Music City is a fun place for families to explore, especially for country music fans! But even if your tastes lie elsewhere, you will surely appreciate the rich history of this city. See our itinerary of activities for two days in Nashville, and what we found were the best things to do in Nashville with kids.
VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER
Start your visit by heading to the Visitor Information Center at the corner of 5th and Broadway, where you can learn about all of the things to do in Nashville with kids. It’s just a short walk up the block from Hilton Nashville Downtown and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
There is also a small stage where children of all ages can perform with various musical instruments under the Music City sign. My 10 year-old son had a blast here while I explored the center and spoke with the representatives.
The Visitor Center is the only place where you can pick up a Total Access Pass, which provides admission to four attractions of your choosing plus the Parthenon and a few other discounts. I did the math and found that for the activities we were interested in, purchasing the Total Access Pass was a good value. So, with our Total Access Passes in hand, we were ready to begin our Nashville adventure.
REDNECK COMEDY BUS TOUR
Having never been to Nashville before, I wanted to get the lay of the land and an overview of the city before anything else. We decided to go on the Redneck Comedy Bus Tour because it looked fun and was included with our Total Access Pass. On certain days, you pick up the tour bus outside of the city, not far from the Grand Ole Opry.
Our bus driver Gil and tour guide Georgette and Gil were funny and entertaining, and I also felt like we got a nice broad overview of Nashville. The comedy is definitely more on the PG-13 side, and had I looked on their website, I would have seen that they disclose that they are PG-14.
I enjoyed seeing Music Row, the State Capitol and Broadway. The bus stopped on Broadway and Gil gave everyone $2 coupons to Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, which was a nice touch. We sampled pralines, bought a delicious ice cream cone and then headed into the Whiskey Bent Saloon, a non-smoking establishment, to listen to a local country artist. All-in-all, the tour was fun and kept my son more entertained than a regular bus tour would have.
Tip: Make sure to call ahead and leave a message to let them know when you want to reserve your tour.
GRAND OLE OPRY HOUSE BACKSTAGE TOUR
That afternoon, we headed over to the Grand Ole Opry for the Backstage Tour. Some of the highlights included the sound stage where they film scenes from the TV show Nashville and peeks into many of the dressing rooms with all of their different themes. It was also interesting to see how the 2010 flood of the Cumberland River affected the building; there is a room where you can see the water line along the walls.
Of course the best part of the tour was standing on the Grand Ole Opry stage and the historic circle where so many country music greats have performed and imagining the crowds in the audience gazing up at you. I certainly gained a greater understanding and appreciation for the radio and live show whose roots began almost 90 years ago.
On our second day, we spent the morning at The Hermitage, home of our seventh president Andrew Jackson. Our trip began with a video that gave a great overview of Andrew Jackson’s interesting life, career and campaign.
In addition to taking the guided house tour, we also explored the beautiful gardens and grounds, including paying our respects at Jackson’s tomb.
ADVENTURE SCIENCE CENTER
Our family loves a good science museum and the Adventure Science Center did not disappoint! My son enjoyed the Adventure Tower where you can play a tune on a walk-on piano, just like in the movie Big. He also liked generating electric power by riding a stationary bike. Phew, that’s tiring!
Body Quest also had a fun sports-themed area where we played several games of Mind Ball, which uses your brain waves to control a ball and push it toward your opponent’s goal. Kids can also manipulate a giant robotic hand to grasp a ball, and it’s not as easy as it looks. When we were there, there was also a large simulation game where sports fanatics could practice pitching a baseball, throwing a football or shooting hoops.
We also visited Mission Possible, where children can take turns sitting and maneuvering a wheel chair through the obstacles of real life. Children were lined up to experience this eye-opening and challenging exhibit. A final highlight of the Adventure Science Center was the Moonwalker activity, where kids are strapped in and then attempt to walk in a straight line with only 1/6 of the force of gravity.
One of our goals in visiting Nashville was to see the Parthenon, a replica of the original in Athens, that was built in 1897 for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition. The original Nashville Parthenon was only meant to be a temporary structure and deteriorated over the years, but it was so well-loved that Nashville rebuilt the structure on the same foundation, finishing the permanent project in 1931.
Our main reason for visiting was to see the gold-gilded 42-feet tall Athena featured in the first Percy Jackson movie, but we also enjoyed seeing the other statues as well as the walk through the history of the pavilion.
Tip: The Parthenon in Nashville is closed on Mondays.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN NASHVILLE FOR KIDS
We couldn’t leave Nashville without trying the famous hot and spicy chicken. In my research, three restaurants kept coming up as the best places to try: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, Pepperfire Chicken and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish.
Bolton’s is in East Nashville right off of I-24 and also close to other major highways so it was convenient for us to stop as we finished our visit. You can select from a wide variety of spicy hotness, ranging from mild to extra hot. Chicken platters, including quarter chickens, tender and wings, are all about $8.00 for a platter with two delicious Southern sides.
If you’re craving Tennesse barbeque, try Jim ‘N Nicks, a southern chain with a location in Nashville. We had delicious chicken and pork sandwiches with baked beans and macaroni and cheese. However, the real highlight was the yummy cheese biscuits, and we even bought a mix to take home with us.
We had a busy two days in Nashville and would have loved some extra time, but were thankful that we were able to experience what we thought were the best things to do in Nashville, TN with kids.