Just 30 miles south of Nashville, the small towns and mid-size cities of Rutherford County beckon. Rutherford County will fill your days with family-friendly fun, historic attractions and interesting museums, making it a great choice for your summer vacation. Come center yourself in Middle Tennessee, and experience the history and hospitality of the area.
Make friends with cows, goats, sheep, llamas and alpacas at Lucky Ladd Farms, Tennessee’s largest petting farm and fun park. More than 50 unique attractions on-site make Lucky Ladd Farms a special place to spend the day and make memories. Explore the nature trails through Tennessee’s Cedar Glade wilderness, mine for gems, take on the mega slide and cool off at the splash pad.
Ignite your imagination at the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring. This hands-on museum and environmental center has hundreds of interactive exhibits, 20 acres of outdoor wetlands and daily programs for the whole family. Explore and role-play at Tiny Town, freeze your shadow on a phosphorescent wall in the Shadow Room, climb on a firetruck from 1954, or let out your inner artist at Creation Station.
Discover dinosaurs, fossils, gems and other archeological relics at Earth Experience, the first natural history museum in Middle Tennessee. The interactive exhibits at Earth Experience allow you to participate in active research, see a working paleontology lab, and admire beautiful gems and minerals. Since the museum’s collection is constantly growing, there’s always something new to see and do.
Explore the fields and forests where the Battle of Stones River raged from Dec. 31, 1862 to Jan. 2, 1863. This Civil War battle was a pivotal military and political gain for the Union, and forever changed the people who lived and fought there. Stand on the same ground as the soldiers, walking in the footsteps of those who helped shape the U.S. and learn all about life during the Civil War.
The story of Oaklands Mansion is one of determination and survival. Just prior to the Civil War, Oaklands was a working farm and its centerpiece was a grand Italianate mansion. Built for the Maney family, it was one of the most elegant homes in middle Tennessee. Oaklands was occupied by both armies during the Civil War, and at war’s end, it survived. Reduced to near destruction by the 1950s, the once grand house was destined for demolition. It was saved and preserved by the Oaklands Association and today, it stands as a testament to the power of perseverance.
A historic treasure set on 168 serene acres in the heart of Smyrna, Tennessee, the Sam Davis Home is a Greek Revival home is one of the top cultural and historic attractions in Middle Tennessee. Through exhibits and living history events, this museum makes learning about the past interactive and engaging.
Take in a live theater or musical production, and enjoy the art exhibits at the Center for the Arts. You can catch performances of musicals like “Footloose,” “The Wiz,” or “The Secret Garden.” No matter the season, the Center always has something fun, so don’t miss this hotspot of local talent and entertainment in this Murfreesboro community theater.
Miller’s Grocery operated as a grocery store for 75 years in the whistle-stop town of Christiana, Tennessee. In 1995, the building was restored to the antique-filled country cafe you’ll find today. Just a short drive from Murfreesboro, Miller’s Grocery offers delicious Southern cooking and toe-tapping live bluegrass, folk and Americana music. It’s a must-visit hidden gem that takes you back in time.
If you’re looking for a contemporary dining experience that still offers the comfort and hospitality of a Southern kitchen, Dallas & Jane is a great choice. The restaurant offers upscale décor, fresh local ingredients and unique dishes in the heart of Murfreesboro. Stop by for a meal and you’ll see why this place is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Summer will be here before you know it. So pack your bags, grab the family, and get ready to discover the history and hospitality of Rutherford County.
From five-star dining at a picturesque farm in the Smokies to downtown retro digs with global cuisine, these hotels are just as diverse as the state itself. photo credit: @ brittany.neely