During the summer, the average high temperature in southern Tennessee can hover around 90 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks—or sometimes even months—at a time. Combined with the region’s occasionally stifling humidity, it can be extremely refreshing to cool off in the water, whether it be a pool, lake, river or waterfall. Splash into one of these bodies of water next time the Tennessee heat becomes too much to bear, or if you are looking for a quality workout or a peaceful float on the river, look into Elk River Canoe Rental or Float-a-Boat in Watrace for a trip downstream.
Elk River Canoe Rental
190 Smithland Rd., Kelso | 931-937-6886
Elk River Canoe offers Old Town canoe and Jackson kayak rentals on the Class 1 Elk River in Kelso, Tennessee, about an hour’s drive from Manchester. Rentals for trips can range from a few hours on the river to a few days, since numerous primitive campgrounds sit along the waterway. A float down the Elk River with its lush scenery of rolling hills and undeveloped land provides floaters with a get-away-from-it-all kind of experience, perfect for both experienced paddlers and first-timers. All rentals include paddles, life jackets and transportation.
Elk River Canoe Renal offers discount for groups of 10 or more people. The business is open from April 1 to October 31, from 8am until sundown.
1-1.5 hr trip: $20
2 hr trip: $24
3-3.5 hr trip: $26
4.5 hr trip: $28
6.75 hr trip: $30
Manchester Recreation Complex
557 N. Woodland St., Manchester | 931-728-0273
In addition to an indoor competition and lap pool, the Manchester Recreation Complex is outfitted with an outdoor leisure pool that is open from May through September, with a lazy river, two water slides, numerous water playgrounds, spray features and a lily pad walk. Additionally, the pool’s zero-depth entrance and maximum depth of four feet make it extremely accessible and enjoyable for small children. The pool also has surrounding lounge chairs, umbrellas and tables, all sitting under the complex’s colorful Bonnaroo-themed mural that overlooks the pool area. The outdoor leisure pool hosts a variety of public events and parties during the summer months, which are announced through the Facebook page.
The outdoor pool at the complex is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and both of the recreation complex’s pools can be rented for parties, whether school outings, church events or children’s birthdays.
Children under 3 months: Free
Children (3mo-4yrs): $4
Student (5-18): $5
Adult (19-54): $5
205 Blackman Blvd., Wartrace | 615-925-9767
Located in downtown Wartrace, Float-a-Boat, formerly known as Normandy Kayak Rental, offers canoes, kayaks, tubes, paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards, fishing kayaks and jon boats for rental on the Duck River and Normandy Lake. The Duck River, which is considered one of Tennessee’s most scenic waterways and one of the most diverse location for fish and mussels diversity in the world according to the Nature Conservancy, is a Class 1 river— ideal for both beginners and experienced paddlers. Additionally, the river makes for a great day in nature, allowing floaters to encounter Tennessee’s beautiful wildlife, plant life and picturesque scenery. A day on the river can make for a peaceful, relaxing afternoon floating the river, or a fantastic workout, if one sets out to complete their journey quickly. Float-a-boat provides life vests, paddles and transportation for all aquatic outings, and they can also provide ice, drinks, snacks and food for their floaters, or rentals for floating coolers and dry bags. Floating trips with Float-a-Boat can last from a couple of hours to a full day, and they take both walk-ins and reservations.
Float-a-Boat is open seven days a week, with launches available from 9am-3pm. All boats must return by 7pm. Float-a-Boat offers discounts for groups, firemen, police, paramedics, EMT’s and the military.
Tandem kayak: $50
Single kayak: $30
Canoe (2 people): $50
SUP Board: $40
The Barton Springs Campground (158 Barton Springs Rd.) and Cedar Point Campground (1659 Cedar Point Rd., Manchester) both offer sunny day-use and beach areas for swimming on Normandy Lake, a 17-mile long reservoir on the Duck River that is popular amongst local fishermen. Large grassy areas with picnic tables, grills and rental pavilions are located alongside the beaches, however lifeguards are not present, so swim at your own risk. Each campground’s beach offers expansive views of Normandy Lake, and Cedar Point has a general store.
The day-use rate is $7 a day for a vehicle with up to five people, and $1 for additional people in the vehicle. The areas are open from 8am to 8pm.
N. Collins St., Tullahoma | 931-455-1121
Opened in 2015, Splash Island is an outdoor pool operated by Tullahoma Parks and Recreation that was formerly an Olympic-sized pool from the 70’s. Splash Island has three 25-foot-tall water slides, a 300-foot lazy river and a splash pad—all possibilities for summer fun for young children and teens. Splash Island’s Snack Shack sells sandwiches, wraps, tacos, pizza and salads for a quick poolside lunch at Splash Island’s many covered tables and lounge chairs, and shaved ice and cold drinks to keep hydrated.
Splash Island is open May through September, with two swimming sessions on weekdays and Saturdays (10am to 3pm and 4 to 9pm) and one swimming session on Sundays (1 to 5pm). In August and September, the pool closes during the week, with two sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday. It costs $5 to enjoy the Splash Island pool, and children 2 years and under enter for free. Splash Island hosts a variety of community events for children, teens, adults and senior citizens during their months of operation.
Tims Ford State Park
At Lakeview Marina (1439 Tims Ford Drive, 931-967-6711) in Tims Ford State Park, visitors can rent kayaks, paddleboards and canoes to take out on one of Tennessee’s largest lake recreation areas. When you’re ready for a break from the sun, grab lunch at the Lakeview Restaurant, which serves handmade pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches and hand-dipped ice cream cones, or take a hike or bicycle ride in the state park.
In addition to the aquatic opportunities at Tims Ford Lake, the Tims Ford State Park offers an Olympic-sized, L-shaped pool with a 12-foot diving pool and a children’s wading pool. The pool is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm and costs $5 a person. Children two years and younger can swim for free.
Tims Ford also has numerous public-use areas for a quick swim in the lake.
$10/hour (2-hour minimum)
$35 for 4 hours
The southern Middle Tennessee area is home to numerous picturesque waterfalls located in various state parks and natural areas. Many of these waterfalls, including Rutledge Falls in Tullahoma, Foster Falls in Sequatchie, and Greeter Falls in Altamont, are located within an hour of Manchester and offer large swimming holes at the base of each waterfall. After the short hikes to these waterfalls, taking a dip in their chilly swimming holes is the perfect way to continue your outdoor exploration and cool off from the heat. Many of the falls also feature large, flat rocks for a quick hour of sunbathing after your swim, and tall, rocky surfaces from which true daredevils can take a jump into the water.
Looking for more ideas? We have a complete list of waterfalls near Manchester that you can access right here.
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