Summer Bucket List: 20 Things to do in Nashville with Kids

The oh-so-famous hub for country music is best known for beer, bachelorettes, and big stars like Taylor Swift. But did you know that Tennessee’s vibrant capital is also the perfect place for families to spend their summer vacation? 

The list of things to do in Nashville with kids is so sizable, you probably won’t have the chance to get to it all. But there’s no time like the present to try! Scroll through our list of 20 things to do in Nashville in the summer and get started planning an unforgettable itinerary. Some suggestions are within the city limits while others are a short drive away. Talk to us about renting a passenger van so you can get around town with ease and in style.Then, grab your swimsuits and cowboy boots and get ready for a knockout adventure in Nashville.

1. Visit the Nashville Zoo

Want something to feed your wild side? The Nashville Zoo provides a home for more than 3,000 animals including ferocious lions, graceful giraffes, gigantic elephants, and playful kangaroos. 

Add in a little education while you’re there, too. Join a zookeeper to witness an animal feeding and learn about the animals’ lifestyles and routines. 

Don’t miss: the Jungle Gym – Kids can channel their inner beasts and burn off some energy in the zoo’s giant playground. The 66,000 sq.ft. recreational area showcases unique climbing structures, slides, tunnels, and a spinning globe.

2. Take a trip to the Adventure Science Center

Does your child want to be an astronaut? A scientist, perhaps? Give them a taste of fulfilling their dreams with an afternoon at the Adventure Science Center, where kids can dive into space or conduct fascinating experiments in a science lab. 

The center is one of the most interesting family things to do in Nashville. Spend a few hours learning the tricks behind beekeeping or how an airplane is constructed. The center is brimming with activities that will leave everyone in the family in a state of awe.

Don’t miss: Sudekum Planetarium – Embark on a visual journey through the cosmos or catch a laser show in the Adventure Science Center’s 63-foot dome theater.

3. Enjoy a day at the Nashville Shores Waterpark

Summer in Nashville can be hot and humid. Luckily, relief is just a short drive away. Nashville Shores Waterpark is located on the shores of Percy Priest Lake and offers all the necessary features to have fun and cool down – slides, splash pads, wave pools, and lazy rivers among them. A day at the waterpark is one of the best things to do in Nashville with kids, so remember to pack your swimsuit and sunscreen before making your way to Music City.

Don’t miss: Big Kahuna – A 6-story-high water slide that twists and turns before a thrilling drop into a refreshing pool. Adrenaline seekers of all ages will enjoy a ride (or several) on this slide.

Trolls Exhibit at Cheekwood courtesy of Nashville Guru

4. Explore the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens

When the high energy of Nashville starts to take its toll, there’s no better place to unwind than the beautiful botanical gardens at Cheekwood Estate. Between fragrant blooms and the occasional butterfly, your family can get lost on the winding pathways that surround the British-style country estate, also open for touring. 

Don’t miss: Trolls – Internationally-known Danish artist Thomas Dambo makes larger-than-life troll sculptures out of recycled wood and 6 of them are right here in Cheekwood. The whimsical exhibit is on display through September 2024.

The Parthenon at Dusk courtesy of

5. Have a picnic at Centennial Park

Among the locals’ favorite Nashville summer activities is a picnic in the city’s biggest park. Find a shady spot where you can spread out a blanket and plop down for a boxed lunch. This is a great family alternative to a noisy restaurant, giving you the chance to relax together and talk about your trip. 

The grounds are vast, so you can make a day of it exploring the urban oasis or playing a game of frisbee.

Don’t miss: the iconic Parthenon – Trick your friends into thinking you’ve jet-setted off to Greece with a picture in front of Nashville’s full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens.

6. Take a tour of the Ryman Auditorium

On your list of fun things to do in Tennessee for families, the idea of going to church may surprise you. Country music church, that is. The “Mother Church of Country Music” has hosted legendary musicians in its 130-year history and is attributed with shaping the genre of country music. Sign up for a self-guided tour so you and your family can move through music’s past at your own pace.

Don’t miss: a backstage tour – Going behind-the-scenes not only exposes you to keepsakes from the venue’s most famous performers, it also gives you the chance to take a family photo on stage.

7. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

This museum is undoubtedly one of the top attractions in Nashville and shouldn’t be missed. Between Johnny Cash’s guitar and Elvis Presley’s solid gold Cadillac limo, you and your kids will be inspired at every turn. Enjoy the museum’s interactive history lessons to truly understand how country music got its start and where it’s headed today.

Don’t miss: Taylor Swift Education Center – It seems today that the singer is synonymous with Nashville, so it’s only right that the kids get their chance to do something Swifty. The interactive space offers hands-on activities, workshops, and educational programs to learn about country music as an art.

8. Experience the Nashville Children’s Theatre

A theater that’s nearly a century old must be doing something right. Their schedule of playful and vibrant 60-minute shows are the perfect respite from the summer heat. A production at Nashville Children’s Theatre is one of our favorite things to do in Nashville with kids. We especially appreciate the scaled category system on the theater’s website that rates each show according to themes like anxiety, language, and violence.

Don’t miss: Lobby activities – Try to arrive early or stay awhile after the show and participate in different arts and crafts activities in the theater lobby.

9. Explore the Adventureworks Nashville West

Face your fear and build confidence by flying through the trees and over waterfalls on a zipline adventure west of Nashville. Adventureworks in Nashville West boasts 9 zip lines 85 feet in the air. As long as your children are 8 or older and excited to soar through the sky for 90 minutes, this is a truly unforgettable way to spend a morning or afternoon in nature and by far one of the most exhilarating family things to do in Nashville.

Don’t miss: a Moonlight tour – The park offers nighttime zipline tours on one designated Saturday per month, so you can zip through the trees under the light of the moon.

10. Eat your way through Nashville with a food tour

Fill up on the best local bites by signing up for a family-friendly food tour! Nashville is known for a variety of delicious dishes that extend far past your traditional southern BBQ. Indulge in the international vibe that makes this city so eclectic – from Plaza Mariachi to Little Kurdistan, this is your chance to flirt with flavors you’ve never tried before.

Don’t miss: the Hidden Gems food tour – This Airbnb experience is one of the most highly-rated food tours in Nashville and will take you “off-the-beaten-path” in search of the city’s most tantalizing tastes.

11. Take a ride on the General Jackson Showboat

If you want to catch an extraordinary view of the Nashville skyline, we know just the place. Sign up for a General Jackson Showboat ride and sail along the Cumberland River while listening to live music and chowing down on Southern-style cuisine. Hear some of country music’s greatest hits as well as rock, soul, and R&B. 

Anyone looking for unique things to do in Nashville in the summer needs to check out the General Jackson Showboat. Embarkation begins an hour before sailing and you’ll be on the water for 2.5 – 4 hours, depending on the time of day.

12. Discover the Nashville Public Library

While visiting a library might not be at the top of your to-do list while on vacation, there are many reasons why it should. There is always something going on at Nashville’s Public Library, like storytime and arts and crafts for the little ones, sketch and music classes for the teens, and trivia for all ages. 

Libraries have the added benefit of air-conditioning, so if you’re looking for relief from the sun and want to dive into a good book, check out one of Nashville’s many public branches.

Don’t miss: Free podcasts – Looking for ways to pass the time while driving around Nashville? Listen to the library’s litany of podcasts and get to know Tennessee culture. 

13. Cool off at the Cumberland Park Splash Pad

When you need a way to cool down fast and you want to stay within the city limits, there is no better option than Cumberland Park Splash Pad. Its location in the center of town is ideal when you need a break of sightseeing. Chase butterflies, go rock climbing, and take a refreshing walk through automatic misters, all while enjoying top views of the river.

Don’t miss: The Hollow – This one-of-a-kind play area showcases a sandbox, a bouncing pad, a see-saw and a vibrant rainbow area with a “cloud bridge” with rain curtains and an interactive splash pad to cool off.

14. Have a family-friendly hike at Percy Warner Park

The numerous trails at Percy Warner Park provide opportunities for hikers of all skill sets to enjoy Tennessee’s nature. Loops are paved, so if you’re interested in a family bike ride as well, this is a wonderful spot to explore on two wheels. Active travelers may want to come here for a morning or evening run, utilizing either the 5.8-mile track or the challenging 11.2-mile loop.

Don’t miss: Mossy Ridge Trail – A moderate trail through the forest with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet and many scenic overlooks. This trail is a staple on our list of best family things to do in Nashville.

15. Sign up for line dance lessons with an expert

Endless country music shows mean endless opportunities to dance. If you haven’t tried your hand at line dancing since elementary school gym class, there’s no better time to dust off your cowboy boots than now in Nashville. Many bars and tours offer lessons to beginners and it’s a wonderful way to spend time with your family. 

Don’t miss: Learning the Boot Scootin’ Boogie – Ask your instructor to teach you this classic and energetic line dance and you’ll look like a pro on the dance floor.

16. Explore Lucky Ladd Farms

Just an hour’s drive south is what one happy client described as the “Disney World of farms,” complete with pony rides, playgrounds and a petting zoo. Decompress after days exploring the spirited city with strolls through winding nature trails or moments in the Butterfly House. 

Keep in mind the complementary picnic tables which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Here you can enjoy a packed lunch amidst nature. 

Don’t miss: Seasonal events – See what’s in store at the farm for the dates you plan to visit. Depending on the time of year, there are exciting activities like strawberry picking, outdoor concerts, farmers markets and sunflower festivals!

17. Enjoy a family bike ride along the Music City Bikeway

If you’ve smashed your step-counter and want a new method of exploring Nashville, how about renting a bike and hitting the Music City Bikeway? Pedal through picturesque neighborhoods and scenic landscapes on the city’s paved 26-mile bike path that cuts through Shelby Park and runs along the Cumberland River. 

Even though Nashville is very bike-friendly, it’s still a busy town, so helmets and safety gear are recommended. 
Don’t miss: LP Field – Cross the Cumberland River by bridge and ride around the home of the Tennessee Titans.

18. Watch a movie under the stars at the Nashville Scene’s Movies in the Park

Traveling in June? You’re in luck. Every Thursday evening there is a free movie night in Elmington Park. Bring a blanket and snacks or indulge in some bites from the local food trucks on site. Movies are rated PG-13 and under, so it’s a great event for all ages and one of the most memorable Nashville summer activities.

Don’t miss: Bringing your pup – Are you traveling with your furry friend? Pups are considered part of the family and welcome to join you for movie night.

19. Visit the Nashville Farmers Market

Located smack in the center of the Tennessee capital, the Nashville Farmers Market has been a popular food forum since the 1800s, serving up colorful fruits and veggies, artisanal products, regional cuisine and lively entertainment. The market is open year-round and home to more than 25 shops and restaurants. Coming here exposes you not only to delightful bites, but also to the local lifestyle. 

The 27,000 square foot venue is made up of both indoor and outdoor markets with stalls that sell everything from crispy carrots to local honey.

Don’t miss: The Market House – Come hungry! The famed Market House is stocked with snacking opportunities including pizza, burritos, beer, and ice cream made from scratch.

20. Take a family-friendly tour of the Belle Meade Plantation

Take an interactive tour through Belle Meade’s history by exploring the 30-acre manicured grounds as well as the antebellum mansion. The 90-minute Family tour is especially designed for those traveling with children aged 4 – 12 years and includes stops for arts and crafts and wine tasting for the adults. 

Don’t miss: Seasonal events – Be sure to check the events calendar, as Belle Meade often hosts concerts or specially-themed tours.

What to know before planning a Nashville family vacation

Planning a Nashville family vacation can be so much fun if you go about it the right way! Consider the following while crafting your itinerary to ensure a good time is had by all.

How are you going to get around Nashville?

First things first, you’ve got to decide your form of transportation. Nashville is known to be sprawling and walking might not be the best way to see all that you want to see. There is a bus system called WeGo if you’re comfortable taking public transportation and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. Renting a car or, better yet, renting a passenger van, may be the most comfortable option for your crew. 

Is Nashville a kid-friendly vacation?

As you can see from our list, there are plenty of things to do in Nashville with kids! Between parks, tours, museums and adventures by bike, you won’t run out of activities with your little ones or your teens. 

If you’re wondering more specifically if Broadway Nashville is kid-friendly, the answer is yes. However, we do recommend visiting this section during the day before any rowdy bachelor or bachelorette parties take over.

When are you planning to visit Nashville?

Are you wondering if summer is a good time to visit Nashville? It is! So is spring, fall, and even winter. Nashville is truly a year-round destination, though we are partial to the warmer months to take advantage of the hiking and biking opportunities that abound.

What do you need to do to prepare for a trip to Nashville?

As with any trip, you’ll need to book ahead of time. This includes car or van rentals, hotels, tours, and popular concerts. It’s also wise to reserve museum entry during peak seasons, especially at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium. 

Additionally, check city event calendars for any festivals you might want to plan around. 

What do I need to pack for a family trip to Nashville in the summer?

Good question! Nashville gets quite warm in the summer, so light and breezy clothing will be necessary. You’ll be walking a lot so comfortable shoes are key. There are lots of water activities around the city and a bathing suit or two will come in handy. If you plan to go hiking or enjoy lunch in the park, bring along a picnic blanket. 

Renting a passenger van gives you plenty of space to bring the essentials plus coolers, folding chairs, even gear to go camping! For those who plan to drive to Nashville, check out our list of 30 road trip essentials to add to your packing list.

And finally, don’t forget your cowboy hat!

Kid-friendly places to stay 

Lodging is an important part of a memorable family vacation. If your children are young, you’ll want to stay in a kid-friendly hotel to ensure everyone has a good time. Browse through this list of the most highly-rated family-focused places to stay.

Garden Atrium at Gaylord Opryland Resort courtesy of Gaylord Opryland Resort

Gaylord Opryland Resort

This monster of a resort is almost a city in itself. It’s full of its own attractions that include the 4-acre SoundWaves water park, tropical garden atriums, indoor boat rides, and direct access to the Grand Ole Opry. There is so much to do on this property that your biggest problem will be getting your kids to leave!

Omni Nashville Hotel

Its location adjacent to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is ideal for music lovers and its rooftop pool with city views is ideal when you need to cool off. There are three onsite restaurants and kids of Select Guests eat for free during the summer. The hotel also offers several suites for larger families to room together. The best part? There is a complimentary biscuit bar available to guests for most of the day! 

If what you want is a quiet, upscale alternative to the Opryland resort, this is a good option.

The Hutton Hotel

True music lovers can’t pass up the opportunity to stay at this one-of-a-kind boutique hotel in downtown Nashville. Start your stay off right by choosing a few records from the Vinyl Library to play in your room. Participate in the Our Fender Play In-Room Experience where you and the kids can choose from a wide selection of guitars, basses, and ukuleles to master during your visit. Top it all off with a live concert or two at Analog, the hotel’s personal music venue.

The Hermitage Hotel

For a quintessential Nashville experience, the Hermitage Hotel is your answer. It has been a staple of the city since it opened over a century ago, offering an elegant and posh vacation experience. The location in the center of it all can’t be beat, nor can its weekend Afternoon Tea experience. Parents wanting to spend an evening at the Bourbon Library can inquire about the hotel’s onsite nanny and babysitting services.

Embassy Suites Nashville

Do you want something convenient, clean, but not quite in the city center? The Embassy Suites is ideally situated 2 miles from the airport and a 15-minute drive to Downtown Nashville. Rooms are plush and fit up to 6 family members.

Those that plan to rent a van or car to explore but would like to spend their evenings in a calmer locale (with an indoor pool!) may find the Embassy Suites to be the perfect solution.

Cody Lannom on Unsplash

Make your way to Music City

Now that you know Nashville is overflowing with things to do with kids in the summer, it’s time to start planning your family vacation. Have a look at the city’s upcoming events calendar to know when to visit and keep this blog post handy to know what to do.

Flying into Nashville Airport? Avoid the hassle of rideshares and taxis by reserving a spacious passenger van with Greenvans. We can deliver your vehicle curbside so all you have to do is pile your luggage in the back, slide into a plush seat, and make your way comfortably to your first destination.

Navigate Nashville with ease this summer in a Greenvans passenger van – get a van rental quote today! 


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