Top 10 Beaches in Tennessee

Published on July 19th, 2021

What are the most popular beaches in Tennessee?

Even though it’s a landlocked state, Tennessee has its share of beautiful beaches. From natural lakes to man-made reservoirs, there’s no shortages of places to swim, boat, and fish. And all with fantastic views of the local landscape! Read on for some of the best popular beaches in Tennessee.

Top beaches in Tennessee

1. Big Ridge State Park

2. Cordell Hull Lake

3. Grundy Lakes State Park

4. Cherokee Lake

5. Kentucky Lake

6. Chickamauga Lake

7. Dale Hollow Lake

8. Cheatham Lake

9. Center Hill Lake

10. Douglas Lake

Tennessee Beaches

Tennessee lakes are popular destinations for fishing, boating, and swimming, and we’ve rounded up 10 of the best beaches to visit.

1. Big Ridge State Park

The sandy beach at Big Ridge State Park is just one of the reasons to visit. This state park is known for its ridges and forested lands, but Big Ridge Lake is fantastic for swimming and relaxing in the sand. The swimming area is open Memorial Day to Labor Day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and there’s even an enclosed area for children. This 49-acre lake also has boat rentals and you can spend your day kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, or paddleboating around the water. And once you’re done with the water, you can explore the 15 miles of hiking trails around the lake.

Things to do near Big Ridge State Park: Maynardville is the nearest town and is filled with lots of restaurants and shops. Looking to spend more time outside? Chuck Swan State Forest covers over 25,000 acres of land in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley and is also nearby. Check out these local RV rentals if you need a way to explore.

2. Cordell Hull Lake

Cordell Hull Lake is a 12,000 acre lake on the Cumberland River and a result of the Cordell Hull Dam. There are tons of opportunities for outdoor and water recreation such as swimming, boating, fishing, as well as hiking, horseback riding, and camping. It’s also great for birdwatching and keeping an eye out for wildlife. There are several day use areas with beaches, and they’re all run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There are also picnic sites and playgrounds, making this a great option for families.

Things to do near Cordell Hull Lake: The lake is located 40 miles east of Nashville, and we’ve got a local’s guide to help you find the best things to do.

3. Grundy Lakes State Park

Part of South Cumberland State Park, Grundy Lakes is home to four man-made lakes surrounded by forested hills. There’s 90 miles of backpacking trails that meander past waterfalls, streams, and woodlands, and several trails that lead around the lakes. Once you get to Grundy Lakes there’s a beach, a bathhouse, playgrounds, and picnic areas. There are also several waterfalls where you can cool off. Grundy Lakes also allows smaller boats with paddles and trolling motors for outdoor water recreational activities as well as fishing.

Things to do near Grundy Lakes: Tracy City is the nearest town, but you’re also not far from Chattanooga where you can visit the Chattanooga Zoo or Tennessee Aquarium.

4. Cherokee Lake

Located in the Clinch Mountains foothills, Cherokee Lake is one of the largest lakes in the state. There’s plenty to do here including several boat docks to launch boats and plenty of great fishing opportunities. The lake known for bass, crappie, sunfish, and walleye, so get those fishing poles ready. There are also plenty of picnic areas and campgrounds, so you can park your RV for a few days to really enjoy the lake. Head into Panther Creek State Park along the lake for a great swimming area.

Things to do near Cherokee Lake: The lake is only about 30 miles from Knoxville, and we have you covered with a local’s guide to all the best things to do, eat, and see.

5. Kentucky Lake

Along the Tennessee River on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee lies Kentucky Lake. This lake is huge, covering 160,300 acres! This means there’s plenty of room to enjoy water activities. Rent a house boat, jet ski, or pontoon boat to explore the lake. Or take it slower with kayak or canoe rentals. There tons of campgrounds and day use areas around the lake that have beaches to enjoy.

Things to do near Kentucky Lake: There are many fantastic areas around the Land Between Lakes to explore. You’re also only about two hours from Nashville. If you’re looking for the best things to do, check out our Nashville local’s guide.

6. Chickamauga Lake

About 20 miles from Chatanooga, Chickamauga Lake is a popular reservoir for swimming and water sports. With 15 marinas, 35 boat ramps, and 2 state parks (Booker T. Washington and Harrison Bay State Parks) there’s plenty of ways to enjoy the lake. Waterskiing, paddle boarding, boating, and jet skiing will get you out on the water. Or enjoy a day of fishing or swimming. And don’t forget to stop by the state parks for excellent hiking trails, as well as museums, a golf course, and plenty of water access points.

Things to do near Chickamauga Lake: Stop by Chattanooga to visit Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. Knoxville is also about a 2 hour drive away. We’ve got a local’s guide if you’re looking for some fun things to do.

7. Dale Hollow Lake

Dale Hollow Lake is also located on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. This reservoir is a popular recreation area with plenty of sandy beaches that are designated swimming areas. Relax on the sand or in the water, or try water skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing on the lake. It’s also popular with houseboats, and you can rent them at the marina. There are also plenty of campsites, cabins, and cottages so you can stay the night.

Things to do near Dale Hollow Lake: You’re a two hour drive northeast from Nashville, but there’s all sorts of things to do in Pickett County. Explore some of the museums, shops, dining, and some fantastic nearby state parks in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

8. Cheatham Lake

Cheatham Lake has 320 miles of shoreline, and some great spots for fishing, swimming, and boating. It was also built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and has a swimming spot at Cheatham Dam Right Bank Recreation Area. There are also 18 boat ramps, 2 marinas, and 14 playgrounds for kids. Explore the inlets in a canoe or kayak, or take to the lake for sailing, water skiing, tubing, and boating. There are also hiking trails nearby, and plenty of campsites to stay overnight.

Things to do near Cheatham Lake: This lake is right outside Nashville, making it an easy day trip from the city. We’ve put together a local’s guide for Nashville, and have you covered with local RV rentals for your trip.

9. Center Hill Lake

Rock Island State Park is situated at the headwaters of Center Hill Lake and provides visitors with fantastic hiking, swimming, water sports, and other recreational activities. Since the park sits at the meeting point of three different rivers, it’s the perfect place to break out the watercraft. Paddle around in a canoe or kayak to explore the area, and it’s also known for whitewater kayaking if you’re looking for something more intense. The sandy beach is the perfect place to take a dip, and there’s even a bathhouse and onsite parking. There are also two scenic waterfalls to visit and plenty of hiking trails around the park.

Things to do near Center Hill Lake: Nashville is 60 miles away, and the Cumberland Caverns are nearby, a U.S. National Landmark and an underground cave experience if you want to do some spelunking. We’ve got some great local RV rentals for you to check out.

10. Douglas Lake

In the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains sits Douglas Lake. The views are amazing with rolling hills and mountains, and it’s popular for boating, fishing, picnicking and swimming. It’s especially popular with people who love fishing and is a top fishing lake for both crappie and large mouth bass. There’s a public swimming beach and campground with boat ramps. It’s also a great place for hiking and birdwatching.

Things to do near Douglas Lake: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is nearby, along with Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. And Knoxville is about 25 miles to the west.

Planning an RV trip to Tennessee

There are so many fantastic lake beaches to choose from in Tennessee, and an RV is a great way to explore them. We’ve got all the resources you need to plan a perfect beach vacation. As you explore, be sure to check out our resources on traveling in the state.

Here are guides to some of the best state parks in Tennessee, as well as all the national parks in the country. RVshare is also the perfect one-stop-shop to help you find an RV rental and get all the information you need for your trip.

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