Family Friendly Nashville
Nashville provides a wealth of family-friendly activities, from educational, to cultural, to active.
The Nashville Zoo is no old-school establishment where you walk, stop and stare on repeat. Here, you’ll find that personal encounters with kangaroos, tortoises and goats are part of the fun. You can also learn about farming, animals and history at the Grassmere Historic Home. One of the most exciting parts of the zoo, however, is watching your own little monkeys get wild at the Jungle Gym, a 66,000-square-foot playground deemed one of the World’s Coolest Playgrounds by Travel + Leisure.
Hands-on exhibits and award-winning programming make the Adventure Science Center and Sudekum Planetarium exciting for all. Gaze at 6.5 million stars in the planetarium, then get the astronaut experience in zero gravity at Space Chase. Climb to the top of the Adventure Tower (with educational pit stops along the way), where you’ll enter a glass pyramid with a stunning view of the city. There are also daily science demonstrations and activities like 3D printing workshops.
In a world of limitless on-screen thrills, it’s great to take part in the action for a change. At The Escape Game Nashville, you will have one hour to use teamwork, deductive reasoning and your ability to stay calm under pressure to escape a locked room. At two Nashville locations, you can enjoy seven distinct games, including a space mission, an art heist, an espionage thriller and more. The Escape Game is intended for kids 12 and up, but younger family members can have fun as well if they partner with parents or older siblings.
Everything old is new in Melrose. At the GRAMMY Museum Gallery® at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, you can learn all about the history of the Grammys, then make music of your own on keyboards, guitar, bass and electric drums. You can sing along with Ray Charles and his backup singers, the Raelettes, or try out being a DJ. If the recording part of the biz interests you, get in the booth and experience the entire process through exhibits focused on songwriting, engineering and producing.
Founded in 1931, the recently renovated Nashville Children’s Theatre was ranked as one of the nation’s top five children’s theaters by TIME magazine. There are shows for all ages, as well as ones aimed at small children, older elementary kids and teenagers. Some recent productions include Legally Blonde, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, Dragons Love Tacos and Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook.
For nonstop outdoor fun on 385 play-oriented acres, visit Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort on J. Percy Priest Lake. You can spend the night in an RV or a lakeside cabin, or just visit for the day. Challenge yourself on aerial ropes and zip line courses, or cool off at the water park, which includes eight waterslides, an enormous wave pool, a lazy river float ride and Kowabunga Beach, where kids can play in a water treehouse and “sprayground.”
SOAR Adventure Tower will kick the exhilaration up a notch (or four) with four levels and over 100 climbing elements. The ground level has 19 games for ages four to seven, and kids who can reach 5’5” with their arms above their heads can climb higher. Games are progressive and color-coded according to difficulty, so you can get comfortable before moving on. There are no lines to wait in—you just follow where your heart leads you. Adventure comes at a price, though, so honestly consider whether a crew member might be likely to lose their nerve at the last minute.
Getting in Free
Admission is free for kids 18 and younger at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. This nonprofit museum displays local artists, along with major US and international exhibitions. Families will especially enjoy the award-winning Martin ArtQuest Gallery, an interactive space with thirty hands-on stations that not only teach you about art, but allow you to become the artist as well. Art educators and trained volunteers will help the whole family (not just the kids) create their own masterpieces to take home.
Kidsville, a program by The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park, presents over 100 events each year across Nashville. Kidsville is dedicated to educating youth about music, nutrition, fitness and literacy through art and play. Activities include story time, arts and crafts, and meet and greets with local musicians. There are kid-centered events on Saturdays, as well as concerts at kid-friendly times, with activities going on throughout to keep everyone happy. Families of children 12 and under attend everything free.