Maybe you want a great mural photo, but you don't want to wait in an hour-long line to get it. Or perhaps you want beautiful, interesting backdrops for your photos that haven't already been used by half of Nashville. I've got an easy solution -- Head to Rutherford County! Just a quick drive from Nashville, it's filled with quaint historic sites, stunning natural beauty, and even a few fabulous murals of its own. Here are eight of my favorite spots for amazing pictures, whether you're planning to share them on social media or you just want a lovely new location for your family photos.
Downtown Smyrna Mural
You'll find this colorful mural in historic downtown Smyrna at Hoover Paints. The mural is in the store's parking lot, making it a perfectly safe and easy spot for picture-taking. Afterward, be sure and stop for lunch at Carpe Cafe, one of my favorite places in Middle Tennessee, or enjoy a couple of scoops at downtown's new Janarty's Homemade Ice Cream. Heck, you really could spend a whole day here -- Smyrna has several cool features that make it worth exploring, including my one of my all-time favorite bed & breakfasts, the fascinating Sam Davis historic home and museum, and a massive public swimming pool that looks like a mini waterpark. Check out my post on Smyrna for all the details.
Batey Farms Sunflower Field
There's a reason masses of people flock to Murfreesboro for Instagram photos each summer -- A ginormous field of sunflowers there is open to the public for a few days a year, and it makes for a truly epic Instagram shot. Imagine a backdrop of thousands of sunflowers, all bathed in the warm golden glow of sunset. Now imagine yourself (or your adorable littles) in front of it. It's a breathtaking sight, and definitely worth the drive from Nashville. This year, Batey Farms has planted the field at The Grove at Williamson Place. Keep an eye on the Batey Farms Facebook page in July for updates on the sunflower viewing schedule -- The sunflowers will be ready in late July or early August, depending on the weather, and they'll only be in bloom for a short time.
Photo source: Batey Farms
Hattie Jane's Creamery
Located in historic downtown Murfreesboro, Hattie Jane's is an artisan ice cream shop that uses locally sourced ingredients, and when you try their sumptuous ice cream flavors, you'll definitely taste the difference. The light-filled shop and painted brick walls outside also make for a memorable ice cream shot. Take a picture, then enjoy devouring your 'prop.' And be sure to get at least one scoop of Toasted Coconut while you're there -- It's divine.
The Stones River Greenway
Bike riding photos are an Instagram staple for me, and one of the most picturesque and family-friendly bike trails in the state is the Stones River Greenway in Murfreesboro. Not only is this greenway beautiful, it also actually takes you places! You can ride to Stones River National Battlefield and make stops at the historic Cannonsburgh Village, the old Ransom's Mill Dam, the Walter Hill Dam, and Old Fort Park. The path also leads to the Green Dragon Pub, a hobbit-themed restaurant my family adores. Be sure to print your greenway map before you go so that you can plan your bike-riding itinerary ahead of time.
Murfree Spring Wetlands
If you find yourself in Murfreesboro and the weather is even slightly decent, you have GOT to make time for the Murfree Spring Wetlands -- This crazy-awesome natural area is definitely one of my favorite secrets in all of Middle Tennessee. Located behind the Discovery Center (a wonderful interactive children's museum that I highly recommend), this 25-acre park has raised boardwalks over beautiful and unearthly wetlands that are literally teeming with wildlife. Here, we've seen all kinds of water and song birds, baby raccoons, turtles, tadpoles, frogs, fish, and a very busy beaver population -- You can actually stand on the boardwalk just a few feet from their dam and see it up close. Your photos will make it appear that you're in some exotic semi-tropical location, miles from Tennessee. Nope. You're in the heart of Murfreesboro.
My favorite store in Murfreesboro has just upped the ante with this lovely mural out on the front porch. Quinn's Mercantile is located inside a historic downtown Murfreesboro home and it's filled with an exquisitely curated selection of home goods, clothing, baby accessories, men's products, and just all-around good stuff.Whether you live in Murfreesboro or you're just visiting for the day, be sure and stop for a shot in front of Quinn's 'With love from the 'Boro' mural. It's a fantastic way to commemorate your Murfreesboro experience and get in a little shopping as well.
Stones River National Battlefield
It's hard to believe one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War happened in these pastoral Murfreesboro fields. Today, the Stones River National Battlefield has been thoughtfully preserved and interpreted, allowing visitors to literally walk through the events that led to this pivotal Union victory. Stop first at the Visitors Center for information and a map, then tour the grounds on your own, either on foot, on bicycle, or in your car. Cannons like this one abound here and provide a stark visual reminder of one of the darkest times in American history. If we don't know our history, we're doomed to repeat it, so I'm always in favor of bringing attention to historic sites any way I can.
Ransom's Mill Dam
It's basically impossible not to get a great photo at this old dam, located on the Stones River Greenway right by the Manson Pike Trailhead. Unless the water is unusually high, you can easily walk right out onto the surrounding rocks and get panoramic views of the dam's mini waterfalls. This is also a popular fishing and swimming hole, but do note that many water rescues have taken place here over the years, so I'd personally do my swimming somewhere else! To add to the whole experience, check out the Rutherford TN History website for the history of this dam and photos of what it looked like back when it was a working grist mill.
Geographical Center of Tennessee
No visit to Murfreesboro is complete without a quick stop at the Geographical Center of Tennessee. A commemorative monument makes it easy to be in the center of things and, of course, document the whole thing on social media. You'll find the Geographical Center of Tennessee at 307 Old Lascassas Road near the MTSU campus. It has its own parking lot and everything, so there's really no excuse not to have this near-spiritual experience for yourself.