Nashville with Kids
Post updated March 2020
Nashville, TN is not exactly a city that conjures up images of kids running around. When people think of Music City they think of bars and loud music, party buses taking to the streets, bachelorette bashes – basically one big party! Which it is. But, let’s face it, even in the most adult-centric cities, there are kids everywhere. I like to have a laugh at this thought because it’s not like there aren’t any kids in Nashville!
In the last couple of years I’ve found myself writing about cities that tend to have a “grown-up” vibe and reputation, such as New Orleans and Miami, and have been showing just how family-friendly they can actually be. We don’t have anyone to watch the kids while we’re away, so where we go, they go. We wanted to visit Nashville, so the kids came too.
And with that we discovered just how wonderful Nashville is for families. There are a lot of fun things to do with kids in Nashville. I will put out a full disclaimer that we had grandparents in tow (who live in the South) who were able to watch the kids while we went out at night. But even without them, we would have still had a blast, because Nashville is so much fun, and for all ages. Below is my list of things to do with kids in Nashville.
Things to do with Kids in Nashville
Watch some live music on Broadway – at Night
Most of the bars with live music on Broadway in Downtown Nashville don’t allow kids after 6:00 p.m., but there is one that does – Rippy’s. A restaurant and bar with live music both downstairs and upstairs, Rippy’s serves large portions of BBQ style food and is a lot of fun. We ordered ribs, brisket, wings, baked beans, you name it, and the kids loved all of it. Great for groups, Rippy’s is bustling and the perfect way to immerse the kids in the goings-on of Broadway.
If you want to take the kids around to the venues during the day, many of them let you do so.
You may also enjoy: The Best of Downtown Nashville
Visit a Museum
The Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame is a big museum, and all of it is very well done. I will be the first to say I think the kids enjoyed it more than I did. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but with so much country music factoids to take in – and not necessarily being a big country music listener myself – I found it a little overwhelming. Yet because both the temporary and permanent exhibitions have interactive and engaging displays for the kids, it was very much enjoyed by them.
The Taylor Swift Education Center, for starters, was a big hit. Here they had an art activity where the kids could make musical buttons. Other points of interest included seeing clothes and even cars from popular musicians – no doubt seeing some of T Swift’s clothes in person was great fun for my girls. There are also a lot of fun activities where kids can do things like lip sync a song in a “studio”, create images of themselves dressed as music stars on computers and more. There are a ton of fun kid-oriented programs, so I definitely recommend a visit.
The Johnny Cash Museum
I love The Johnny Cash Museum. And while it may have been more for me than the kids, they still had fun visiting this little gem of a museum. You can listen to all sorts of Johnny Cash songs, and I loved showing them some of my favorites. There are interactive programs, videos and films, enough to engage the kids for some time.
Adventure Science Center
We did not have time to see this science center, but by all accounts it’s supposed to be fabulous. Especially if it’s a rainy day, head here.
Run around at Centennial Park and discover the Parthenon
Yes, the Parthenon! Nashville’s Parthenon, that is. The history is interesting. In 1897, for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, an exact full size replica of the Greek Parthenon was built for the city. Everything is exactly the same – the columns and even the distance between the columns. Nashville has since been called the “Athens of the South”.
There is a museum inside with an impressive statue of Athena – or so they say – unfortunately for us we just missed the museum’s open hours. So check before you go. It didn’t matter though, because Centennial Park, with its wide expanse of green grass, was enough to keep the kids busy for a while and burn off some steam. There is a playground as well. Located 2 miles west of Downtown Nashville, this is a great spot to take the family and enjoy a picnic, with the Parthenon being its crown jewel.
Take a Tour or See a show at the Ryman Auditorium or Grand Ole Opry
In my opinion, you can’t take a family vacation to Nashville and not see at least one of these musical venues. The Ryman Auditorium is iconic – it’s the birth place of bluegrass and country music, and where scores of famed artists got their start. In fact, it’s where Johnny Cash met June Carter. We took a self guided tour of the Ryman, and the introductory video is fabulous – something all ages can appreciate. You can’t help but feel the soul of the place, and understand why it’s called the “Soul of Nashville”. This was one of my favorite things to do.
The Grand Ole Opry is a concert and radio show, and used to be located in the Ryman Auditorium for many years. So many musicians got their start performing with the Grand Ole Opry, and it was a sad day when it left the Ryman (which was in decay). But it moved to a newer, bigger space, which helped its every-growing audience. After a major Ryman renovation, the Grand Ole Opry now performs some nights at the Ryman in addition to its own venue.
Show the kids some fun street art
Nashville is known for its street art scene, and we did seek out some pieces of work, mainly in the 12th Avenue district and The Gulch. Beware, there are lines to take photos – but not at all of them. Some of the ones we loved were:
“I believe in Nashville” by Adrien Saporiti, located at 2702 12th Avenue South
Opposite I Believe in Nashville is a fun striped mural at Reese Witherspoon’s boutique Draper James.
I’m not sure of the exact title, but this fox by Mobe Oner was a huge hit with the girls – it’s on Paris Ave. just off of 12th Ave.
Nearby is the Nashville Peace Project Mural located in 12th Ave as well.
The lines were too long, but Kelsey Montague’s wings entitled #WhatLiftsYou is one of Nashville’s most popular murals..located in the Gulch.
You may also enjoy: The Hermitage: A Fascinating Visit to Andrew Jackson’s Plantation
Tour a Plantation
Nashville, or the outer part of Nashville, is home to several plantations. We decided on seeing The Hermitage, mainly because it was the home and estate of the 7th president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. We did a private tour and our tour guide was fabulous, making it engaging and fun for all the kids. Truly, my kids very much enjoyed visiting the Hermitage, where they learned about a by-gone era, and were able to run around the fields of the plantation.
Take a walk along the John Siegenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
Just south of Broadway, this Truss bridge crosses the Cumberland River and connects Downtown Nashville to the residential suburb of East Nashville. It’s a great place for the kids to blow off some steam, plus it has some of the best views of Downtown Nashville.
Eat Good Food
Nashville is known for its food scene, so pretty much anywhere you go you’re in luck, but some of the places we enjoyed were:
ACME Feed & Seed (huge space with multiple floors and fun rooms)
Pinewood Social (has a bowling alley!)
Rippy’s (see above)
Jeni’s Ice Cream (this hip scoops shop has inventive flavors and some of the best ice cream we’ve tried to date).
And those are my picks for things to do with kids in Nashville. If there’s anything you’d like to add, please leave in the comments.
This article is available as an app through GPSMyCity if you want to read it offline wherever, and whenever. Click here to download the article, as well as for GPS coordinates of the locations listed.
This is a great list of things to do for both kids and adults. There’s a lot of America I still need to see and Nashville is high on this list. I didn’t know there were so many other things to do!
I didn’t realize there was so much to do in Nashville either until I started researching it!
very unexpected to see a Parthenon:) #farawayfiles
Great to hear there’s a venue that accepts kids, Rippy’s sounds great. This is such an immense part of US history and I feel very ignorant about it! #FarawayFiles
I love that you described many wonderful family-friendly things to see and do within a city that is known for it’s party vibe. There is always more to places than what can be seen on the surface. #farawayfiles
So excited to read this post to see what you discovered! We’re headed to Nashville at the end of July! can’t wait!! Definitely want to see the JC Museum! #FarawayFiles
Oh have so much fun Lori!!
You’re so right – we get hung up on whether cities are kid-friendly or not, forgetting that families live in cities so there will always be things for children to do.
I think Nashville with your kids sounds amazing! I’d come with you 🙂
Haha – thanks Trish! I know, I always think – well, every place must be somewhat kid-friendly!!
I think we must be a lot like you, Corey. We tend to take our kids to places not because we think they’re aimed at children, but because they’re just wonderful places to visit – and so many of them are excellent places to visit with kids just as you’ve shown here. My youngest would love the Taylor Swift Education Center, that’s for sure and I know they’d both be fascinated to visit a plantation and try all that good Southern food. #FarawayFiles
Yes, exactly, Clare – we don’t base our tips (well, most of them at least) on the kids, we base them on us! Kids are more easily entertained than people give them credit for (though with my oldest on the verge of becoming a tween, not sure how much long that will last, eek..)
This all looks fun to me! My favorite would be touring a plantation. And the street art is impressive!
Fabulous! I’m definitely going to check out Nashville! I think we would love it there, art music and bbq!
You would totally love it there!
Nashville has never been on my list of places to go with the kids, but after reading this, I may change my mind! Thank you for sharing all of these great tips! #farawayfiles
Thanks so much, Angie! It wasn’t on my list for a while either, but I’m so glad we gave it a chance.
Such lovely street art. I would love to visit the Taylor Swift Education centre, sounds so much fun. Thank you so much for this post. #farawayfiles
Thanks so much Ushasita!
There’s so much of teh USA I still need to see and Nashville is high on the list. You’ve put together a fantastic list of things to do, its great to know there’s so much more than country music! #farawayfiles
Thanks and yes – much more than country music!
This is awesome, I’ll be in Nashville with my kids in a few weeks!
Perfect! Have fun!!
Interesting, I’d never really think of Nashville as a real family place, interesting to see there’s something for everyone here!
Yes there is – but I’d also like to do a girls trip there some day!
Johnny Cash Museam would be fantastic for my daddy as he likes that kind of music. We never realised there was so much to see and do in Nashville! #FarawayFlies
Oh your dad would love it!
Well, I didn’t know there was a Parthenon replica, that looks amazing. It’s a real pity you didn’t get a chance to go inside, but one for next time. #farawayfiles
Sometimes can’t do it all..next time for sure.
I am really warming up to Nashville, so hoping it will be on my itinerary someday! #farawayfiles
You know, I never thought of Nashville as an “adult place” I guess that’s what happens when you’re not “from” a country, you have different expectations. But the number of people I’ve heard who go to Nashville for their bachelor/bachelorette parties is amazing! I like that there are still heaps of things to do with kids though, it’s not like you can always leave them at home 😉 #FarawayFiles
Yes, exactly! Such is our fate..
I would love to visit Nashville. I love the “I believe in Nashville” mural! I think that’s a great point that even places that aren’t considered go-to child-friendly destinations often have many things to do with kids – and of course plenty of kids grow up in those places too! Thanks for sharing these tips 🙂 #farawayfiles
Thanks Caity! I know, I mean, there ARE kids in Nashville!
Ooh I love those murals! I’ve never been to Nashville but would love to visit with my kids.
It’s a really fun town for all ages – hope you make it some day!
Hi, I think that’s a great point that even places that aren’t considered go-to child-friendly destinations often have many things to do with kids.I would love to visit Nashville.hanks for sharing these tips.
Thank you so much for reading and for the comment. I hope you make it to Nashville some day!