Nashville for Families

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Nashville for Families
Sure, it's known for nightlife and a live music scene, but Nashville still offers plenty of options for families, from educational attractions and interactive history to sports and the performing arts.
By Jennifer Justus, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
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    The Performing Arts
    Music City favorites such as the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center have programs that introduce children to the joy and wonder of the arts. More than 20,000 students participate annually in Young People’s Concerts, which are free for kids and only $10 for chaperones and teachers. In addition to classes for kids, the Nashville Ballet often performs kid-friendly shows like The Nutcracker and Peter Pan. Check the calendar at Oz Arts for Family Day to explore creativity and art. Nashville Children’s Theatre has been entertaining all ages since 1931 and also gets kids onstage through classes and camps.
    Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
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    Family-Friendly Music
    A city full of musicians guarantees a good musical experience for the little ones. Many venues offer all-ages shows, including the Grand Ole Opry. Former rock-and-roll front man Jason Ringenberg (Jason and the Scorchers) has a second career as Farmer Jason, a funny character who educates and entertains children about nature and farm life. Farmer Jason has released multiple award-winning records and videos and often performs live in town.
    Photo courtesy of OZ
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    Family Dining
    Nashville is a casual town with a slew of family-friendly restaurants. A breakfast at Biscuit Love appeals to any age customer, but spoil your kid and share an order of bonuts, fried biscuit dough with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote (the restaurant also has some more traditional kid-menu options, if mascarpone is too rich for Junior). For local flavor, go for barbecue and mac and cheese at Peg Leg Porker. For an early dinner with the kids (and a drink for the adults), consider Lockeland Table's community hour, which benefits a local school's Parent Teacher Organization.
    Photo by Kyle Monk/age fotostock
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    Neighborhoods and Parks
    At Centennial Park—a popular destination for all ages—kids enjoy feeding the ducks at the pond, getting a snack from the food trucks that often park here, and visiting the Parthenon, a replica of the Athenian original, to spot figures from mythology. Nashville's parks are meant for playing. The Dragon playground in Fannie Mae Dees Park has a tunnel and a brightly colored mosaic dragon, a favorite with local children and visitors. Families can combine shopping, snacking at restaurants, or picnicking in the parks with exploring neighborhoods. The Gulch offers an industrial-neighborhood-turned-community feel with its web of train lines among new high rises. The 12 South neighborhood offers a stretch of sweet treats between shops and a fun detour at Sevier Park. Once a month, the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood offers an art crawl for exploring its galleries and artist co-working spaces.
    Photo by Brian Jannsen/age fotostock
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    Sweet Treats and Desserts
    Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in the 12th Avenue South neighborhood regularly draws a line out the door for inventive flavors like Banana French Toast (for kids) and Whiskey Pecan (for adults). A stroll down the avenue can lead you to a more international option, a Mexican ice pop at Las Paletas. The many locations of Sweet CeCe’s scoop out delicious frozen yogurt to fans of the local chain.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Educational Attractions
    Hatch Show Print has been making show posters for more than 100 years, but when the letterpress shop moved into a space by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, it added an educational center for children to learn about the art form. It’s hard to imagine a Nashville attraction more fun and more educational than the Adventure Science Center and Sudekum Planetarium, where the hands-on learning includes a scramble through a 10-foot-high model of the human heart to learn about anatomy. Go behind the scenes at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, with educational animal shows, zookeeper talks, and activities that pair up kids with zoo employees. Kids will especially enjoy the Critter Encounters petting zoo and the Jungle Gym, a 66,000-square-foot playground.
    Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation