With its raucous bar scene, country music history and hip restaurants and boutiques, everyone knows Nashville, Tennessee is a popular destination for adults-only trips. But, many families have set their sights on Music City as a family vacation destination, too!
While certain aspects of Nashville are best left to the grown-ups, the city has more than enough to offer for kids. Here’s what to do and where to stay with kids in Nashville.
Old Town Trolley Tour
If your time in the city is limited or you just don’t want to deal with driving and parking, then you’ll want to consider a hop-on, hop-off tour. We loved the Old Town Trolley Tour with our kids since we got to learn so much about Music Row, the capitol building and the history of the city while enjoying great views and getting dropped off at the best tourist destinations.
One of our favorite stops on the tour was Centennial Park where you can step inside a replica of the Parthenon complete with a giant Athena statue on the second floor. We also enjoyed wandering through the sunken gardens and feeding the ducks in the pond.
Country Music Hall of Fame
You can’t go to Nashville without immersing yourself in country music culture and history, and the Country Music Hall of Fame is the perfect place to start. Read about country stars from Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash to Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift. See their most legendary costumes and instruments on display. Listen to how the sounds of country music have changed over the years.
The museum is kid-friendly, providing different types of scavenger hunts to help keep kids engaged with a prize at the end. Families can make their way to the Taylor Swift Education Center for hands-on arts and crafts to get them excited about country music. There are interactive displays little ones will love, too. If your kids are a little older, your whole family can listen to a self-guided audio tour to get more out of the experience.
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Famous Performance Venues
If you want to walk in the footsteps of country music legends, make sure to check out the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. The Ryman is truly hallowed ground for both performers and country music fans. Its history dates back to the 1880s and the building has served as both a worship venue and performance center with some of best acoustics around. You can do self-guided tours, group tours, backstage tours or go catch a performance there!
The Grand Ole Opry needs no introduction. The Opry’s stage is where country music became a mainstream phenomenon. People come from far and wide to catch a live performance in one of the country’s most well-known venues.
We skipped the performances this time around since our kids are a bit too young to sit still and appreciate what they’re seeing. We hope to make it back to Nashville in a few years to catch a show at both the Ryman and Grand Ole Opry.
Stroll and Shop on Broadway
Broadway is known as Honky Tonk Highway thanks to the myriad live music establishments that line its streets. Imagine the Las Vegas Strip with cowboy hats and twanging guitars and you can picture what this area of town is like.
It’s definitely geared more toward adults, but we had no problem strolling with our kids earlier in the day when it’s less crowded and a little quieter. Pop into a Honky Tonk to give your kids a true Nashville experience—many of the bars allow kids accompanied by adults before a certain time in the evening. We found Robert’s Western World, the home of traditional country music, to be a fun spot to park ourselves with French fries and lemonade to listen to live music.
Don’t forget to peruse the shops for authentic cowboy hats and boots. There are tons to choose from, and the kids love picking out their favorite colors and designs.
Find Great Views of the Skyline
Looking for something free to do? Walk over to the Cumberland River and cross the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge for stunning views of the Nashville skyline. We did this right before sunset and enjoyed a picnic in Cumberland Park right on the banks of the river. Make sure to bring your camera to capture this incredibly photogenic spot.
Stock Up on Sweets
Nashville has an amazing foodie scene, but with three little kids, our main concern is where to find the best sweets. We loved Five Daughters Bakery’s 100 layer donuts, a delicious and sugary combination of croissants and donuts. This family-owned bakery has a small playground where little ones can run off the sugar they just consumed along with some of the most Instagram-worthy walls.
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Where to Stay
Your accommodations can make or break your trip when you’re traveling with kids, and we found the Omni Nashville truly enhanced our time in Music City.
The downtown location made it so convenient to walk almost anywhere we wanted to go including Broadway, the pedestrian bridge and the trolley tour. The hotel even shares a building with the Country Music Hall of Fame!
We loved that although the hotel hosted all types of travelers from business people to bachelor and bachelorette parties, our kids were still treated as welcome, valued guests from the moment we walked in. They received a complimentary activity pack as part of the Kids Crew program and a special room delivery of milk and cookies on the first night of our stay.
There are 3 restaurants and a coffee shop on-property so you don’t have to go far for a good meal. Our favorite was Barlines for a classic Nashville meal and live music. Between the amazing comfort food, great atmosphere and a rooftop pool with a stunning view, we hardly wanted to leave the hotel!
Nashville with Kids
While there are certainly some areas of Nashville better suited to adults, it truly is a family-friendly city. Our 48-hour stay was not nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do. We’re hoping to be back very soon!