We took on Music City to the beat of our own drum. With less than 24 hours in the city, and being our first time there, we made sure to get out and explore, marching through the busy streets as a family of five, smiling at the bar trolleys passing by and strolling by the full bars with fun music spilling out through the open windows to find quaint ice cream shops and delicious food. Although I will say, we almost lost Skylar a couple of times to that music… if there was an open door with live tunes wafting through the air he was headed straight for it. But with all the activity happening in Nashville, no wonder the city is loaded with fun for families! Here are our top recommendations and the best of Nashville for family travel!
Stroll down Broadway. We arrived into Nashville in late afternoon, in time to grab a late lunch at Acme Feed and Seed (the beef brisket sandwich was so good) and it was a good dip right into the sights and taste of Nashville. Following up our lunch with a walk down Broadway and some ice cream cones at Mike’s Ice Cream, such a cutely retro shop, was totally the natural thing to do. There were so many street performers and vendors, shops full of all the things a cowboy (or cowgirl) needs, and of course all kinds of people watching and live music. Just make sure to take your stroll during daylight, as it’s definitely the type of place that transforms come sundown.
Stay downtown. We checked into our hotel at Omni Nashville which featured a large and opulent foyer with a fireplace, a roof-deck pool that the kids loved and a hot tub that us parents were ready to relax in after hours in the car. Of course one of the things we’ve always loved at Omni hotels is their kids program which starts the moment the kids walk through the door… each one receives their own welcome bag full of goodies for their stay, including an activity book with healthy recipes for us to try at home, and Skylar couldn’t wait to sport his new backpack all around town. This mom was happy to see spacious rooms that we’re also equipped with a refrigerator and a crib available… definitely things I look for when traveling with my littles! The great thing about a downtown location was that many of the places we wanted to see were in walking distance, and so many more that we didn’t get the chance to see this visit, like the Country Music Hall of Fame (right across the street!) and the Johnny Cash Museum.
Find water. Okay, so this one doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a specific water place you need to visit, but I will say that Nashville in the summer is hot… and I’ve always gone by the phrase, “if you have a crab, take them to water.” If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll most likely have a crabby one on your hands at some point. Thankfully, as I mentioned, the Omni had an amazing pool and you know it doesn’t take my little fish long to find water, so after a few minutes of unwinding in our room, they were ready to hit the roof-deck. It just so happened that the sky opened up for an overcast light rain as we stepped out on the deck, but we didn’t waver. Instead we swam in the sprinkle until the sun came out to greet us again! And I think I fell in love with the 10 foot kiddie pool that was basically the first step into the long pool ahead… it was so perfect for my littlest to play on.
Visit Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park. Before we hit the soft pillows and clean sheet of our beds for the night, we knew we had to let the kids burn off some extra pent up energy, and thankfully we were surrounded by a plethora of grassy hills and parks! The Capital Mall State Park is a really quick drive from downtown, and it’s a gorgeous place for kids to explore. We arrived to see the park at dusk and the 200-foot granite map of the state, the rivers of Tennessee fountains and the massive hill that we all ran up and down, and up and down again, was enough to wear us out and make us ready for dinner, and we barely hit the tip of the park iceberg. Also, it was just a really great plunge into our nation’s history… plus, it’s free!
Find some cool places to eat. There are SO many amazing foodie joints in Nashville! We were having such a hard time deciding where to go, so I referred back to my list of recommendations before we even arrived in town, that plus Yelp is usually a diners’ gold mine ;). Besides Acme and Mike’s Ice Cream on Broadway, The Grilled Cheeserie food truck is somewhere we really wanted to find (you can text their number and see where the food truck is located that day!), the bummer for us; it was booked for a private event all weekend… next time! If you’re looking for a great coffee place try Crema in the heart of Nashville, a locally owned and totally hand-crafted (literally) coffee shop… and they know what they’re doing. For a fun kids night out during our stay, we headed to the Aquarium Restaurant right next to the Grand Ole Opry… just had to see it. The food was good, and the guitarfish (aptly named for where we were right?) was massive and the aquarium filling the entire center of the restaurant kept our kids entertained throughout dinner, well at least until dessert arrived on our table!
Really, the great thing about the city is that there is something fun around just about every corner, a cute little shop, some delicious eats, a park (literally they’re everywhere)… so we were really able to get out an explore and there’s so much to do within walking distance.
Some of the places that we ran of of time and didn’t get to really enjoy even though they were on my list are below because if you have time, they’re just too great not to pass up!
Walk the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge at sunset. It would give such an amazing view of the city! We really tried to make this happen but arrived back to our hotel from dinner too late and our little one was already asleep.
Let the kids run free and feed the ducks at Centennial Park, and take pictures with the Parthenon replica, such a fun park to check out.
Ride the Music City Trolley Hop. I think it would be such a fun way to see the city, and we almost hopped on one! For the price, it would be much better to have the whole day to enjoy it and take it around town, instead of just a couple of hours.
Hit up Country Music Hall of Fame‘s musical petting zoo.
Show kids science can be fun at the Adventure Science Center.
Browse the acres of beauty at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and art museum.
The kid’s clothing in this post is ℅ Gymboree, who just like us, believes that kids should be kids – free to laugh, dance, dream and explore. And we consistently go back to Gymboree to update our kids wardrobes because the pieces are always so easy to mix and match and add some fun and variety to their closets!
Creative expression is essential to all kids, yet many don’t have access to basic tools like crayons, markers and paint. This year alone, 1.7M students are in need of arts & crafts supplies. Gymboree is raising money to fulfill arts & crafts requests made by teachers on DonorsChoose.org through Gymboree’s Let’s Color Together campaign! You can help in this mission to empower teachers and kids by donating at Gymboree stores, Gymboree outlet stores, and online!
Our Nashville stop on our #bluesummertour was too much fun! I’m sure we’ll make it back to Music City again because we had such a great time this time around!
*This post is in partnership with Gymboree and Omni Hotels, and all experiences and opinions are completely our own. Thank you for supporting the companies that make this blog possible!