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50 Things to Do with Kids in Nashville Before They Grow Up

50 Things to Do with Kids in Nashville Before They Grow Up

By Guest Contributor

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.

Anyway, 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.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville

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.

7. Watch Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet, then visit the furry friends in person at the Nashville Zoo.

8. Chow down on artisan ice cream and pick up funky clothes for the kids at Pied Piper Creamery.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville

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.

13. Ensure a nice, long afternoon nap with a morning Pop In Playtime visit to Pump It Up.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville

14. Welcome in autumn with pumpkin picking and a hayride at Gentry’s Farm.

15. 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.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville
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.

22. See an IMAX film and dine at Aquarium or Rainforest Café at Opry Mills.

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.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville

25. Treat the kids to lunch and a special Santa musical at Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre.

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.

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.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville
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.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville
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.

41. Introduce your child to the glories of the stage with a show at the Nashville Children’s Theater.

42. Watch your child zip down the super deluxe water slides at the fabulous Bellevue or Maryland Farms YMCA swimming pools.

43. Visit the children’s museum and outdoor wetlands at The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring.

44. 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.

Things to Do With Kids in Nashville

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).

48. [Redacted]

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.)

Guest Contributor
About the Author

Guest Contributor

We often publish pieces by guest contributors. If you’re interested in being one, please drop us a line at contact[at]alphamom[dot]com.


We often publish pieces by guest contributors. If you’re interested in being one, please drop us a line at contact[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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  • Mandee

    June 16, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Great list, Lindsay. I would add Pancake Pantry to the list, but that’s just because I like any excuse to eat there. I spent an hour or so at the Bellevue pool on Saturday morning with my nephew and agree it’s a great thing to do. Can’t wait to add some of these other things to our list for my next visit.

  • Suburban Turmoil

    June 16, 2008 at 11:54 am

    You know, I mulled over Pancake Pantry, but decided against it just because the breakfast line is always so long. I will say, though, that if anyone decides to go there and can’t stand the wait, Jacksons across the street has an EXCELLENT breakfast as well and no lines in the morning (no highchairs at Jacksons, though, unfortunately).
    That’s awesome that you were at the pool! We LOVE that place. For anyone outside TN, our YMCAs are absolutely AMAZING. The Bellevue Y, I just heard, is in the top 5 Ys in the country in terms of donations. Kewl.

  • YeeHawMom

    June 16, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I have been dying to take my kids to Nashville…thanks for sparking the fire Lindsay!

  • Malia

    June 16, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Just an FYI about the Purity Dairy tour. It’s not a tour in the traditional sense of the word. It’s really more of a presentation. You hang out in one room that has big windows that overlook the ice cream sandwich packaging room. They show a rather dated video, but it’s kinda funny & charming, talk about the dairy’s history, answer questions and at the end hand out ice cream sandwiches. You also get a “goody” bag w/ a bunch of junk er, Purity Dairy parenphenalia! But it includes coupons so that’s nice!
    The Hatcher Family Dairy does tours now and from what I read, it’s a bonafide tour! It’s a bit of a drive from Nashville though…

  • Paula

    June 17, 2008 at 1:03 am

    We love the Nashville Zoo! We’re taking my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to the Nashville Ballet to see the Nutcracker this December, or at least that’s the plan. We’ve taken them to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular the past two years. Unfortunately, I’m about an hour and a half from Nashville, so getting there on a regular basis to do more things just doesn’t happen.

  • Suburban Turmoil

    June 17, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Ooh, Radio City Christmas Spectacular is another GREAT one- Well worth the money.

  • misfithausfrau

    June 17, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Wow. This list couldn’t come at a better time since we are, in fact, moving to Nashville within the next 2 months. Thanks!

  • Suburban Turmoil

    June 18, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I thought of you when I was writing this, misfithausfrau. 🙂

  • Kim

    June 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Hey, Chaffin’s Barn isn’t just for Christmas! They currently have a Summer Children’s Show called A FishaFrogaPotaTurnip. Check out their website for info. I’m taking my girls in a couple of weeks.

  • Suburban Turmoil

    July 1, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I’m planning on checking out the summer show, too, Kim! Just haven’t seen it yet for myself. 🙂

  • Shelley

    October 7, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Great, great bucket list! Thank you for compiling!!
    51. Pfunky Griddle is a fun place to make-your-own pancakes in the 100 Oaks area.

  • Mimi

    March 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    This is an awesome list!!! I will be moving to Nashville soon and will take advantage of all the wonderful things this city has to offer children. A link or book suggestion of the next 100 or 1000 things would be a great add.

  • Danielle

    April 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    We are spending a week with 3 toddlers in June and are so excited we found this list. We are staying at Opryland for 3 nights (F, Sat, Sun) and then downtown at the Hilton for the CMT Country Music Festival from Th through Sun, so we are looking for a place to stay from Monday through Thursday? Any recommendations? We will definitely go to the Zoo and likely one of the indoor play houses, but would also like to just lounge around by a pool.

  • Suburban Turmoil

    April 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Hotels I can think of off the top of my head that I really like in town are the Hampton Inn in Nashville’s Green Hills area and Loewe’s at Vanderbilt. Honestly, though, they’re both within ten minutes of the Hilton. If you’re happy at the Hilton, you might as well just stay there. Most of Nashville’s great neighborhoods are within a few minutes of downtown.
    Thank you Lindsay for following up. You are a star!

  • Louise

    April 30, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I am going to be in Nashville for only one in June, with three kids ages 3,4,and 15 :). Where do you think the best place to stay would be and out of all of the things on your list what would I have time for?
    Louise: one day, one week, one month? 😉 Our email to you bounced back.

  • Louise

    April 30, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Sorry! One day!

  • Suburban Turmoil

    April 30, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Hmmm. You have several options.
    Opryland Hotel is really, REALLY fun. Your kids would all love it. You could stay there overnight and have plenty for everyone to do just by wandering through the hotel and going to nearby Opry Mills. You won’t see the “real” Nashville, though.
    You could stay downtown at the Hilton or the Sheraton, or in the Vanderbilt area at Loewe’s. Or the Hampton Inn in Green Hills. My parents have stayed there several times. If you are in the Vanderbilt or Green Hills areas, you are close to downtown and can’t go wrong.
    Things to do? Since it will be hot in June, I’d recommend the Adventure Science Center or the Frist Museum downtown. Both have great activities/exhibits for all your children.
    Good luck!

  • Louise

    May 1, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Thanks! You are a lifesaver!

  • beth

    May 11, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    An alternative to Pancake Pantry is the Pfunky Griddle in Berry Hill. Make your own pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns and more on the in-laid table griddles!

  • Carrie

    July 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    This is really helpful! I am having trouble, however, finding info. on the outdoor movies at Centennial Park. Anyone know how I can find out the cost, location, and what movies are playing all next week at what times?

  • Lindsay

    July 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Movies at the Park ended last week. 🙁 Sorry.

  • Memphis mom

    August 4, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    The girls in my family (3 generations worth) go to Nashville every Labor Day weekend and we stay atthe Fairfield/Wyndham resort which is basically across from the Opry Mills. The advantage – onsite indoor and outdoor pools, small playground, basketball court, hot tub, and a kitchen in every unit to save money on eating out.

  • Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 11:38 am

    There is also Camp Widjiwagan which can be overnight or day camp in two week sessions

  • Diane

    August 11, 2009 at 12:05 am

    What a great list.
    I would like to suggest Glow Galaxy in Cool Springs. My kids and I had a great time there. Glow in the dark play area was truly unique.

  • Lynne

    November 15, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Will be in Nashville with my family over Thanksgiving weekend this year. My kids are 9 and 11 years old. Any can’t miss suggestions for us? We are actually staying in the Franklin area, but do not mind driving around town in order to visit the must-sees.

  • Lindsay

    November 18, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Cheekwood Botanical Gardens is great on a fall weekend, even if it’s cold and gray. You can all tour the fabulous museum inside the Cheekwood mansion and then let the kids run around outside for a while.
    The Adventure Science Center is another good option. Opryland Hotel will be decorated for Christmas and is a GREAT place to go walk around, enjoy the sights, and have lunch in one of the hotel’s restaurants. It’s massive. Those are my suggestions. 🙂

  • hooch13

    January 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I remember being a chid in Detroit. Tons of things to do. Not so much here. I deal with several foster kids and have a hard time finding affordable things to do.

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  • jennifer

    May 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I actually live outside of Nashville and have 4 kids (8,4,3&2 months) we’ve not done most of these. I’m so excited to get started!!

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    September 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

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  • Lorie

    January 3, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I love this list.I would love to see a longer list.

  • Janel

    January 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    You might want to remove #44. Purity Dairies no longer gives tours. Our school tried to schedule one recently and we were told they no longer do tours. 🙁

    • Isabel Kallman

      Isabel Kallman

      January 6, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks for the update/feedback. Will make the correction now. 🙂

  • starlet3929

    January 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Alternative to purity: Lane motor museum! My son’s friend had a birthday party there, it was pretty amazing.

  • Madiantin

    January 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Shout out number 2 for Hatcher’s Dairy – they are the nicest people!
    Also, another shout out for Lane Motor Museum. Don’t forget to look out of the back window of the motorbike room and look at the stinkin’ HUGE vehicle they have out there.
    Aquarium restaurant in the Opry Mills mall!! Always a favourite.
    Farmer’s market on Saturdays in Franklin is fabulous. Get a hot, freshly made, delicious doughnut, or a Nutella filled crepe, and wash it down with some delicious juice or a Hatcher’s chocolate milk all while listening to some really great music. Good times.
    And you just can’t beat the Nashville Children’s Theatre.
    Man, I love living here. 🙂

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  • lexii

    March 5, 2014 at 11:07 am

    my little brother and sister are 11 and 8 what can they do while we drive up to nashville TN

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