Main Streets 2017: Tennessee
It’s surrounded by a paradise for outdoor lovers — the hills and mountains near Cookeville draw hikers, riders, mountain bikers, climbers, and even cave spelunkers from around the world. But Broad Street in Cookeville, a vibrant small city of 30,000 in central Tennessee, has its own attractions.
Take the arts. Cookeville has several galleries and studios you can visit, and East Broad Street is home to the Cookeville Performing Arts Center. Owned by the city, the 456-seat theater hosts Backstage at CPAC, its annual series of contemporary plays, plus plays and musicals on the Main Stage, the productions of the Cookeville Children’s Theatre, and an array of special events.
Just behind the arts center is the Dogwood Performance Pavilion. Canopied by Dogwood Park’s shade trees, the pavilion is home to the award-winning Shakespeare in the Park series, Third Thursday in the Park concerts, movies and concerts by the Bryan Symphony Orchestra.
Coordinated by community members and representatives of Cookeville’s Tennessee Technical University, the Bryan Symphony has its headquarters on Broad. It also performs classical and pop programs on the university campus and mounts concerts, classes and special learning activities for young people.
Next, museums. Broad Street has two: the Cookeville History Museum, whose exhibits spotlight the history of this community; and the Cookeville Depot Museum, in the heart of the city’s Historic WestSide district. Inside a 1909-built former railroad station, the Depot Museum houses artifacts of the Tennessee Central Railroad and a scale model of the town’s 1995-era WestSide. On display in the museum’s parklike grounds are a 1913 Baldwin steam engine, a 1920’s-era red caboose, and two train cars.
Then, there are the eateries. Cookeville has more than 100 restaurants, from a donut shop that’s been called the state’s finest to world-class restaurants. You’ll find that variety right on West Broad, where you can get barbecue, Japanese noodles and sushi, Mexican, New Orleans dishes, Southern comfort food — even gourmet cupcakes.
Even with so much great food, Cookeville calls itself one of America’s fittest cities, and it’s home to four-time “Fittest Man on Earth” Rich Froning. Several of its numerous fitness centers are right on Broad. So if you live here, you’ll be able to earn that barbecue, and relax later at that play or symphony.
It’s a good place to be.
All photos courtesy of Visit Cookeville