Our Nashville Getaway
Every time I told someone, “we’re going to Nashville for spring break!” They all responded with a surprised “why?” I think on the surface the destination seemed totally random, but we did have a few reasons.
Travel is hard with small children. River is 4 and Kellen was 11 months old at the time. So we decided that a short, inexpensive flight was our best option. We also wanted Mimi to come along with us, giving Sean and I the option of a night life. The best part? It ended up being so centrally located that my mom, step dad, and brother in law all decided to meet us there too!
It was River’s birthday week and Kellen is so little (and wasn’t walking yet), so I considered what they might enjoy. They both love music. Nashville is the music city so we thought they’d love it (and they really did!). Every bar and restaurant along Broadway had AMAZING music playing and it was fun for everyone!
I kinda like the idea of random! There are lots of cool cities in the US, and we decided (since the kiddos are little and nap often) it makes sense to pick places that are accessible. So that’s kinda what our vacations will look like for awhile. A tour of US cities. Easy, Cheap, and Kid Friendly.
Hitting the Books
I am inquirer at heart and so before any trip, I like to research. Honestly, I just googled “Things to Do in Nashville.” Ha! A lot of great ideas came up as I dug in! I also visited the local library to see if they had some goods books and maybe some children’s books on the city. I love the idea of reading books about where we’re going prior to the trip so that the experience of being there is even more rich! Place based and experience based learning is in my opinion the most impacting!
My favorite resource by far is the blog, Camels & Chocolate. Kristin Luna is a journalist living in Nashville so of course my teacher brain thought Oh! That’s great credibility. I know, I’m a nerd. She has a whole page dedicated to places she’s traveled and an amazing article on all the street art in Nashville! This is something Sean and I always like to check out, because it gets us exploring neighborhoods we might have missed. We like getting a little lost.
When we travel, we always choose to Airbnb. Sean had decided (based on his search) that East Nashville was where we liked to be. It had it’s own personality and only a 10 minute ride to downtown. Quite by accident, we came across Stay Local. This was THE nicest Airbnb I have ever stayed in! So much so, I truly didn’t want to leave. We had so much room, great amenities, and all the comforts of home. It was affordable, too. It made lots of day dreams come true for me, including being able to foot the cost of place to stay for everyone who came to enjoy Nashville with us! I would Stay Local again in a heart beat!
When I plan for vacation, I organize things to do by weather. I began by making a list of Things to Do Inside and Things to Do Outside. Here’s my list:
Murals and Street Art Tour (check out some of Airbnb’s other Experiences. It’s a pretty neat concept)
12 South Farmer’s Market (Open May through October. A great park here as well!)
What We Loved
The best BBQ we had was on our first evening in Nashville. We wandered just a few blocks from our house to find Edley’s! Great open air atmosphere and excellent ribs!
If you’re looking for some calm yet fun time spent in the sun, bring bathing suits to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall. Riv and Kelly loved playing in the fountains! Although we didn’t get to try it, but next time we’re gonna hit up Mile End Deli. This would be an amazing place to picnic and let the kids run around while you maybe enjoy a book (maybe, ha!).
For River’s birthday, we had an amazing breakfast at Pinewood Social and afterwards we bowled! How cool is that?! Great cocktails and food! A really great time. So good, we almost went back a second time! Afterwards, we let Riv get her fill of candy at Rocket Fizz. She was thrilled. For River’s birthday dinner, we had an array of tapas at Bee and Butcher. We’re suckers for great cocktails and small plates. We loved it all!
Honestly, the Honkey Tonk Highway (while known as touristy) was by far the best part! The talent is unparalleled and the energy is electric both day and night. The kids loved dancing to live music during the day and Sean and I hopped from roof top to roof top at night. Every place on Broadway is worth checking out! We also bought Riv 3 pairs of cow girl boots (buy 1 get 2 free!) and she’s worn them every day since. Have your Lyft drop you off at Ryman Auditorium. There’s also a parking lot close by if you’ve rented a car.
While the kiddos napped, Sean and I went to play board games at Bongo East and GamePoint! Playing games and drinking beers is on our list fave things to do together. Hooray for traveling with grandparents, am I right?!
Keep in Mind
We did make it to Grand Ole Opry, but we planned poorly. It was about 30 minute drive from downtown and tours were over by the time we arrived. Major bummer. Had we planned better, we would have planned 2 days/1 night at the Opry Hotel that’s close to the venue. It would’ve made sense to tour the Grand Ole Opry in the am, get tickets (in advance) for a show that night, and spend the rest of the time checking out the hotel (I mean, there’s a water park inside!).
Tip the musicians! Many of the amazing performances are how these musicians make their living! And if you make a special request, it will cost you $20. #worthit
I had read that some bars and restaurants were not kid friendly, but truly, that was not our experience. I will suggest, however, MAKE RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE! I use Open Table.
I really wanted to shop in the 12 South neighborhood, and while the neighborhood was super cute, and I was happy to check out a Draper James— It was pricey, pretty far removed from Downtown, and the 12 South Farmer’s market wasn’t open until May. I think I was the only one that had fun. Oops! I probably could’ve planned this part of our trip better. There is a lot to see here! Part of the problem was I left my handwritten list of things to do in 12 South on my dresser at home. Oh well, live and learn.
One of their known local dishes is called Hot Chicken and friends, DON’T DO IT. Even my step father, who LOVES spicy food, was a NO for this. It was so hot (and we order medium), my brother in law got a bloody nose. Yikes!
Food and Drink
Here’s another list of restaurants and cafes that caught my eye!
Mockingbird — super fun vibe with great kid’s options!
Henley — breakfast was delicious!
The Treehouse (tapas + cocktails)
Family Wash/Garage (coffee)
Five Daughters Bakery (coffee and donuts)
House of Cards (magic themed restaurant)
Will We Go Back?
Oh, YES! This vacation was magical. We all had an amazing time and it was such a great family trip. I can’t recommend this trip enough. If you go, let me know what you loved about!!