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Middle Tennessee city tops "Best Places To Live" list

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Money.com has published it's annual list of the Best Places to Live in America, and one Middle Tennessee city tops the list!

This year Clarksville was named Money's Best Places to Live in America.

To arrive at its list, Money looked at cities of more than 50,000. Cities larger that 300,000 were broken down into neighborhoods. Overall, it evaluated 1,796 places. 

They measured more than 160,000 data points, including things like cost of living, economy, diversity, education, and points of interest. 

Reporters from Money.com extensively researched each city, identifying those intangible factors that make somewhere a great place to live.

The ranking came down to affordability and access to a lot of great things.

McGregor Park is a riverfront park that gives a gorgeous view of the Cumberland River. The park is a few streets over from the downtown area and Austin Peay State University.

As for what makes Clarksville so attractive, Money said the average home costs $155,000 and companies like Google and LG are moving in.

There’s also expected to be a 10% growth in jobs in the coming years.

“Money Magazine is catching up with us,” said Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts. “There are 155,000 people who already know it’s a great place to live. This is all about our people. Location, location, location is great, but we are all about the people.”

Clarksville also has the picturesque streets like Strawberry Alley, historical sites like the Roxy Regional Theater on Franklin Street, which has been there since 1847, and a statue of Clarksville’s native son Frank Sutton, who played Sgt. Vince Carter in the TV series “Gomer Pyle USMC.”

Money Magazine looked at 1,800 U.S. cities and neighborhoods to determine the list. They looked at housing, economy, safety, education and community feel.

Other towns that made the Top 5 were Round Rock, TX, Fishers, IN, Fulton River District, Chicago, Country Club Heights, Charlotte, NC.

Check out the full list of 100 Best Places to Live in America from the Money.com website. 

Things to Do in Clarksville: Visit Dunbar Cave

The Cumberland River is one of the reasons Clarksville was known as the Gateway to the South and a leader in the country’s tobacco shipping industry.

Earlier Monday the city accepted a $1.8 million grant from Gov. Bill Lee to expand McGregor Park and its series of greenways and bridges.

But that’s not the only spot featuring natural beauty.

The city is also home to Dunbar Cave State Park. The cave system is the 280th largest cave complex in the world and had been utilized by those indigienous to the area and later as a resort in the 1930s.

In fact, they used to hold dances in the space outside the opening to the cave because it acted as natural air conditioning.

When you go inside, the cave has no natural light, so park rangers offer flashlight-only tours.

With a peek inside, you see petroglyphs that line the walls. There are more than 30 drawings and etchings found in the cave that date back to the Mississippian era.

There are also lots of other historic period signatures, which would be called graffiti if it was done today, but it was done 150-200 years ago. It’s an interesting snapshot of the people of Montgomery County.

If you want to go on a tour of the cave, you’re running out of time. Park rangers will wrap up giving tours of the cave at the end of the month due to the bat population inside the cave. Tours will resume in the spring.

Things to Do in Clarksville: Customs House Museum and Cultural Center

While there may be a lot of future opportunity for those coming to Clarksville, the strength is in the past, which is on display at a special museum in downtown Clarksville.

If you think a museum is just history, then the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center is here to teach you something.

“I can use an art piece to tell history as I can use a history piece to tell science,” said Sue Lewis, the curator of education at the Customs House.

The building began as a post office in 1898 then turned into a museum aimed at preserving local history. It later expanded its mission to also includes arts and science.

Among the exhibits are multiple art galleries, a train display that evolves with the season and historical exhibits like an 1840s log cabin.

“We are strong on family education, providing education and exposing people and children to things they won’t see in their daily lives,” said Ellison.

And that includes a bubble cave.

Lewis, who has lived in Clarksville for 40 years and at the museum for 30, said she’s not surprise to hear Clarksville named the best city to live in and hopes those who visit, or decide to live there, will stop by the museum to learn more about the foundation of what makes Clarksville great.

“If you go away thinking ‘Wow, I didn’t know that,’ that’s accomplished the educational mission,” said Lewis.

Things to Do in Clarksville: Beachaven Vineyard and Winery

Some of the other reasons Clarksville was named the top city to live include some cultural experiences.

Tobacco used to be sent out across the country.

While tobacco was the first major crop in Montgomery County, it’s certainly not the only thing that can grow.

Beachaven Vineyard and Winery off Dunlop Lane, licensed in 1986, is the oldest single-family owned winery in Tennessee.

It currently is being operated by Wilson Cooke, the grandson of the founder, Judge William Beach.

“When we were founded in 1986, it was really rural, and the community has grown to us,” said Cooke. “The community is growing, people from all over the culture who want to know about wine and want to experience what we can produce here.”

The winery also hosts lots of community events, including this Thursday through Sunday when they will be welcoming home veterans. It’s the second annual event to honor veterans and active military. There will be more than 500 American flags on display in the “Field of Honor.”

Money.com and WSMV are owned by the Meredith Corporation

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