We recently visited Nashville with kids on a special project with Tennessee Tourism, filming a commercial and participating in their Kid Reviewed Campaign! The music city is filled with great food, museums, outdoor activities and more. While we only had a weekend in Nashville this time, it solidified we have to return for a longer trip (which we did and this post has been updated in December 2020). Here are our recommendations for things to do in Nashville with kids.
Things to Do in Nashville with Kids
Things to Do in Nashville with Kids Day One: Biscuit Love, Adventure Science Center & More
We kicked off our weekend in Nashville by having breakfast at Biscuit Love. We visited their Gulch location and while it was Thursday at 8:30AM the line was out the door! Thankfully it moves quickly and once you order your food will come out in 7 minutes or less. The crowd favorites are their bonuts and of course biscuits.
After stuffing our faces we headed to the Adventure Science Center. This activity came highly recommended by several people as one of the best things to do in Nashville with kids. I immediately saw why as my daughters were enthralled by all the center offers. From seeing real bees building a honeycomb to driving an ambulance, to learning about tornados and more this center has it all. There are also several play areas with slides, things to climb and space for kids to run around.
If you go on a weekday while school is in session I recommend visiting in the afternoon after the school trips are complete. Otherwise expect busloads of students and a very packed adventure center. Still, no matter what day you do, you’ll have a great time!
After enjoying the Adventure Science Center we headed to the Gaylord Opryland to enjoy their indoor waterpark, Soundwaves. Soundwaves is the perfect activity for a rainy day in Nashville. The waterpark has two areas specifically for babies and toddlers with shallow water and waterslides. They also have a lazy river, big pool with basketball hoops, four big water slides for anyone 42” and taller and a flowrider, where you can practice boogie boarding and surfing.
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After a full-filled day in Nashville it was time for dinner! You can’t come to Nashville and not try their world famous hot chicken. Local favorites are Princes Hot Chicken and Hattie B’s. For desert we headed to Baked on 8th. They have an array of cakes, pies, cookies, muffins, rice Krispy treats and more. It was worth every calorie!
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Things to Do in Nashville with Kids Day Two: Frist Art Museum and the Nashville Zoo
On our second day in Nashville we started the day with an amazing breakfast at The Southern Steak & Oyster. It’s in the heart of downtown Nashville but in the mornings they offer complimentary parking in the attached garage. The pancakes are so good but they are huge so be careful ordering too many! The cheese grits were heaven and the chicken from the chicken and waffles was so tender and juicy.
After breakfast we enjoyed the morning at the Frist Art Museum. We spent the entire time in the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. Here kids can release their inner Picasso as they are able to draw portraits from a live object display, free paint, create special prints and more. It is a very interactive museum and the kids did not want to leave!
Six minutes from the museum is Slim & Huskey’s, a locally owned pizza restaurant. When we asked for recommendations before arriving to Nashville on where to eat our Instagram audience let us know we could not leave without trying Slim & Huskey’s. Here you create your own pizza in a Chipotle style line and options are endless. Needless to say we were not disappointed.
After lunch it was time for dessert. We went to another Nashville local favorite, The Cupcake Collection. Amongst your traditional cupcake flavors like chocolate, red velvet and vanilla you will also find their world famous and best cupcake in Nashville and Tennessee in general, the sweet potato cupcake. While everyone said this is the cupcake to try I do not like sweet potato and knew I wouldn’t be trying one. However, the owner’s daughter convinced me it’s truly the best and that I should not leave without a sample. Well I’m here to tell you as someone who doesn’t like sweet potatoes at all The Cupcake Collections’ sweet potato cupcake is EVERYTHING.
One of my favorite things about patronizing mom and pop stores is the love put into the business. We were so happy we actually got to meet the owner, Mignon Francois. She was the sweetest woman ever and listened to all of Jordyn’s dreams of becoming a chef/baker one day. We couldn’t leave without getting a picture with her!
After stuffing our faces with the delicious food in Nashville it was time to head to the Nashville Zoo. I’ll be the first to admit I typically hate when the only suggestion people offer on things to do with kids in a city is the zoo but the Nashville Zoo has some really unique exhibits my children loved. The two that stood out to us were the Rainbow Lorikeet and Kangaroo exhibits.
Inside the Rainbow Lorikeet exhibit at the Nashville Zoo the lorikeets roam freely and many will even land on your shoulder, arms, and heads. While my daughter shrieked the first time one landed on her head by the time we exited she was begging the birds to come back to her! You can even feed the lorikeets as many times as you want. Before entering you’ll be given a small cup of food. Just hold your hand out with the food uncovered and the lorikeets will perch are you arm and eat until they are full.
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The Nashville Zoo also has an amazing open-air kangaroo exhibit where you can walk amongst the kangaroos. Here you can also get up close and personal and pet them. It was the most amazing site to see my youngest daughter see the kangaroo hop and them mimic it while shouting out “look mommy I’m hopping like the kangaroo, hop hop hop”. Both of my daughters had the time of their lives hanging out with the kangaroos and you can’t leave Nashville Zoo without stopping by!
In addition to these two exhibits my daughters enjoyed the train ride, running around jungle gym playground, the carousel, and watching people go down the zip-line. They also especially loved learning about how the Black Mambas in Africa protect the wild animals from poachers in hopes of saving so many from extinction. The Nashville Zoo was by far my favorite zoo and if we ever return I’m sure we will visit again!
Other Things to Do in Nashville: We Visited a Second Time and Enjoyed These Activities
On our most recent trip to Nashville in November 2020, it was a weird time like most of you know so our visit was different but we still enjoyed ourselves. Here are three additional things to do in Nashville we discovered on this visit.
Goo Goo Cluster Making Class
Even if you’re not visiting Nashville with kids this was such a fun experience. Goo Goo Clusters are the oldest multi-ingredient candy bars and while they don’t have the popularity of Snickers they are a Nashville native and famous here. The Goo Goo Shop offers three different classes, we took the Behind the Bar one which lasted about an hour.
In the class we learned the history of the Goo Goo Cluster, tried a variety of samples and were able to make our own. At the end of the class we tried out a hot chocolate flight made from different types of chocolate. Making the candy is a fairly simple process. My four year old was able to make hers with little assistance so definitely take the kids!
Visit Mammoth Cave National Park
Did you know that Nashville is only one hour from Bowling Green, Kentucky making it the perfect day trip. There are a lot of things to do with kids like visiting the Corvette museum or taking a boat tour at the Lost River Cave. We personally love National Parks and and my kids enjoyed earning Junior Ranger badges on our Southwest road trip so when we realized there was an opportunity to earn another while in Nashville we had to add it to our itinerary.
As soon as we got into the park we saw some deer and I was so happy because we’d now been on this Tennessee road trip for 3 weeks and that’s all my kids wanted to see. We saw bears in the Smoky Mountains National Park but hadn’t yet come across deer and they were so happy!
After finally getting to see deer we took a tour of the infamous cave the National Park is named after. The tour runs every 15 minutes and takes 60-90 minutes to complete. It was self-guided but I’m not sure if that’s just because of the time we visited or if it’s normally like that. Even though it was self-guided there are lots of Park Rangers in the cave who you can ask questions and signs that go over important information throughout the cave.
There are quite a few trials throughout the park and ones that are short enough for young kids to make the round trip trek. We left the cave area and drove to Cedars Sink Trail, just ten minutes from the visitors center. This trail is 2 miles round trip with a sink hole viewing point in the middle. There are stairs you have to walk up and down so be conscious of that when deciding if this trail is for you.
How to Get Cheap Flights to Nashville
When traveling as a family, getting affordable flights is always a priority. So how did we get cheap flights to Nashville? We used Skyscanner, they also have an amazing free app that lets you set flight price alerts to determine the best time to buy. This helped us determine it was cheaper to fly JetBlue there and Southwest back. You can download the app here.
Where to Stay in Nashville with Kids
A lot of the main attractions for families in Nashville are in or near downtown. When traveling with a family for an extended time I recommend staying in a vacation home. This gives the kids more space and allows you to save money by cooking a few meals. On our most recent trip to stayed in this rental via Vrbo. Besides Vrbo, Airbnb is also an option which we’ve used in other cities, you can sign up here to save $40 on your first booking. Nervous about Airbnb? Here are 8 tips to guarantee a great Airbnb experience.
How to Get Around Nashville with Kids
The best and most convenient way to get around Nashville with kids is to rent a car. I rented a car from Alamo directly at the airport. While I normally travel with my own car seats, I rented two from them as it was a short trip and not worth the hassle of traveling back and forth with them. If you’re staying longer and want to bring your own make it easier by using a car seat transporter to lug those heavy convertible car seats. Another option is to purchase a travel car seat which is lightweight.
We hope you’ve discovered some great ideas on things to do in Nashville with kids. I’ve also visited Memphis, check out my weekend itinerary here. If you found this post helpful, please share it!