Top Things to do in Nashville With Kids
Nashville is best known for being a town full of music bars and hot chicken sandwiches, neither of which are the most family-friendly. However, that doesn't mean that you can't take the kids there and have a great time. That is exactly what we did when we went there with my two young daughters.
Gaylord Opryland Resort
You don't have to book a hotel room to enjoy much of what the Opryland Resort has to offer. We didn't stay at the hotel there but explored the resort for an entire afternoon. My 3-year-old really enjoyed walking around and looking at all of the colorful flowers, plants and waterfalls intertwined within the gardens. We were able to check out an animal show in one of the atriums while we were there. They had several small animals including an opossum. After the animal show we were able to get the kids a snack at one of the numerous restaurants that were located within the gardens. There is a riverboat that can take you on a cruise through the atrium, kids 3 and under can ride this for free. The one thing that you can't do at the resort without booking a hotel package is the waterpark. We were able to get a view of part of the waterpark but were not able to actually go in. It has plenty of water activities for kids including an activity pool, lazy river, splash pad and multi-level play structure. If your kids are a little older there are multiple waterslides and a surf station for them and the adults to enjoy.
The Opryland Resort is a great way to spend a rainy or winter day in Nashville with the kids. If you don't stay at the resort the best option for parking is to park at the Opry Mills Mall at the back of the parking lot for free. Otherwise, you can pay (currently $29) to park at the resort itself.
Cumberland Park is located on the opposite side of the Cumberland River from downtown Nashville. You can take a pedestrian bridge across the river from downtown right to the park. Otherwise, there are parking lots near the park, which is where we parked. We stopped by here after eating breakfast near downtown one morning to let my daughter run around. There was plenty of open space where she was able to get her energy out including a series of little hills she had tons of fun running up and down. There were slides and a rock climbing wall for her to climb on. The park is located right next to the river and there is a lookout over it where we were able to get a great view of downtown. My daughter was able to watch the logs and boats floating down the river. It was February when we were there, so it wasn't super warm, but in the summer the park has a splash pad in which water shoots out of the ground. This is really a great park to get to and is easily accessible from downtown Nashville. It is located next to Nissan Stadium so be sure to check if there is an event going on that would make the area busier than normal.
The Nashville Zoo isn't the biggest or most well-known zoo in the country but my 3-year-old had an incredible time while we were there. It was a cooler day in February when we were there so not all of the animals were out in the morning but as the sun started to warm up things but the afternoon some of the animals that had been sleeping earlier were awake and we were able to go back to and visit them. One of those animals happened to be the meerkats. Watching the meerkats run through their tunnels and pop up out of their holes ended up being one of my daughter's favorite parts. She also really enjoyed the flamingos that stood calmly on one leg in a shallow pond. The layout of the zoo is a little awkward so make sure you have a map and plan out which directions you want to go, there are lots of twists and turns. My daughter was able to walk the day through the zoo without needing to sit too much, but there are plenty of benches throughout where we were able to take a break for a snack.
The Pancake Pantry
If your kid loves pancakes, as mine does, then you have to stop at the Pancake Pantry near Vanderbilt University. The Bears in the Snow was a huge hit with my daughter. It is a dish of pancakes made in the shape of bears with chocolate chips for fur and covered in snow (powdered sugar). After we went there my daughter talked about it for quite some time. Her drink came in a take-home cup that we still use today. The food for the adults was good as well. They of course specialize in pancakes but have plenty of other options to choose from.