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Bring the family to Middle Tennessee for a memorable vacation filled with outdoor adventures like waterfall hikes and attractions that help kids learn about the world around them in a fun way. Farm tours, minor league baseball games and a stop (or two) at local bakeries round out the many offerings. Here are some family vacation ideas in Middle Tennessee.
Cheering at a Ballpark or Hiking at a State Park?
Calling First Horizon Park home, the Nashville Sounds are Music City’s very own minor league baseball team. Fun for the whole family, the Sounds offer various promotions and special gameday events throughout the season. Join the Sounds on Sundays for Family Fun Day where kids can run the bases after the game and receive kid-focused giveaways and activities on gameday. Stunning views, great fans, great prices, and great baseball, a Sounds game never disappoints. Quick tip: Check the Sounds website for game dates and related promotions; their season runs from Spring to Fall.
Venture to Sparta, Tennessee to witness one of the state’s most beautiful cascades. With walking trails that offer many excellent views, the hike to the main falls is mostly shaded and not too long. Along the way, you’ll encounter a number of smaller (yet still incredible) falls that all lead to Burgess Falls State Park’s largest and most spectacular waterfall, the perfect day trip from Nashville for families. There is even a playground near the parking lot and restrooms. Quick tip: This park is quite popular, so try and arrive earlier in the morning to avoid bigger crowds.
See the Sea or See the Stars?
Known as one of the best outdoor adventures in Nashville, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is the perfect family day trip. With shaded walking trails throughout, the zoo features a multitude of animals and exhibits like Critter Encounters (where you can get up close with some of the zoo’s most beloved and personable animals like tortoises, goats, and birds), the African Savana (featuring zebras and ostriches), Jungle Route (flamingos, lemurs, monkeys, pandas, and bears), and Unseen New World (full of reptiles and a multitude of sea creatures). From creepy crawlies to the cutest creatures, Nashville Zoo has an array of exhibits sure to captivate the whole family. Quick tip: For families with young children, the Jungle Route includes plenty of animals, a rope bridge, and interactive areas that doesn’t take very long to complete.
Experience a start-of-the-art 63-foot dome theater at the Adventure Science Center’s Sudekum Planetarium where you and your family can see planetarium shows, laser shows, and featured events like concerts. Spend the day and walk around the science center which has plenty of interactive, hands-on exhibits to keep the kids buys for hours. Finish with a trip to the center’s planetarium where you can experience an educational, yet enjoyable narrated show featuring the solar system and special topics like the “Dark Universe” that is fun for every age.
Bountiful Botanical Gardens or Geological Wonders?
Visit Cheekwood, a magical 55-acre botanical garden tucked away only 30 minutes from downtown Nashville. Experience renowned seasonal festivals like the breathtaking display of 150,000 spring flowers for Cheekwood in Bloom during the spring, over 1 million Christmas lights during Holiday Lights for the winter season, and the famous Pumpkin Houses during Cheekwood’s Harvest season. And for young children, a number of areas throughout the gardens like the Children’s Garden and TRAINS! exhibit feature plenty of interactive opportunities for fun. Check out Cheekwood’s website to discover the schedule of daily events.
Spark a sense of wonder and awe by road tripping from Nashville to tour the Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville. Marked by unique rock formations and incredible beauty, the caverns are one of the largest caves in all of Tennessee. There are a variety of options for tours, including an overnight cave adventure and daily guided tours. You can even catch a concert in the live music venue located within one of the caverns (be sure to check the schedule of events on the Caverns’ website). Quick tip: The temperature in the caverns is a steady and comfortable 56-58 degrees year-round, so make sure to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt.
Rock Climbing Gym or Treetop Adventure?
Looking for a different and exciting activity to do with the kids? With two convenient Nashville locations, visit Climb Nashville for one of the best indoor rock-climbing experiences around. Offering walls for first-time climbers and climbing veterans alike, Climb is the perfect place to learn, practice, and have fun. With guided instruction and rental equipment available, new climbers can learn the basics from a professional in a hands-on environment and try out their new skills on numerous beginner walls throughout the facility. Experience this fun and challenging activity for all ages.
Discover an extensive treetop adventure course at Treetop Adventure Park in Nashville. Set in the scenic woods of Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort, the courses feature over 100 exciting obstacles like suspension bridges, huge zip lines, cargo nets, rope swings, and more. Including adult, junior, and kid’s courses, it will be fun for everyone in the family. With a friendly, well-trained staff and clean, well-maintained, and naturally beautiful landscape, Treetop Adventure Park is the perfect way to spend the day and even get in some exercise.
Chocolate Craving or Picture-Perfect Pies?
Got a sweet tooth? In addition to their delicious desserts, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Café in Gallatin features a wide variety of tempting lunch menu items with unique pairings. Choose from a wide and inventive variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches, all with fresh ingredients and each served with a complimentary chocolate-covered strawberry. Dishes like the Smoked Turkey Swiss Sweet Apple Hummus and Cucumber Slice Sandwich and Cobb Salad Sandwich and drinks like the Strawberry Lemonade and Strawberry Twist are delightful. And be sure to enjoy some signature desserts like the White Chocolate Cheesecake and Carmel Pecan Apple Cake. No matter what you choose at Chocolate Covered Strawberry Café, it will certainly be tasty.
Seek out sweets at The Country Gourmet in historic downtown Murfreesboro. Here, you'll find over 3,000 items from Tennessee and around the world. Choose a few gourmet chocolates to try from truffles to churro toffee bites, chocolate covered strawberries and shortbread cookies.
If you love pie or just crave a sweet treat, then Pie Sensations in Columbia is for you. Rated #1 in Paula Deen’s Pies Across America, this bakery is known to have some of the best, award-winning pies, cakes, and desserts around. Enjoy delightful and legendary pie favorites like the Coconut Cream, Chocolate, Key Lime, Peanut Butter Silk, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Banana Cream. If pie isn’t your thing, Pie Sensations also offers a variety of homemade candy and cupcakes that are sure to please. Quick Tip: Pie Sensations can deliver, so you can enjoy pie wherever, whenever.
Small Town Charm or Big City Lights?
Located on the Cordell Hull Lake in Granville, Tennessee, the Wildwood Resort and Marina is a hidden gem located in the heart of Tennessee’s lush wilderness and just an hour’s drive from Nashville. It's the perfect Tennessee family trip getaway. With a variety of lodging options, you can book a stay in resort Airstreams, rooms in the lodge, tiny (and regular-sized) cabins, and you can even book a houseboat. Called “harbor cottages,” these houseboats are docked at the marina and offer spectacular views of the lake. There is a private shower and bathroom, full kitchen, covered outdoor dining area, and plenty of spaces to hang out and enjoy the unique experience with the whole family. Able to sleep 6 people, these two-floor houseboats provide a great way for everyone to relax and have fun around the resort, all with the amenities and comforts of home.
Situated on the banks of Sycamore Creek in Ashland City, Tennessee, the Historic Cheekwood Birdsong Lodge is a beautiful historic home you can rent for your family getaway. Very comfortable, welcoming, and peaceful, this large cottage features plenty of amenities, supplies, and even has activities and games for the children. There are indoor and outdoor areas for gathering, a large screened-in porch, and large yard perfect for the little ones to explore. The property also features a stocked pond and several fire-pits with seating. Check out this charming lodge for rent only 25 minutes away from Nashville.
Up A Waterfall or Down A Waterslide
Machine Falls - Tullahoma
Take the kids to frolic in the water at Machine Falls in Tullahoma. The 5-mile loop trail is considered a moderately challenging route and takes about 2 hours to complete. The trail is beautiful any time of year and leads you to beautiful natural views, wildflowers, rock formations and more.
Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort is located on the shores of Percy Priest Lake and has eight water slides, a gigantic water pool and Kowabunga Beach, a four-story water treehouse and sprayground. If you want to take it easy, take a leisurely float down the lazy river or head to the beach where you can soak up the sun.
Pet the Goats or Feed the Alpacas?
Cuddle baby goats at Noble Springs Dairy in Franklin for a unique farm experience. Spend time petting the goats and spending a relaxing day on the farm. Guided educational tours take place at 11 a.m. where you can see farm activities, including the milking parlor and cheese making facility. Then, support the small farm with a purchase of some of the culinary and skin care products made on the farm.
Relieve stress by snuggling and feeding the Nigerian dwarf goats, feeding emus treats and brushing llamas' wool at Harmony Lane Farm & Creamery in Smithville. Tickets are $10 per person (children under 2 are free) and reservations are required. Goat cuddling experiences are offered 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Farm tours are also offered 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and include seeing the barns, milking a goat by hand, seeing other animals like cows, piglets, ducks and free-range chickens, and sampling fresh goat cheese, goat milk fudge and caramels. Tickets are $20 per person (the baby goat cuddling/petting/feeding of the donkey, emus, goats, parrot pictures and llama lounge experiences are included in your tour price).
Meet baby and adult alpacas at Mistletoe Farm Alpacas in Franklin. Private visits are $50 for up to 5 guests for 30 minutes or $100 for up to 10 guests for a full hour. After you get your fill of cuddles and Instagrammable photos, check out the studio farm store for all the products made from the alpaca fluff and other souvenirs from tumblers, t-shirts, baseball caps and even miniature felted alpacas.
Explore even more family-friendly adventures in Middle Tennessee.