What to Do with Kids in Nashville

This post covers family-friendly things to do in Nashville, including a top 10 list, free things to do, museums and attractions, and nighttime activities and tours, and is updated for 2019.

 

 


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN NASHVILLE

This section will cover our top 10 ideas for the best things to do with your kids in Nashville. If the activity is open late or free, we will point it out.



1) Visit Fannie Mae Dees Park

Nashville is full of green spaces. From the Bicentennial Park to the Centennial Park with a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, you can enjoy the outdoors all over Nashville.

 

 

One of the most unique, family-oriented parks is Fannie Mae Dees Park. Locals call it the Dragon Park, for its prominent display of large, mosaic tile-covered dragon popping out of the ground.

Other features include play equipment, a covered picnic shelter, and a splash pad for keeping cool in the summer, all great options for kids. 

 

Dragon at Fannie Mae Dees Park Nashville


2) Kid-Friendly Tours

Nashville has plenty of tours that will be interesting for everyone in the family.

Download one of our self guided GPS audio tours of Nashville. or take our self guided walking tours.

Trolley Tours has a popular hop-on-hop-off-tour of the city with 15 stops. You can learn about Nashville from a brightly-colored trolley with a knowledgeable tour guide on board, spend extra time where you wish, and another trolley will come around in 20 minutes.

Of course, there are plenty of other great buses through Nashville to try – we have a bus tour comparison post here.  

 

Carriage Ride Through Time Hermitage Nashville

 

If you’re looking for a smaller group tour, this open-air vehicle tour combines fun with education, and this horse-drawn carriage ride is a unique way to see downtown.

A higher-end option is to cruise down the river on the General Jackson Showboat with live music.

To get active with the family, try the evening Ghost Tour at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage after hours or a daytime scavenger hunt walking tour


3) Nashville Zoo

Love animals? Try the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. The zoo has outdoor trails, birds, bears, leopards, and a large variety of other exotic animals. 

 

 

Make sure to check the schedule of educational talks by the zookeepers to hear how they take care of the animals.  

In addition to the exhibits, you can also ride the Wilderness Express train or Wild Animal Carousel, or attend the feedings of Lorikeets and Tortoises.

If you’re adventurous, you can ride the zip line!


4) See a Show at the Nashville Children’s Theatre

The Nashville Children’s Theatre is a nonprofit organization that puts on plays, acting classes, and summer camps.

Throughout the year they have performances suited for all grade levels, and all age ratings and recommendations are on their website.

 

 

Depending on the day of the week, you could see a matinee or an evening show.

Or See a Story Time or Puppet Show at the Nashville Library

All branches of the Nashville Library have Story Time on their schedule, but the Main Branch is a beautiful 300,000 sq. ft. building close to the city center and easy to access from downtown.

The Story Time programming is aimed at children aged 2-5 and held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The puppet shows are held most Fridays and Saturdays, and the recommended ages depend on which production is shown.  

Children’s Theatre Schedule:

Story Time: Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, and 11:30 AM

Puppet Show: Most Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 AM and 11:30 AM

Note: Check the event calendar for exact programming offered at specific dates and times.


5) Learn to Line Dance at Wildhorse Saloon

Have a uniquely Southern experience at the Wildhorse Saloon.

There is always live music to enjoy and everyone is encouraged to learn and join in on the line dancing. Dance instructors are on staff to give lessons between band sets.

 

 

They also have a $5.99 kid’s menu, so everyone can enjoy their meal before or after hitting the dance floor.


6) Attend a Professional or Collegiate Sporting Event

Nashville is home to many sports teams, from hockey and football to basketball. Take your family out to the ballgame – or hockey match.  

 


This photo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

  • The NHL Predators play hockey from October to April. (Check their schedule for free practices open to the public!)
  • The NFL Titans play football from August to December.
  • The Nashville Sounds play minor league baseball from late March to September.
  • The Vanderbilt Commodores play college football, basketball (men and women), baseball, and soccer throughout the year. (Admission is free for soccer games!)

7) Eat Some Comfort Food from the South

Children are welcome in many of the restaurants that double as live music venues, such as B.B. King’s and Wildhorse Saloon – both of which have a kid’s menu.

 

Biscuit Love Nashville for Kids
 

Get some more laid-back Nashville fare at The Pharmacy, where you can fill up on burgers and play some lawn games.

And don’t forget dessert! Try the world-famous “bonut” at Biscuit Love.

Or better yet, go to the Goo-Goo Shop! This family run candy shop has been in business since 1912 here in Nashville. You cannot find them everywhere because they were never bought out by “big candy” so they really are a local treat.

You can try their classics with peanuts and marshmellow or (and here is where the extra kid friendly part comes in) … Make Your Own Goo Goo! You get to choose the fillings that go into the chocolate mold. You can watch them make it in front of you.

Goo Goo Make Your Own Nashville


8) Explore Madame Tussauds

The most famous wax museum in the world has a branch in Nashville. You and your family can get pictures with Nashville’s biggest stars and learn about Music City’s musical history. The kids can also get excited about current celebrities.

 

 

Madame Tussauds Nashville is open until 9:00 PM every night of the week except for Sunday nights when they close at 7:00 PM. Madame Tussauds is not near downtown, but it is right next to the Grand Ole Opry (which we also think is a good option for kids!) so you can plan to do both.

Tickets are also included in several of Nashville’s city passes. Click here to see our pass comparison article.


9) Explore Honky Tonk Highway

Nashville’s nickname is Music City for good reason. The famous Honky Tonk Highway is home to countless music venues on the Upper and Lower Broadway streets.

Take a walk up and down the famous  street, lined with free music venues, restaurants, western wear stores, and gastropubs. Music is always playing on Honky Tonk Highway, whether from a street performer or inside.

You can find Alan Jackson’s bar, AJ’s Good Time Bar, or the Whiskey Row gastropub which is owned by Dierks Bentley. Both, of course, offer live music.

Honky Tonk Highway Nashville
 
 
You may be wondering about visiting Honky Tonk Highway with kids, but we have never had any issues. Many of the places are open with live music as early as 11 am and daytime is probably a better time to visit with young ones, but you’ll see kids out at night as well (just don’t expect to go inside most places) Especially since Savannah’s Candy Kitchen is open until 10pm!

Many of the venues have a cover charge or may be adults only at night, but no matter what time of day you visit you don’t have to go inside to hear the music, often performed on stages by street with the windows open!

 

Boot Country Nashville

 

You can even get the whole family outfitted in cowboy boots and hats at Boot Country, which is known for their 3 pairs of boots for the price of 1 pair year-round deal. 


10) Save with a Nashville City Pass

If you plan on seeing all the sights, why not purchase a tourist attraction discount pass? With a city pass, just one ticket can get you into multiple attractions and venues.

There are multiple Nashville passes to choose from, depending on your interests, price point, and how much time you’ll be in Music City.

  • Nashville Sightseeing Pass
  • Music City Total Access Pass
  • Nashville Music Attraction Pass

 

 

These passes include great family-friendly attractions such as:

Click here to see our in-depth comparison of the best Nashville City Passes and prices.

 

 

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN NASHVILLE

If you’re bringing your family with you, there are plenty of free things to do with them, too. Some of our Top 10 are family-friendly like:
 

Youtube Subscribe

 

We detail many more free things to do with kids on our main post about Things to Do in Nashville For Free

  • Tennessee State Museum Interactive Children’s Gallery & Storytime.
  • Go to Kidsville, a free, educational, and crafty weekly program at 11:00 on Saturdays at the art museum inside the Parthenon.
  • Listen to live music
  • Go on Sightseeing Tour
  • Attend a free family event at Hatch Show Print

 

Free Things To Do in Nashville

 


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NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES WITH KIDS

Music City comes alive at night. This section lists some ideas for family-friendly entertainment and activities. Our Top 10 has some great items for kids such as:

  • Madame Tussauds
  • Line Dancing at the Wildhorse Saloon
  • Attend a Sporting Event
  • Eat some Southern comfort food
  • National Children’s Theatre

We go over many more things to do at night with kids on our main post about Things To Do in Nashville at Night

  • Nashville Ghost Tour
  • Attending a Sporting Event
  • Take a Dinner Cruise
  • Big Band Dances
  • Frist Art Museum
    • Children under 18 years old are always free. Fine art and children don’t always mix, but the Frist Art Museum is a perfect match for families. The whole family can spend hours exploring the exhibits and the children’s center. The children’s center is full of hands-on arts and crafts. They can even sketch a life-sized stick-man model.

Honky Tonk Row with Kids

One of the most popular things to do in Nashville at night is visit Broadway, known as Honky Tonky Row. Is it okay to visit Honky Tonk Row at night with kids? Absolutely.

You won’t be able to go inside many of the venues, but you’ll still be able to hear a lot of the live music and people watch on the street.

There may be so interesting characters (but you’ll find those during the day, too) and it is crowded and loud so depending on the age and personality of your kids, you may want to skip this.

 

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS IN NASHVILLE

This is a list of Nashville restaurants that are family friendly and sure to offer a delicious meal. Most offer a children’s menu.

 

Singer songwriters perform in the round at Bluebird Cafe in Nashville

 

  • BB King’s Nashville
    • Kids can get up and dance
    • Kid’s menu
    • Live blues and jazz
  • Wildhorse Saloon Nashville
    • Learn to line dance to live music
    • $5.99 kid’s menu
  • Bluebird Cafe
    • No kid’s menu, but they offer appetizers & sandwiches
    • Might be difficult for young children – listeners are asked to be quiet during performances
  • Pastaria
    • Kid’s menu
    • Half off kid’s menu items Tuesday-Thursday and Sundays from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
  • The Pharmacy
    • Kid’s menu
    • Games on the patio

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS

Nashville is home to a host of museums, attractions, and parks the whole family can enjoy. Some of the most popular include the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium tours, and the Cheekwood Estate.

If you want to visit multiple ticketed attractions, check out our city pass comparison article to find the pass that will save you the most money.

Here are the top Museums and Attractions for families:

 

The facade of the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee

Ryman Auditorium

 

  • Country Music Hall of Fame
    • Exhibits from music history to current songwriters
    • Family activities on the weekends
    • Included with some tourist passes
  • Adventure Science Center
    • Explore permanent exhibits for earthquakes, anatomy, dinosaurs, and beekeeping
    • Add on a planetarium show
    • Included with some tourist passes
  • Grand Ole Opry
    • Explore backstage with a tour
    • Learn about the roots of popular country music 
    • See a live taping of the longest-running country radio show
  • Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour
    • See downtown Nashville
    • Interactive scavenger hunt on your smartphone
  • Treetop Adventure Park
    • Ropes courses at different heights
    • March through November
  • Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
    • Tour the historic mansion
    • Ghost tours at night
    • Included with some tourist passes
  • Escape Game 
    • Collabortative game
    • Opens early and stays open late
    • Included with some tourist passes
  • Madame Tussauds
    • World’s most famous wax museum
    • Open late
    • Included with some tourist passes
  • Frist Art Museum
    • Free for guests 18 and under
    • Displays art from local and international artists
  • Tennessee State Museum
    • Always free
    • Visit the state’s time tunnel
  • Nashville Zoo
    • Exotic animals
    • Talks with zookeepers
    • Ride the train or zip line
    • Included for free with some tourist passes
  • Nashville Art Museum in the Parthenon
    • 19th and 20th-century American artists
    • See the replica of the Ancient Greek Athena Statue
  • Nashville Shores Waterpark
    • May through September
    • Pools, playgrounds, slides, and lazy river
    • Concerts, drive-in movie nights, and fireworks
  • Ryman Auditorium
    • Take a backstage tour
    • Included with some tourist passes
  • Cheekwood Estate & Garden
    • Tour the historic estate
    • Works of art
    • Garden blooms from early March
    • Included with some tourist passes
  • Lane Motor Museum
    • Largest collection of European cars in the U.S.
    • Open Thursday through Monday
  • Adventureworks Zipline
    • Year-round zipline tours
    • Tours every day at specific times
    • Wear close-toed shoes

 


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VISITING NASHVILLE WITH YOUNG KIDS

Nashville really has something for all ages but if you’re coming with toddlers, we have a few words of wisdom (that we figured out the hard way)

Is the Grand Ole Opry or Ryman Auditorium better for kids?

As with anything, it depends on your kids but some overall things to know when making your decision.

Ryman Auditorium Kid-Friendly Tips:

  • You can take a self-guided tour of the Ryman, which allows you to go at your own pace and not be disruptive to a whole tour group.  There are guided tour options to go backstage if you are not worried about that.
  • The Ryman is downtown, just off Broadway.
  • Shows are the Ryman are (usually) just like any concert venue – WuTang Clan just performed there! So have a look at their schedule and see if a show looks interesting to your family, but if your kids are old enough and can handle a live performance, we suggest seeing the actual Grand Ole Opry Show instead.

Grand Ole Opry House with Kids:

  • The Grand Ole Opry tour is only available as a one hour guided tour. 
  • If you want to attend the actual Grand Ole Opry, all ages are welcome. The show is full of short sets from various musicians so it’s great for short attention spans.
  • The Grand Ole Opry House is about a 15 – 20 minutes drive but you’ll also find other family-friendly attractions and restaurants out there, such as Madame Tussauds.

 

Ryman with Kids Nashville

 

Is Nashville stroller friendly?

As with any place, you’ll find some sidewalks reroute due to construction, or crowds making weaving around hard but in general, Nashville is stroller friendly. Even in the older historic buildings, you’ll find elevators and ramps.

Most of the places we suggest above are great for toddlers and young kids, too:

  • Visit Fannie Mae Dees Park (Dragon Park)
  • Explore Honky Tonk Highway – during the day!
  • Take a carraige ride through Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage (it’s about 30 minutes long and the horses (and turkeys) are distracting enough to keep a 2 year old interested. Beware it is open top and there is no shade)
  • Grab a Goo Goo Candy Bar
  • Take a Food Tour – a few carbs make a walking tour more palatable
  • Look at some Street Art

A few toddler – specific ideas:

Play in the water at the Bicentennial Mall

At the base of the Tennessee Capitol building is a local haven on hot summer days. There is actually some history and geography included if you’re interested – there are 31 fountains for the 31 major waterways in Tennessee. Look for the inscriptins about them.

Open: April through October
Hours: 8:30am-9pm daily with a light show after dark!

Got some Hot Chicken the Easy Way

If you want to try this newly famous dish, you’ll probably be told to go to Hattie B’s. Show up and you’re met with a long line and no place to sit! Here are two ways to try out this firey meal even if you have a toddler in tow:

  • Order online for pick up – Hattie B’s has online ordering that you can do easily from your phone on your way. Skip the line and head inside to pick it up. Snag a table if you can or take it to go picnic style.
  • Try the original Prince’s Hot Chicken at the SoBro location – Prince’s Hot Chicken started it all but their location is not close to downtown, so pop by the new YeeHaw Brewery on 6th to try some from the Prince’s Food Truck. There are also lawn games, lawn chairs and room to run.

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 THINGS TO DO WITH TEENAGERS IN NASHVILLE

Many of the items above are great for young kids AND teenagers but there are a few items for those who don’t consider themselves kids but can’t get into the honky tonks at night.

Live Music

If you have older music lovers, you’ll find that a lot of music venues don’t require you to be over 18+ to enjoy. Places like Bluebird Cafe and Station Inn allow kids, as long as they can sit quietly so its not the best for toddlers but teenagers will enjoy the show.

Go for a Bike Ride

 

If you have some teenagers on your family vacation, you could rent a bike from Nashville B-cycle. One 1-hour rental will cost just $5, but you can take the bike out for longer.

You can take a family ride through off-street trails on the greenways and traverse pedestrian bridges, or just use them to get between neighborhoods.


Rocketown is a large entertainment complex geared towards teenagers. Its main draw is the only indoor skate park in the city. They offer equipment rentals in the skate shop. The park hours change, so check the website for details.


Soar Adventure Tower

Challenge yourself with ropes courses and climbing elements both on and above the ground at Soar Adventure Tower. Children aged 4 – 7 can safely explore the ground level course. The Level 1, 2, and 3 courses are between 15 and 45 feet above ground level with obstacles of varying difficulty.

You can book the Twilight Adventure time for a reduced rate, which covers the last 2 open hours of each operating day. 


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