It’s no secret that Nashville is best known as Music City. As the official home of Country Music, many of the city’s residents now call it home after moving here to pursue their musical dreams. Whether you’re a local or recently moved to town, you don’t have to look far for music-related events and activities. However, did you also know that the city is nicknamed the “Athens of the South,” due to its academic and cultural atmosphere (and its full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece)? If you’re looking to make some family memories in your own “backyard” this summer, here’s The Gardner School’s bucket list of Nashville area attractions and places of interest you won’t want to miss.
615 Rocks! is a fun and adventurous movement in the 615 area code that involves searching for and hiding painted rocks in and around Bellevue, downtown Nashville, Brentwood, Pegram, Kingston Springs, and other Music City-area locations. Take the family on a rock-spotting adventure, where you may spot these rocks on a store shelf, in storefront windows, on Redbox vending machines, on sidewalks, and so many other places. Don’t forget to paint and hide some rocks of your own! Join the 615 Rocks! Facebook Group to learn more.
Adventure Science Center
As the premiere learning center in Middle Tennessee, Adventure Science Center is home to hands-on science exhibits for the entire family to enjoy. With permanent exhibits, traveling exhibitions, and an on-site planetarium, there’s so much to explore.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
A 19-acre park located near the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park gives visitors a taste of Tennessee’s history, natural wonders, and serves as a lasting monument to Tennessee’s Bicentennial Celebration that was held on June 1, 1996. With an on-site visitor’s center museum, picnic areas, and a variety of planned programs, your family is sure to have some quality fun, while also learning Tennessee history.
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and estate in Nashville, featuring art galleries, year-round seasonal festivals, and breathtaking wedding venues. A kid favorite at Cheekwood is the garden-scale outdoor exhibition, Trains!, made entirely from materials found in nature. Cheekwood also offers a summer camp for kids, where they can explore the gardens, make artistic masterpieces, and more.
Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Through exhibits, publications, and educational programs, the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum teaches its diverse audiences about the enduring beauty and cultural importance of country music. Your whole family will be wowed by the exhibits, memorabilia, and interactive displays found within the facility. You’ll also want to take a peek at the famous Hatch Show Print gallery and shop located on the property.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a family-friendly place where children and their families can make and explore art. Admission is free for children 18 and under, and there are programs and resources available for parents to help engage children as they explore the galleries. The museum even offers a fun website for kids with engaging at-home art activities, videos, family programs, and a digital portfolio.
Grand Ole Opry
Founded in 1925, the Grand Ole Opry is a weekly country-music stage concert in Nashville, that originally started as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on Nashville’s WSM AM radio station. The Grand Ole Opry showcases a mix of country legends and the contemporary chart-toppers and is Nashville’s number-one attraction. If you reserve tickets for one of the Opry shows, you’ll find one-of-a-kind entertainment all ages. Bonus—just next door is Opry Mills, an entertainment complex with retail and restaurants that the whole family can enjoy, including Madame Tussauds wax museum, Rainforest Café, Aquarium Restaurant, and an IMAX theater.
A complete waterpark on Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Nashville Shores is the perfect summer attraction for families! The park features a wave pool, lazy river, and 8 huge waterslides. You can also soar above the forest in The Treetop Adventure Park located on the property. Love camping? Nashville Shores also has camp sites and cabins available to rent.
Nashville Sounds Baseball Game
Housed at downtown Nashville’s First Tennessee Park, a Nashville Sounds baseball game is ideal for a summer family fun outing. Aside from the game, First Tennessee Park boasts a fun atmosphere with lots of great food and a gorgeous view of Nashville’s skyline.
The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
A Middle Tennessee family favorite, The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is a 200-acre zoo and historic plantation farmhouse located 6 miles southeast of downtown Nashville. With more than 2,248 animals and 353 species on-site, you’ll find a beautiful park with so much to see and do, including the Wilderness Express Train, Wild Animal Carousel, Soaring Eagle Zip Line, and a jungle gym.