Family Friendly Attractions
Nashville’s warm and friendly atmosphere and countless family-friendly attractions make it the perfect destination for a family getaway. From indoor, rainy-day activities to outdoor water parks, from art and music to theatre, Nashville has plenty to stimulate the mind, exercise the body, and entertain the whole family!
Adventure Science Center
It’s an amazing, original, scientific adventure! Make your way down the hatch to the “Heart of it All,” engage in “Body Battles,” or explore “Adventure Tower” that features 2,800 square feet of hands-on learning plus other exciting, interactive exhibits and displays. The newest addition to the Adventure Science Center is the $21.4 million, 160-seat Sudekum Planetarium. The state-of-the-art planetarium has a 63-foot dome and can display 6.5 million stars. The addition also includes the Space Chase exhibit hall which houses 30 original displays and 63 interactive stations, including a simulated star walk.
Belle Meade Plantation
Belle Meade Plantation started in 1807 with a log cabin and 250 acres. It grew into a beautiful Greek Revival Mansion and one of the largest private estates in Nashville covering over 5,400 acres. Today, visitors can explore the remaining 30 acres and find the original cabin, a log cabin, and a massive carriage house and stables built in 1892, housing an impressive carriage collection. After your guided tour is complete, you can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting in the winery. Indulge in the muscadine and blackberry wines or any of the hand-made chocolates, then visit the gift shop for unique treasures.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
Tour Tennessee via a 200-foot granite map, a walkway featuring the 95 counties, 31 fountains representing the major rivers of Tennessee, and an extraordinary history wall. The park also includes a large carillon, World War II Memorial, and a 2,000-seat amphitheater.
Nashville’s legendary hotspot allows patrons to enjoy songwriters performing original material in an intimate “in-the-round” setting. Bluebird Cafe is a great spot for older children to hear from the songwriters behind their favorite radio tunes and learn a little about the not-so-public names that are so important to Music City. May not be suitable for younger ages, as the Bluebird Cafe has gained a reputation as a listening room and has a ‘shhh’ policy. This is designed to keep conversation minimal to not distract other listeners and the songwriters performing.
Built in 1825 by Randal McGavock and later used as a field hospital, Carnton played a central role in the Civil War. Four Confederate generals were killed during the bloody Battle of Franklin and their bodies were laid on Carnton’s back porch. The floors of the restored home are still stained with the blood of the men who were treated there. Today, visitors tour the distinctive large brick house to learn of 19th century Tennessee life.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
Cheekwood is the perfect place for the whole family. Mom and Dad can enjoy the 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate while the kids enjoy family-friendly activities offered throughout the week including “Tuesdays for Tots” and “Backpack Adventure”. Backpack Adventure backpacks, loaned free of charge, are filled with clip-boards, art supplies and fun activity books for up to three people, making the experience even more enriching for families and visitors of all ages.
Take a garden scavenger hunt. Count frogs by the pond. Discover the sculpture trail. Or, just let your children roam free throughout the grounds, following the stream and chasing butterflies. Family-focused, self-guided tour experiences (both indoors and out) will fire your children’s imagination and awaken them to the marvels of the natural world. With morning, lunch, and afternoon sessions offered to create an all-day experience for kids, Cheekwood is the place to be this summer!
Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
Engage your children in a hands-on history of country music at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. Many of the exhibits in the museum are interactive and tell the story through songwriters, musicians, and artists.
New to the museum is the Taylor Swift Education Center, a fun space that offers programs for toddlers, afterschool workshops for teens, and book talks for curious adults. Three classrooms, an interactive gallery, youth art installations, and more create an exciting learning environment where visitors of all ages can experience the culture of country music.
Ernest Tubb Record Shop and Grimey’s New & Preloved Music
Shop for the hard-to-find vintage classic or the latest release at these legendary record shops. Ernest Tubb specializes in all things country, and Grimey’s is known for its vintage and indie collection. Both were listed in Paste Magazine’s “Coolest Record Stores in America.”
The Fontanel Mansion
The Fontanel Mansion, a 27,000-square-foot log home formerly owned by Country Music Hall of Fame® member Barbara Mandrell, opened its doors to the public in 2010. Located less than 15 minutes from downtown Nashville, The Mansion at Fontanel boasts three stories, more than 20 rooms, 13 bathrooms, five fireplaces, two kitchens, an indoor pool, and even an indoor shooting range, all on 136 acres of pristine land. An exclusive spot for the stars, the home and grounds have been the setting for numerous photo and video shoots.
Guests can experience an outdoor concert at The Woods at Fontanel, soar through a shaded forest canopy during a zipline tour, hike The Trails at Fontanel, visit the new Goo Goo Outpost and Prichard’s Distillery, dine at Café Fontanella, stay at the luxury boutique hotel The Inn at Fontanel, and much more. Nashville’s only country music mansion tour, the Mansion at Fontanel gives visitors a sneak peek into the lives of country music greats by providing a truly interactive experience. Tours are available 7 days a week from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Visit the largest and most important of the fortifications built by Union forces after Nashville fell in 1862 during the Civil War. Fort Negley is the largest inland stone fortification constructed during the Civil War. Admission is free, so be sure to stop by the Visitors Center and tour the fort for spectacular views of Nashville.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
A 24,000-square-foot visual art exhibition center and educational facility located downtown in Nashville’s art-deco, former U.S. Post Office building has an ever-changing schedule of exhibitions from local, regional, national, and international sources. The center also features the interactive ArtQuest gallery that houses 30 incredible hands-on stations. Visitors of all ages are invited and encouraged to create prints and collages, paint and sketch, or learn about photography, architecture, and the essentials of art, including depth, color, light, and perspective. The activities at the stations change as the Frist Center’s exhibitions change, so there’s always something new to try. Kids 18 and under are always welcome free of charge.
Take a ride on the famous General Jackson Showboat where you can enjoy delicious meals and world-class entertainment while cruising the majestic Cumberland River. Midday cruises and evening cruises include a three-course dinner and live music show.
Grand Ole Opry
Expose the entire family to some of country’s greatest stars at the famous Grand Ole Opry. The world’s longest-running radio show has become a live-entertainment phenomenon dedicated to honoring country music’s rich history and dynamic present.
Explore Nashville’s past as your family tours The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson by guides in period costume. Take a hands-on-history class or enjoy a ride on a horse-drawn wagon as you hear about the exciting and controversial life of our seventh president.
Lane Motor Museum
Located in a former 132,000-square-foot bakery, this eclectic museum is home to the largest European collection in the U.S. featuring 150 extraordinary cars and motorcycles from around the world including micro-cars, amphibious vehicles, competition cars, and motorcycles. The museum also has a kids’ indoor play area.
Nashville Children’s Theatre
Ranked by TIME Magazine as one of the top five children’s theatres in the country, the Nashville Children’s Theatre is the oldest professional, non-profit theatre dedicated exclusively to kids and families in the country. NCT is enjoying its 83rd season producing quality theatre in its state-of-the-art theatre. NCT also offers camps and classes throughout the year for children of different ages.
This 385-acre family recreation destination is located on the shores of Percy Priest Lake, just 15 minutes from downtown Nashville. Nashville Shores features more than one million gallons of summer fun. Brave the waves in the gigantic water pool, plunge down the thrilling water slides, enjoy a leisurely float in the lazy river, soak up the rays on the beautiful beach, or play, slide, and splash in Kowabunga Beach, a massive treehouse and sprayground. Be sure to experience Treetop Adventure Park, an aerial adventure course that features 100 obstacles including suspended bridges, 10 zip lines, cargo nets, Tarzan jumps, and more. The park is divided into courses based on age and ability so everyone can participate.
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
The Nashville Symphony Orchestra offers several programs for children that are both entertaining and educational. Programs include “Is It a Fiddle or a Violin?” a program in collaboration with the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, the Pied Piper Concert Series, and Young People’s Concerts.
Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
Nashville Zoo offers more than 400 different species thriving in beautifully natural habitats along shaded pathways. Experience up-close encounters with clouded leopards and red pandas along Bamboo Trail, see elephants and giraffes grazing on African savannahs, wander through Flamingo Lagoon, and discover amazing creatures like the Galapagos tortoises in the Unseen New World. You can also monkey around on a 66,000-square-foot Jungle Gym, take a spin on the Wild Animal Carousel, ride the Wilderness Express train, or be surrounded by more than 50 Australian parrots at Lorikeet Landing. Unique to all other zoos, Nashville Zoo also offers the Historic Grassmere Home and Farm.
The world’s only full-sized reproduction of the Greek Parthenon that houses Athena, the tallest indoor structure in the Western world, is located inside of Centennial Park. The Parthenon also houses fine art galleries, including a rotating gallery featuring the museum’s collection of American art.
Tennessee Performing Arts Center
The Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, and Tennessee Repertory Theatre all call TPAC home. In addition, several Broadway shows, concerts, and special engagements come to TPAC annually presenting up to 500 performances a year and attended by more than 500,000 audience members.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum features sports from team to extreme! Visitors can play virtual reality one-on-one basketball, strength train like an Olympic swimmer, hop in a kayak to simulate shooting the rapids on the Ocoee River, and learn about Tennessee’s sports heroes.
Travellers Rest Plantation & Museum
Built in 1779 by Judge John Overton, friend and law partner of President Andrew Jackson, Travellers Rest allows guests to experience life in early Nashville from its frontier days through the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Dive into the wave action fresh water pool and water slide complex at the area’s original wave-action swimming pool. Ride the waves or drop from a 40-foot tower.
Great restaurants for kids:
Their mission says it all - “high quality, hearty dishes at a reasonable price in a fun, relaxed and efficient setting.” The kids’ menu offers smaller portions of the restaurant’s signature items.
Downtown Nashville Farmers' Market
The Farmers' Market is an indoor and outdoor public market, featuring locally-grown produce, ethnic food, restaurants, specialty items, and live music ranging from bluegrass and jazz to country. It’s open every day.
Elliston Place Soda Shop
This old-fashioned soda shop (opened in 1939) is known for its great burgers, frothy ice cream sodas, and delicious chocolate shakes. This time capsule of Americana, with its red-and-white tiled walls, old beat-up Formica tables, and individual booth jukeboxes, will make you think you have stepped back in time.
Hard Rock Cafe
Walls covered with decades of Top-40 memorabilia, rock songs blaring in the background, and an all-American menu typify this music-themed restaurant.
Loveless Cafe, which started serving its famous fried chicken and biscuits in 1951, remains unchanged in the quaint country charm and good cooking that has made it a landmark in the South since the doors opened.
Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria is located in Nashville’s 12South neighborhood. With two-for-one slices of pizza on Tuesday nights and a kids' menu that includes delicious pastas, it is no wonder that Mafiaoza’s is a favorite neighborhood hangout.
Martin’s BBQ Joint
Owner Patrick Martin incorporates the art of West Tennessee whole hog BBQ at his award-winning restaurant. Martin’s has been named by Bon Appétit as one of America’s Top 10 New Barbecue Restaurants. They offer a great kids' menu for 12 and under.
An authentic New York style delicatessen, Noshville New York Delicatessen's goal is simple: to prepare and serve the highest-quality delicatessen food in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.
The Local Taco
The Local Taco is located in Sylvan Park. Their menu embraces the simple pleasures of Tex-Mex and has a fabulous outdoor patio and televisions. Kids 12 and under can enjoy a kids menu that features quesadillas, tacos and chicken tenders.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
For more than a generation, families and friends have been going to The Old Spaghetti Factory to enjoy the delicious food, charming atmosphere, and friendly service. You will dine amid fine antiques, collected from around the world, while savoring perfectly cooked pasta and spaghetti sauces, freshly made, using only the finest ingredients.
For a special breakfast treat, head to the Pancake Pantry in trendy Hillsboro Village, where you can choose from 24 different varieties of pancakes. The line forms early and people will wait to get a taste of the world-famous flapjacks.
This upscale and vibrant restaurant boasts a perfect blend of simple Southern comfort and big city flair. It has a great kids' menu with smaller portions of their most popular dishes.
Peg Leg Porker
With deep-seated roots in the West Tennessee BBQ culture, Peg Leg Porker is a lifestyle brand founded by Award-winning Pitmaster Carey Bringle. Located in The Gulch, they offer excellent barbecue sauces and rubs, and delicious foods. The kids' menu is for 12 and under.
The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden
Voted “Best Burger 2013,” The Pharmacy is a popular restaurant located in East Nashville that serves house-made soda and shakes, and gourmet and unique hamburgers and brats. The kids' menu comes with a side and soda and is priced at $4.50.
This cute cottage restaurant is outfitted with tables that double as griddles. Amateur pancake makers are given unlimited amounts of their choice of pancake mix and toppings to create their own pancake creations.
With mismatched tables and chairs and an eclectic clientele of farmers, songwriters, and country music stars, Puckett’s is a restaurant serving up a dining experience unlike any other. Located at Fifth Avenue and Church in downtown Nashville, Puckett’s offers a great kids' menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Robert’s Western World
Robert’s Western World is located on Lower Broadway and is Nashville’s undisputed home of traditional country music. Grab a table (kids not allowed by bar) and enjoy live music and a tasty burger or chicken fingers.
Started in 1945, Rotier’s is a family-owned meat-and-three restaurant with an old mid-South style charm. Located in Elliston Place near Vanderbilt campus, Rotier’s is a local favorite that has won “Best Cheeseburger” in town for eleven years in a row.
This hip and casual restaurant in Edgehill Village offers a made-fresh-daily menu of Mexican-inspired food and a family-friendly atmosphere. Kids eat free every Monday when they wear their Taco Mamacita shirt.