Nashville wears a lot of hats: home of country music, foodie town, bachelorette capital of the U.S. But it’s also a fantastic city to explore with kids in tow. And even though I don’t have any of my own per se, one of my favorite families came to town and, together, we tackled Nashville in two days the best I know how to do: with a very detailed itinerary and a whole lot of fun.
And just like their last visit to see me in Nashville, we made the most of those 48 hours. Of course, with kids factoring into the equation, it’s equally as important to plan plenty of time for spontaneity and ice cream (and naps for the grown-ups), even when accompanying a high-energy superhuman like Mayhem.
Coming to Nashville with your family? Here’s where all we went that was fun for adults and kids alike.
Go for a Walk Through Bicentennial Mall
The Mayhems drove straight through from Atlanta one particularly hot Monday, and I met them at one of my favorite urban parks in Nashville so that the kid and pup could exercise their legs. In the warmer months, there are fountains for the kiddos to play in, but no matter the time of year, there’s plenty of green space in which to frolic—not to mention, the Nashville Farmers’ Market, which is open seven days a week and full of treats and local finds (like a Jeni’s ice cream outpost!).
Grab a Bite at Butchertown Hall
One question I’m frequently asked by tourists coming to Nashville is what’s one restaurant that’s both tasty and kid-friendly and also not a chain. Other than Fido, one of my long-time go-tos, I never really knew the right answer, until I took Team Mayhem to Butchertown Hall, that is. The staff was overly friendly and accommodating of us, and the restaurant has an expanded patio space that’s ideal for balmy evenings. Plus, the menu is quite diverse, a fusion of German and Mexican staples, and Mayhem-approved and -endorsed; she dug into her burger while her parents stuck to their plant-based diet and her bad-influence friend (that would be me) chowed down on tacos and a beer.
Stroll (or Line-Dance) Down Broadway
Think Honky Tonk Row is just for adults? Think again. Kids love seeing the bright lights of Broadway during the day, and you don’t have to go in the bars to enjoy the music emanating through the street. Note: After-dark, it gets a little too rowdy to navigate with the whole family, so stick to daylight hours.
Go Dessert Tasting at the Goo Goo Shop
Right off of Broadway, the Goo Goo Shop is a favorite among kids (and adults!) of all ages, provided you like chocolate (and if you don’t, well, then what are you doing here in the first place?!). I take all my visitors to the home of the century-old Nashville candy brand, and this time we got a special VIP experience where Mayhem got to make a Goo Goo of her own! You can do the same if you’re coming with a group and looking for a fun activity, but even if you’re just heading to the shop on any old day, stop in for free samples of the Goo Goo Premiums and order a hodgepodge of treats from the dessert bar. (I promise, you will not be disappointed.)
Walk the Pedestrian Bridge
When heading downtown for an entire day, I tend to park on the other side of the river by Nissan Stadium. If there’s not an event going on, it’s usually free, but even if there isn’t one, it’s just $5 to park—a steal in a city with mounting parking fees. Then, you get the benefit of a little bit of exercise mixed with one of the best views of the skyline in town. Bonus: If you take the bridge back from the Broadway side of the river, it will deposit you right at Riverfront Park.
Let Out Some Energy Along the Riverfront
This secret spot on the east side of the river just below the pedestrian bridge is home to Cumberland Park, outfitted with slides, climbing apparatuses, seesaws and more. And, in the summer months, there’s even a splash pad.
Go on a Riverboat Tour in the Opryland Resort
The resort amenities aren’t just for guests. Anyone can enjoy the Opryland Resort’s nine acres of indoor gardens—for free. For an even cooler tour through the atrium, the Delta Riverboat departs every 15 minutes or so and costs $8.50 for kids and $10.50 for adults. Want to save on parking? Park for free at Opry Mills in front of the Grand Ole Opry then take the connecting walkway to get into the resort.
See a Show at the Grand Ole Opry
While many seem to think this is an adult activity, I think Mayhem would disagree—she loved her Opry experience!
In fact, a show at the Opry is ideal for kids of all ages as it’s casual, fact-paced and, best of all, fun. If you missed Mayhem’s “Girl Talk” interview with Lauren Alaina, be sure and check it out here—it’s the cutest thing you’ll watch this week. Stick around afterward for a tour of the dressing rooms and backstage.
Try the Bonuts at Biscuit Love
As Mayhem said, and I quote: “this is a bonut, and they are delicious.”
I also think she wouldn’t discourage you from eating all the other things on the menu, too.
Check Out the Street Art Scene
Mayhem and I were strolling out of Biscuit Love when a flash of color caught our eye. Little did we know but two new murals had just been installed in the Gulch a month prior. Photo shoot time! Nashville is brimming with street art so you could easily make a full day out of mural-chasing.
There’s no shortage of inside activities in Nashville once the heat becomes too much to bear (or the rain arrives). Luckily, while Mayhem was in town, the weather was perfect so we had no need to waste a pretty day indoors. If you’re visiting during inclement weather, geek out at the Adventure Science Center and its planetarium; give your kiddos a crash course in musical history via the Country Music Hall of Fame (the costumes are super fun); or drop in on one of the (free) famed puppet shows at the public library.
Where to Stay
I think a lot of times Airbnb is much easier when you’re traveling with your family—you have self-catering facilities and more beds than a typical hotel room for less money—and with rental options being so many in Nashville, that would be my recommendation. On this specific Nashville trip, I rented a three-bedroom house in Germantown so the five of us could stay under one roof. I wouldn’t stay right downtown if I were traveling with kids, but any of the neighboring areas—like Midtown, 12South or Music Row—are equally as convenient.
New to Airbnb? You can get $20 off your first stay with this promo code.
Thanks to Mayhem for letting me tagalong on her adventures! If I’ve missed any favorite Nashville activities with kids, feel free to add them in the comments below.
Looking for more Nashville travel inspiration? Start here:
- An Epic Nashville Weekend Itinerary
- The Best Restaurants & Bars in Nashville
- A Night Out at the Grand Ole Opry
- The Best Murals and Street Art in Nashville