Nashville is a great city, with delicious food, upbeat vibe, and a well known party atmosphere. On any given night, you are bound to see at least one bachelorette party. But is Nashville a viable vacation destination for families? The answer to that question will depend on how old your kids are! What will it take to have a fun family vacation in Nashville?
We traveled to Nashville in July 2017 as a “slight” detour on our drive from Chicago back to Texas. Jill and I had been to Nashville before, but that was before we had children. We loved the city during our prior visits, but we had no idea what to expect traveling there with an almost two year old toddler.
This was our first real vacation with Ian, so we were definitely rookies in the family travel space. We had done some research, but we were definitely flying a bit blind. Jill and I did find some family friendly activities. We found that while Nashville is a fantastic city, there wasn’t much to do for families traveling with younger children. We will go back, but not until they are much older.
In this review, we will provide some solid lodging options. Like all of our destination reviews, I go through dozens of hotels and read their reviews to make accurate booking decisions. We look for hotels that are family friendly and try to recommend hotels that offer free breakfast. We do this to save you time. We want to ensure our readers spend less time researching and more time planning their family vacations.
Where To Stay
Being a popular tourist town, Nashville has no shortage of hotel options. Hotels that are good for families are generally clustered in two areas. There are many options located near the airport. The other cluster is just west of downtown, located near Vanderbilt University and an area known as The Gulch. As a general rule, hotels located along and near Broadway in downtown Nashville are not family friendly. Here are our recommendations:
- Holiday Inn and Suites Nashville Downtown Broadway– this 4.4/5 hotel is located directly across the street from Bridgestone Arena, making it an excellent choice if you are in town for a hockey game, concert, or other event. Kids will love the seasonal outdoor pool. Inside, this hotel has a vibrant decor. There is a small convenience store for snacks and drinks.
- Fairfield Inn and Suites Nashville Near Vanderbilt– This hotel is rated at 4.5/5 stars, is great for families, and includes free breakfast. Rooms are spacious and offer either city or park views. Hotel is just two blocks from Centennial Park. There is a seasonal outdoor pool.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Nashville Vanderbilt– Rated at 4.4/5 stars, the hotel features VERY large rooms (675 sq/ft), breakfast included, and an INDOOR pool! For a bit extra, this hotel also offers 2 bedroom suites for more room and privacy with your guests. This hotel is located near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University.
- Springhill Suites by Marriott Nashville Vanderbilt/West End– Rated at 4.3/5 stars, this hotel tended to have lower rates than many of the other hotels in the area without sacrificing quality. The hotel offers free breakfast, an INDOOR pool, and good room sizes. Located in the popular West End area of Nashville, there are great restaurants all around, including the famous Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
- Hampton Inn and Suites Nashville-Vanderbilt-Elliston Place– This hotel is rated at 4.3/5 and includes free breakfast and an outdoor pool. The Hampton Inn has a very family friendly room choice that has two queen bed, a sleeper sofa, a full kitchen, and 650 sq/ft of space for just a few dollars more than a standard two queen! This hotel is located a block from Centennial Park and is pet friendly.
- Drury Inn and Suites Nashville Airport– This 4.5/5 rated hotel features an outdoor AND an indoor pool plus a hot tub! Breakfast is included. This hotel is also pet friendly and offers a free airport shuttle. When booking, be sure to get an “oversized” room. They are about the same price and definitely give you extra room.
- Quality Suites Nashville Airport– Rated at 4.4/5 this Nashville airport area hotel features a free breakfast and an outdoor pool. One item to note, for the random time frame I used for my search, this was the only hotel rated above 4.0/5 that came in at less than $100/night. The hotel also offers laundry service and has a free airport shuttle.
- Home2 Suites Nashville Airport– This 4.3/5 rated hotel has a great room option for families. They offer a 2 queen bed studio option with a sleeper sofa allowing bed space for up to 6. This hotel also offers an indoor pool and free breakfast. A free airport shuttle is also available.
One item of note as you are searching for hotels around Nashville. There is a company called Sonder that offers rental apartments. This could be a very desirable option for travelers as you often get more amenities and much larger space. Their advertised rates look very appealing. Just make sure you look at the TOTAL price. Some of the Sonder properties have large fees added on the back end. I am not saying Sonder is bad…for many it is a fantastic option…I just want to give the heads up to avoid sticker shock as you finalize your booking.
What To Do
When you are taking a family vacation in Nashville, you need things to do, right? Lucky for you, we did some really cool things that we can recommend to all of you.
One of the best things we did on this trip was the Old Town Trolley Company Hop-Off Hop-On Tour. There was so much to see on this tour. The guides were all fantastic, funny, and knowledgeable. We loved that you can jump off at many different locations, wander around, then come back and hop on the next trolley that comes by. In total, we probably spent around 5-6 hours on the tour when you included all the stops. Highly recommend it!
During the Trolley Tour, one of our stops was at Centennial Park. The most notable part of Centennial Park is the replica of the ancient Greek Parthenon. Very cool to see. There is also an old steam train engine, a flower garden, an old fighter jet, and more photo ops. Very nice park for stretching the legs!
Along the Trolley route, we also hopped off to check out the Nashville Farmers’ Market. This was a really cool place. We got here right at lunch time, which was perfect. The Nashville Farmers’ Market has between 15-20 local dining establishments. Food options range from BBQ to vegan, Korean to Indian, and everything in between.
We spent half a day touring The Hermitage. The Hermitage is the former home of the 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. The home has been preserved and shows how it would have looked in 1837. It is one of the finest examples of a former US President in the country. With the day pass, you have access to wander all 1000+ acres of The Hermitage grounds. Anyone who is a history buff will LOVE this tour.
Remember when we said this was our first real vacation traveling with a young child? Well…sometimes mistakes were made. One day we decided to head out for a day trip to view one of the area waterfalls. Well, we learned that when the trail that leads to the waterfall is rated easy/moderate, that rating probably only applies to those without a 2 year old and IF IT IS NOT RAINING OUT THAT DAY. We never did make it to the waterfall and we thought we were going to die. That said, Ian had a great time sliding around in the rain and mud. If your kids are a bit older AND it’s not raining out, go check out Greeter Falls in Altamont, TN
Where To Eat
Nashville is a great foodie city. Like any great foodie city, some restaurant owners have carved out a niche that brings great food and family-friendly establishments together. When you’re on your family vacation in Nashville, here are some great options:
- Nicky’s Coal Fired– They have a great kids menu. If you visit on Mondays, that is Family Night. Kids get free kid-sized pizzas or pastas with each adult entree ordered.
- BoomBozz Craft Pizza and Taphouse– Craft Pizza. Ice cold craft beers. Two patios. AND AN ENCLOSED OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND! What more can you ask for??
- Burger Up– Not only does this delicious burger joint have a kids menu, but they put it INSIDE a free childrens book! How cool is that?
- Fat Bottom Brewing– Their kids menu doubles as a coloring sheet along with games and activities. They have an extra large patio and garden area for playing!
- Mafiaoza’s– This pizza place takes it to the next level! Have your kids go up to the counter where they will be given a piece of dough and they can make their own crust while watching their experts spin their pizza crusts!
Pack Those Bags!
Nashville is one of our favorite cities. We love the energy and lively feel. There are so many neighborhoods that have a vibrant and family friendly feel. Our only regret was going when Ian was so young. There just isn’t much to do for younger kids specifically. In our opinion, if your kids are 8 and up, you will have an absolutely fantastic time. We only have a few more years to go until our younger boy is 8. We will definitely go back.
Until then, you all can use our guide to effectively plan your trip to Music City USA. Trust us, you will LOVE it and have a GREAT time on your family vacation in Nashville.
There’s a ton of places to explore off-road in the Nashville area. Make sure you have the right car. Check out our suggestions for best Road Trip Cars!