29 Things to Do in Nashville for Kids and Adults

·21 min read

Did you know that Nashville contains an antique shop dedicated entirely to dead people's things? Or that it was awarded for having the best restrooms in the countrytwice? Indeed, the city holds many accolades to admire, but none hold a candle to its most celebrated legacy. Nicknamed "The Music City," Nashville is home to a number of attractions that have helped cement its musical status, from the historic RCA Studio B to the Grand Ole Opry, and many more. Below, we'll introduce even more venues, along with other things to do during your trip.

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29 Best Things to Do in Nashville, TN

Enjoy our list of things to do in Nashville below. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or all on your own, these suggestions will help you organize the perfect itinerary.

Explore Downtown Nashville

Roaming around downtown Nashville is a great way to kick off a visit to the Music City. This is where you'll find some of the city's most celebrated claims-to-fame, from hotels and historic buildings to art galleries, eateries, and more.

The downtown area is also where Honky Tonk Highway is located, a row of establishments known for cold drinks and live music. These businesses are open from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., so you're free to stop by whatever time of day—or night—you want.

The best part? There's no cover fee, so you can sit back and enjoy the show without spending a dime. Of course, the drinks do cost extra, but if music is all you're into, then count this as one of the best free things to do in Nashville.

These Lower Broadway businesses have attracted musical legends Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, and more.

Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

If you consider yourself a country music fan, this spot should be at the top of your list. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exists to preserve, celebrate, and educate visitors on the cultural contributions the genre has made to music overall.

The museum, located in downtown Nashville, has been dubbed the "Smithsonian of country music," thanks to the volume of historically significant artifacts it contains.

Though it opened in 1967, the institution underwent a $100 million expansion in 2014. Today, the space encompasses 350,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, archival storage, retail stores, and event space.

Students, teachers, and families also have the opportunity to explore the Taylor Swift Education Center. The area contains three classrooms, a videoconference lab, and an interactive gallery for more educational programs and hands-on experiences.

Have Fun at the Historic RCA Studio B

Built back in 1957, RCA Studio B is celebrated as the birthplace of "Nashville Sound," a musical style characterized by both strings and background vocals.

The recording studio became a popular destination for musical greats including Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, and the Everly Brothers. Also known as the "Home of 1,000 Hits," the studio was where songs like Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" and Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" were captured.

During your visit, expect to encounter musical artifacts, different galleries, exhibitions, instruments, stage wear, one-of-a-kind recordings, films, and much more!

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Go See the Johnny Cash Museum

The Johnny Cash Museum has been named a "must-see" travel destination by both Forbes and National Geographic. The building features the largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world. That list includes vintage guitar amps, original instruments, and stage outfits.

Each exhibit details a specific period in Cash's life, from his childhood years on the cotton farm to his experience in the Air Force to his marriage to June Carter Cash, and more.

Spend Some Time in Centennial Park

Nashville's Centennial Park spans over 132 acres of green space. The area also contains some of the city's most celebrated attractions, including the Parthenon, the world's most exact and detailed replica of the original temple in Athens, Greece.

The building was originally constructed to celebrate Tennessee's 100th year of statehood but became a permanent fixture after the amount of popularity it gained among local residents.

Today, the Parthenon contains impressive sculptures and marble casts and is frequently used to host other exhibitions throughout the year.

The park is also home to a one-mile walking trail, fishing opportunities at Lake Watauga, historical monuments, an arts activity center, a sunken garden, a band shell, an events shelter, sand volleyball courts, and a dog park.

See the Ryman Auditorium

The historic Ryman Auditorium contains over 130 years of significant performances and pop culture moments.

First opened in 1885 as a religious gathering place, the auditorium has been used to host plays, conventions, lectures, and live music performances over the years. Susan B. Anthony, Edward Strauss, and Booker T. Washington are just a few famous names to have taken its stage.

Moving further into the 20th century, the auditorium began to attract more modern performers, including Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, and Harry Styles. Today, visitors can enjoy self-guided tours of the stage. Theater experiences are also available for individuals who want to learn more about the Ryman's history and impact on American music.

Hop Aboard the General Jackson Showboat

Get ready for dinner and a show! The General Jackson Showboat is one of the largest ever built, complete with a two-story Victorian Theater, three balconies, and the capacity to carry 1,000 passengers.

Named after the first steamboat to operate on the Cumberland River, the vessel is open for daytime cruises and private charters. Both experiences allow guests to enjoy a spectacular view of the Nashville skyline, some of the city's most talented performers, and exceptional Southern cooking.

Explore the Adventure Science Center

While this next stop appeals to individuals of all ages, it's especially beneficial for those traveling with kids. The Adventure Science Center originally opened its doors in 1945 as the Children's Museum of Nashville. After one relocation and several expansions, the institution finally took on its new name.

Today, it spans over 44,000 square feet and features more than 175 hands-on exhibits. Visitors will encounter demonstrations, workshops, and events dedicated to biology, astronomy, physics, earth science, energy, weather, sound, and space.

It's also home to the state-of-the-art Sudekum Planetarium, which uses digital projection and surround sound to present programs on science, history, and culture. It even conducts laser shows.

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Visit the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere first opened its doors in 1991 as a small, private operation. Today, it has ballooned into the ninth-largest zoo in the country by landmass, containing over 188 acres.

Each year over a million visitors come to observe the zoo's collection of exotic animals, including rhinos, leopards, pandas, and more.

In addition to up-close animal experiences, the zoo offers a variety of attractions including a wild animal carousel, a wilderness express train, and a jungle gym. An heirloom garden, family cemetery, and family exhibit are open seasonally for guided tours.

Those interested in the area's history will want to stop by the Grassmere Historic Home. Listed on the National Register of Historic Homes, the building was constructed in 1810. The zoo helped restore the property shortly after it relocated onto the site.

Stop By the Grand Ole Opry House

The Grand Ole Opry remains the world's longest-running radio show and is often referred to as the "Home of Country Music."

The first broadcast took place 95 years ago in a small Nashville office, though the production soon outgrew the space. Over the years, the show bounced around venues, but eventually settled at the Ryman Auditorium, operating out of the space for a full 30 years. The stint was actually what helped the Ryman achieve its nickname, "The Mother Church."

Today, the show has found a permanent home at the Opry House. The venue includes a custom-built theater complete with state-of-the-art equipment and a seating capacity of over 4,300.

In addition to its weekly performances, country music fans can enjoy backstage tours of the space, VIP experiences, pre-show parties, and more.

Visit the Andrew Jackson Hermitage

The Andrew Jackson Hermitage was created to preserve the original home of the "People's President." Jackson garnered the nickname after campaigning to abolish the Electoral College and transfer the power to elect the president into the hands of the American people—an argument that attracted much attention after the fallout from the results of the 2016 presidential election.

The property occupies over 1,120 acres and remains one of the oldest and largest historic site museums in the United States.

Opened to the public in 1889, the Hermitage educates visitors on the life and times of President Andrew Jackson through preservation, interpretation, exhibition, education, and research.

Though the home was remodeled after a fire destroyed most of the property back in 1838, the mansion has maintained its status as a National Historic Landmark. The site continues to attract visitors from all over the world, with tours available in five different languages.

Costumed interpreters are available to guide visitors around the property, which also contains small log homes where the enslaved community resided.

Explore the Gaylord Opryland Resort&Convention Center

If you haven't yet booked your stay, think about reserving a room at the Gaylord Opryland Resort&Convention Center. The property welcomes guests to a one-of-a-kind resort experience, with nine acres of indoor atriums, premiere waterpark attractions, world-class restaurants, and tons of other family-friendly activities.

Even if you've already secured your accommodations, you can stop by for the day to enjoy the amenities offered. The resort spans over 750,000 square feet, complete with shopping opportunities, a luxury spa, and live music experiences.

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Take a Tour of Music Row

Music Row refers to a strip of businesses central to the city's musical heritage. Widely considered the heart of Nashville's entertainment industry, the area is home to historic music venues and recording studios once frequented by legendary country music artists like Eddy Arnold, David Allan Coe, and Dottie West.

The area, which covers both 16th and 17th Avenues, offers a bunch of different shops and eateries as well. You should also keep an eye out for Musica, a large bronze statue designed by Alan LeQuire which serves as the centerpiece for the Music Row Roundabout.

Enjoy a Day at the Frist Art Museum

The Frist Art Museum is one of the most popular cultural institutions in Nashville. It's also a great place to visit with kids, as it's established as a "family-friendly" destination with an entire gallery dedicated to hands-on art experiences and activities.

As a non-collecting museum, the Frist changes exhibits every few months, so be sure to check the schedule before you visit. At any given time, guests will enjoy 12 to 15 exhibitions from some of the most prestigious collections in the world. The museum also hosts lectures, workshops, and award-winning shows organized in-house by its experienced staff.

See the Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Located in downtown Nashville, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) is where you want to go for all things theater. Founded in 1980, the institution puts on a variety of performances throughout the year, including productions by the Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, and the Nashville Repertory Theater.

The TPAC also administers one of the most comprehensive arts education programs in the United States, welcoming students of all ages, from pre-school to adults, interested in learning more about the dramatic arts.

Partake in Some Water Activities on the Cumberland River

Nashville may not be near the beach, but that doesn't mean there aren't places to enjoy the water. The Cumberland River flows through the middle of the city and offers an array of outdoor activities.

Kayaks, paddle tours, fishing, and boating opportunities are just a few of the ways to enjoy the river. Remember, Nashville stays pretty temperate year-round, so you won't miss out on much river time.

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Visit the National Museum of African American Music

Nashville has helped popularize a number of musical styles, including genres created, influenced, and inspired by African American individuals. The National Museum of African American Music remains the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving, and celebrating them.

The museum, which spans over 56,000 square feet, offers six distinct galleries featuring artifacts, objects, memorabilia, and clothing related to African American musical history.

Using state-of-the-art technology, the institution provides a new narrative on musical styles like spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop.

Run Around Radnor Lake State Park

Radnor Lake State Park is another great option for individuals looking for a little fresh air during their visit. It stretches over 1,368 acres and is protected as a Class II Natural Area.

The space also contains over seven miles of trails for hiking and photography. Designated trails are available for bikers or those who want to jog alongside their pets.

The park is particularly well-known for its wildlife observation opportunities, with owls, herons, and waterfowl frequently spotted in the area. There are also many species of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals like mink and otter.

Those interested in learning more about the local wildlife can even sign up for education and ranger-led programs planned throughout the year.

Enjoy the Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary

The Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary provides a protected home for more than 2,000 species of local flora and fauna. The 300-acre nature sanctuary contains hills, forests, creeks, ponds, meadows, and other environments where these creatures can thrive.

Its name was inherited from the original owners, who often listened to the Great Horned Owls calling out from the ridge after dark.

Unsurprisingly, it also serves as a great place to visit with kids. Owl's Hill offers a series of specialized learning opportunities involving crafts, discovery, and outdoor exploration.

Visit the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum

The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates the musicians responsible for some of the greatest recordings of all time. Its collection ranges from Glen Campbell's guitars to instruments used by Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Elton John, and many more.

The museum has also made it a point to recognize more "unknown" artists and those working hard behind the scenes to help produce the music we know and love.

That list includes groups like the Nashville A-Team, the Wrecking Crew, the Tennessee Two, and studio musicians from Sigma Sound Studio in Philadelphia.

There's also the GRAMMY Musician Gallery to explore—an interactive facility that allows visitors to explore every aspect of the recording process, from rehearsal rooms to onstage experiences.

Stop by Tootsies Orchid Lounge

No trip to Nashville would be complete without a visit to Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Named after its original proprietor, Hattie Lousie "Tootsie" Bess, the world-famous honky tonk has been in operation for over 60 years.

Some of the establishment's most famous early customers include Kris Kristofferson, Faron Young, Willy Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline, and many more. The venue has been written up by major publications including Esquire and Penthouse. Dean Martin even filmed a segment of his summer show at Tootsies. Visitors can locate even more famous faces on "Tootsies Wall of Fame."

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Explore the Belle Meade Historic Site&Plantation

Today, the Belle Meade Historic Site&Plantation operates as a popular food and wine destination, also offering stores and shopping opportunities. Hands-on activities and crafts are available for younger visitors as well.

The building's history, however, is much darker than its current facade. Construction began on the Greek Revival-style home back in 1853. By 1860, the property owner, John Harding, was named one of the wealthiest landowners in the area. He was also one of the top slave-owners in the county.

Tennessee became the last state to secede from the Union one year later. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was passed, finally bringing an end to the slavery era in the United States.

Tours are available to help educate visitors on those who inhabited the property before and after emancipation. Programs like "Stories of Slavery and Freedom" have also been developed to honor the lives of the enslaved and their impact on the area.

Stop by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center

The Nashville Symphony has been contributing to the city's musical landscape since 1946. Led by music director Giancarlo Guerrero, the ensemble performs more than 150 concerts each year, with a focus on contemporary American orchestral music.

The group began calling the Schermerhorn Symphony Center home in 2006. Located downtown, the building is considered one of the world's finest acoustical venues. It also showcases distinctive Neoclassical architecture, soundproof windows, and a 3,500-pipe Martin Foundation Concert Organ.

Visitors will encounter a variety of musical sounds sprinkled throughout the schedule, including pop, jazz, country, and even family performances.

The Nashville Symphony also happens to be one of the most recognized recording orchestras in the United States, with more than 40 releases across different labels. Their recordings have earned 14 Grammy Awards and another 27 nominations.

Check Out the Nashville Flea Market

You can catch the Nashville Flea Market on the fourth weekend of every month. The event is hosted on the Nashville Fairgrounds, a 117-acre plot of land just south of downtown.

Considered one of the best flea markets in the country, upwards of 1,200 vendors travel from over 30 different states to sell their goods and merchandise. Antiques, dishware, specialty foods, boutique clothing, jewelry, leather goods, and other knick knacks are offered across approximately 2,000 booths.

The tradition first took off in 1969. Sixty years later, the market has evolved to such an extent that a virtual market has been established to service vendors who can't participate in person.

Snag Some Photos of the Street Art

If you need a break from country music and historic sites, hop over to East Nashville to enjoy some of the city's most celebrated street art.

Having been dubbed "Nashville's Coolest Neighborhood" by Vogue, the area is home to local eateries, shop clusters, and an emerging art scene. Some of the local talent have showcased their work on the sides of buildings, beneath construction zones, and even on the backs of residential fences.

You can begin your tour by driving down Gallatin Pike. From there, you'll be able to find some of the city's most famous pieces, including the Topgolf mural by Nathan Brown, the Stay Tuned Nashville mural by Adrien Saporiti, and the Nashville Cowgirl, a collective work created by Jason Galaz, Milton Chavez, and Adam "The Kid" Wakitsch.

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Enjoy Cumberland Park

Nashville's Cumberland Park is a fairly new introduction to the city's riverfront. It's also a great way to keep kids entertained during a trip to the Music City. Stretching over 6.5 acres, the park is most celebrated for its innovative play spaces and water features.

Some of the most popular stations include "The Hollow," which contains a cloud bridge, a bouncing pad, and a splash zone. Then there's "The Scoops," a cooling-off area that has a stepping stone path with mist features, and finally, "The Gorge," a stone climbing wall with embedded fossils and sliding poles.

Other attractions include an outdoor amphitheater and an open lawn for recreation and events.

Go See the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame was founded by a group known as the Middle Tennessee Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. Its members were committed to celebrating the impact sportsmanship can have on athletes and beyond.

Today, that legacy remains packaged inside the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. The facility pays homage to athletes, coaches, sportswriters, and sports administrators who have made an impact on Tennessee sports.

Visitors are sure to recognize several inductees. Some notable mentions include Bud Adams, Darwin Bond, and Buford "Baby" Ray.

Enjoy a Show at Robert's Western World

Robert's Western World is a wildly popular honky tonk among locals and visitors alike. Known as Nashville's "Home of Traditional Country Music," the live music venue offers shows seven days a week. While the craft beers and BBQ options will cost you, you won't pay a cent for the music.

From the late 1950s to the 1980s, the building served as the home of the Sho-Bud Steel Guitar Company. Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons, two of the greatest steel guitar players of all time, worked at the shop during this era, selling some of the best steel instruments ever made. Their clients included names like Yes, Poco, and The Monkees.

Other famous figures who used to hang around the space include Jerry Bird, Ron Elliot, Don Helms, Big Ben Keith, and Russ Hicks.

Cool off at Nashville Shores

If you didn't get your waterpark fix over at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, then head over to Nashville Shores.

The 385-acre destination sits alongside Percy Priest Lake, offering opportunities to explore the area on pontoon boats or by jet ski. There's also a marina on-site with a full-service restaurant in case you need a little food and drink.

From there, you can head back to the waterpark for even more aquatic adventures. That's where you'll find a gigantic wave pool, lazy river, a water tree hour, and eight different water slides. Kiddie pools and lily pads are also available for families visiting with small kids.

If you want, you can even spend the night. Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort offers 88 RV sites, 24 lakefront cabins, and seven hillside cabins for those in need of accommodation.

Wrapping Up

That's a wrap on the best things to do in Nashville, but be sure to check back in with us soon! Travelicious, supported by Best Life, is committed to helping you find your next adventure. Sign up for our newsletter to enjoy expert-backed tips for navigating our favorite U.S. destinations!

FAQ

What is the top-rated attraction in Nashville?

While there are plenty of attractions to explore in Nashville, the city is most celebrated for its contributions to the country music industry. The Ryman Auditorium remains one of the area's most-visited sights, allowing individuals to grace the same stage that musical greats including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams performed on in the past.

What are some fun things to do in Nashville for couples?

There are plenty of things to do in Nashville for couples, specifically. Check out some of our favorite activities below:

  • See a show at the Grand Ole Opry House

  • Go for a walk in Centennial Park

  • Take in some culture at the Frist Museum

  • Go dancing at a local honky tonk

  • Go kayaking down the Cumberland River

  • Watch the sunset at Radnor Lake

  • Take photos under the Parthenon in Centennial Park

  • Spend a night at the Gaylord Opryland Resort

What are fun activities in Nashville for adults?

There are lots of ways for grown-ups to enjoy the city during the day and after dark. Some of the best things to do in Nashville for adults include:

  • Tour the Country Music Hall of Fame

  • Shop around the Nashville Flea Market

  • Enjoy a few shows on Music Row

  • Take in some history at the Belle Meade Historic Site

  • Check out local street art in East Nashville

  • Grab a beer at a local honky tonk

  • Hear classical music at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center

What are the best things to do in Nashville with kids?

Tennessee's capital city is an incredibly popular destination for families. Some of our favorite things to do in Nashville with kids include:

  • Explore the Nashville Zoo

  • Spend a day at Adventure Science Center

  • Enjoy the play structures at Cumberland Park

  • Sign up for the FristKids program at the Frist Art Museum

  • Go for a nature walk at the Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary

  • See an early show at one of the honky tonks on Lower Broadway

  • Cool off at the Nashville Shores waterpark