Approximately 40 minutes south along I-24 from Nashville, Murfreesboro sits as the Rutherford County seat with the Stones River snaking its way right through the heart of this mid-sized city. It's also home to the state's largest college, Middle Tennessee State University which puts on some of the most entertaining sports games in the region. This city is full of history, family-friendly activities and great restaurants to fill a day (or more!) Here are a few ideas to get you started in planning your day trip to Murfreesboro.
Stones River National Battlefield is the site of the Battle of Stones River, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War with the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. There are seven miles of trails with information on the battle including strategies and the challenges the Union and Confederate armies faced. Some trails are paved and fully accessible while others go through woods and over rocks. There are guided tours available and interpretive programs hosted throughout the year.
Step inside the Oaklands Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which was on the frontlines of the Civil War. The plantation home was one of the most elegant homes in Middle Tennessee, playing host to Sarah Childress Polk (wife of President James K. Polk), Confederate General Braxton Briggs, oceanographer and naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury. During the Battle of Stones River, Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalrymen defeated Union forces who were camping on the front lawn of Oaklands. It's said the children of the Oaklands Mansion watched the battle from a second story window. Hear this story and more on a tour 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays (the last tour leaves at 3 p.m. daily, so arrive early).
Not far from the battlefield, Cannonsburgh Village is staged to highlight early Tennessee life beginning in the 1830s and is outfitted with a gristmill, one-room schoolhouse, town hall, log home, church, doctor's office, museum, general store, caboose and a working blacksmith's shop to reflect the pioneer times. There's even the world's largest cedar wood bucket on display. Self-guided tours are free, and guided tours are available for a small fee.
Discovery Center at Murfree Spring
For families, there's no better way to spend an afternoon than the Discovery Center with its interactive exhibits and themed events. Kids will love the hands-on experiences like the 5 Senses - with a life-sized nose, tongue, ear, hand and eye that dive into the senses of the body; Creation Station where artists can create masterpieces with chalk, paper, cardboard, paint, clay and more; the Farmers Market which teaches how many miles the average meal takes to arrive on plates and information on buying local; and Water Works that covers interactive systems of pumps, wheels and pipes, teaching the power of water.
The Center for the Arts
More than 20,000 live theater lovers go to Center for the Arts performances every year. Performers are a collection of diverse ages and talent ranging from 8-years-old to 88-years-old. Singers, dancers, actors, directors, producers and more come from Rutherford County and surrounding counties, including the greater Nashville area. See a variety of plays ranging from the dark and twisted Sweeney Todd to the classic Sense and Sensibility to Broadway hits like Disney's Newsies and Footloose.
With a variety of stores to choose from, The Avenue is a one-stop shop for you to gather inspiration for your home and closet at retailers ranging from Express, Sunglass Hut, Yankee Candle, Kirkland's, Gymboree and more. Have a bite at a variety of restaurants like Bar Louie and BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse. Get a new topcoat or a massage at Nails So Happy, Massage Envy and Spa and ELife Nail Spa.
The Miracle Field
A custom-designed, rubberized baseball field is open to adults and children with special needs that is perfect for wheelchairs and other assertive devices. An inclusive playground can also be enjoyed by children of all abilities featuring sensory stations, zipline, ramps and turf. Enjoy a lunch on one of the covered picnic tables or at one of the concession stands.
Where to Eat & Drink in Murfreesboro
The Boro's first brewery, Mayday, debuted in 2012 - after previously operating out of owners' Pamela and Lee "Ozzy" Nelson's home - and immediately attracted a following thanks to whimsical names like the Angry Redhead, Velvet Hustle and Evil Octopus. Nowadays, it's a popular hangout for locals and those passing through on Wednesdays through Sundays. The brewery frequently plays host to events like yoga classes and has food trucks parked out front on weekends. For a happy hour or late night spot, look no further than The Goat, a local watering hole with frequent live music, pool and more.
Hop Springs Beer Park
Enjoy the rolling hills at the new Hop Springs Beer Park, the tasting room and ultimate hangout spot crafted by Steel Barrel Brewery. You'll find an extensive list of craft beer, live music every weekend and delicious food at the family and dog-friendly venue. Hop Springs is open Wednesdays to Sundays.
Alley on Main
The recipes at The Alley on Main have been passed down for generations, with meals freshly made in-house. Bring a hearty appetite for comfort foods like lasagna with a quarter-pound of beef, pork, four cheeses, basil and meat sauce; tomato pasta that's been perfected over 130 years; fried catfish sandwiches that feature eight-ounce, farm-raised fillets with house-made coleslaw and tartar sauce; 16-ounce T-bone steaks; pork chops and chicken fried chicken. Kids can enjoy a menu that includes pasta, grilled or fried chicken tenders, grilled or fried shrimp, turkey and cheese and The Huck Special - one meatball, no sauce with fries on the side.
Hattie Jane's Creamery
Seasonal and local flavors, including Hatcher Family Dairy milk are infused into the ice cream at Hattie Jane's Creamery while the waffle cones, toppings and other treats are all made in-house from scratch. Flavors include glazed donut, butterscotch Oreo, chocolate coconut honeycomb, cookie jar supreme, Nana Puddin' and more.