Children need mental and physical engagement during the long summer months away from school, and thankfully Nashville offers no shortage of these experiences with families in mind. This list, compiled by Joshua Odum, features some less well-known family-friendly attractions in the Nashville area, in a wide range of prices.
The Parthenon/Centennial Park
One of Nashville’s most recognizable attractions, the Parthenon was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. It stands in the middle of Centennial Park, a great natural spot for kids to run and explore. Inside the Parthenon is a museum, displaying historical items both from ancient Greece and from the 19th century, related to the construction of the monument. Children might enjoy getting to see the 41’ tall replica of the lost Athena Parthenos statue that was once found in the Parthenon in Athens. The park and the exterior of the Parthenon are free. Tickets for the museum exhibits are $6 for adults, $4 for children 4-17 and seniors.
Adventure Science Center
Kids need educational experiences to engage their minds and bodies during the long summer, and the Adventure Science Center provides plenty of hands-on learning experiences tailored to kids in a wide range of ages, and to suit a wide range of learning needs. The Center features permanent exhibits including a life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex, a 75 foot-tall exhibition tower with amazing views of the city, and laser shows at the Sudekum Planetarium. The Adventure Science Center is a great pick for a rainy day. Admission is $15.95 for adults 13+, $11.95 for youths from 2-12, and free for toddlers under 2. Planetarium admission, the Planetarium show, and the IMAX film are all available for an add-on price.
A pristine, unspoiled natural area in the middle of the city, and one of Nashville’s more peaceful hidden gems, Radnor Lake features hiking trails, a visitor center, and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife in a thriving wooded ecosystem. The park is free for all.
Nashville Children’s Theatre
For kids who love and appreciate the arts, and are looking for inspiration to stoke their creative potential, the Nashville Children’s Theatre is a great stop with plenty of re-visit potential. The theatre produces shows such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Disney’s The Little Mermaid with a young audience in mind, and provides parental advisory notices about the content of each show on its website. Child/student tickets are $16, and adult tickets are $21.
General Jackson Showboat
Ideal for older kids who appreciate music and boating. Cruise the Cumberland River on one of the world’s largest showboats while enjoying dinner and a show celebrating Nashville’s musical heritage. Or, witness fireworks over the Cumberland on the Fourth of July. Check the General Jackson website for the shows they offer, as well as their departure times and pricing.
Perfect for aspiring marine biologists and lovers of food, the Aquarium Restaurant features sharks, stingrays, and turtles in a 200,000-gallon tank. The Aquarium Restaurant has a menu and children’s menu available on its website. Prices for food and souvenirs at the gift shop can be found on the website as well.
Above All Trampoline Park
Great for getting your kid’s heart rate up, Above All Trampoline Park features plenty of engaging exercise activities centered on trampolines, including an obstacle course, a trapeze, and dodgeball games. An hour “flight ticket” costs $14 for ages 7 up and $11 per hour for children under 6.
Contact: Phone: 615-823-5585
Percy Priest Lake
For water recreation, there’s no better spot in the Music City than Percy Priest Lake. The most accessible marina for Nashville residents is the Nashville Shores marina, which offers boat and jet ski rentals. Check the Nashville Shores marina website for prices.
Climb Nashville West
For the more adventurous kids out there, Climb Nashville West offers rock climbing lessons and experiences at a variety of difficulty levels. Climb Nashville West offers good rates for groups as well, making it an ideal stop for birthday parties. A day pass is $17 for adults, and $15 for children under 13.
Music City Indoor Karting
Offering mini-golf in addition to racing on a 1/4 mile track with 14 turns, Music City Indoor Carting is almost guaranteed to make the kids say “one more time!” An 8 minute race costs $23, cut to $17 for a second, and $18 for any subsequent races on the same day, so take full advantage of your time there.
Contact: Phone: 615-242-3275