Music City is known for live entertainment, but it also offers plenty for families.
Editor’s note: This story is from our Spring 2020 issue, which came out before Nashville was damaged by tornadoes and before the coronavirus outbreak took hold in Ohio. Perhaps it will spark an idea for a future trip your family can take.
Most people consider Nashville an adult destination, so it might surprise parents to discover that Music City actually makes for a great family vacation. From public parks and sporting events to museums, gardens, water parks and well-known music experiences such as the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville is not only a fun family trip but an educational one, too.
You can easily plan a five-day Nashville vacation from Columbus. Plan for a day of travel to and from to accommodate the six-hour drive, with time to stop for food, restroom breaks and stretching your legs. That allows three full days in the city, which is plenty of time to see some of the major highlights. Book a last-minute spring break trip, or plan ahead for summer vacation.Get top reads, feature stories, guides, parenting trends and more ideas for family fun. Subscribe to Columbus Parent’s weekly e-newsletter, The Bulletin.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
222 Fifth Ave. S., Nashville; 615-416-2001; countrymusichalloffame.org
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Cost: Base admission is $25.95 for adults, $15.95 for children ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and younger.
Start your Nashville experience at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The galleries, some geared to families, showcase the best musicians in country music and provide history and artifacts surrounding the industry that made Nashville famous.
Start your visit at the Taylor Swift Education Center, which has special programs to engage children during their visit, including scavenger hunts. Visitors can also borrow Young Explorer Bags filled with activities for kids ages 2-7. Museum tickets are good for an entire day, so you can come and go as you please. Or, grab lunch at one of the museum’s three restaurants.
Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
401 Gay St., Nashville; 615-244-3263; musicianshalloffame.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays
Cost: $25 for adults, $15 for children ages 6-17, free for ages 5 and younger
Continue your day at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, which honors musicians across all genres, from country to rock to Motown. The galleries showcase artists and the instruments they used to create their famous music. Kids can go inside an actual recording booth or go onstage in the interactive Grammy Museum Gallery. The exhibit shows the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Grammy Awards.
4104 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville; 615-383-1461; bluebirdcafe.com
Hours: Open for two shows a day
Admission: Varies by show
Round out your first evening with dinner and a performance at the famous Bluebird Cafe. It is a venue where many famous musicians and songwriters, including Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks, were discovered early in their careers. The nightly performances include several songwriters who share their music and stories.
Tickets become available for shows about a week out, so keep an eye on the calendar to book the date you want. While the Bluebird Cafe is open to all ages, including children, parents should be aware of the venue’s “Shhh policy” during shows.
3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville; 615-833-1534; nashvillezoo.org
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Cost: $20 for adults, $15 for children ages 2-12, free for ages 1 and younger
Nashville is hot in the summer, so if you visit then, you will want to visit the Nashville Zoo in the morning. This is also when the animals are the most active. The zoo has thousands of animals from around the world, including a new exhibit, Tiger Crossroads. Besides walking the grounds to see the clouded leopards and giraffes, visitors can watch the caretakers do live animal checkups or even surgery.
Adventure Science Center
800 Fort Negley Blvd., Nashville; 615-862-5160; adventuresci.org
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Cost: $18 to $24 for adults, $14 to $19 for children ages 2-12, free for ages 1 and younger
Adventure Science Center is an interactive museum where kids get hands-on experiences in exhibits focused on topics ranging from earth sciences and weather to astronomy and electricity. Kids can defy gravity in the Blue Max simulator, where they get to control the jet cockpit, or observe the inner workings of a dissected bee hive.
Members of COSI and The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology can get free reciprocal admission through the Association of Science and Technology Centers, good for up to two adults and four children under 18 from the same household. Don’t forget your membership card.
Relax for the Night
After a busy day, spend an evening relaxing by taking a stroll along some of Nashville’s downtown streets to see the activity and neon lights.
2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville; 615-889-1000; soundwavesgo.com
Hours: Open daily
Cost: Varies by package
SoundWaves water park is an indoor-outdoor attraction at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. Admission is guaranteed for guests who book an overnight package, but a limited number of day passes are sometimes available. SoundWaves has zones for adults and children, and attractions include waterslides, tubing, surf rides, a lazy river and poolside cabanas. The resort is within walking distance of the Grand Ole Opry.
Grand Ole Opry
2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville; 800-733-6779; opry.com
Hours: Shows start at 7 p.m.
Cost: Varies by show
Wrap up your trip with a hallmark experience at the Grand Ole Opry, the most iconic performance venue in Nashville. There are shows almost every night of the week showcasing country artists and, occasionally, those of other genres. You can also book a backstage tour of the Opry House after the show.
Experience the old-school version of the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium (116 Fifth Ave. N., Nashville). The Ryman is a smaller venue and the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.
This story is from the Spring 2020 issue of Columbus Parent.