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Looking for the closest beach to Nashville? Whether you want an ocean getaway or a lakeside retreat, we’ve got you covered in this guide.
Living near Nashville with my husband and four boys, we always enjoy exploring new places to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. One of our favorite ways to do this is by visiting the nearest beaches, whether it’s the ocean or lake beaches. With so many options within driving distance, it’s easy for our family to find a perfect beach getaway.
We’ve found that some of the best sandy spots by the ocean are just under seven to eight hours away from Nashville. For instance, Pensacola, Seaside, and Rosemary Beach on the 30A are about a 6 hour and 48-minute drive, while Panama City Beach is just over 7 hours away.
If you’re looking for a more laidback experience, lake beaches like Anderson Beach offer scenic views and warm water right outside the city.
With so many different beaches near Nashville, there are plenty of options for you and your family to explore with varying levels of activities and experiences.
Whether you’re craving a taste of the ocean or a relaxing day by the lake, there’s a beach within driving distance that suits the needs of every family. So pack your bags and get ready to make some incredible memories on these stunning beaches close to Nashville!
Closest Ocean Beaches
As a mom living in Nashville with my husband and four boys, we are always on the lookout for the perfect family beach getaway. Lucky for us, there are several beautiful ocean beaches within driving distance! Let me share with you some of our family’s favorite spots.
Pensacola Beach: Just 6 hours and 43 minutes away from Nashville, Pensacola Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast is the closest ocean beach. Its sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters are perfect for a family vacation. Pensacola Beach has plenty of space for beach games, water sports, and simple relaxation.
Here is a scene from our last trip to Pensacola Beach:
Orange Beach and Gulf Shores: A little further into the beautiful coastal area of Alabama are the twin cities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. About 7 hours 15 minutes from Nashville, these beaches feature pristine shorelines, lovely boardwalks, and family-friendly activities. These areas are excellent for beachside strolls, water sport rentals, and adventure activities like ziplining and dolphin cruises.
Here are the boys exploring the beach:
Panama City Beach: A popular beach destination amongst Nashville families, Panama City Beach in Florida is known for its white sands and crystal-clear waters. Around 7 hours 30 minutes away, this beach offers a great balance of relaxation and entertainment. Our kids especially enjoy the various amusement parks and water parks in the area.
Our boys at Saint Andrews State Park in Panama City:
Other Beaches on the Florida Panhandle: Another great destination for beach-loving families is the Florida Panhandle, including beaches such as Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Seaside. All within 7 to 8 hours drive from Nashville, these beaches offer stunning views and crystal-clear waters, as well as a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions. We adore the charming beach towns and their delicious seafood restaurants.
Myrtle Beach: A bit further away but well worth the drive, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is a family favorite. At around 9 hours away, this beach offers 60 miles of sandy coastline, picturesque views, a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as unique attractions like the SkyWheel and Ripley’s Aquarium. Myrtle Beach’s bustling atmosphere keeps our whole family entertained throughout our stay.
I love the small amusement park in Myrtle Beach. There are a lot of family-friendly things to do there, so it’s worth the drive (plus there are always budget-friendly hotels available, too!).
I hope this list of our family’s favorite ocean beaches near Nashville inspires you to pack up your family and head to the coast for your next beach vacation.
Each of these beaches has something special to offer, whether it’s the relaxing shores of Pensacola or the entertainment and attractions of Panama City Beach. Enjoy your sun-soaked adventures!
Traveling from Nashville to Ocean Beaches
As a mom, I know how important it is to choose the perfect beach getaway that’s not too far away. So, I’ve compiled some of the most convenient beach destinations that you and your family can easily travel to from Nashville.
Norris Lake in Tennessee is one option worth considering, with its sandy beaches and watersports opportunities. However, if you’re looking for an ocean experience, the Gulf Coast might be a better fit, offering a variety of beaches within a 7-hour drive.
Now, let’s talk about travel time. If a shorter drive to the ocean is what you’re after, Pensacola Beach in Florida wins the prize for being the closest, clocking in at around 6 hours and 43 minutes by car. This beach is known for its beautiful white sands and clear blue waters, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
For a slightly longer drive, but still manageable, you might consider the lovely beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, or Destin, Florida, which are both around a 7-hour drive from Nashville. These coastal destinations offer beautiful sandy shores, family-friendly amenities, and fun activities for your kids to enjoy.
If you’re willing to drive a little further, Tybee Island and Hilton Head beaches are about a 7.5-hour drive away. These picturesque beaches located on the Atlantic Coast offer warm sun, sand, and surf that you and your family can enjoy together.
For those of you who prefer flying, you’ll be happy to know that several airlines offer direct flights from Nashville to popular beach destinations, such as Pensacola, Destin, and even further south to Miami or the beautiful vacation spot of Key West.
Remember, when planning your beach trip, consider the travel time and your family’s preferences before deciding on the perfect destination. Whether you choose to take a short drive or hop on a direct flight, you’ll be able to create lasting memories at one of these fantastic beaches close to Nashville.
Tennessee Lake Beaches
Sometimes we just need to find a nearby beach for those sunny days when the whole family needs a break. Lucky for us, there are several lovely lake beaches within a short drive from the city! Here are some of our local favorites that you and your family will surely enjoy.
Old Hickory Lake is just about 25 miles from Nashville, and it has been our go-to spot for quick getaways. We live very close to this lake, so it is the one we go to most often. With designated swimming areas and calm waters, it’s the perfect place for both young kids and adults to splash around. There’s also easy access to picnic spots and playgrounds, so you can turn your beach day into a full family outing.
Center Hill Lake is about 60 miles east of Nashville and offers a serene environment for enjoying a day by the water. With its calm waters and numerous swimming spots, this lake is perfect for families with younger children. In our experience, we’ve found that Center Hill Lake is an idyllic spot for swimming, sunbathing, and even kayaking!
Norris Lake and Cherokee Lake are two other options for those seeking a peaceful beach setting. Located about 200 miles and 230 miles away from Nashville respectively, these lakes offer picturesque views and numerous opportunities for water sports.
Finally, Douglas Lake is about 215 miles away from Nashville but is absolutely worth the drive. Highly popular among locals, this lake provides a great spot for swimming and lounging with the whole family. The crystal-clear waters and vast shoreline make it a local favorite.
By exploring these Tennessee lake beaches, you’ll discover that there are perfect spots for everyone. Whether you’re a family with little ones or a group of friends seeking some downtime, these lakes near Nashville offer a variety of options for spending a sunny day by the water.
State Parks and Natural Areas
With four boys, we love to find beautiful outdoor spaces for family adventures. Luckily for us, there are some fantastic state parks and natural areas close to Nashville that will provide fun and relaxation for the whole family.
One of our favorite nearby state parks is Henry Horton State Park. Just a short drive away, this park offers various activities, such as hiking, picnicking, and even a splash pad to keep the kids entertained. Plus, it’s a lovely location to spot local wildlife and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Another great option is Montgomery Bell State Park, which is filled with nearly 4,000 acres of exploring opportunities. Montgomery Bell is a haven on earth, with opportunities for hiking, bike rides, picnicking, and bird-watching. The kids will have a blast, and you’ll appreciate the picturesque surroundings.
When it comes to beaches near Nashville, Anderson Beach is a popular choice. This spot, located on the J Percy Priest Reservoir, offers swimming, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, boating, camping, and more. It’s perfect for a day trip, making memories with your family splashing in the water, and enjoying the sun.
For the more adventurous family, consider taking a trip to Rock Island State Park. This stunning park is known for its waterfalls and hiking trails. Your kids will love exploring the park and discovering the natural wonders it holds.
If you’re willing to travel a bit further, visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an experience you won’t regret. As the most visited national park in the United States, it offers unparalleled beauty, diverse activities, and plenty of opportunities for family bonding. Explore the park’s countless trails, marvel at the majestic peaks, and capture unforgettable family photos.
So, gather your family, pack a picnic, and set out to explore these remarkable state parks and natural areas near Nashville. You won’t be disappointed, and your family will thank you for the exciting adventure. Enjoy your time in nature, making memories together, and discovering the beauty that surrounds us.
Activities and Amenities
Visiting the closest beach to Nashville offers a lot of fun activities for you and your family. As a mom who lives in Nashville with my husband and our four boys, we’ve explored quite a few beaches near our home.
Water sports are always a hit with my kids. Many of the beaches offer exciting options like water skiing, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. These water activities create endless fun for the whole family, and you’ll be sure to make lasting memories.
When you’re not playing in the surf, pack a picnic and enjoy the scenic surroundings in the available picnic areas. Most beaches provide picnic tables, making it easy to set up your family’s meal. Enjoying lunch with a view is definitely a highlight of our trips.
If you’re seeking more excitement, some of the closest beaches also feature amusement parks or water parks nearby, such as Nashville Shores. These are incredible options for spending a day filled with thrilling rides, splashing around, or trying out some games at the attractions provided.
For the more outdoorsy families, check out recreational areas that offer a variety of outdoor activities. Many spots have hiking or biking trails, as well as beaches with lovely boardwalks, perfect for an afternoon stroll.
Some beaches even give the option to go on horseback riding adventures, which could be an exciting and unique experience for the entire family. It’s not every day that you ride a horse on a pristine beach, so be sure to give it a try!
With so many options to choose from, your family will always have a fantastic time at the closest beach to Nashville. All that’s left to do is pack the sunscreen, swimsuits, and a sense of adventure for a memorable beach getaway!
Food and Entertainment Options in Nashville
After a fun-filled day at one of the beaches close to Nashville, you and your family are probably eager to devour some delicious local cuisine and experience the best that Nashville has to offer. Well, you’re in luck because the city is packed with fantastic dining options, live music venues, and popular attractions that the whole family will love.
Local Restaurants: Nashville is known for its Southern cooking, and you’ll find a variety of mouthwatering options to satisfy your cravings. Some family favorites include the iconic Loveless Café, serving classic Southern dishes such as fried chicken, biscuits, and country ham or the trendy Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, where you can feast on delicious smoked meats and homemade sides. And don’t forget to indulge in some classic Nashville Hot Chicken at Hattie B’s or Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.
Dining Options: In addition to numerous local restaurants, Nashville has a thriving food scene with a diverse array of dining choices. From food trucks and small eateries to upscale dining establishments, there’s something for every taste and budget. You’ll find international cuisine, vegetarian and vegan options, and a variety of regional delicacies that the whole family can enjoy.
Live Music: Nashville isn’t called “Music City” for nothing, and after your beach excursion, you’ll have no shortage of live music venues to explore. From legendary spots like the Grand Ole Opry and the Bluebird Cafe to the many honky-tonks on Broadway, there’s always a stage featuring talented musicians. Just take a stroll down Broadway, and you’ll be sure to find a performance that’ll have you and the kids tapping your feet.
Popular Attractions: Besides mouthwatering food and live music, Nashville has a wealth of attractions and activities for you and your family to enjoy. Consider visiting the Nashville Zoo, exploring the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, or letting your kids run wild at the Adventure Science Center. Another must-see is the beautiful Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, where you can take a leisurely stroll through the stunning gardens and enjoy seasonal events.
Now that you have some great ideas for food and entertainment options in Nashville, you can plan an exciting family evening after your trip to the beach. Remember to be open-minded, explore new places, and make treasured memories with your loved ones!
Tips for Planning a Nashville Beach Getaway
Living near Nashville with my husband and four boys, I’ve had my fair share of beach adventures. Both lake beaches and ocean beaches have their unique charms, and I highly recommend trying both when planning your next Nashville beach getaway. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your day trip or vacation.
When planning a day trip to a nearby beach, consider the distance and driving time. Many lake beaches in Middle Tennessee are just a 30-minute drive from Music City.
Some popular options include Anderson Beach at J Percy Priest Reservoir and the Cedar Creek Recreation Area on Old Hickory Lake. These beaches offer a variety of activities like swimming, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and picnicking. Make sure to pack sunscreen, an umbrella, and plenty of snacks to help you enjoy your day to the fullest.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to experience ocean beaches on your beach trip, some destinations in Florida and Alabama are within a 7-hour drive from Nashville. Pensacola Beach, Destin, and Gulf Shores are popular options with beautiful white sands and crystal-clear waters.
When planning an ocean beach excursion, make sure to:
- Book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak season.
- Research local events and attractions that you and your family might enjoy, such as festivals, water parks, or live concerts.
- Pack all necessary beach gear, like beach chairs, umbrellas, sand toys, and plenty of sunscreen.
- Research the best seafood restaurants in the area for a true culinary experience on your beach getaway.
Remember, whether you choose a serene lake beach in Middle Tennessee or an exciting ocean beach a little further away, you can create an unforgettable beach experience for you and your family. Embrace the natural beauty, the exciting activities, and the special moments you’ll create, as you explore the best beaches near Nashville.
Final Thoughts on the Closest Beach to Nashville
We love living near Nashville, but when you want to get away for a while, it’s important to find the perfect beach getaway. Spending quality time with your family is of utmost importance, and discovering the perfect beach destination is an essential part of that journey.
Percy Priest Lake and Old Hickory Lake are the closest freshwater beaches to Nashville, ideal for a quick escape to relax and unwind with your family. Whether it’s a picnic or playing sand games, these lake beach areas offer a variety of activities to keep everyone entertained.
If you’re up for a longer road trip, Pensacola Beach is the closest saltwater beach to Nashville, taking around 6 hours and 43 minutes to drive. Known for its stunning Gulf Coast views and abundant sunshine, it provides not only picturesque landscapes but also a wide range of activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and beachcombing.
Alternatively, you can also explore other beautiful beach options like Seaside and Rosemary Beach on 30A, which are approximately 6 hours and 48 minutes away from Nashville. These beaches boast pristine waters, white sand, and a calming atmosphere, making them perfect for your family to create unforgettable memories.
Remember, the perfect beach destination for your family depends on your preferences and interests. So, consider your family’s likes and dislikes, travel time, and budget when planning your next beach escape.
Happy beach hunting!