With a nickname like “Nashvegas,” Nashville, Tennessee doesn’t exactly sound like a kid-friendly place to visit. The city is famous for its nightlife and late night live music scene. It’s definitely a destination where adults go to let loose in the Deep South.
Since I’m the mom who recently took my toddler and kindergartener to Las Vegas earlier this year, I was certainly up to whatever “challenge” Nashville might present! I (rightfully) suspected the city would be no challenge at all. After all, it is where several of my friends have settled down and started families.
My family spent 48 hours in Music City earlier this year and found lots of offerings for family travelers. The city’s manageable size and varied attractions actually make it an excellent destination for travelers with babies, toddlers, and young children like mine.
If you are considering a visit to Nashville with young kids, here are the can’t miss highlights on a short visit:
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What to Do in Nashville with Young Kids
1. Grand Ole Opry
The Opry is hallowed ground for country music, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the children behind to take in a show. The Opry welcomes kids and puts on a show that is pretty reliably rated G. We were surprised to find that our little ones were some of the few kids in attendance (in fairness, we visited right when schools across the South had started back for the fall, so that probably had something to do with it).
What works for children at the Opry is that there’s always something new to watch. Acts only play two or three songs, so your kids will see something new every few minutes. Better yet, you can bring food and drink to your seat so we were able to keep our toddler happy with handfuls of popcorn when he got a little squirmy. The show runs exactly on time as its being recorded for radio, so you can count on the end time (most shows are right at 2 hours).
Seeing the Opry in person was definitely a highlight for both of our children. My six year old was especially impressed with 11 year old Fiddlin’ Carson Peters, who steals the show from the Nashville legends every time he appears. The Opry was an important visit for me, serving as a quick education on the history of country music and as a reminder of just how varied and diverse the genre is. I’d consider an Opry visit a can’t miss for kids of all ages.
2. Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the history of country music. Museums and children often don’t mix, but the Country Music Hall of Fame kept our children entertained for several hours with minimal meltdowns.
What works for young kids? The museum offers a scavenger hunt for children that encourages them to look at the exhibits and find items on a list, giving parents a little time to explore the impressive displays of memorabilia and country music history. The museum also has a number of video displays that captivated our 6 year old. Finally, the final room of the museum is basically a playground for children. A giant guitar shaped tunnel and slide made it hard for us to leave!
3. Nashville Sounds Baseball
Whenever my family travels, we make it a priority to see a local baseball game. Baseball is America’s pastime and it often offers a window into local culture wherever you are. Because the Nashville Sounds are the new Triple-A affiliate of my hometown Oakland Athletics, my baseball-loving family was certainly not going to miss a chance to watch a game while we were in town.
The Nashville Sounds have a beautiful brand new stadium at First Tennessee Park, complete with a guitar-shaped scoreboard that pays homage to Music City. Children will enjoy visiting the kids play area in right field.
While we were there, the giant inflatable slide and photo cutouts were a huge hit. Don’t miss the the stadium’s outfield bar (the Band Box) that is open to all ages. The area features a special menu and games like cornhole and ping pong. While mostly adults were playing, the crowds were happy to let my 6 year child join in with some gracious Southern hospitality.
The stadium is a bit too far from the downtown action to walk, but parking was easy and cheap nearby. Prices for games themselves are very reasonable. I’d definitely recommend making time for a game if the team is in town during your visit.
4. Goo Goo Cluster Store
If you weren’t raised in the Deep South, you’ve probably never heard of a Goo Goo Cluster. The treat is native to Nashville and is made of an addictive mixture of chocolate, nougat, and peanuts. My six year old daughter developed nothing short of an obsession during our 48 hours in town. Your kids will likely love a quick visit to the Goo Goo Cluster store (just a block from the Country Music Hall of Fame) where they can see the treats being made and purchase some edible souvenirs.
Where to Stay in Nashville with Young Kids
Hotels are usually a great deal in the Deep South, but visitors to Nashville may be surprised to find some pretty steep hotel prices. Room rates can swell to $300+ a night even at midscale chains when a big concert or convention is in town. Nashville has a bit of a hotel room shortage when it comes to the demand from travelers, so plan early. I’d especially recommend using your hotel points when cash rates are high.
Where should family travelers stay?
Downtown hotels will put you right within walking distance of a number of attractions. The tradeoff, of course, is high parking prices and smaller (or non-existent) pools for your kids to beat the heat during hotter months.
My family stayed at the Gaylord Opryland a bit outside of the city and found it to be an amazing fit for family travelers. The impressive scale and amenities of the hotel will certainly wow kids. It’s also within walking distance of the Grand Ole Opry and the Opry Mills Mall which give it a central location of its own.
Have you visited Nashville with little ones? Share your favorite attractions and tips in the comments!
Related: Don’t miss these other posts on Tennessee travel from Trips With Tykes and my traveling friends!