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Visiting Clarksville, Tennessee by Boat
Clarksville, Tennessee is a cute town located on the Cumberland River side trip on the way to Nashville. It’s a great affordable stop for a night with a lot of fun things to do. The walkable Downtown is conveniently located near the city boat dock, making Clarksville easily accessible by boat.
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About Clarksville, Tennessee
Clarksville, Tennessee is located at the confluence of the Cumberland River and Red River, about 40 minutes (by car) west of Nashville. The city was founded in 1784 and prospered from trading tobacco on the river. The city has a population of about 175,000 people (as of 2022) and is the home of Austin Peay State University. It’s also the home of Fort Campbell U.S. Army Installation (home to the 101st Airborne Division, Air Assault) making it a home to a large military population.
When to Visit Clarksville, Tennessee
The best time to visit Clarksville on America’s Great Loop is September through October, however, Clarksville is a great boating destination year-round. If following the typical counterclockwise, one-year Great Loop schedule, you’ll arrive between September and October – the perfect time to see the leaves change down the river. To see the best time for the autumn colors in Clarksville (Montgomery County), look at this interactive map! The Downtown Market runs every Saturday from May through October, providing boaters with access to farm fresh produce. Timing your visit around the annual Clarksville Riverfest in September could make for lasting memories. Arriving in October could be timed with a local brewery’s Oktober Fest.
If not following the typical Great Loop schedule, boating to Clarksville can be enjoyed year-round, especially during the summer months!
Getting to and around Clarksville, Tennessee
Getting to Clarksville by Boat
Clarksville is located on the Cumberland River which runs east to west. It’s a part of the Nashville side trip on the Great Loop which travels from the Barkley Lock on Lake Barkley to Nashville Tennessee. Clarksville is easily accessible by water and is a great stop on the side trip to Nashville on the Great Loop. From Barkley Lock, it takes about 1 full day by boat to get to Clarksville, cruising at an average speed of 6-7 knots.
Getting around Clarksville
Once you arrive in Clarksville, getting around the town is relatively easy. There are two places to dock in Clarksville, however, only the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock is easily accessible to Downtown by walking. The McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock is conveniently located with a pedestrian bridge to get you safely across a busy highway adjacent to the public dock. It’s about a 10-minute walk from McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock to Downtown Clarksville.
Where to Stay in Clarksville, Tennessee
There are two main options for overnight stays by boat in Clarksville, Tennessee. We stayed at the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock and loved it!
McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock
This city boat dock is managed by the Clarksville Department of Parks and Recreation and is conveniently located about a 0.5 mile or 10-12 minute walk to Downtown Clarksville. It’s a super affordable place to spend the night at $0.50/foot plus $8 for electricity. During our Nashville side trip on the Great Loop, we spent three nights in Clarksville which can be seen on our Great Loop Expenses for October 2022. The dock can probably hold about 4-5 boats, depending on their size. You can find the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock through Active Captain here.
The Clarksville Marina is a great option for boaters wanting the full amenities of a marina! The Clarksville Marina is about a 2-mile or 40-45-minute walk from Downtown Clarksville where most of the city’s amenities are located. If staying at the Clarksville Marina, make sure to check out Liberty Park. A great spot to walk your dog and stretch your legs on land. You can find the Clarksville Marina and their most updated transient rates through Active Captain here.
Boater Resources in Clarksville, Tennessee
Clarksville is not the most convenient stop along America’s Great Loop for provisioning, hardware, or marine supplies as most of the locations mentioned below are not within walking distance to the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock. The Clarksville Marina does have some smaller businesses located within walking distance from the marina.
Kroger – This grocery store is not within walking distance for transient boaters. Kroger is 3.2 miles from the Clarksville Marina making it a 1:15-minute walk or a 23-minute bike ride. Kroger is 2.4 miles from the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock making it a 55-minute walk or a 16-minute bike ride.
Publix – This grocery store is not within walking distance for transient boaters. Publix is 4.0 miles from the Clarksville Marina making it a 1:32-minute walk or a 27-minute bike ride. Publix is 3.1 miles from the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock making it a 1:10-minute walk or a 20-minute bike ride.
Hardware + Marine Supplies
Lowe’s Home Improvement – This hardware store is not within walking distance for transient boaters. Lowe’s is 3.7 miles from the Clarksville Marina making it a 1:25-minute walk or a 25-minute bike ride. Lowe’s is 2.9 miles from the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock making it a 1:05 minute walk or an 18-minute bike ride.
Hardware City – This hardware store is conveniently located near the Clarksville Marina. It’s 0.4 miles away from the marina making it a 9-minute walk. If staying at the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock, it’s 1.6 miles away making it a 38-minute walk.
Tailwater Marine and Tackle – A boat store that’s conveniently located to the Clarksville Marina. It’s 0.5 miles away from the marina making it a 13-minute walk. If staying at the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock, it’s 1.5-miles away making it a 35-minute walk.
The Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library is 2.6 miles from the Clarksville Marina for a 1 hour walk or an 18-minute bike ride. Alternatively, it’s a 48-minute walk or a 14-minute bike ride from the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock 2.1 miles away. It is open 7 days a week, minus holidays, and has Wi-Fi access from inside the library. It’s best to check their website for hours of operation.
Best Things to do in Clarksville, Tennessee
Walk around Downtown Clarksville
Walk around the cute and walkable Downtown Clarksville and take a tour through history with their “Then and Now” signage. Clarksville has signs located around their downtown showing some of the Downtown buildings from the past. The signs have a QR code
giving more information about each building.
Cumberland River Walk and Red River Trail
Walk around the Cumberland River Walk and Red River Trail which is conveniently located to the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock. This trail is a great spot to get off the boat, stretch your legs, and walk a dog.
F&M Bank Arena
The F&M Bank Arena is a multipurpose event center and is home to Austin Peay Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams. Check out their events calendar to see if anything is going on during your visit.
The Roxy Theatre located in Downtown is a Clarksville staple since 1947 and is a great spot to see a show by local actors and actresses. Check out their website for their current shows and to buy tickets.
Custom’s House and Museum
This local museum shares some of the history of the area, art, sculptures, and special exhibits. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays and all major holidays. Tickets run $9-12 per person. The Custom’s House and Museum is located in the old Federal Post Office and Customs House built in 1898. The building transitioned to the Clarksville Department of Energy from 1940 to 1983 before becoming the museum it is today.
The local downtown park is a great spot for countless local activities. It regularly hosts events in the square with live music, movie nights, or sunset yoga. Check out their events calendar to see if anything is going on during your visit! Downtown Commons is a year-round place to be and gather with friends or other boaters.
Map of Best Things to do in Clarksville, Tennessee
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Where to Eat in Clarksville, Tennessee
The Mailroom – The Mailroom features made from scratch dishes on their wood fired grill and craft cocktails in their retrofitted post office. This restaurant was on our list to visit and we’re sad we missed it! The atmosphere is truly one of a kind and would be a great spot for a celebratory dinner or Tuesday night meal. They also have an expansive outdoor patio. Check out their menus featuring thoughtfully sourced ingredients and global flavors.
Strawberry Ally – This restaurant features chef-inspired food and craft beer. Check out their menu for their latest creations. If you’re visiting Clarksville Wednesday-Sunday, be sure to check out Upstairs at Strawberry Ally where they host a pub roll, trivia, and a taproom with a full bar and games like wall scrabble, Jenga, corn hole, darts, and shuffleboard.
Yada on Franklin – This restaurant has croissants, quiches, scones, pastries, and bagels for breakfast, a variety of wraps, salads, and sandwiches for lunches, and a variety of pasta, pizza, and veggie dishes for dinner. Their menu looks delectable!
Breweries + Drinks
The Star Spangled Brewing Co. has a Veteran and patriotic theme throughout, the largest microbrewery in Clarksville and the largest Veteran-owned brewery in the state of Tennessee, dog friendly, and has an Oktoberfest featuring German style beers. This brewery is located near the water and is about a 18-20 minute walk, just under a mile away from the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat.
Blackhorse Pub & Brewery – Serving handcrafted brews, pizzas, flatbreads, burgers, sandwiches and many more specialty menu items. This Pub and Brewery has a great causal atmosphere and is conveniently located in Downtown.
Upstairs at Strawberry Ally – A taproom with a full bar and lots of games! It’s a great spot with views that overlook all of Downtown Clarksville.
Beachhaven Downtown – A wine bar located in Downtown who’s wines are local to the region from the Beachhaven Winery.
Coffee + Sweets
Plumb Line Coffee – a locally owned and operated third-wave artisan coffee shop located near downtown Clarksville. The coffee shop has a warm and cozy vibe inside.
Sanctuary on Main – A yoga, wellness, cafe serving locally sourced coffees, house-made syrups, and house-made baked goods for healthy breakfast options. Sanctuary on Main also has yoga classes with yoga mats amiable for rental. It’s a 15 minute/ 0.6 mile walk from the Clarksville Downtown docks.
Tita Boba – This bubble tea shop features a variety of flavors and was one of the restaurants we visited during our time in Clarksville.
Madeline’s – A French-inspired bakery with crepes, sandwiches, and a variety of desserts including macarons, and croissants.
Festivals and Events in Clarksville, Tennessee
Riverfest is Clarksville’s longest-running community festival and brings more than 30,000 people to the banks of the Cumberland River. This event began in 1988 and features live music and vendors to the Cumberland River Walk which is conveniently located to the McGregor Park Courtesy Boat Dock. The 34th and final festival will be Sept. 9-10, 2023.
The Clarksville Downtown Market has been connecting local producers and artisans with local shoppers every Saturday from May through October since it was established in 2009. Fresh produce and handcrafted items are available from a variety of regional farmers, small businesses, and non-profits at the outdoor market on Public Square in Historic Downtown Clarksville, Tennessee.
All throughout October you can enjoy German style beers at The Star Spangled Brewing Co.
First Thursday Art Walk
The First Thursday Art Walk hosts local artists from the area as you walk around Downtown Clarksville since 2009. This monthly event is run from 5-8 pm, weather permitting, and a great way to see Downtown and support local artists. The Downtown Artists Co-Op hosts the event with live music, food and drinks.
Watch our time in Clarksville, Tennessee on YouTube
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2 responses to “Visiting Clarksville, Tennessee by Boat”
Very nice guide. I am in Clarksville now wondering about you three.
Love watching and this is nice as a follow up, we are definitely going to go to Nashville as a side trip (and the Bahamas) those two for sure. Still trying to decide the Great Lakes route.