The perfect vacation getaway, Music City offers visitors a wide range of fun and unique festivals, events and attractions that are designed to please the entire family. While the summer weather and the great outdoors can combine to form a spectacular backdrop for adventure, there are also plenty of things to do in Nashville when conditions require you to take the fun indoors. Consider the following tours and attractions when planning your summer vacation to Nashville.
Fun in the Sun
Pleasant weather is the best time to get outside and explore all the sights and sounds that have made Nashville famous. When the forecast cooperates, enjoy these popular outdoor Music City activities.
Hop aboard the Old Town Trolley and tour the city’s museums, monuments and popular points of interest. Sit back, relax and enjoy the entertaining and educational narration as your conductor provides humorous anecdotes and little known facts about the people, places and events that have shaped Nashville’s history. With trolleys coming and going throughout the day, you can get off and spend more time exploring your favorite sights before hopping back on another trolley to continue the tour. An Old Town Trolley tour is a fun and unique way to see what Nashville has to offer.
Along with the Parthenon, Centennial Park is home to a bandshell that hosts Nashville’s annual Shakespeare in the Park festival. In addition to works written by the “Bard of Avon,” the animated summer theater series includes comedies and dramas by contemporary writers. Between performances, tour the Parthenon and enjoy the open green space, which also includes a dog park.
Styled after the National Mall in Washington D.C., the Bicentennial Mall is a free and open-air museum. It features the 400-foot long Pathway of History, an etched granite wall containing information about the history of the Volunteer State. The McNairy Springs fountain and monument sits atop the sulphur spring that was the original source of the Old French Lick Creek. The World War II Memorial includes an 18,000-ton globe of black granite that floats and spins on a thin bed of water. The park also contains a scaled map of Tennessee featuring fountains that represent the state’s major waterways. This is a perfect place for children to splash around and cool off on a warm summer’s day.
Along with the annual July 4th celebration and fireworks display, Riverfront Park hosts a variety of cultural community events throughout the year. The park is Nashville’s favorite outdoor entertainment venue for picnics, concerts and parties. Home to the historic Fort Nashborough, the park is also the setting for annual celebrations dedicated to arts and crafts, food and music like the CMA Music Fest in June, Nashville Dancin’ summer concerts during August and the Rewind Bar-B- Que Festival over the Labor Day Weekend.
The Cheek family created a coffee blend that they named in honor of the Maxwell House Hotel. With their fortune, they built the Cheekwood estate, the grounds of which are now an expansive botanical garden. The 55-acre site includes pools, fountains and extensive plantings of boxwoods, crape myrtles and magnolias. The Robertson Ellis Color Garden provides sweeping vistas while the Japanese Garden serves as a place for peace and quiet reflection. There are also gardens dedicated to perennial and seasonal plants native to Tennessee.
Situated on the east bank of the river opposite downtown, Cumberland Park provides wonderful views as the sun sets behind the Nashville skyline. While waiting for the sun to slip below the horizon, you can enjoy the park’s playground equipment, rock wall and splash fountains. Walk the pathways, take in the views and find the perfect photo opportunity to remember your Nashville vacation.
Beat the Heat
If you need to escape an afternoon rain storm or just want to enjoy some air-conditioned comfort, Nashville has several museums and other popular attractions that invite you to take your vacation enjoyment indoors.
Opening at its current location in 2001, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to chronicling the industry’s well-known events and careers of famous singers and songwriters. The museum exhibits immerse visitors in the sounds, origins, traditions and stories of country music, a uniquely American art form. Interactive displays feature archival photographs, vintage videos and special one-of- a-kind memorabilia as well as other artifacts related to today’s headliners and legendary performers from the past. The Hall of Fame honors individuals who have contributed the most to country music over the years. View bas-relief portraits of each inductee in the museum’s 70-foot- tall rotunda.
Starting as a gospel meetinghouse, Ryman Auditorium opened in 1892. Along the landmark’s famed historical timeline, it is most well known for serving as home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. Since then, the legendary stage has seen performances by many of music’s most celebrated acts. During a tour, you can stand on one of the most famous stages in the world, go backstage to visit the dressing rooms and view historic artifacts and memorabilia from the auditorium’s stellar history. Aspiring songbirds can even record their own songs in the auditorium’s recording studio.
Modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, the Arcade was created in 1903 by enclosing Overton Alley to create an indoor shopping experience. Marked by entrances with Palladian facades, the two-story mall features a gabled glass roof as well as a wide variety of shops and eateries. The Arcade is located in the heart of the city’s Art District. Galleries situated inside the Arcade participate in the Art Crawl that takes place the first Saturday of each month.
Dedicated to the career and life of the legendary performer, this The Johnny Cash Museum features the largest and most comprehensive collection of memorabilia associated with Johnny Cash. The three-dimensional tour includes stage costumes, instruments and handwritten songs that bring the career of the “Man in Black” back to life. Celebrate the history of this iconic performer with interactive displays and many rarely displayed artifacts from his early childhood and service in the U.S. Air Force to his ascent as an international star.
The Adventure Science Center contains nearly 200 multi-media and interactive exhibits designed to captivate children of all ages. You can explore outer space, discover the human body and learn about how physics, chemistry and biology play a role in virtually every aspect of life. Experience zero gravity, learn how the immune system works, crawl through a beating heart and enjoy star shows in the digital planetarium. The Adventure Science Center is a family-friendly museum that makes learning fun as it engages the five senses.
Drop by the award-winning Corsair Wedgewood Houston Distillery for an up-close glimpse at how this artisan distiller crafts its unique blend of spirits. During the tour, you will see the custom-built pot still and learn about barrel aging, a key part of creating whiskey’s distinctive flavors. After the tour, enjoy a sample (or more) of these one-of- a-kind libations in the spirit room or outside on the two-tier patio.