17 fun, kid-approved, action-packed summer activities for kids in and around Nashville
You know Nashville as Music City, but what happens when you're visiting with children?
While easy for adults to think of endless things to do, few kids will appreciate extended visits to the Grand Ole Opry for entertainment.
But did you know that there are 17 action-packed, fun summer activities for kids in and around Nashville?
Get Wet with Water Fun!
Water fun is always a good idea in summer. If you visit between Memorial and Labor Day, several locales cater to your kids’ affinity for water.
Located in the Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort, visiting the water park is an all-day activity.
It's not something you'll want to do for an hour and then attempt to leave. If you do, odds are good you'll have to deal with a mutiny from the kids.
Instead, plan to make this a full day outing. The park features over 1 million gallons of water fun with a wave pool, 8 water slides, and Kowabunga Beach - a massive water treehouse with playground.
New this year is Aqua Park, an area featuring 40 interconnected water elements built on Percy Priest Lake. You must reserve a time to access Aqua Park, so be sure to make your reservation using the reservation system on the beach. It's recommended you reserve your time when you first arrive at the park.
Adults can enjoy jet-ski and pontoon boat rentals or take a relaxing drift down the park's lazy river.
Photo: Oniltton Sousa, Google
When you don't want to buy park food or rent cabanas, visit Wave Country at 2320 Two Rivers Parkway in Nashville.
It opens in late May and keeps welcoming visitors until the early days of September.
As a part of the local Parks & Recreation Department, visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks as well as pop-up tents and chairs.
If you anticipate attending with a large group, this is a budget-friendly picnic outing. Kids and adults will both enjoy Water flumes, speed slides & wave-action pools, several slides, and a kiddie pool round among the amenities.
Photo: Gigi Fuentes, Google
3. Combine Water Fun with a Lazy Day at Cumberland Park 592 S 1st St, Nashville, TN 37213
You'll find this park at 592 South First Street in Nashville.
Its season runs from Memorial Day to Labour and is open daily from dawn to about 11 p.m.
The biggest attraction here is the spray ground where floor jets provide hours of watery fun without the need for swimming in a pool.
While the water may be why you came, there are plenty of other activities the kids will love when they get tired of playing in the water.
Lead them over to the Cumberland Park Hollow where there they enjoy the bouncing pad and a bunch of hands-on activities for kids.
The Gorge is a climbing wall that encourages youngsters to test their mettle.
If they overheat, there are the Scoops - a cooling-off area that offers misting features. Alternatively, they might just go back to the spray ground.
Photo: Arikah Nash, Google
Infuse Your Day with Culture
Older kids in particular may enjoy outings to some of the cultural venues that Nashville offers. Here are a few of the most popular attractions.
4. The Parthenon Combines Architecture with Art 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
Located in Nashville'sWest End, this full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon is a significant tourist draw.
Enlist one of the docent staff for a formal and fascinating tour of the art museum inside.
Youngsters into learning about history – particularly the Greco-Roman era – are sure to be in awe of the artifacts and the full-sized statue of Athena on display.
Photo by Steve Flaig, Google
5. Spend an Afternoon at the Adventure Science Center 800 Fort Negley Blvd, Nashville, TN 37203
You'll find the Adventure Science Center at 800 Fort Negley Boulevard.
A variety of permanent exhibits encourages children to explore beekeeping, dinosaurs, and physics.
Add on to the opportunity to explore science through play, with a Planetarium Show ticket. The planetarium hosts laser shows as well as full-dome features.
If your family enjoys yoga, consider participating in the Yoga Under the Stars experience for an out of this experience. Bring your own mat!
Photo by Sam Seidel, Google
6. Soak in Art and Nature at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art 4206, 1200 Forrest Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37205
Located at 1200 Forrest Park Drive in Nashville, the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is a 55-acre facility.
There is a little something for everyone. Kids who love trains will appreciate the Turner Seasons Garden with a woodland theme and train setup.
The Howe Garden is home to a stinking cedar, which is an endangered tree. Experts suggest that a now-extinct animal would aid in allowing seeds to reach a germination stage.
Younger children typically love the Bradford Robertson Color Garden. Be on the lookout for unique garden art throughout the locale.
Photo by Shenghua Ni, Google
7. Tour the Belle Meade Plantation and See American History Come Alive 5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
+1 (615) 356-0501 ext. 125
Belle Meade plantation is about 150 years old. But that doesn't mean that the tours are stuffy.
Arrive at 110 Leake Avenue in Nashville, and hop on a Segway for a guided tour. Kids have to be at least 16 years of age to participate.
Other tours introduce you to the African-Americans who lived there as well as to the mansion itself.
The facility is open during business hours, so time your stay accordingly!
Photo by Lisa Gardner, Google
8. Appease Growing Gearheads with a Tour of the Lane Motor Museum 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210
If it has wheels and is slightly odd, you'll probably see it at the Lane Motor Museum at 702 Murfreesboro Pike in Nashville.
Not only will you find beautiful classic cars on display, but the Museum specializes in unique cars, so be prepared to be awed.
The collection of amphibious vehicles is a crowd pleaser that always goes over well with the younger crowd. Call ahead to make sure that these vehicles are on display on the day of your visit.
Another favorite for the kids is the indoor play area. Car-themed, of course, it encourages hands-on participation.
If you love cars and want to pass on this affection to the next generation, you cannot overlook this Nashville attraction. The museum is open during regular business hours during the week and on weekends.
Photo by Wil Thieme, Google
If neither swimming nor cultural activities excite your children this summer, appeal to their sense of adventure.
9. The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere Delights the Animal Lover 3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211
Head over to 3777 Nolensville Pike in Nashville and spend some time with wildlife other than your children.
The Nashville Zoo is continuously adding new features.
Case in point is Expedition Peru with its Andean bear. Currently, there are about 375 species represented with 2,675 animals in residence at the Zoo.
Kids can have hands-on fun with exhibits that include Critter Encounters, Lorikeet Landing, Shell Station, and Kangaroo Kickabout, that allow them to get up close to the animals, including helping to feed and brush goats.
In addition to the animals, the Zoo features a jungle gym, the Wilderness Express Train, and Wild Animal Carousel as well as the historic Grassmere Home and Garden.
The venue is fully accessible for wheelchair users. If you have a child on the autism spectrum, please note that this zoo is an ideal locale for your family. The facility offers you materials to prepare the youngster for a zoo visit and provides zoo maps that highlight loud and quiet areas. This is an invaluable tool for families who want to plan their trips with a child’s needs in mind.
Photo & video by Kris Marbaugh, Google
10. Exercise Your Gray Matter at The Escape Game Nashville TWO LOCATIONS: 510 E. Iris Dr., Unit D, Nashville, TN 37204 AND
162 3rd Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37201
CENTRAL TEL: +1 (615) 647-8229
Have you heard about the escape room adventures that are becoming all the rage on the West Coast?
Nashville has a couple of them, too with locations ar Iris Drive and 3rd Avenue North.
Head over to either location and one hour of guaranteed fun awaits.
You and your team have to find clues, connect the dots, and finish your assignments. Difficulty levels range from six to nine out of ten. Can your family make the great escape or will you forfeit?
Photo by The Escape Game Nashville, Google
11. Keep a Large Family Engaged with a Scavenger Hunt via iRide Nashville 330 Commerce St, Nashville, TN 37201
iRide Nashville hosts Segway tours for riders 12 years and up. New to iRide, they now also run Segway scavenger hunts.
Scavenger hunts are ideal for large groups, so bring your family and extended members as well as friends.
This adventure is perfect for people from out of town and those who call Nashville their home. The tours meet at 330 Commerce Street in Nashville.
12. Paddle the Harpeth River 7701 TN-100, Nashville, TN 37221 (Hwy 100 canoe access point)
If you are thinking of introducing your kids to paddling, kayaking, or canoeing, The Harpeth River is the right venue.
The river meets the Class I requirements, which means that it is ideal for beginners.
Enter from Nashville’s 7701 Highway 100 canoe access point.
13. The Nashville Flea Market at the Nashville Fairgrounds is an Adventure for Bargain Hunters 500 Wedgewood Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
Kitty-corner to The Fairgrounds Nashville at 625 Smith Avenue, the Nashville Flea Market is considered one of the top ten flea markets, not only in Nashville but in the country as well.
Established in 1969, the Market has operated for almost 50 consecutive years. Averaging 2000 booths each weekend, the market attracts 800 to 1200 vendors from 30 states. With so many diverse vendors, you're bound to find virtually anything and everything.
If your family loves bargain hunts, this is a summer adventure you do not want to miss.
14. Music City Indoor Karting is Great Fun for Adults, Teens, and Pre-Teens 400 Davidson St #403, Nashville, TN 37213
Music City Indoor Karting gives you the chance to satisfy your go-kart need for speed.
Located at 400 Davidson Street in Nashville, this is an indoor venue, which makes it suitable for the days that the summer weather does not want to cooperate.
Race head-to-head, and spend some time playing mini-golf, too.
Be sure to call ahead (use the click-to-call number listed above) to ensure that the facility is not closed due to a private event.
If You Are Not Afraid to Drive a Little
Have you exhausted the summer fun in and around Nashville? Is it time to spread out a little?
15. The Cummins Falls State Park Offers Rugged Fun and Adventure Even for Pets 390 Cummins Falls Lane, Cookeville, TN 38501
Located at 390 Cummins Falls Lane in Cookeville, the Cummins Falls State Park boasts the state’s eighth-largest waterfall.
If your family enjoys hiking and swimming in the lakes, this is the place for you.
A definite plus if your family includes a furry member that always comes along, this park is pet-friendly!
The hike is rated "strenuous." However, when you reach the scenic spots, you will agree that it is well worth it.
The drive out from Nashville is approximately an hour and a half.
16. The Ascent Wants You to Make Rock-Climbing the New Family Pastime 831 Park Ave, Murfreesboro, TN 37129
The Ascent is a rock-climbing gym at 831 Park Avenue in Murfreesboro.
It's a family-friendly environment that encourages parents and kids to learn how to climb together.
Their family lessons event takes places at noon on Sundays and goes until closing.
Don't worry about gear as you rent all you need at Ascent and receive safety training for everyone in your family.
It's a great opportunity to learn about and explore a new hobby together!
17. Explore Underground for Hours at the Mammoth Cave Kentucky 1 Mammoth Cave Pkwy, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259
A short, 90-minute drive along the Mammoth Cave Parkway brings you to Mammoth Cave Parkway Visitor Center and the entrance to the Mammoth Cave Kentucky.
While the drive out is a short one, get ready for a 400-mile journey underground.
Cave tours take you to see some of the explored areas. However, these tours are not for children in strollers or backpack carriers. Also, bring a jacket as it gets a bit chilly underground.
The Wild Cave Tour is open to teens over the age of 16. It takes six hours and combines crawling, climbing, hiking, and physically demanding activities. Not surprisingly, it is a favorite of adventurous adolescents.
The Grand Avenue Tour allows kids as old as six years of age. You will be climbing about 700 stairs and spend four hours underground.
There is also a Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour. It takes about two hours.
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Additional Resources if You're Moving to Tennessee
Searching for a house can be both exciting and stressful. Here are online resources to help you plan your move.
- The Nashville Chamber of Commerce "Getting Established" page is a great resource for information on a variety of topics and is a great place to start.
- Department of Motor Vehicles instructions to re-register your out of state driver's license and vehicle.
- Check out the neighborhood! Read up on Nashville's eclectic neighborhoods and find your ideal vibe.
- Have kids? Learn about schools and their ratings before you move.