When I say Nashville, what do you think? Honky tonk, bars, live music, beer, oh did I mention bars? But the city is so much more than this, and while its roots run deep in country music and Southern traditions there are also a lot of things to do in Nashville with kids. With all the fun family activities it is definitely a weekend destination worth planning for!
While the city may be small in size it is big in adventure, and we have all the information you need to plan a weekend, or longer, that your kids will be talking about long after it has ended. Without further ado our top Nashville things to do:
Like any good city Nashville has the usual family fare, along with some attractions that revery uniquely “Nashville”!
Nashvillle Zoo at Grassmere is more than a zoo, it also is home to the Grassmere Historic House, which means you can introduce a little history in between observing the animals, meeting critters, riding the train or taking a spin on the carousel!
Adventure Science Center has a host of hands on science exhibits, both permanent and traveling. Kids can learn the art of beekeeping, take a journey through the human body, visit the age of the dinosaur, learn about the physics of light, take a walk through the stars and more!
Don’t forget to plan extra time for their planetarium, which offers a variety of shows that appeal to kids of all ages. They encourage all of us to slow down, observe and learn, in a fun and exciting way!
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens has it all – trains, gardens, art and history! Children will love the garden-scale train exhibition that is made solely from items found in nature. Before you head in swing by the Visitor Services building to pick up a Backpack Adventure that provides interactive activities the kids can do as they explore the property.
There are so many gardens to choose from, including a Japanese garden, a boxwood garden, perennial garden and others, that one visit may not be enough. Take in the exquisite beauty of the nature around you as you make your way through the grounds to the Cheekwood Mansion, a 36 room historic home that allows you the opportunity to see how the Cheek family once lived.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts may not seem like something inherently child-friendly, but it definitely is! Kids under 18 get to visit for free, and their Martin ArtQuest Gallery has more than 30 hands on activities just for the younger art loving set! The whole family can paint, sketch, create prints or collages, or just learn the basics of art.
Lotz House Civil War House Museum is in Franklin, just outside Nashville, and is an important stop to help teach about the history of Nashville and the Civil War in this area. Tours will teach you the history of the house, as well as the history of the furnishings, antiques, and who the Lotz Family was.
The Music Of Nashville
It wouldn’t be known as ‘Nashvegas’ if there wasn’t the long history of country music that defines this city as what it is today. Take some time to visit some of the spots that helped make Nashville the musical powerhouse it is today.
Country Music Hall of Fame isn’t just for those who can appreciate the finer side of country music! With activities geared towards kids in their Taylor Swift education center to permanent exhibits and interactive programs, kids can learn everything from playing the guitar to the mandolin, pick up the latest country dance routine, write a sappy song or make a bling-tastic costume!
The Grand Ole Opry really needs no introduction, does it? Widely known as country music’s most famous stage, the Opry has been home to many a famous musician, and many an amazing show. Explore the history of this world renowned venue with one of their three backstage tours – and you never know who you may run into!
The Ryman Auditorium is the original home to the Grand Ole Opry. You can do a self guided tour, a backstage tour (you need to book in advance) and you can even record your own song in this famous music hall. Even for non-country music fans there is something too be said about standing on the stage in a place that has hosted so many of musics very best over the years.
The Johnny Cash Museum is located right off Broadway, and offers a rare glimpse into the life of a superstar. From costumes to instruments, see the history of Johnny Cash and discover why he was so instrumental (no pun intended) in the advancement of country music through today.
Get Outside In Nashville
Heading on down Broadway you have all your senses opened to just how musical and how country this city truly is. There are venues all around you with live music (some which welcome kids), boot stores, bbq places and more. And, perfect for all nature loving kids (which is all kids right?!), playgrounds and parks!
Fannie Mae Dees Park is also known as the dragon park, and is near Vanderbilt in Hillsboro/West End. A playground for the hipsters of this city and their children it will not disappoint, with huge climbing structures, slides and swings, as well as Nashville’s famous ‘dragon’, and all abilities section to the playground.
Centennial Park is home to the Parthenon. Yep, a Parthenon. It is also home to Nashville’s art museum, a 1 mile walking loop, a small lake, an arts activity center, a dog park, a band shell, and more.
It also provides an awesome backdrop for photos and great space for little legs to run off their pent up energy! Nearby are ponds with ducks, so bring some bread to feed them as well.
Nashville Riverfront is located at the end of Broadway on the Cumberland river, and is host to many events throughout the year. It is also home to Fort Nashborough, which is a reconstructed fort that kids can wander around and explore. You can also walk across the Shelby Street Bridge, one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world.
Of course a city that is filled with so much energy has amazing events, right? And Nashville does! Some are annual, some are a little more often, but all of them will provide moments you won’t soon forget.
If major league sports are your thing then Nashville has just the team for you! Nashville Predators are the official NHL team of Nashville. They play at Bridgestone Arena, which is located right in the middle of everything! Is football more your thing? Then head across the river to Nissan Stadium and catch a Tennessee Titans game!
Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas is an annual event at the Gaylord Opryland hotel and the Grand Old Opry which includes musicals, ice skating, snow tubing, snowball toss, a kids train and, of course, twinkling Christmas lights! It’s a great way to start the Christmas season off with holiday merriment and joy.
New Years Eve Music City Midnight is a party to end all parties! With the streets shut down there is a party atmosphere all around, and for older kids who can make it up until midnight there are concerts, fireworks and fun for all!
Dining In Nashville
Nashville is quickly rising on the dining scene as being a city to be reckoned with in terms of cuisine. But fortunately for those of us who still hesitate to eat at a table with white tablecloths and fancy china Nashville also has a hopping restaurant scene for those who are in search of more casual meals.
Puckett’s Grocery started off as a little grocery store and is now a popular family restaurant off Broadway (and with other locations around Tennessee!). This Southern bar and grill also has an old-fashioned general store and a large stage for live music acts!
Noshville, a New York style deli, is popular for families and and can have a long wait, but is worth the wait! Their kids menu is expansive, and they are ready with crayons for kids who aren’t happy about having to wait for their food!
The area around Vanderbilt is full of restaurants that seem welcoming to families, from nicer choices to quick stops. Check out the Mexican food at San Antonio Taco Company, which is an order at the counter and get served quickly type of place, perfect at the end of a long day. With plenty of high chairs and kid friendly choices this may not seem like a relaxing meal, but it is – plus it is next to Ben and Jerry’s, which makes the end of the meal more pleasant for everyone!
If pizza is more your speed, then the hidden gem of Bella Napoli in Edgehill Village is your place! Their brick oven pizza leaves you satiated, and there is pasta for those who aren’t pizza aficionados. Get some Legato gelato on your way home!
Biscuit Love! What started as a food truck is now a hot brunch spot, and the line out the door is a huge indication of how long people will wait for a “Nasty Princess” (trust us, it’s amazing!). If you are near the Gulch this is a no brainer.
While we normally tend to go for the VRBO type properties sometimes a hotel is our only option.
The Embassy Suites in Nashville is located right next to Vanderbilt’s campus, which gives the area a breath of youth. The area is definitely hopping and being in an area where you can walk is a great way to tire out little legs.
Who doesn’t love that you can separate the bedroom from the sitting room without having to pay suite prices, which means you don’t have to go to bed as soon as the sun sets! Breakfast is included, and drinks and snacks are provided in the lobby for a few hours at night (don’t go if you are a good beer fan, but hey, after a day with kids a free drink is a free drink!).The parking lot is an exercise in patience, with tight turns and small spots!
Union Station Hotel was once a central train station in the then up and coming city of Nashville. Opened in 1900, the station served passengers of the eight railroads that provided service to the city, and functioned in different ways through 1979, when it shut down entirely.
Reopened as a luxury hotel years later, it is located conveniently to the downtown hustle and bustle of Broadway, and the regentrified area known as The Gulch. And for those brave enough to believe it, there are rumors the hotel is haunted, so be on the lookout for ghosts during your stay!
Nashville may seem like a city small by stature but it is big on history, and if you plan a weekend here you will not be disappointed!
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