Centennial Park Parthenon, Nashville

Centennial Park Parthenon. (Photo: Getty Images)


Walk on the Moon and Play at the Parthenon on a Kid-Friendly Nashville Vacation

Nashville’s Adventure Science Center is a hands-on blast for kids. (Photo: Jennifer Wright / Alamy)

In recent years, Nashville has morphed from a sleepy Southern town to an A-list destination for live music, fashion, dining and celebrity-spotting. Want to visit with the family, but concerned it’s more of an adult-centric city? Not to worry. You’ll find plenty kid-friendly activities to keep the wee ones entertained in Music City.

Think Big

Admittedly, Nashville is a far cry from Athens, Greece. Yet, for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, community leaders set out to recreate the ancient Parthenon — to scale, no less. Today, it overlooks a lake in Centennial Park, and has become a popular spot for families to gather while kids get the giggles feeding local ducks.

But Nashville’s Parthenon is more than a mere recreational destination, it also houses the city’s art museum, with an impressive collection of 19th-century American paintings. Smart parents will visit the museum’s website pre-trip and download age-appropriate activities. The Quest for the Pearl is designed for middle school kids and uses the character of Percy Jackson and a simple code as a framework for a treasure hunt through the property.

Museums without Walls

If your kids want to enjoy the great outdoors in Nashville, plan a trip to Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Built by the Cheek family (who founded Maxwell House Coffee) and completed in 1932, the Georgian-style home sits on 55 sprawling acres. Stroll to the mile-long Carrell Woodland Sculpture Trail, where you’ll spy 15 contemporary sculptures. Children love the unexpected discovery of the next work of art as they scamper down the woodchip-covered path.

Another outdoor option is Fannie May Dees Park, known to locals as Dragon Park, near Vanderbilt University. This small park has a large-scale mosaic sculpture of a dragon that kids love to climb —be sure to have your camera ready to capture the moment.

Join the Race to Space

You’re likely already planning to visit the legendary Grand Ole Opry and historic Ryman Auditorium for their daytime tours on your Nashville trip. But families mustn’t overlook the Adventure Science Center and their cool exhibits which bring science to life. The newest exhibit, Space Chase, features hands-on activities to fuel young minds and imaginations. The exhibit allows children to walk among the stars or see what it’s like to jump on the moon.