People always say “You don’t know you what you have until it’s gone.” That’s definitely the case with my experience at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It wasn’t my first choice of a place to live (it took me months to find a job in my profession) and our current duty station, in Washington, DC, was certainly more exciting. But in retrospect, I miss a lot of things both about Fort Campbell, and the surrounding communities, Clarksville, Tennessee, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and of course, Nashville, Tennessee. So with six years of ‘country-livin’’ experience under my belt, here are my recommendations for how to eat, drink, and be merry at Fort Campbell!
I’m a serious foodie, always looking for the next food fix. Have friends and family visiting? Take them to the Blackhorse Pub and Brewery in Clarksville’s adorable downtown. Try the beer cheese dip appetizer and any of the pizzas with the garlic crust. Another downtown delight is Edward’s Steakhouse (good for Valentine’s Day dinner out—try the filet mignon).
Clarksville has a surprisingly good assortment of small, non-chain restaurants with food good enough to make me crave them all the way from our current duty station in DC, like the 101st Roll at Kohana, the Kalamata Olive Load at Silke’s Old World Breads, the refreshing fruit water, coconut pecan chicken, and tasty dessert selection at The Looking Glass, and a mouth-watering spinach cheese curry at Tandoor Indian Bistro.
Try the low country shrimp and grits and smoked Gouda mac-and-cheese at Harper House in Hopkinsville. A little further up I-24 is Patty’s 1880’s Settlement, which is the home of the world’s yummiest pork chops, serious Southern pies, and adorable bread with strawberry butter served in flowerpots. There are tons of great places to eat in Nashville, but the absolute must-tries are the Loveless Café, with their biscuits with homemade preserves that are worth the trip, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, an Ohio based chain, perfect for any ice cream connoisseur. I could go on, but I’m making myself too hungry.
If you wonder what people do for fun out in the country, I’ll give you a hint: it involves music and drinking. There are usually two main events happening in the Fort Campbell vicinity on a Saturday night: Jazz on the Lawn, at Beachaven Winery in Clarksville—where I love the sweet Cumberland White, and Pickin’ on the Porch, at MB Roland Distillery in Pembroke, KY (whisky and moonshine galore).
Other worthy watering holes are the Blackhorse Pub and Cloud 9 in historic Clarksville, which is perfect for ladies night out. And of course, don’t forget to visit Nashville’s famous Broadway Street for endless opportunities to enjoy a cold one while you savor the songs of the South.
For a true country music experience, even if you’re not a huge country-music fan, visit the Bluebird Café in Nashville, a tiny club featuring performances by iconic and newcomer songwriters. Don’t miss Cheekwood Garden and Art Museum and the adorable historic town of Franklin, TN for more good restaurants and great shopping.
For shopping closer to home, visit Miss Lucille’s Marketplace in Clarksville, to check out antiques and knick-knacks. Take in a performance at the historic Roxy Theater, or take a spin on Clarksville’s Greenway, a Rails-to-Trails multi-modal path. During the summer, don’t miss the fried fruit pies and farm fresh produce at Clarksville’s Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. Another fun weekend trip is an excursion to the nearby Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area, a great spot for camping or boating (just bring bug spray, for the love of Pete!). And there’s a great sports scene, too: one of our favorite pastimes was watching the hometown Nashville Predators hockey team play, which usually offers discounted, and sometimes free, tickets for military.
Even Fort Campbell proper offers a great sense of community, with a fantastic DFMWR program which offers the Eagle Challenge Fitness Tour–a series of 5Ks, 10Ks and fun runs. There are great outdoor recreation and aquatics programs, and a new walking trail in and around the Clarksville Base Area of post. Fort Campbell also has a killer community yard sale in the spring and fall. My husband insisted I also give a shout-out to the Dawg Haus hotdog restaurant, near Campbell Army Airfield, which offers a series of gourmet hotdogs in a casual environment.
If you’re headed to Fort Campbell for your next duty station, don’t worry, you’re in for a treat! Get ready to eat, drink and be merry!
Have you ever been stationed at Fort Campbell? Tell us what you’d add to the list!