What to do with your child in Nashville

theITbabyI’ve seen a lot of lists for what you can do with your child in Nashville and to take them at face value you’d think a 40+ mile trek three towns away was your only option for anything occasionally free.

Here’s theITbaby’s list of things you can do with your child In the city Nashville, or very close nearby.

This is not an events or classes list.

Updated 10/16/2018 – feel free to post anything in the comments section that is not an event or a class.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps

Parks

Let me preface this with I’m aiming this at parents of kids who want playgrounds. There are a hoary host of great nature parks (Radnor, Edwin Warner, Percy Warner, etc.) and greenways that do not have playgrounds.

Azalea Park: Located in Berry Hill, it’s got some swings, playground, and a slide.

Columbine Park: Also in Berry Hill, slide, swings, rocking horsies, and a thing that vaguely looks like a UFO to kids. About a block from Azalea Park.

Bicentennial Mall: water/splash feature, not much else a kid wants to do. Oh yeah, there’s a lot the parents want to do but forget about that because you’re going to have a soaked kid.

Coleman: swings, small playground ages 5+ (but populated by 3+), circle path. The community center has a pool, you can check for open swim days for free on their schedule.

Centennial: swings, two playgrounds 2-5, 5+, several areas to walk in, water feature up front (picture a short creek with a small tub you can get in). There’s also a duck pond and the Parthenon which you generally have to pay to get in. The Parthenon is occasionally free during events, and you can also see a big ass statue of Athena.

Athena at Centennial Park

Cumberland park: water feature (picture a 6 inch pool, water sprays), small rock climbing area, two metal slides that can get absurdly hot, grassy area, can watch the riverfront. There’s also a weirdly fun astroturf hill area you can run up and down over.

Beware though parking is tough when there’s an event, and there’s usually an event. It’s also right under The Bridge every show about Nashville somehow ends up on. So you can go up and meet people for your reality show there.

Cumberland Park water feature

East Park: playground area, remnants of hot chicken events.

Fannie Mae Dees (Dragon park) – it’s got a giant tiled dragon, a couple of very good play areas, another play area if you count the Eakin playground which may or may not be part of it. Tennis courts, giant tube that goes through a small hill, it’s got something for most kids.

Green Hills Park: has a playground, not been there.

Iris Park: Also located in Berry Hill two blocks from the other two parks it’s got a log cabin, castle playground, swings, rocking horsies, and a tube playground.

Parkwood: It has swings, that’s all I know about it.

Paragon Mills: playground

Reservoir Park: Hang out next to a few million gallons of Nashville’s finest tap water. It claims there’s a playground.

‘Red Park’ has a playground, that’s all I know about it

Riverfront: Not much to do here but you can watch the river traffic.

Turner School Park: located behind the former Turner School is a fairly nice multi slide activity course for the below 10 crowd. Small grass area. Not a Metro park, but uses Metro equipment.

Shelby: Shelby park says it has playgrounds. I have managed to miss them. It does however have a great sand pit. Look up Shelby park Community Center and you can find the playground.

Woodmont Park: Playgrounds

Zoos, Museums, theater

Nashville Zoo – it’s pretty good as zoos come. There’s a playground, jumping area, large play structure, multiple swings, kiddie rides(carousel, train,) screaming eagle 80 foot ride, and when it’s warm a water-spitting snake that younger kids really seem to enjoy. A zoo membership is probably worth it because you’re going to end up going during one of the events and there will be bounce houses.

Cheekwood – this might save your sanity occasionally, and at times like now they have a Halloween/fall exhibit that kids enjoy. Usually I’d say kids would despise this place so beware any list that says it’s a great place for kids. It’s OCCASIONALLY a great place for kids.

Frist Center for the Visual Arts / Frist Art Museum. There’s an area upstairs (ArtQuest) that’s just great for the younger crowd including areas to draw, make a stop motion movie, and large blocks. It’s free several times a year.

The Adventure Science Center – just buy a membership already. If your kid doesn’t like it today come back in a month and they probably will. Generally I’d say this is great for ages 2-12. Massive 5+story playground (it’s 3 real stories that make up 5 or so playground stories and then it goes higher.)

The Lane Motor Museum – if your kid like classic cars which hey, do they? Why is this on every single kid’s list? I’ll have to investigate.

Nashville Children’s theater – this will depend on both your kid’s ages and when you’re looking. It’s been rated as one of the better children’s theaters in the country so there’s that.

Places

Eurpoa Go Karts and Golf – Located in West Nashville, a fun go-kart track, two mini golf courses, and some ok video games are what the attraction is.

Rocketown – indoor skate park, entertainment center, 10+ probably.

Nashville Shores – never too early to teach your children how to swim, spot severe suntan damage, and the occasional series of kids jumping the fence to get in to swim. Ziplines also.

Wave Country – it’s a wave pool, two large waterslides

Adventureworks / Zipline Nashville – this isn’t in Nashville, it’s actually about 20 miles west. It’s ziplines, they’re fun.

Adventureworks Zipline Forest – about 7 miles north of Nashville.

The Adventure Park at Nashville – ziplines, technically in Bellevue but that’s about 7 miles west of town.

Brentwood Skate Center – located about 10 miles south of Nashville, step right back into 1982. They’ve got walkers for small fries.

Climb Nashville – like rock climbing? Do rock climbing.

Centennial Sportsplex – ice skating, swimming. Don’t even try to go when it’s free.

Opryland Hotel – park in the movie theater parking lot of Opry Mills and walk over. There are a few ecosystems to explore. May not be your kid’s cup of tea but it’s awesome to go to on a hot day and explore. There’s also a boat ride.

Sky High Sports – trampoline park, bar climbing. Foam pit.

Monkey’s Treehouse – it’s 15 miles south, but it’s fun for younger kids when they’re open.

Laser Quest – can your kid aim a gun and shoot it? Make sure it’s a non-lethal laser gun. This is in downtown and as such you’re going to pay to park, have to walk, and then pay to play. There’s also a small gameroom.

Monkey Joe’s – the only one left in the area is in Madison near Rivergate Mall. While I haven’t been to this one, the Cool Springs location was loved by my kids. Bounce houses and pizza, great combo.

Pump It Up inflatable party place. It’s a little out of Nashville.

Chuck E Cheese’s – terrible, but the kids love it.

Dave and Buster’s – bowling, video games for ages 3-130, food, booze, should be a winner but somehow never seems to appeal to my kids.

Tito’s Playland – located in Plaza Mariachi Titos is a small gameroom with plenty of fun ticket games. It also has an indoor climbing playground. Plaza Mariachi also quite often has live entertainment such as stilt walkers and aerialists.

Opry Mills Mall – with a little kid’s play area and an expensive train that your kids will beg to ride again and again, there’s a lot to do if you want to put one parent on kid duty in the play area and the other go shopping.

Phillips Toy Mart – a Nashville tradition. Come for the toys, stay two and a half hours for the baby bunnies when they’re there. There’s an indoor climbing area that lets you overlook a train track, and toys. This place isn’t free but damn, it’s my toy store from when I was a kid.

Stuff that’s not in Nashville, you’ll be driving, probably worth it though

Gentry Farm – pick out pumpkins, play with animals, go through corn mazes, hay rides, generally a couple of hours of fun in Franklin. This is about 28 minutes south of Nashville.

Lucky Ladd Farms – goats, chickens, feed and pet things, pick a pumpkin, slide down 4 huge slides, hang out on a tractor, hay rides, haunted hay rides, put a pumpkin in a canon and shoot it, disco chickens, corn maze, people return your phone when you lose it in the corn maze. This is about 40 minutes south of Nashville.

Discovery Center at Murfree Spring – two story children’s museum. Large kid town for little ones. About 35 miles south of downtown Nashville in Murfreesboro, TN.

Keller’s Corny Country pumpkin patch. An hour west.

Recurring events

Story Time at various Nashville Library locations

Improv kid’s show at the Nashville Improv – usually the second Saturday of the month at 10am. I’d really call and check before going however as I’ve not managed to be there in the last three months.

 

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.