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Must-Do’s for PCSing to Fort Campbell

Moving to Fort Campbell was not my idea. One visit up here was enough to make me realize that there are a lot of corn fields going on … and not a lot else.

Or so I thought.

One of my personal military life values is that this life is what I make of it – and that includes duty stations. I get to choose whether or not I like a place. And since living in misery isn’t very much fun, I do my best to find things that I love.

Now that we’ve been here a year I’ve discovered a whole hill of wonderful things about the Fort Campbell area. Is it my favorite duty station? No. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to love. And, as our SpouseBuzz team is realizing this very moment as they run a SpouseBuzz Live event on Fort Campbell, this place can actually be pretty amazing. Here are the things you should not miss:

Let’s focus on the important thing first — eating. Like many military bases, Fort Campbell is surrounded by a lot of chain restaurants. But if you take a minute to go off the beaten path, you’ll find some real gems. My absolute favorite place to eat here is Blackhorse Pub and Brewery. Their signature food, other than their beer, is their beer cheese dip. I don’t really feel like “beer cheese” needs much explanation, but I will say this: even writing the words is making my mouth water.

Our other favorite place to eat here is The Looking Glass restaurant. I’m embarrassed by how long it took me to discover this place. Their entrees are decent, their ambiance is interesting, but their desserts are beg-for-more-amazing. Our very own Jacey is a fan of their coconut cake. Yum.

In need of coffee? Mugsy’s Coffee is just outside the Fort Campbell gate, roasts their own beans and is a great hangout.

After you’ve finished stuffing your face, make sure you take the time to drive an hour west to the Land Between the Lakes national recreation area. This series of huge man made lakes is great for kayaking (rentals are available at the on-post MWR Gear to Go shop), swimming, picnics, camping and other day trips. They also have two visitor centers – The Home Place and The Nature Station – which are great for kids but also interesting for adults. Bonus! Under the current National Parks free military pass, you can get into both of these locations free.

Another use for that fabulous National Parks pass is only a few hours away at Mammoth Cave National Park. This huge cave system up in Kentucky is a great place to take a day trip. Make sure you schedule any tours you want to do ahead of time. The only tour you do not need to book ahead of time is the self-guided tour, which is great for little kids. The park lodge, right next to the visitor center, also has a restaurant which is pricey, but not bad.

If you like the city, Fort Campbell is only an hour away from Nashville and all it has to offer. In addition to the normal big city shopping (minus an Ikea, sigh), Nashville is home to The Grand Ol’ Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Opera, Symphony and a variety of professional sports teams.

Remember how I said there are corn fields? Yeah, there are. A lot. But luckily you can take advantage of them, particularly in the fall. Our favorite farm to visit for fall fun is Christian Way Farms up in Kentucky. It’s a little further away than other recreation farms – about an hour drive – but we liked that it was not crowded, that their pumpkin patch was actually a pumpkin patch and not a bunch of already picked pumpkins tossed on the ground and that the rides for the kids were included in the price of admission, not a surprise extra cost.

Clarksville is also right on water. The Cumberland River, fed off nearby Lake Barkley, runs through Downtown Clarksville. The Riverwalk, home to walking paths and a great playground, is a nice place to spend some time outside time on a sunny day. The area is also decorated with light displays at Christmas time.

Another great outside place is the Clarksville Greenway, a walking path paved along what used to be a railroad. This is a great place for a pleasant stroll or a paved, no-cars run. The path is four or so most flat miles out and back in one direction and 5 very hilly miles out and back in the other.

Now, please excuse me while I go feast on beer cheese. Because, thanks to writing this, I can’t stop thinking about it. Hey, I didn’t say living here is a good way to be skinny!

P.S. You can also check out the Military.com Fort Campbell base guide!

What is your favorite part of the Fort Campbell area?

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.