeque with savory side dishes, such as potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, and pastries.

Explore the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery

One of the fascinating attractions in Celina is the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery.

It may sound unusual to visit a hatchery.

However, this one offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the importance of sustainable reproduction of local fish species.

Dale Hollow Lake is famous for its record-sized smallmouth bass, thanks to the regular restocking of its tailwaters from the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages the hatchery, which is crucial for the area’s local fish population.

It regularly reproduces local fish species such as trout, bass, and other fish in Clay County and some parts of Tennessee.

From a visitor’s perspective, it’s a magnificent opportunity to learn something fascinating about the fish in Tennessee.

You can explore the aquariums, the hatchery itself, and pools filled with thousands of fish.

Cruise along the Obey River

Of course, your visit to Celina won’t be complete without cruising along its famous waterway, the Obey River.

Obey River runs through Celina just below Dale Hollow Dam and gently flows toward the Cumberland River on the city’s west side.

You can visit numerous stretches of the River, offering you a magnificent view of nature.

Boating is one of the most popular activities on Obey River.

You can visit numerous boat ramps, such as the Moody Boat Ramp off Highway 53, to have a fun boating experience.

In addition, Donaldson Park has numerous boat ramps where you can rent boats to cruise along Obey River, which stretches 47.8 miles or 77 kilometers throughout Tennessee.

You can bring your fishing gear and cast your line on Obey River’s water filled with trout and bass.

Read a Book at the Clay County Public Library

Reading while traveling comes in handy in Celina at the Clay County Public Library.

The library keeps a great selection of resources, including books, e-books, newspapers, audiobooks, movies, and many more.

Established in 1959, the library offers a diverse collection of both educational and entertainment materials for kids, teens, and adults.

There’s also free WiFi to use, as well as computers for research and study.

Its reading nooks are comfortable and perfect to take refuge in for an hour or two of reading sessions.

The Clay County Public Library is located on Guffey Street.

Grab a Coffee and Souvenirs at Willows Treehouse Treasures

Dropping by Willows Treehouse Treasures is like hitting two birds with one stone, especially if you’re both a coffee and souvenir aficionado.

This charming little shop offers the delicious coffee of our choice served in a cozy country-style atmosphere.

As soon as you’re done grabbing your favorite cup, browse the shop’s beautiful gift corner with lots of souvenirs to choose from.

There are also flowers if you’re grabbing a bouquet for your special someone.

You can find Willows Treehouse Treasures on West Lake Avenue.

Go Camping at the River Trail Campground

Nothing beats sleeping under the stars with your friends and loved ones when on the road, and the River Trail Campground doesn’t disappoint.

The campground is adjacent to the Obey River and is only about 3 miles away from Dale Hollow Lake.

Enjoy bonfires and fun paddles on the water when daytime kicks in!

The River Trail Campground is perfect for RV camping, as well as tent camping.

You can also choose to stay in the cabins, and take advantage of its nice bathhouse for everyone.

At the River Trail Campground, you’ll be a happy camper!

Chill Out at Shankey Bar

Not only that Shankey Bar serves one of the best mouthwatering food in town, but it also has the coldest beers to be had!

The quaint bar also features a billiard table for those who play the game while enjoying a beer.

And if you love pizza, this place is popular for it.

Also, don’t miss out on its delicious wings, sandwiches, ribeye, onion rings, fish tacos, and salads, among others.

Spend a few hours here with your family and friends after a long day of outdoor adventures in Celina, and chill out!

Shankey Bar is located off Livingston Highway.

See the Butler’s Landing Historical Marker

It won’t take long for you to check out the Butler’s Landing Historical Marker, which was erected by the Tennessee Historical Commission in Celina.

The marker honors Bailey Butler, a pioneer of Clay County in the 19th century who fought in the Battle of Talladega in 1812.

He was the Captain of the West Tennessee Volunteer Militia.

It’s a short stop but is worth the visit for a slice of the history of what happened in the past.

Other than the Butler’s Landing Historical Marker, you can also check out other historical markers located within 5 miles of this marker in Celina.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Wander the Standing Stone State Park

Standing stone dam at Standing Stone State Park

James M. Chambers /

The Standing Stone State Park is also a fantastic place to explore.

This state park in Hilham is known for its state forest nestled on the Cumberland Plateau.

It’s also famous for its 12-foot-tall rock formation, which stands upright on a sandstone ledge.

This rock formation once served as the boundary line between two Native American nations.

Welcome sign of Standing Stone State Park

James M. Chambers /

After the rock formation fell, they created a monument to preserve its historical value.

Standing Stone State Park gets its name from this rock formation.

Likewise, Standing Stone State Park is a famous camping area and a gorgeous picnic spot with a magnificent backdrop of natural scenery.

In addition, it’s where many of Clay County’s festivals and community events happen.

A bird flying over Standing Stone State Park's water

James M. Chambers /

Pose by the Famous Ellie the Pink Elephant

For those who plan to explore Clay County further, one unique and famous attraction to visit is Ellie the Pink Elephant in Cookeville.

It’s a 43-minute drive or 39 miles south of Celina, but the long drive is worthwhile as you and your loved ones get to pose at the famous pink elephant sculpture.

There are instances when Ellie the Pink Elephant sports a blue-and-yellow polka dot bikini, adding more fascination and fun to those who visit this famous sculpture.

According to Cookeville’s locals, Ellie the Pink Elephant came from Sparta, Wisconsin, but was transferred to the city in 1986.

Taking a photo of this famous elephant sculpture is a unique travel experience you and your loved ones can enjoy.

At the same time, you can explore Cookeville’s attractions to make your visit there worthwhile.

Shop at A Southern Marketplace

A Southern Marketplace Barn is in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, 21 minutes from Celina.

This charming marketplace features a top-notch indoor and outdoor shopping area.

You can shop for unique items from furniture, clothing, jewelry, artwork, and antiques from talented artisans in Tennessee.

In addition, this marketplace also serves delicious food.

At the same time, live music and entertainment will make your visit more exciting.

Play Some Golf at Hidden Valley Golf & Country Club

Finally, after roaming Clay County, treat yourself to some relaxing golf sessions at Hidden Valley Golf & Country Club.

This top-notch golf course is in Livingston, Tennessee, about a 19-minute drive from Celina.

Hidden Valley Golf & Country Club spans 3,113 yards from its longest tee for a par of 36.

Established in 1966, this golf course has become one of the most excellent courses in the state.

Those who don’t know how to play golf can still visit the golf course and marvel at its natural landscaped beauty featuring Tennessee’s flora and fauna.

Watch the National Rolley Hole Marble Championship

One of the unique things you can see near Celina is the Rolley Hole marble tournament.

This Kentucky-Tennessee traditional marble-playing game is probably the biggest marble tournament worldwide.

The National Rolley Hole Marbles Championship and Festival happens every September at the Standing Stone State Park in Hilham, Tennessee.

It’s 13 minutes from Celina.

Watching this unique tournament brings back many nostalgic memories of your childhood.

However, grown-up professional marble players join the tournament.

This unique attraction in Clay County and Celina has been happening for the past 36 years.

Dozens of food vendors, live music, demonstrations, and marble-making exhibits are featured in the event.

Final Thoughts

Celina and its surrounding areas offer many hidden gems that are simply wonderful.

A quick weekend getaway in this city near the Kentucky border is undoubtedly memorable.

Celina is one of the best examples of a laid-back city filled with charming attractions not many know.

Book your trip today!

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