Blake Walsh

24 Best Things to Do in Cookeville, TN

  • Published 2023/04/03

The small city of Cookeville is a very charming vacation spot.

It is situated to the east of Nashville and is surrounded by some of the most unbelievably beautiful natural attractions.

With more than 150 waterfalls, an expansive shoreline, fantastic eateries, and a scenic back road, this city is very much worth exploring.

Cookeville also happens to be home to some of the most famous artists and chefs in the world, which means that tourists are in for a lot of artistic attractions and excellent dining experiences.

Making it an even more attractive tourist destination, the city also hosts a large number of exciting events, including stellar performances held at Cookeville’s most famous theater.

Are you interested in learning more about what this city has to offer?

These are the best things to do in Cookeville, Tennessee:

Take a Walk through Railroad History at the Cookeville Depot Museum

Exterior of Cookeville Depot Museum

Brian Stansberry (photographer), Mink Butler Davenport (enhancements), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Cookeville Depot Museum is a famous place in the city that was originally built in 1909.

The museum is located in the Cookeville Railroad Depot, which served the country until the late 1950s.

It houses an extensive display of artifacts that represent the Tennessee Central Railway’s history and development.

Tennessee Central caboose at Cookeville Depot Museum

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This railroad history museum showcases various locomotives, including a Red Caboose from 1920, a caboose from the 1960s, track cars, a Baldwin steam engine from 1912, and more.

With its inexpensive exhibitions and free entry, the Cookeville Depot Museum is an excellent attraction for budget-conscious visitors.

L&N caboose at Cookeville Depot Museum

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the Many Available Amenities at Cane Creek Park

Breathtaking sunset over Cane Creek Park's lake

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cane Creek Park is one of the most romantic and cozy attractions in Cookeville.

This park has various amenities for visitors, such as a playground, some picnic shelters, and even barbecue areas.

It is also home to Cane Creek Lake, which is perfect for enjoying activities like boating and fishing.

This park is famous among local fishermen and dog walkers.

Cane Creek Park has trails that are ideal for jogging and walking and are surrounded by the beautiful Cane Creek lake.

This park also has some outdoor sports facilities, which include a volleyball court and basketball court, making it an ideal location for group visitors and families alike.

Have a Scenic Picnic at Hidden Hollow Park

Hidden Hollow Park is one of the most dynamic and adventurous locations in Cookeville.

It is a recreational club that initially functioned as a tobacco, cattle, and corn farm.

However, it was later turned into a scenic park that presently features a swimming pool, fishing ponds, playgrounds, picnic areas, flood lights, various courts like volleyball courts, a petting zoo, and an adorable stuffed deer named Dee Dee.

It is a beautiful and cheerful natural space that is great for spending some leisure time in the small city of Cookeville.

Watch a Performance at The Backdoor Playhouse at Tennessee Tech University

The Backdoor Playhouse at Tennessee Tech University is one of the city’s best performing arts theaters and has entertained people for 60 consecutive years.

This theater is a perfect place for couples who are looking for some fun activities to enjoy in Cookeville.

A large number of actors and other performers have been showcasing their talents and entertaining the audiences here for years.

This theater is located on the Tennessee Tech University campus, which is one of the most famous spots for entertainment lovers.

The Backdoor Playhouse has a very comfortable and great ambiance.

Due to its entire setting, the theater gives a very wholesome experience to its visitors.

See Cookeville’s Famous Our Protectors Mural

Cookeville in Tennessee is one of the most famous cities for enjoying murals.

The city is known for its many different murals, which are protected and cherished by the locals with a great deal of care.

One of the most famous murals is the Our Protectors Mural, which was painted to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency technicians, paramedics, military personnel, and helpful local people who stepped up during the events of September 2001.

The mural was painted by a local artist and is one of the city’s most picture-perfect attractions.

Kick-Start Your Day with Breakfast at Poet’s Coffee

Poet’s Coffee is the best place to start your mornings in the city of Cookeville.

This coffee house is located in the Historic Courthouse Square.

Its atmosphere is quite laid-back, and the staff is welcoming and enthusiastic.

With its large windows, Poet’s Coffee allows you to enjoy the outside world while enjoying your favorite cup of coffee.

Offering caffeinated beverages like Americanos and Cuban espressos, this coffee shop will definitely be one of your favorite spots in the city.

Along with its delicious coffee, Poet’s Coffee also serves various teas like green tea tropical, Earl Grey, and white orchard.

The classical bagel with avocado, cream cheese, and other sides makes for a perfect breakfast at Poet’s Coffee.

This place is perfect for kick-starting your day with a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Cream City Ice Cream & Coffee House

Cream City Ice Cream & Coffee House is a famous spot for hunting some sweet and delicious desserts for your sweet tooth.

The place is known for its creamy ice cream, available in a wide variety of flavors.

Some of the most famous flavors are peanut butter cup, black cherry, cookies and cream, Tennessee fudge, caramel cone, cake batter, and many more.

Along with its ice cream, this place is famous for serving other dessert items such as milkshakes, affogatos, sundaes, and smoothies.

Treat Yourself to Comfort Food at Seven Senses Food & Cheer

Seven Senses Food & Cheer is of the best restaurants in the city.

The place is famous for serving authentic Southern and American-style dishes.

All of these dishes are served with fresh ingredients that are procured locally.

This restaurant is an excellent place to have lunch or dinner.

With its extensive menu and a great collection of sides like salads, tacos, boneless chicken wings, fried pickles, sandwiches, burgers, and many more, the place is definitely a hit.

The restaurant’s main courses are equally famous and will surely make you want to order more of everything.

With its culturally rich food and welcoming staff, Seven Senses Food and Cheer is a perfect place to have a satisfying meal.

Shop till You Drop at The Market on the Square

The Market on the Square is one of the best places to shop in Cookeville.

It is a multilevel paradise for shoppers and offers different items on each floor.

The street level is famous for offering different types of food items, condiments, and kitchen must-haves.

If you’re interested in shopping for home decor and interior items, you can check the store downstairs.

The collection at this store is unique and always up to the trends.

The place is a one-stop destination for fulfilling all your shopping needs while you’re in Cookeville.

Go on a Leisurely Stroll around Dogwood Park

Landscape of Dogwood Park

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dogwood Park is one of the freshest and most beautiful places in the city.

The place is perfect for enjoying some leisurely walks and personal time.

Along with its beautiful trails, the place also has a rose garden and various picnic spots.

In addition, Dogwood Park features a water park during the summer, which is quite famous among children.

The park is also an excellent place for enjoying some beautiful murals.

Dogwood Park is a perfect place to enjoy some time with family and take beautiful pictures away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Make Your Way to Cummins Falls State Park

Water cascades of Cummins Fall State Park

Ingogermany, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The famous Cummins Falls State Park is situated almost nine miles northwest of Cookeville’s city center.

The park is a famous location for day visitors and is extremely beautiful.

It is also famous for housing Cummins Falls, which is one of the largest and most stunning waterfalls in the area.

Lush trees at Cummins Falls State Park

Rubes.fotos /

With facilities like picnic spots, a parking lot, and well-maintained trails, the park is exceptionally dear to the residents who live nearby.

Cummins Falls State Park is perfectly suitable for enjoying some personal time and light adventure around Cookeville.

Aerial view of a waterfall at Cummins Falls State Park

John Brueske /

Shop for Adventure Must-Haves at The Outdoor Experience

If you’re up for experiencing some outdoor fun in Cookeville, you should definitely check out The Outdoor Experience.

The Outdoor Experience is a shop in the Upper Cumberland region where you can get outdoor equipment and gear for all your adventure activities.

The shop has hiking boots, kayaks, canoes, climbing equipment, fishing equipment, as well as equipment for hiking excursions.

The Outdoor Experience is a one-stop shop for all your adventure related needs.

Thanks to its customer-friendly service, The Outdoor Experience will surely get you well-equipped for all the adventure activities you’re set to enjoy in and around Cookeville.

Enjoy a Memorable Horseback Riding Experience with Circle K Horse Pavilion

Circle K Horse Pavilion offers both private and group horseback riding lessons for riders of all skill levels.

The training and experience they provide cater to beginners, intermediate, and advanced riders.

You can opt to ride either indoors or outdoors in the arena or head out on one of Circle K Horse Pavilion’s trails for a lesson.

The facility owners pride themselves on providing a safe environment for horses to live and play while still adhering to safety standards following local ordinances.

This makes Circle K Horse Pavilion not only a great place for horse lovers but also an excellent facility for boarding and rider training.

Here, you’ll be surrounded by scenic trails and acres of pastureland with plenty of shade trees to help keep your horse cool and hydrated with fresh water.

Not to mention, you’ll also find a creek winding through the property.

Step Back in Time at the Cookeville History Museum

Exterior of Cookeville History Museum

Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The exhibits at the Cookeville History Museum are a real treat for its visitors to enjoy.

This museum aims to provide programs, activities, and exhibits that promote the history of Putnam County and Cookeville.

Their self-paced permanent exhibit on the history of this community educates residents and visitors about local history in a very intimate way.

The carefully constructed timeline neatly covers history from just over a century back to the present day.

The museum’s front room is dedicated to exhibits that are solely local.

It showcases traveling exhibits, as well as items on loan from private collections.

The rotating special exhibits and the standing exhibits are engaging and wonderfully put together.

There is so much information about the local community and its ties to the state and country at large.

The friendly, knowledgeable staff deserves a special mention as they make guests feel welcome and level up the experience for everyone who visits.

Enjoy an Old-School Arcade Experience at Paradise Games and Arcade

Paradise Games and Arcade offers its guests a welcome escape from the chaos of everyday life.

It’s a place where friends, family, and loved ones can get together and enjoy their time while having a chance to relax and socialize.

This fun spot features an extensive collection of different kinds of games that can easily entertain guests for hours on end.

The arcade features retro games and consoles, cabinet games, newer consoles and games, a pool table, virtual reality games, and more.

The arcade also rotates through its inventory weekly to give attention to every game.

This unique family fun center also has a wide variety of drinks, snacks, and various collectibles and souvenirs for guests to browse through.

Explore City Lake Natural Area

A waterfall at City Lake Natural Area

Laura Ragsdale Photo /

City Natural Area is located at the eastern border of Cookeville, along Bridgeway Drive.

It gives you access to serene natural wonders that won’t take you hours to reach thanks to its convenient location.

Lots of varied terrain are found here, making this an ideal place for trekking and exploration.

Signage of City Lake Natural Area

James M. Chambers /

City Lake Natural Area is best known for their waterfalls that flow through the river-like bend that’s actually a lake.

Serene and lush, this hidden gem in Cookeville is a fantastic place for nature photography.

Stream at City Lake Natural Area

Laura Ragsdale Photo /

Test Your Skills at Parkview Skate Park

If you’re a big fan of skateboarding or BMX, Parkview Skate Park is a must-see during your stay in Cookeville.

It’s a huge skate park that’s popular among locals and other neighboring towns and cities of Cookeville, garnering hundreds if not thousands of visitors weekly.

A big reason for this is because of its well-maintained concrete that features diverse ramps, rails, and flat areas where you can practice tricks of all skill levels.

Even if you don’t have a skateboard with you, Parkview Skate Park is located within Parkview Park that’s great for relaxation and other recreational activities.

You can find it along Scott Avenue right at the epicenter of Cookeville, making it a convenient addition for any itinerary.

Have a Cajun-style Feast at Crawdaddy’s Grill

You won’t have to go to Louisiana to taste some amazing and authentic Cajun food when you’re already in Cookeville thanks to Crawdaddy’s Grill.

One of the most popular restaurants in the city, Crawdaddy’s Grill is a great option for large groups of people because of their heaping platters of Cajun food.

They also have great seating arrangements here because of the restaurant’s big size—they offer indoor, patio, and rooftop seating with great ambiance.

If you want recommendations, Crawdaddy’s Grill is famous for their shrimp n’ grits, blackened salmon, alligator bites, and classic crab cakes.

Find Crawddady’s Grill along West Broad Street.

Go For Steaks and Drinks at CH Steak Lounge

If Crawdaddy’s is an awesome stopover for lunch, you can try visiting CH Steak Lounge for dinner to round up your day.

It’s a great place to go drinking with friends and family, as they have an awesome selection of alcohol that pairs well with their juicy meats.

Not to mention, CH Steak Lounge has amazing ambiance, highlighted by their rustic interiors and constant live music performances.

For some recommendations, try CH Steak Lounge’s prime ribs, alfredo pasta, and their grilled asparagus.

Just a stone’s throw away from Dogwood Park, CH Steak Lounge is an easy place to access during your trip.

Check More Stores at Jackson Plaza

Jackson Plaza is located in the heart of Cookeville at West Jackson Street, making it one of the more convenient attractions to visit.

This is more than just for shoppers, however—the shopping mall has a lot of huge grocery stores and essential places that make it a great stopover if you need to replenish stocks during your trip.

Another neat thing about Jackson Plaza is it has a huge Hobby Lobby—a great place to stop by if you need to do some recreational activities or shop for souvenirs and gifts.

Other stores like gaming centers and apparel chains are all found here as well, making this one of the most visited malls in Putnam County.

If you want to dine at more establishments as well, Jackson Plaza has a little bit of something for everyone.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Sample the Most Exquisite Wines at Stonehaus Winery

A perfect place for taking a guided tour, Stonehaus Winery is a famous family-owned winery in Crossville.

Perfect for a side trip from Cookeville, the winery is a 35-minute drive away from the city.

Along with its tours, the place also offers wine tasting events and allows you to have a unique and memorable experience.

The winery also has a gourmet shop where you can buy great gifts.

In addition to its exquisite wines, the place also serves delicious food and has special gifts for all.

Stonehaus Winery is also famous for serving some of the most delicious homemade fudges in the city.

With its exotic wines, educational tours, and delicious food items, Stonehaus Winery can easily be your favorite go-to spot near Cookeville.

Join a Wine Tasting Tour at Delmonaco Winery & Vineyards

Touring Delmonaco Winery & Vineyards is an ideal way to enjoy an extraordinary wine tasting experience.

The winery, which is located just 15 minutes outside Cookeville, is beautiful and tourist-friendly.

The place offers guided tours of the winery and vineyards.

All the guides are friendly and well-versed in the many different wine products.

Some tours also provide complimentary wine tastings, while others require you to pay for wine tasting specifically.

All the wines are made fresh using ingredients from the vineyard and are simply heaven on the earth.

Enjoy a Unique Cinematic Experience at Sparta Drive-In

Just 20 minutes outside Cookeville, Sparta Drive-In is the perfect place for tourists who love cinema.

This drive-in theatre is very popular among locals and tourists alike.

It is designed in a retro manner and has a collection of some of the latest blockbuster movies.

The place is known to serve some unadulterated fun and entertaining content to its viewers.

Sparta Drive-In’s ambiance is very charming, and concessional food items like nachos and hamburgers are also available to level up your outdoor movie experience.

With its perfect service and enjoyable environment, this drive-in theater is a must-visit place in the city.

Go Riding with the Gentlest Horses at Wildwood Stables

For enjoying some extraordinary horseback riding experiences in Tennessee, Wildwood Stables is the perfect place to go.

Located in the city of Crossville, Wildwood Stables is about an hour’s drive away from Cookeville.

Wildwood Stables features several long trails that take you through beautiful scenes and picturesque locations.

These trails are ideal for enjoying horseback riding and going on scenic walks.

The horses at the stable are very behaved and quiet.

The place also offers various additional facilities like dinners and wagon rides.

Even if you are a first-time rider, your ride at Wildwood Stables will be a safe and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Final Thoughts

Cookeville is a charming place with so much to offer.

Located east of Nashville and filled with nature’s bounties and scenic views, the city has countless parks, beautiful waterfalls, and fascinating displays of art.

Take some time off to enjoy all that this city has to offer by checking out this list of things to do in Cookeville, Tennessee!

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