Heading into Nashville, I was curious of what there was to do with kids in the city. I had never been myself but am completely addicted to the show Nashville, which surely made me an expert. It occurred to me that the kids on the show were always at home, singing country music or at school. So was Nashville kid friendly? The short answer is no. Nashville is not particularly kid friendly but we did find some fun restaurants and activities to fill the days. Here are the dos and don’ts to making Nashville kid Friendly.
Pick A Good Hotel
Nashville is a 24 hour party and you aren’t really invited unless you are over 21. I recommend picking a hotel with a restaurant and pool so that if you are tired of the “scene” you have a place of refuge. We found that place at the Renaissance Hotel. Having just stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge and loved it, I was truly excited to be invited to stay at the Renaissance Hotel Nashville.
My excitement was raised when I walked into the hotel and about 8 staff members walked over to welcome us. I thought for a slight diva moment, that maybe I was a famous blogger now and they were awaiting my arrival. They high fived the kids and handed my fresh lemon water and for a brief moment I thought this would be the moment we “really made it” in social media. Then another family came in and got the same treatment as well as every person after them.
So were not famous but it was pretty nice to be welcomed that way. I figured it was a busy check-in time and so they had more staff on hand. The next day we left the hotel to a bright and cheerful group giving us directions and water for the day. We returned in a rainstorm and were greeted by a welcoming committee handing out towels and snacks. To say the least, this hotel had it down.
The rooms were like any other Renaissance Hotel, which I love. The theme of your room always depends on what city you are in but the design touches are so well done that its hard to determine at times what things represent. Behind the toilet, there is always an great strip of locally themed wall paper which in Nashville was about country music but in a very classy way. I honestly just want to go to every Renaissance Hotel to determine what my favourite wall paper is. The room was extremely clean and modern and we loved it.
There is a great lounge bar that overlooks the city and welcomes children. If you go, make sure to order the 99 cent chips and dip. Both are homemade and incredible.
This hotel is almost a 4 star hotel but misses the mark on the amenities. Mainly, the hotel pool is very out of date. It is a small indoor pool attached to a large deck with no food or beverage service. I would have been nice to be able to get some outside time while still at the hotel.
All in all, the Renaissance in Nashville is a great place to stay. Its located near the Honky Tonks but far enough away that you will get a break from the madness. You get an awesome view of the city as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame and brand new Convention Center which is right across the street. The lounge staff will make your night complete by serving you dinner in a comfy area and treating your kids well. Just try not to steal the wallpaper from behind the toilet.
Find Kid Friendly Restaurants
We found two kid friendly restaurants that were extremely different. The first was the Acme Feed & Seed located right across from the waterfront. When you enter, you order your food and then it is brought to your table. I was reassured that although they didn’t have a kids menu, they were kid friendly and in we went. Charlie and I split an amazing chicken sandwich while Will tried the raved about Mac n Cheese. No one left disappointed. We loved the atmosphere and nostalgia within the restaurant and no one complained with the kids got up to dance to an Elvis song while excitingly telling people they had just been to Graceland. This is truly a great place to eat. The food is fresh and the best we had in Nashville.
Another kid friendly restaurant we found was a whole different scene. Wildhorse Saloon also in downtown Nashville is essentially a kid friendly club. And I don’t mean kids club or country club, I mean nightclub. I figured it was worth checking out and off we went. We arrived during a massive downpour and luckily there was no line at the time. Be prepared, as this place is packed and without reservations you may end up in line for quite a while. We were sat near the dance floor and Charlie headed out to show everyone her moves. Will and I waited until the official line dancing lessons started and hit the floor. It was about 6 pm when we arrived and the place was quite busy. When they announced the free line dancing lessons, families and adults came down from all three floors of this huge establishment and within minutes the dance floor was packed. If you do visit the Wildhorse Saloon with young kids arrive early and leave by 8 pm which is when the real Nashville party seemed to start that night. The food isn’t great and it’s not cheap but your kids will have fun experiencing some Nashville style fun.
Nashville Kid Friendly Activities
Our two favourite activities were the Nashville Farmer’s Market and the Bicentennial Mall State Park. The farmer’s market is incredibly kid friendly with lots to check out, taste and do. When you have had your fill, cross the street into the Bicentennial park which is part history lesson and part family fun. At one end of the park, you will find 95 bells that ring on the hour singing the Tennessee Waltz and other songs. At the other end, there is a fun row of fountains that represent the rivers in Tennessee with kids splashing away the summer heat. We really enjoyed reading the huge historical markets in this park and learned more in our hour or so in the park about Nashville and Tennessee than anywhere else in Nashville.
Is Nashville Kid Friendly?
In my humble opinion, the answer is not really. I had never been to Nashville and can easily say I would not return with children. That being said, I would happily go back with adults to check out the many bars and restaurants with live country music acts. Downtown Nashville is truly an adult-centric part of town that has a lot going for it but with kids it falls pretty flat. If anything head to nearby Memphis instead where we found enough kid-friendly activities and restaurants to make us want to go back again and again.
For a competing opinion from a family who found Nashville great with kids, see Top 10 Things to Do in Nashville with Kids from FlashPackerFamily.com.