Nashville, TN, is a haven for music of all styles, but it’s country music that it’s known for. And if you’re visiting the city to check out the music scene, you may as well save yourself some money, right? In partnership with Hotels.com, from farms to forts to museums and libraries here are the 14 best free things for kids in Nashville!
Where to Stay in Nashville
Just in case you’re road tripping and like knowing the cities Nashville is near: it’s almost 3 hours from Louisville, KY, and 4 hours from Cincinnati.
Nashville is a decent-size city, so knowing the best areas to stay when you visit Nashville is ideal. My first choice is Downtown Nashville. It’s a highly walkable city and, by staying downtown, you won’t have to look for multiple parking spots if you’re driving in.
If you want a more upscale, swanky spot to rest your head, consider The Gulch. Not far from downtown, it offers a super hip vibe.
Free Parks in Nashville
Nashville has plenty of free parks to give the kiddos a way to blow off steam. Here are my top picks:
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park – The 11-acre park offers plenty of educational opportunities with its Pathway of History and giant map of the state (it’s 200-feet of granite!). Make sure to look for the planters that highlight native plant species as you mosey.
Centennial Park – Located in the West End of Nashville, Centennial Park is 132 acres full of beauty including a Sunken Garden and Dog Park.
Frist Art Museum
For 20 years, the Frist Art Museum has been delighting guests with its fine, fun collection of art. You can walk through the exhibits and discover artists you may not have seen, but make sure you hit the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. Made for kids, it’s highly interactive and was created to be hands-on.
You’ll need to grab a ticket time when you arrive to make sure you can enjoy some creative fun. Also, adults will have to pay but kids 18 and under get in free.
Lotz House Museum
For Johann Lotz, a German immigrant, buying 5 acres of land to become a showcase for his master woodworking skills was a dream. Today, his carving skills are on full display at the Lotz House Museum. Open from Monday-Saturday, kids six and under get in free.
Nashville Flea Market
On the fourth weekend of every month, head to The Fairgrounds Nashville of its huge flea market.
Storytellers Museum and Hideaway Farm
If you want to check out where Johnny Cash used to go to escape the hustle and bustle of his musical career, Storytellers Museum and Hideaway Farm is a fine choice.
While there’s plenty of focus on the man in black, you’ll find memorabilia from Elvis and his manager, Colonel Parker as well. Open on Saturdays, kids 10 and under are offered free admission.
Fort, Fort, Fort!
If your kiddos love exploring historical forts, there are three in Nashville:
Fort Negley – It’s the Civil War’s largest inland stone fortification. With a gorgeous view of Nashville, interactive exhibits, and paved, self-guided walking tours, it’s well worth a visit.
Fort Donelson National Battlefield – A huge victory for Ulysses S. Grant, the Battle of Fort Donelson was the first major Union victory in the Civil War. It’s here where the Union opened a “pathway to victory”. When you go, start at the Visitor’s Center to get the backstory of the area. After that, hop in your car and take a driving tour of the park and its 11 stops – the fort is #2.
Fort Nashborough Interpretive Center – A replica of Nashville’s original settlement, the center is at Riverfront Park. Offering a free, self-guided tour, it showcases what life was like in the 1700’s for the first settlers in the area.
Nashville Public Library
Open for locals and visitors alike, the library is a place of educational respite. Kids can browse books, find a quiet spot to read, or even take in a Family Workshop.
Tennessee State Capitol Museum
One of my favorite things to do when I’m in a state’s capital is to check out the capitol building. Things haven’t changed much since it opened in 1859, architecturally speaking. With both guided and self-guided tours, several are offered daily.
Fun fact: architect William Strickland passed away shortly before it was completed and is buried in its North Facade.
Tennessee State Museum
Want the scoop on the state of Tennessee through and its transformation? The Tennessee State Museum is a must-do, then. Head to the Time Tunnel for a lesson in Tennessee history and check out both permanent and revolving exhibitions highlighting the state.
The Italian Villa-style mansion was built in 1853 by Joseph & Adelicia Acklen. A summer retreat from the owners’ Louisiana plantations, it was their home until the Union Army overtook it in 1864 for the Battle of Nashville. Most of the rooms are fully restored and include decor from the time period. Adults will need to pay admission, but kids five and under are free.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Collecting important memorabilia from country music history, the Hall of Fame and Museum is THE place to visit for music lovers. Filled with pertinent exhibits and displays, I’m all about seeing Patsy Cline (she was the first female inducted into the Hall of Fame) and her life story from Winchester, VA, to Nashville. Kiddos two and under get in free.
Disclosure Regarding Travel
As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times when traveling. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk.
If you do decide to travel at this time, here are my recommendations for safety:
- Wear a face mask and, if it’s cloth, wash and dry daily.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures and status of local businesses. Additionally, check with your state’s policies to determine if you’ll need to quarantine when you return home.
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.
What are your favorite free things for kids in Nashville? Leave me a comment below and let me know!