Welcome to Traveling Tuesdays! I actually have a few posts lined up, so I feel semi-confident that I’ll be able to stick to this Tuesday thing. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten such a great response to my NYC recommendations and family travel itineraries, that I wanted to expand on that as much as possible. However, my kids have this annoying thing called “school” and apparently, it is frowned upon if I choose jet setting over, oh, I don’t know, my kids learning how to do basic math. So. I thought I would open up the blog to some of my favorite moms on Instagram to give recommendations of their favorite family-friendly places to go in their home cities. With pics, obviously. First up is Laura Kelley (aka @pitterpatterart) from Nashville!
We’ve lived in the Nashville area our entire lives, so the recent Nashville rage has been quite interesting to watch unfold. It’s become one of the most popular places to visit in the country. At a recent concert (hello, Music City!), my husband and I were talking with the couple next to us and told them we’d lived in Nashville our entire lives. They said, “Oh, you’re like a unicorn,” which made us laugh.
At first, I thought I was probably not very qualified to write a guide to visiting Nashville, but the more I thought about it, I felt like I might have a pretty unique perspective as a mom of seven, living here since forever. I’m going to share all our favorite places we actually visit and enjoy. I know The Nashville Zoo and our Adventure Science Museum and The Frist Art Center will always reign supreme as kid places, but there’s so much more to Nashville. It’s pretty grand if you ask me.
1) Our #1 Favorite Place:
If I had to choose only one thing to do with our kids in Nashville for the rest of our lives (a tad dramatic maybe), hands down it would be Wave Country.
Wave Country is the most fun water-loving place around. Our family is made up of multiple cultures and races, so we’re always looking for places that are diverse. The wave pool crowd is not only diverse, it’s also THE MOST FUN!!!! We go a minimum of 93 times during the summer months. From the amazing kiddie pool area, to the giant wave pool, to the terrifyingly high water slides, there is something for everyone.
They provide coupons on their website and have an extremely reasonably priced concession stand, but you are also welcome to bring your own food and drinks. We’ve been going since my oldest kids were babes and the staff has always been friendly, kind and top notch. Wave Country first opened in 1980, making it a Nashville oldie, but a goodie.
2) Where to Eat:
We are big eaters, but eating out with a whole gaggle of children isn’t always the cheapest or most fun. When we do take the plunge, our favorite family place is Five Points Pizza.
We love hitting up their lunch specials because they are uh-mazing and much easier on our pockets. The atmosphere is chill, the staff is always kind and they make it not a big deal when someone spills a coke all over their floor. The pizza is killer…I’d say the best in Nashville…ginormous in size and taste.
And don’t get me started on their garlic knots and mediterranean salad. Besides the actual pizza itself, our kids love how they bring out pizza dough for them to play with while they wait for their food to arrive. Our oldest might even gather up everyone’s leftover dough to take home because she loves playing with the doughy goodness so much.
If Josh Kelley (that’s my husband) and I are hitting the town for a date night, there is zero lack in incredible restaurants. Food on every corner. Two Ten Jack hits the top of our list for sure.
It’s a Japanese inspired pub and has the best brussel sprouts and ramen in town. No contest. We love going here alone or with friends. The atmosphere is fun and most of the dishes are smaller in size, so it’s fun to sample and share. My perfect dinner would be the crispy brussels, their octopus hush puppies with miso butter (don’t knock it until it melts in your mouth and your life is changed), pork belly and their insane garlic crab butter noodles. Go and thank me later.
The Nashville Farmers Market is a must. Whether you just want a fun place to have a meal, a great place to wander around, or a place to park for free— this is it.
Inside the Farmer’s Market building is home to many different types of food. You can get Nashville BBQ, Chinese, Ethiopian, Mexican, Italian or Jamaican food. Along with burgers and fish, cupcakes, Jeni’s Ice Cream and even a drink at the wine bar. So many options in one building.
Seasonal produce, plants & flowers from Gardens of Babylon and treat venders line the outside of the building. Just out the back is the beautiful Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park…a perfect place to walk and explore. And right next door is the stunning brand new Tennessee State Museum. Nashville’s Farmers Market is one of our absolute favorite places to go as a family and an easy must do.
3) Our Favorite Desserts
I have a big sweet tooth and just like their mother, my kids follow suit. We are easily pleased with an Icee from the Tiger Market down the street and a pack of Skittles, but if you’re coming to Nashville, you must get a local treat. For ice cream, we love The Pied Piper Creamery. They make all their own ice creams and sorbets in the cutest little East Nashville house, and they are fantastic!!! My dairy and nut free kid is a huge fan of their sorbets, while the rest of my kids love the ice cream.
For a doughnut delicacy, we highly recommend Five Daughters Bakery. These are not your ordinary dooughnuts, but the sweet marriage of a croissant and a doughnuts, making a delightful cronut!
The cronuts are big in size, but so airy, light and deeply delicious. They also make paleo and gluten free cronuts that people go wild over. If I had to recommend a favorite, swing for the maple glaze. Be still my maple cronut loving heart.
4) Things to do
Tennessee is full of local state parks. They are all quite breathtaking. Residing just right outside of our Nashville zip code is Montgomery Bell State Park.
If you are a nature loving family this is the perfect adventure to add to your Nashville plans. You can stay overnight at their campground, inn or cabins, or make it a day trip and just take advantage of their gorgeous hiking or mountain biking trails. They are all different lengths and skill sets. The nature center, which is also home to animals they have rescued and are rehabbing, is a must see for our crew every time. The park also provides lots of other activities, so check out their website for all the options.
Nashville is also not lacking in the park and playground department. Our favorite Nashville playground is Fannie Mae Dees Park, also known as Dragon Park due to the huge dragon mosaic winding its’ way through a portion of the park.
As an artist and lover of color, the dragon alone is a good enough reason to go. On top of the artistry, all my kids (ages 11-3) love this playground. There is something for everyone. The park has an all-abilities play area, areas for smaller children and areas for big kids. The long walk through the giant tunnel is always a crowd pleaser. There is easy parking, plenty of tree shade, bathrooms and lots of open space to run and play.
Tickets start as low as $10, which are grass seats and personally our favorite spot to sit. The ballpark runs fun family friendly promotions all season long. From Star Wars weekend to Tail Waggin’ Tuesdays to post game fireworks every Friday night, fun is never lacking at First Tennessee Park. Their soft serve ice cream in a mini baseball hat is a must.
5) Insta-worthy Photo Ops!
If you’re going to be in Nashville, then you absolutely must get on the mural train. Everywhere you look, there are unique and beautiful murals. Some are iconic and easily located, while others are lhidden little gems. Keep your eyes peeled because They. Are. Everywhere.
Searching for murals can be fun all on it’s own, but make sure to snap those pictures and share them with the world on Instagram. Nashville may be known as the music capital, but we are also bursting at the seams with some of the most talented street artists around.
Do you have a favorite spot in Nashville? Tell me in the comments below!
This post was written by Laura Kelley. Laura lives in Nashville, TN with her husband Josh and their 7 kiddos. She is a lover of creativity, an advocate for her children with special needs, a baked goods connoisseur, and feels passionately that blogging simply cannot die. You can read her blog over at pitterpatterart.com and follow along on Instagram at @pitterpatterart.