I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
May 7, 2019
For years now, I’ve been trying to plan a weekend getaway with my husband in Murfreesboro. Even thought it’s just 45 minutes from Nashville, we feel like we’re worlds away when we visit, transported to a place where history abounds, nature beckons, and plenty of shopping and restaurant opportunities await.
Dennis and I finally got the opportunity to spend a weekend in Murfreesboro all by ourselves recently, and we made the most of it by hiking, biking, exploring, and checking out some of Murfreesboro’s best bars and romantic restaurants. We had a blast, and now, I’m sharing all our ideas and experiences with you. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a history buff, or a luxury and arts lover, you’re sure to find some great date night/ getaway ideas on this list.
Hiking has become a favorite daytime date option for Dennis and me — especially if a fancy meal is part of our plan that night — and hikers and nature lovers really shouldn’t miss this wonderfully enormous Murfreesboro park, which has more than 7 miles of paved and unpaved trails. Regular readers know we do a LOT of hiking throughout Tennessee and North Georgia and I can assure you that Barfield Crescent Park’s trails have some features you won’t see on other trails. Stop at the Wilderness Station first for a map, then set off on an adventure that will have you rock-hopping your way through limestone sinks, strolling through cedar glades, taking in the beauty of wildflower-filled meadows, and walking alongside the lovely Stones River. This park is going into our regular hike rotation!
Dennis and I have been trying to be more conscientious about what we eat, particularly when we’re traveling, and one of my biggest complaints is that healthy and tasty fast food options are pretty much non-existent — so I’m thrilled to learn about one of Murfreesboro’s newest restaurant additions: Munch. This counter service restaurant specializes in protein bowls to go, and it’s getting raves from locals. Choose from chicken, steak, or salmon to go with your rice and veggies and top the whole thing with a delicious sauce. Bowls range from $6-$9. After a long hike or bike ride, this is just the kind of lunch I want!
How do I love thee, Murfreesboro Greenway? Let me count the ways. I love that this system is 13 miles long. I love that it includes plenty of interpretive signs detailing the area’s rich Civil War-era history. I love that I can use the Greenway to access restaurants, historic sites, a playground, and the Stones River National Battlefield. I love its amazing natural beauty, which includes a stunning historic dam, amazing river views, and Eden-like forest. I consider this to be one of the top greenways for bicycling in the state, and it makes for a fantastic bike riding date with the one you love.
A ride on the greenway always means a stop at the Green Dragon Public House, which you’ll come across soon after you start your ride at the Cannonsburgh Village trailhead. Duck in for a pint at this Tolkien-inspired hideaway, or enjoy a hearty lunch here — The food is fantastic and healthy to boot! The Green Dragon is always busy, which makes for one very fun watering hole and date option in the heart of Murfreesboro.
I’ll be honest with you — Climbing is absolutely not my thing. I was the kid in P.E. who just hung from the chin-up bar during the Presidential fitness test, and I couldn’t make it even three feet up the rope in the gym. These memories haunt me to this day. That’s why I’m in awe of all the women in particular who are getting out there and tackling climbing walls. Holy Upper Body Strength, Lay-deez! If you and the one you love are climbing superhumans, Climb Murfreesboro is a good date option for you. This 16,000 square-foot climbing center opened recently in Murfreesboro’s new Parkside development and it’s the biggest indoor climbing center in the region — definitely bigger than anything you’ll find in Nashville. It’s huge, it’s colorful, and it makes for great Instagram pictures! Go get your climb on, people — I’ll be the one heartily rooting you on from below.
Kayaking is incredibly popular here, and it definitely makes for a fun couple’s activity if you’re the outdoorsy type. And if you’ve never kayaked before, this is a great place to try it out and see how you feel about it. I personally think you’ll love it — The first time I tried it, I was amazed at how much easier kayaking was than I thought it would be. There are plenty of opportunities for kayaking novices to get on the water in Murfreesboro and Smyrna, from expert-led Community Boat Days in June to guided kayak floats through Barfield Crescent Park’s Wilderness Station. to beginners’ kayaking classes offered by the TSRA on J. Percy Priest Lake. More experienced kayakers can opt to bring their own kayaks or rent them from Stones River Kayak, which also provides shuttle service.
Since my husband is from California, we’ve been addicted to poke (pronounced POE-kay) for a few years now, to the point that we generally have it every single day when we visit! We’re both thrilled this healthy and delicious Hawaiian dish is finally making its way to Tennessee. I’ve honestly yet to have good poke in Nashville, but I’ve heard Poke Fun in Murfreesboro is getting a big thumbs-up from poke fans, even those who come from Hawaii itself! What is poke, you ask? It’s diced raw sushi-grade tuna or salmon served over a bowl of rice with various yummy sauces and other toppings — I like avocado and seaweed salad on mine. I’m liking Poke Fun already for its wide range of meat choices, which include salmon, tuna, shrimp, chicken, and more — That’s generally a good sign in a poke restaurant, plus it means non-sushi eaters can enjoy a bowl, too. You’ll find Poke Fun at 577 N Thompson Lane in Murfreesboro.
If you love the outdoors, you’ve got to take a few minutes to check out the Murfree Spring Wetlands, located behind the Discovery Center children’s museum. This small city park has a raised boardwalk that extends over Murfreesboro’s own protected wetlands, and it’s absolutely teeming with life. You’ll see all kinds of birds, fish, and wildlife, including a large and active beaver population — It’s really neat to see their dams from just a few feet away. I haven’t seen anything quite like this anywhere else and I highly recommend it. While you’re there, be sure and check out Murfree Spring, which is right behind the Discovery Center building. It’s a beautiful little natural spot with impossibly clear water, right in the middle of busy downtown Murfreesboro. This is an excellent place for a selfie with your bae.
Dennis promised me the wings at Slick Pig BBQ were the best I’d find anywhere, and after a long walk in the rain at Barfield Crescent Park, we were both starving — so I thought those wings sounded like a perfect snack. Turns out, he right on the money. I love wings, but at Slick Pig, they’re smoked and the meat falls off the bones — These wings are truly something special. Slick Pig is a longstanding local favorite spot, so it was no surprise that it was hopping even at 4pm. Good relationships are solidified with good food, so I consider Slick Pig to be a solid casual date option!
We went to Mayday Brewery for the first time during out weekend getaway and finally figured out where all the nightlife is in Murfreesboro! I love that there’s something for everyone in this popular bar — On the night we went, a group of comedians performed in one room, a singer-songwriter performed in another, and a third room was reserved for drinking and talking. The place was packed! This is a great spot to unwind after your busy day and it’s super casual, so no worries if you’ve been riding bikes or kayaking on the river. The schedule of events changes constantly and includes lots of entertainment options, so check the website before your visit to see what’s going on.
I’ve been wanting to take the Oaklands Mansion tour for years, and on this particular getaway, I finally got to do it. Guess what? It was worth the wait. I’ve been to nearly all the historic mansions offering tours in Middle Tennessee and Oaklands is definitely one of my favorites. I found the family’s story and the home’s design to be fascinating — While the opulent front rooms were reserved for the mansion’s many guests, the family lived in the back rooms of the house, which are far simpler. The Oaklands staff has also done an excellent job of seamlessly weaving the truth — that the mansion was built and maintained by the family’s slaves — into the narrative. I’ve been on too many historic tours that gloss over the real, troubling history behind many of Tennessee’s historic homes, so I really appreciate hearing the real deal on how and why Southern plantation owners were able to live these glamorous lives. Oaklands Mansion also includes beautiful grounds that you’ll definitely want to explore after you’ve visited the mansion, as well as a very intriguing gift shop.
In the heart of downtown Murfreesboro, you’ll find the City Cafe, which is officially Tennessee’s oldest restaurant still in operation. There’s a reason this place has stayed open since 1900- Everything is simple and delicious. I guess when you cook scrambled eggs, biscuits, and bacon for years on end, you can indeed attain perfection — Their breakfasts are wonderful and nothing is over or underdone. But special mention has to go to the City Cafe’s cinnamon rolls. I think I’m drooling a little now from the memory of ours. The City Cafe is also the winner for many years running of ‘best place in town to hear gossip’, and I’ll tell you the truth: I TOTALLY OVERHEARD GOSSIP WHILE I WAS THERE. Will I repeat it? Never. Impress your better half with a meal here and soak up the local flavor.
Confederate soldier Sam Davis was only 21 when he chose death by hanging rather than giving information to Union troops. He famously said, “I would rather die a thousand deaths than betray a friend” before he died and the story of his brief life is truly fascinating. You can tour Smyrna’s Sam Davis Home and visit his grave as well as a museum built in his honor, and it’s an experience I definitely recommend if you and your partner love history. Be sure and watch the short film in the museum before you take the tour. Also note the house is not air-conditioned — In the summer, you’ll want to tour it in the morning or on an overcast day.
Shop and soak up the historic atmosphere inside this historic 1860s home in downtown Murfreesboro. Quinns Mercantile has a really lovely selection of home goods and accessories as well as clothing, men’s products, baby gifts, and pet items. I absolutely love this place and can’t get enough of it. And those who don’t enjoy shopping will appreciate the comfortable seating on the big front porch outside!
The 200-year-old Readyville Mill has to be one of the best brunch secrets in Middle Tennessee, and it’s just a few minutes’ drive from Murfreesboro. Enjoy the historic rural atmosphere and great food to boot — At the mill’s Goodness Gracious Cafe, the pancakes are made with organic wheat and stone-ground in the mill itself. The cafe is open Friday-Sunday until 2pm; Reservations aren’t required, but they are recommended. You’ll find the Readyville Mill at at 5418 Murfreesboro Road in Readyville.
I just love this quirky historic village and the story behind it — Rutherford County managed to save a good number of its smaller historic structures by moving them all to one location in the heart of Murfreesboro, and Cannonsburgh Village is the result. Tennessee life from the 1830s to the 1930s is represented here through preserved buildings that include a gristmill, school house, a telephone operator’s house, a two-story cabin, a museum, a caboose, a chapel, a doctor’s office, a general store, a blacksmith’s shop, and more. Inside many of these structures are fascinating artifacts that have been donated to the county over the years. If you enjoy quirky museums, this is definitely your happy place in Rutherford County. Self-guided tours are free– Stop by the Visitor Center for a guide. Oh, and be sure and check out my ghost story post for the spooky story I recently uncovered about the Cannonsbugh Village bridge!
I’ve been wanting to stay at this historic Murfreesboro bed & breakfast for years now and we finally got our chance! We were very comfortable in our upstairs room, which included a large jacuzzi tub and a sweet private balcony, as well as communal sitting areas upstairs and downstairs and a large kitchen. I also recommend the Carriage Lane Inn because it’s in walking distance of historic downtown Murfreesboro, which has a number of lovely shops and restaurants. And as if that’s not enough, breakfast is two vouchers to the City Cafe, good for breakfast or lunch — We often skip breakfast (although we didn’t on this trip!), so the lunch option is lovely.
Ten minutes from Murfreesboro, Christiana today is a tiny rural community with a few crumbling buildings in its center. 75 years ago, though, this was a bustling whistle-stop community and Millers Grocery was where its many residents shopped for their food. Today, Millers is a VERY popular meat-and-three restaurant, offering live bluegrass music on Friday and Saturday nights and a packed buffet for the after-church crowd on Sundays. Consider this a Rutherford County must-try and a fantastically adventurous date option.
One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought in Murfreesboro and you can learn all about it at the Stones River National Battlefield. Grab a map from the Visitors’ Center and take a self-guided tour, or take one of the many free guided tours offered on Saturdays and Sundays. You can opt for a walk through a section of the battlefield with a ranger or a ride in a car on a guided caravan drive (the battlefield is vast), but I’ve heard the best way to experience it is on one of the Saturday morning bicycle tours, which are offered in the summer and early fall.
Across the street at the Stones River National Cemetery, Hallowed Ground Lantern Tours are offered seasonally. Carry a lantern through the cemetery at dusk and listen to re-enactors reading actual letters from and about some of the soldiers buried there.
Southern soul food doesn’t get much better than at Murfreesboro’s old school Kleer-Vu Lunchroom, which has been in business now for 40 years. Expect a line for this down home buffet of fried chicken and fish, local vegetables, macaroni and cheese, turnip greens, ribs, and hot water cornbread — and whatever you do, don’t skip dessert! The chess pie in particular is scrumptious. You’ll find this local favorite just a few blocks from downtown Murfreesboro at 226 S. Highland Avenue.
Murfreesboro’s downtown square has a lot of history behind it — and more than its share of ghosts! Now, you can learn about downtown’s dark side from a certified paranormal investigator on a Murfreesboro’s Ghost Tour. This walking tour lasts an hour and a half I don’t know how I feel about ghosts, but I have to admit that I’m a big fan of ghost tours because they’re a fun way to learn about the colorful local history of a town. They also make for a spooktastic date night. Tickets are $10 each.
If you’re really planning something special for a babymoon, honeymoon, or anniversary, go big by booking The Loft at Bloomsbury Farm. Guests rave about this exquisite Airbnb rental in Smyrna, which is in the upstairs portion of a large barn and overlooks the verdant rolling hills and pastures of Smyrna’s Bloomsbury Farm. This is where I’d love to go for some serious private time– It is absolutely gorgeous!
I seriously can’t say enough good things about Dallas & Jane — It is the perfect spot in every way for a couple’s night out and I love everything about it. The decor is modern and stylish, but the ambience is warm and inviting, and as for the food? It’s spectacular. The menu changes regularly according to what’s in season and the whims of chef/owner Alex Belew, but everything we tried on the current menu was inventive and delicious, from the lamb meatballs to the butterscotch pot de creme. Special mention has to go to their ‘Run for the Border’ spring cocktail, which contained mezcal, jalapeno shrub, strawberry rhubarb syrup, lime, and chocolate bitters and was literally one of the top five drinks of my entire life. So yeah. Go. And make a reservation — This place, not surprisingly, stays busy.
Did you know Murfreesboro has its own symphony orchestra? The Murfreesboro Symphony has many events throughout the year, including an annual concert at Stones River National Battlefield and shows featuring Broadway tunes, jazz, classical music, and more. Check out their event schedule when you’re in town and try to catch a show — It’s a perfect date night option.
Luxury services in Murfreesboro have leveled up since Float Alchemy came to town, and I can’t think of a better place for couples to experience an adventure in relaxation together. Here, you can try float therapy, which involves floating in a large, skin-temperature bath. And don’t worry about sinking — The salt in the water keeps you afloat! Float Alchemy also has infrared sauna (which my husband has been raving about), cryotherapy, MUSE meditation with a brain sensing headband, and massage therapy. I don’t know about you, but I’m totally intrigued!
This was a decadent surprise on our last visit! Julia’s HomeStyle Bakery is big enough to hold many glass display cases full of beautiful and inventive sweet treats — and the place stays busy. Order a custom cake ahead of time for your special occasion or come in on the spur of the moment and choose from the many cookies, cupcakes, brownies, cake squares, donuts, and eclairs baked fresh each day. We stopped in for a snack when we arrived in Murfreesboro and while we loved our strawberry petit four, the cinnamon roll cookie was the absolute showstopper of our experience. It was spectacular!
Housed in a 1909 historic building, Murfreesboro’s Center for the Arts always has something interesting going on, and it makes for a great night at the theater when you’re in town. Upcoming stage shows include Calendar Girls, Footloose, The Wiz, The Last Five Years, The Secret Garden, Shakespeare in Love, Sweeney Todd , The Fantasticks, and A Christmas Carol.
I like to think of Cousins Maine Lobster as fast food for rich people, which is why I’m putting it in this particular category. This counter-service restaurant in Smyrna specializes in Maine lobster, so it’s going to be somewhat pricy — but you definitely get a lot of bang for your buck! I strongly recommend the Connecticut Roll, a generous portion of warmed lobster served with butter and lemon on a New England style roll. It’s heavenly and an entirely acceptable way to part with $15.75, if you ask me. Foodie couples in particular should enjoy this casual date option.
Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of paint-your-own-stuff places, unless I’m with the kids. Board & Brush is the exception. Located in Murfreesboro’s Fountains at Gateway shopping center (which has several shops and restaurants worth checking out), you can come here with your S.O. and create something you will actually be proud to display in your home! (Can you tell I’ve had a few bad experiences with this sort of thing?) For you creative types, a Board & Brush experience could lead to some excellent couple bonding time. Open workshops are held each weekend– Classes are held most Friday nights as well, and wine is included! Sign up here if you’re interested.
Open in Murfreesboro since 2004, Five Senses is a lovely option for a romantic date night or special celebration. Its seasonal menus include local meats and produce and feature inventive dishes like spring pea mash crostini (pictured above, which we loved) and bison short ribs. You’ll want to make reservations in advance because this place fills up fast. It’s definitely one of your best romantic date night options in the ‘Boro.
This post was written in partnership with Visit Rutherford. All opinions are my own.