50 Things to Do with Kids in Nashville Before They Grow Up
By Lindsay Ferrier of Suburban Turmoil
Nashville was made for children. Seriously, there are more events, exhibitions, playgrounds, shops, and restaurants created with kids in mind here than I’ve seen anywhere. So it was hard for me to keep this list to 50 things, as opposed to 100, OR ONE THOUSAND. Take that, Detroit.
Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Get up close and personal with the stars on a Kids Exploration Night at Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory.
2. Sing along with The Professor, Mary Mary, and a peanut gallery of puppets during the Nashville Main Library’s weekly Story Time.
3. Sign up the kids for recreational soccer and cheer them on from the sidelines.
4. Enjoy a famous Puckett’s Burger and bluegrass at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant in historic Leipers Fork.
5. Prove to your children that science can be fun at Adventure Science Center.
6. Relive the good old days of country music at the Grand Ole Opry.
8. Chow down on artisan ice cream and pick up funky clothes for the kids at Pied Piper Creamery.
9. Spend a night in Rugby’s haunted Newbury House and read about others’ ghostly experiences in the inn’s guest books.
10. Don a bathing suit and run through the fountains at Bicentennial Mall. Afterward, play geography tag on an enormous map of the United States carvedinto the concrete.
11. Feel the rhythm with West African Dance or Djembe Drum classes at the Global Education Center.
12. Make reservations for your teenagers and their friends to attend a free dress rehearsal and backstage tour at the Nashville Opera. (backstage tours no longer available)
13. Ensure a nice, long afternoon nap with a morning Pop In Playtime visit to Pump It Up.
14. Welcome in autumn with pumpkin picking and a hayride at Gentry’s Farm.
Let the kids make dinner on their own after attending classes at the Young Chef’s Academy. (no longer in Nashville)
16. Count deer and make plenty of picture-taking pit stops on a leisurely and beautiful drive down the Natchez Trace Parkway.
17. Let your children wear their most whimsical costumes and run down the flower-filled paths of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.
18. Take the plunge with your bravest little thrill seeker on the Big Scream ride at Nashville Shores.
19. Travel back in time for a mouthwatering meal at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House in historic Lynchburg.
20. Feed the ducks at Centennial Park.
21. Spend a rainy day at the The Monkey’s Treehouse indoor playground.
23. Engage your children in a hands-on history of country music at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
24. Make sure no child feels left out at Lily’s Garden, a wheelchair-accessible playground.
25. Treat the kids to lunch and a special Santa musical at Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre (Permanently Closed now).
26. Let your child watch talented musicians at work by purchasing orchestra view seats at the Nashville Symphony.
27. Go on a Kids Adventure Cruise down the Harpeth River with Blue Heron Nature Cruises (it has now closed).
28. Take a picnic supper to Centennial Park and watch an outdoor family movie.
29. Let your children create their own works of art in 30 hands-on stations at the Frist Center’s ArtQuest Gallery.
30. Spend a cold, rainy day wandering through the lush indoor gardens of Opryland Hotel’s vast conservatories.
31. Chow down on the best biscuits and fried chicken in the world at the Loveless Café.
32. Take a kid-friendly walking tour of historic downtown Franklin.
33. Tap your Christmas shoe-clad feet to the Nashville Ballet’s annual Nutcracker performance (or as my three-year-old daughter called it afterward, “The Nut-pooch-en-sticker.”)
34. Catch a fly ball at a Nashville Sounds baseball game.
35. Send your child to a week-long Mad Science day camp, where she can get psyched about NASA, chemistry, or hovercrafts.
36. Re-live the life of President Andrew Jackson at his meticulously-preserved estate, The Hermitage.
37. Buy your favorite hard-to-find dolls, toys and games at Phillips Toy Mart.
38. Rent a canoe at Tip-a-Canoe just outside Nashville and spend an afternoon floating down the lazy Harpeth River.
39. Try to find the prize eggs at Red Caboose Park’s annual Easter Egg Hunt.
40. Pick your own strawberries at Portland’s Bottom View Farm.
43. Visit the children’s museum and outdoor wetlands at The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring.
Learn how milk gets from cow to container on a tour of the Purity Dairies Plant. (We have been informed that tours are no longer available).
45. Experience the excitement of a staged train robbery on a historic rail ride to Watertown and back.
46. Let nature guides show you how to catch crawdads, make mud pies, and survive in the woods at Warner Park.
47. Tour the Belle Meade Plantation and learn about life in the mid 1800s.
Have lunch afterward at Martha’s, a restaurant routinely featured in Southern Living magazine (now closed).
49. Learn how the pioneers lived at Manskers Station, where costumed interpreters bring the 1700s to life.
50. Bring a blanket and chairs and catch a kitschy old movie at sundown in funky Hillboro Village’s Belcourt Theater parking lot.
(This series was inspired by Mommy Poppins’ 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up.)