Can the home of country music really be a fun place to visit with kids? As home to numerous clubs and concert venues, one may wonder if there are many things to do in Nashville with kids.
We decided to take our extended Thanksgiving vacation and spend four nights in the Music City, and were so impressed with how much there was to do with our family. All of us, including our two kids, loved our stay in Nashville and would definitely return.
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Things to Do in Nashville With Kids
One of the things that we absolutely wanted to do was to learn more about country music. When visiting Nashville with kids, you’ll probably want to do the same. Learning about country music is definitely one of the best reasons to visit Nashville.
We started on that mission by doing the backstage tour at the Grand Ole Opry House. Located between the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center and the Opry Mills Mall, the Grand Ole Opry House offers several different tour options.
During our stay, the Grand Ole Opry show had moved to the Ryman while the How the Grinch Stole Christmas show took over the Opry House, so we opted for the backstage tour. Check the Opry schedule in advance to see what the situation is during your visit.
Tickets for the backstage tour are available in advance (you can choose a tour time) or in person. The tour lasts about 45 minutes, and includes two small videos that explain the history and importance of the Grand Ole Opry, as well as what it means to be selected as a member. I actually had tears in my eyes at the video, because getting into the Opry means so much to the artists.
During the tour, you’ll see the talent entrance, the member mailboxes, the themed dressing rooms, and the stage. Professional photos are taken on stage, and you have the option to purchase them when the tour is over.
We wanted to visit the Grand Ole Opry House on our first day in Nashville. Because I wasn’t 100% sure when we’d be ready to visit the Opry, I didn’t purchase tickets in advance. If you are traveling during a busier time, however, it may be worth buying online in advance so you can choose your tour and make sure that you get in.
We were staying at the adjacent Gaylord Opryland Resort, so it was easy to go between the two. Staying in downtown Nashville? You may not want to make the trip to the Grand Ole Opry House without knowing when you’ll be able to go in.
My kids loved the tour, and enjoyed learning about the history of the Grand Ole Opry and the Grand Ole Opry House. I’d definitely recommend it for families, especially those with an interest in music.
Read reviews of the Grand Ole Opry House here.
The original home of the Grand Ole Opry, located in downtown Nashville, is also worth a visit. The building is absolutely gorgeous, and the introductory movie is very well done. Even my children were impressed with learning about the history of the building.
There are two different tours – a backstage tour and a self-guided tour (which goes on stage, but not backstage). Since we’d already visited the Grand Ole Opry, we opted for the self-guided tour.
It didn’t take long, but was still interesting. However, if your children don’t love the Grand Ole Opry (I’d go there first), it may be best to skip the Ryman. If you do decide to do both during your family vacation in Nashville, you may want to start at the Grand Ole Opry. That gave us a good amount of context to help understand the importance of the Ryman.
You can choose to have your photo taken on the stage, and can decide to purchase the picture if you like it. Aspiring country singers can also opt to do a music recording in their studio. Admission to the Ryman is required, and you need to make a separate reservation to use the studio (an additional fee applies).
If we had been staying longer, I definitely would have wanted to see a show at either the Ryman or the Grand Ole Opry. We’ll plan to do that on our next trip to Nashville.
On our last day, before flying back home, we decided to stop in at the Adventure Science Center. It’s a great place to take kids of all ages. Several different ticket types are offered, including a regular ticket, and a ticket with the planetarium show. We opted for the regular ticket, since we didn’t have too much extra time.
If you have a full day, it’s definitely worth spending more time there. There’s also a twilight special – if you arrive at the museum within two hours of closing, you can return for free admission the next day. That could be a great way to break up your visit.
The highlight of the museum for my kids was the Moonwalker and EVA Experience in the Space Chace section of the museum. Height and weight restrictions apply, so only my daughter was able to participate in the EVA Experience (pictured above). It’s a fun way for kids to experience how astronauts deal with zero gravity.
There are also lots of other exhibits worth exploring, including the Body Quest section (we loved playing the Body Battles game). Younger children will love the three-story Adventure Tower. Overall, expect to stay at the museum for a few hours, unless you add on the shows.
There’s also BlueMax, an anti-gravity ride. It does have height restrictions, so check online before you arrive so your kids aren’t disappointed.
Music lovers will love visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, located in downtown Nashville. It includes a number of costumes and exhibits, including Elvis’ car, as well as walls and walls of gold and platinum albums.
The Taylor Swift Education Center offers different activities for little ones. While we were there, they were offering a make-your-own puppet craft. The Hall of Fame also has interactive elements for children, including the one pictured below.
During certain times of the year, the Country Music Hall of Fame offers a complimentary puppet show, in conjunction with the Nashville Public Library. If the show is playing during your stay, I highly recommend seeing it. It runs about 60 minutes, and includes popular country music throughout the years.
If you’ve got younger kids, make sure they visit the restroom before you take your seat. We didn’t know how long the show was, and several of the younger kids around us had to get up to use the bathroom during the show.
My kids, like us, aren’t too familiar with country music. So our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame was educational in addition to entertaining. We really enjoyed our visit.
My kids love history, so we absolutely wanted to check out the Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home, during our stay. It’s located about 20 minutes from Downtown Nashville (and 5 minutes from where we were staying, the Gaylord Opryland). There are a few different tour types, but we chose the basic one (the General’s tour).
There’s also a President’s Tour, which includes an upgraded audio tour, and the VIP tour, which includes a 1.5 hour guided walking tour of the property.
After purchasing tickets, guests head into the main building to receive their audio tour (you’ll need to leave an ID with your name on it). There are three different audio tour options included with the General’s tour, and you can switch between them.
There’s a standard option, a kids’ option, and an option that focuses on Andrew’s wife Rachel. The kids’ tour is narrated by Andrew Jackson’s parrot Poll, and my kids loved it. I always enjoy when an attraction includes a kid friendly tour option.
After learning more about Andrew Jackson in the main house, we headed outside and toured the grounds with the audio tour. There’s also a guided tour through the main house, which you’ll definitely want to do. Expect to spend about half a day at the Hermitage.
While Gaylord Opryland is a hotel, it’s also a fun destination to visit with kids. If you are there during the holiday season, definitely check out ICE!, an exhibit filled with amazing ice sculptures, including ice slides. Every year, there’s a different kid-friendly theme for ICE! Check the hotel’s website for more information. Tickets for ICE! can be purchased in advance, online.
The Gaylord Opryland is HUGE, and has a number of restaurants, bars, and other attractions. There is also a brand-new water park that just opened. Guests who want to visit the water park should book a stay that includes tickets. Packages are available that include the water park and lodging at the resort. It’s really a bucket list hotel that every family should consider staying in at some point.
Read our review of the Gaylord Opryland here.
Did you know that there is a full-sized replica of the Parthenon right in Nashville? Located right in Centennial Park, the Parthenon is a museum that you can tour. You’ll find artwork and history of the Parthenon on the first floor of the museum, and a gigantic statue of Athena on the second floor. It’s definitely fun to visit, and doesn’t take very long to tour. Note that they charge a fee for credit cards, so bring along cash if you can.
See reviews here.
Opry Mills Mall
This isn’t your traditional mall. The Opry Mills Mall is filled with lots of activities for family fun, including a Dave and Busters and a Madame Tussauds. There’s also a number of family-friendly restaurants including the Rainforest Cafe, Downtown Aquarium, and Johnny Rockets. It’s adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry so you could combine them for a fun day. If visiting during the holiday season, you could also combine this with a visit to ICE! at the Gaylord Opryland.
Other Things to Do In Nashville
Of course, the Music City is home to loads of live music venues, including those on the famous music row. Fans of the tv show Nashville may want to visit the Bluebird Cafe, which was regularly featured on the show. Some of these locations may not be entirely kid-friendly, so definitely look at them individually before planning a visit.
There’s also the Belle Meade Plantation, where you can choose from a variety of tours, and the Frist Art Museum, which was formerly known as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
Places to Eat in Nashville With Kids
We made it our mission to eat delicious food throughout the city. Nashville has quite the food scene, including BBQ food and Southern classics. Here are some of the kid-friendly restaurants we checked out.
We loved all three of these, and definitely would have gone multiple times to each. My son absolutely loved the Pancake Pantry and wanted to go back several times. Many of the popular restaurants in Nashville get crowded, so it’s best to arrive early when you can. The Pancake Pantry had a line out the door that just got longer later in the morning.